Archive for April, 2013

Mood Swings Can Affect Relationships

April 30, 2013

Bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic depression, is characterized by mood swings so severe that a person’s relationships, occupation, and overall ability to function can be severely compromised.

The US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says symptoms typically include episodes of extreme euphoria, followed by episodes of extreme sadness, depression or anger – but often with temperate periods in between. Other signs of bipolar disorder include insomnia or sleeping too much, drastic weight loss or gain, difficulty concentrating, anxiousness, and thoughts of suicide.

The disorder usually can be controlled with prescription medications – frequently lithium – that minimize the emotional swings. Treatments are most effective if they are taken continuously, not intermittently, the NIMH says.

What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is often difficult to recognize because its symptoms may appear to be part of another illness or attributed to other problems such as substance abuse, poor school performance, or trouble int he workplace. Here are some of the common symptoms of mania and depression.

Some Symptoms of Mania – The symptoms of mania, which can last up to three months if untreated include:

  • excessive energy, activity, restlessness, racing thoughts, and rapid talking.
  • extreme “high” or euphoric feelings – a person may feel “on top of the world” and nothing, including bad news or tragic events, can change this “happiness”.
  • unrealistic beliefs in one’s ability and powers. A person may experience feelings of exaggerated confidence or unwarranted optimism. This can lead to over ambitious work plans.

Some Symptoms of Depression – Some people experience periods of normal mood and behavior following a manic phase; however, the depressive phase will eventually appear. Symptoms of depression include:

  • persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood.
  • sleeping too much or too little, middle-of-the night or early morning waking.
  • reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain.
  • fatigue or loss of energy, feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless.

If you or a family member are experiencing severe mood swings or any of the aforementioned symptoms, please seek help from a psychological healthcare professional right away.

Serenity. How to get it, keep it and have it always.

April 11, 2013

Anyone who has ever attended a 12-step support group is probably familiar with the Serenity Prayer (see below). Feeling serene is important for people recovering from a compulsion, addiction or bad relationship.

But everyone, not just recovering people, can benefit from serenity. That’s because everyone has experienced stress, hardship and pain, and many of us have felt empty or yearned for fulfillment.

Researchers have identified some practices that can lead to serenity.

Find an inner haven. Each of us deserves a place where we feel safe and unconditionally accepted. To have such a place inside ourselves brings us that much closer to serenity. To make this inner haven, try using visualization: Prepare yourself as you would for meditation, then picture yourself in a tranquil, serene, safe space. A version of this is called “guided imagery.” There are a number of books and recordings available with guided imagery exercises. A professional therapist can also help. Eventually, your inner haven will be so calming and familiar to you, you’ll go to it whenever life’s pressures become overwhelming.

Detach. In the context of finding serenity, to detach means to let go of cravings and never-ending wants, such as addictive or compulsive behaviors. Therapists recommend two ways to practice detaching. One is through meditation, a technique described in a number of books and articles. People who meditate comment on the serene feeling it gives them. Another way to practice detaching is to practice distinguishing your needs from your wants based upon your values. For example, while you may want another cigarette, you need to be there for your partner or children, and continuing to smoke could jeopardize that.

Practice acceptance. Acceptance is a major theme in the Serenity Prayer. To help you accept situations beyond your control, therapists advise focusing on things that are within your control – your attitude, emotions and actions. Instead of trying to control someone else, practice self-control. Therapists also advise practicing self-acceptance. Build yourself up, celebrate your worthiness and remind yourself often that you are your best friend for life, period. Not only is this good self-care. It will bring you that much closer to serenity.

Practice forgiveness. Resentment over a traumatic experience can lead to self-defeating behaviors that can “poison” your chance to reach serenity, writes one author. Make peace with your past through forgiveness. Once way to do so is to write a letter forgiving the offending person, then destroy the letter as a way of cleansing yourself of the experience and regaining mastery over your life.

Let go and live in the present. Taken together, all of these techniques – find an inner haven, detach, practice acceptance and forgiveness – should help a person accomplish another technique for reaching serenity: living in the present. The serene moment is the present moment, unencumbered by past regrets or mistakes and unpolluted by worries or fears of the future. Writes one author, “Living in the here and now is a powerful way to be.” Focus on the richness of the present and have serenity.

Source: Connors, G.J., Radka, T.T. and Tonigan, J.S. Serenity: Integrating Spirituality Into Treatment: Resources for Practitioners. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

The Serenity Prayer

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one dat at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking this world as it is, not as I would have it. ~Anonymous

Youth Mental Health Problems

April 4, 2013

Approximately 20% – or about 11 million – of young people aged 9-17 have a diagnosable mental, emotional or behavioral health disorder, according to the Association of Psychiatric Health Systems. From 9%-13% of children experience serious mental or emotional problems that substantially interfere with their functioning in school, at home, and in the community.

Unfortunately, only 11% of young people receive treatment for any kind of mental illness. Many times their conditions are overlooked, denied or misinterpreted.

Mental health problems are real, painful and can be severe. They can lead to school failure, loss of friends, or family conflict. Some of the signs that may point to a possible problem are listed below. Answer yes or no to the ones that apply to your teen. The more “yes” answers you tally up, the higher the likelihood your teen is having a mental health problem.

Is Your Teen…

  • very angry most of the time?
  • crying a lot or overreacting to things?
  • feeling worthless?
  • feeling guilty?
  • anxious or worried more than other young people?
  • grieving overly long or having difficulty resuming daily life activities after a loss or death?
  • extremely fearful, expressing unexplained fears or more fears than most kids?
  • constantly concerned about physical problems?
  • constantly concerned about appearance?
  • frightened that his or her mind is controlled or is out of control?

Has Your Teen’s Behavior Changed Dramatically Recently? For example, has s/he…

  • experienced a big drop in grades overall?
  • lost interest in things usually enjoyed?
  • had a noticeable change in eating or sleeping habits?
  • started avoiding friends or family to be alone all the time?
  • expressed feelings that life is too hard to handle?
  • started daydreaming constantly and putting off doing necessary tasks?
  • talked about suicide?
  • said s/he hears voices that cannot be explained?

Is Your Teen Experiencing…

  • poor concentration?
  • an inability to make decisions?
  • an inability to sit still?
  • worry about being harmed, hurting others, or about doing something “bad”?
  • persistent nightmares?
  • the need to wash, clean things, or perform certain routines dozens of times a day?
  • thoughts that occur almost too fast to follow or process?

Does Your Teen…

  • use alcohol or other drugs?
  • eat large amounts of food and then force vomiting, abuse laxatives or take enemas to avoid weight gain?
  • continue to diet or exercise obsessively although bone-thin?
  • often hurt other people, destroy property or break the law?
  • do things that can be life threatening?

If your child experiences even a few of these signs┬ácontact Soundside Wellness Consultants or at least contact your teen’s school psychologist, social worker, student assistance counselor, nurse or guidance counselor to discuss your concerns.