Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mastering Depression




Mastering Depression

Clinical depression is a disease - or a dis-ease, it strives to make you 'uneasy.' A powerful metaphor for depression is to consider the disease as a team of engineers, whose primary purpose is to tear down bridges, not build them. The bridges that depression seeks to destroy are those bridges, or pathways in your brain that link the feelings of pleasure to your life experiences with people, place and events. In real life - depression hurts. Before it controls your life completely it is critical you find a way to deal with depression.

A more pathological description of this which illustrates why anti-depression drugs are helpful speaks of the neuro-synaptic pathways (bridges) that are in your brain, and over which these signals travel to connect the cells that retain the memory of our life experiences, to the cells the trigger the endorphins and hormones that we know are the sensation of pleasure. Anti-depression can do two things physiologically - they can stimulate the use of more serotonin (the raw material to build these bridges with) and prevent that raw material from being re-absorbed before it can be used to build the bridge.

These bridges/neuro-synaptic pathways, are built through every experience we have from birth. Like walking in a grassy field, the more you walk the same path, the more the grass lies down, and the clearer and easier the path becomes, until it become second nature.

As you may have experienced, depression tears these bridges down, leaving one dis-engaged, or 'checked-out' from many, and ultimately all, of those experiences that brought you satisfaction or pleasure. For those who allow this core of engineers to tear down these bridges, without enacting a plan to re-build the bridges, and save those bridges yet destroyed. find them selves completely 'checked-out' and reach such despair life may feel as if it has no meaning.

I believe that life is about fully engaging in BOTH love and passion, AND being the conduit of compassion that allows these gifts to flow through us, and to be shared with others. Depression seeks to destroy our meaning of life by breaking these bridges.

Personally I faced the battle of depression back in the 90's when I was burying a friend a week from AIDS, and from my clinical counseling training. I believe a multifaceted approach is the most powerful way to combat depression - a possible combination of drugs, therapy and personal action.

Only a licensed psychiatrist or medical doctor can prescribe anti-depressants. An experienced counselor or therapist is almost always necessary to help you travel this journey - and overcome that insidious corp or bridge destroying engineers!

The personal action is about effecting the plans you create with your counselor or therapist to "kicking the butts" of that insidious corp of engineer and refusing to let bridges to be destroyed, while striving to re-build old ones and create new ones at a rate greater then these nasty guys can destruct them!

Easier said then done, I know, as the loss of these connects leads to apathy, which feeds the destruction. It is quickly a vicious circle that can be created, and only an aggressive plan of action will stop this downward spiral.

Consequently, remaining motivated is not unlike an alcoholic remaining sober. Therapy helps, drugs help, but CRITICAL to success is a personal support system of friends and family who love you so much they will not let you fail. Support groups are great but few things are better then a proven circle of friends and family who love you too much to let you fail, and love you so much, that they can see past your pain, and patiently support you as you re-build these bridges together. Take stock of these relationships. Many may already be strained as depression has already worked its toll. Depression knows these connections are its greatest enemy - desperately seeking to destroy the bridges that you have built with these people. Yet they are the easiest bridges to salvage and re-build as they are the ones that have historically served you well. Your heart knows these relationships can be trusted, even if your brain tried to convince you that you have 'checked-out.'

Curing depression is about creating AND re-creating love and passion in your life. Take a good look around you - who are the sources of the most powerful love you experienced in the past? Who do you know loves you enough that you can trust their judgment over your own as depression seeks to drive you into loneliness and despair? Who loves you enough and who can you trust to walk that journey with you?

Beating depression and living a life of passion and love will only happen in relationship. Those relationship best include your friends, family and loved ones, an experienced counselor or therapist who understands your challenges, and the possible support of a medical practitioner.

Clinical signs of depression may include some or all of the following descriptors. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, impaired concentration and difficulty making decisions, fatigue, loss of energy, or being tired all the time, low self-esteem, trouble sleeping or oversleeping the use or escalating use of drugs and/or alcohol, and/or a poor appetite or overeating.

If you believe you are suffering from depression it is critical that you seek professional help. The time to do so is as early in the process as possible. If you are experiencing some or any of the symptoms listed above contact a professional who will be able to help you. As you have learned from this article, the earlier in the process that you can take action to prevent the disassembling of the many bridges of love and support in your life as possible, the more effective and the quicker your treatment will be.

Experiencing a life full of passion and love is a phenomenal experience. To live such a life requires that you decide to be the master of your mind and experiences. Many of us do not intuitively know how to exercise these skills and an experienced counselor or therapist provides an excellent opportunity for you to develop this mastery.

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Can Obesity Affect Your Mental Health



Can Obesity Affect Your Mental Health 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that by 2020, two-thirds of the global burden of disease will be attributable to diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Philip James, a member of the expert panel and chair of the International Obesity Task Force, warns: "We now know that the biggest global health burden for the world is dietary in origin and is compounded by association with low physical activity levels. This is going to plague us for the next 30 years." In early 2011, WHO reported that there approximately 345 million people worldwide who had a BMI of 30 or more (which is considered obese on the BMI index).

Why are obesity rates increasing?

The main reason obesity is increasing worldwide is a result of changes in diet and physical activity. The "nutrition transition" toward refined food and increased fats play a major role in the increase. Urban areas or cities tend to have a higher amount of obese people then rural areas do. This is mainly due to food being more readily available and often cheaper in urban areas, as well as workers tending to have jobs which are less physically demanding then rural areas.

Obesity could be linked to depression and other mental disorders

As obesity reaches epidemic levels in the US and other first world countries experts need to also look at the idea of weight gain being associated with personal emotional problems. A considerable amount of obese people suffer from depression but they may be caught in a vicious cycle whereby their diet is poor and regular exercise is not achieved, which in turn, increases the weight and their depressive symptoms.

According to the July 2006 Issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, a study was conducted on a group of 9,000 adults and the results indicated that there were approximately 25 per cent more incidences of mood and anxiety disorder in obese patients compared to patients of normal or average weight.

The association of obesity and mental health also continues with other studies which have been conducted. According to Anna Rydén, Researcher in the Health Care Research Unit, at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden, there is a link between obesity and mental illness. The results from the Swedish SOS (Swedish Obese Subjects) study showed that obese patients were more prone to anxiety, impulsive behaviour and irritability before they had undergone gastric surgery or conventional treatments of diet and exercise, then they were after receiving treatment. Previous research has also shown that prolonged stress can lead to both depression and other physical problems such as an increase in blood pressure, insulin resistance and abdominal obesity. Improving obese patients' ability to cope with stress should also be included in the overall weight reduction process.

From the results discussed in this article it is clear that the connection between obesity and mental health issues is an important health issue. The National Obesity Observatory report entitled "Obesity and mental health" which is written by the NHS (National Health Service in the UK), have also indicated this as a public health concern in their March 2011 issue. Gender, severity of obesity, level of education, socioeconomic status, ethnicity and age have all been suggested as potentially important risk factors that could affect the association between obesity and mental health. Women seem to be greater at risk of the association rather than men. One suggestion of women being more susceptible is that more stigma tends to be attached to a woman that is overweight than her male counterpart.

The report also indicated that there are differing opinions as to the age and cause of the association between the two conditions, however, there is strong evidence to suggest that by the time an obese person reaches adolescence, there is an increased risk of low-self esteem and impaired quality of life, particularly in areas such as physical appearance, fitness competency and socialising.

Approaches to dealing with obesity and associated diseases vary widely from country to country. Unfortunately all too often obesity is not always seen as a serious medical condition and tends to be only treated when other diseases have developed as a consequence. Some high-risk patients are given weight loss drugs but these cannot generally be used in the long term due to side affects such as anxiety and hypertension. However, new drugs are currently being tested which should help improve the side effects of taking weight loss medication. Surgical procedures such as gastric bypass, gastroplasty and liposuction are also becoming increasingly popular. However, most experts still believe that a calorie controlled diet and exercise are the best methods for long term weight loss and if we can convey this message to our children, we may just have some hope of tackling obesity and the diseases associated with it.

Until next time,

Nadine Douglas

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Ten Top Odd Mental Diseases

Ten Top Odd Mental Diseases

Victims of mental diseases have one thing in common. They firmly think that what they are experiencing is real. Syndromes and delusions are then revealed in a variety of bizarre and weird forms.

1. Stockholm Syndrome

From rape and child abuse, to being taken hostage to wife beating, the Stockholm syndrome is a psychological reaction, in which the victim displays symptoms of empathy, loyalty or even voluntary obedience to the perpetrator, despite the risk in which the victims find themselves.

2. Lima Syndrome

The hostage taker here becomes more emotionally close by the plights and needs of the hostages, than the earlier goal. This is the undo of the Stockholm syndrome.

3. Diogenes Syndrome

Diogenes was an ancient Greek philosopher who decided to live in a wine barrel, promoting ideas of nihilism and animalism. This syndrome is a condition which is characterized by excessive self neglect, compulsive hoarding and reclusive tendencies, which can include animals.

4. Paris Syndrome

In the famous tourist city of Paris, this syndrome causes mainly Japanese nationals and tourists to have a mental breakdown. It is in fact a form of culture shock.

Japanese tourists feel unable to argue back when they are confronted with a rude French taxi driver or waiter. They bottle up their own anger until it causes a mental breakdown. The Japanese embassy had to create a 24hr hotline for tourists suffering from this syndrome, since some tourists needed emergency hospitalization.

5. Stendhal Syndrome

When an individual is exposed to art, they can develop a psychosomatic illness which creates a rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations. The art work is typically very large, or very beautiful. This syndrome can also take place even when a person is confronted with a particularly beautiful landscape, or city.

6. Jerusalem Syndrome

This particular syndrome is not limited to any one religion or denomination. It takes place when a person is overwhelmed by religiously themed obsessive ideas, delusions, or other psychosis-like experiences connected to a visit to the city of Jerusalem.

Everyone who undergoes this spontaneous psychosis, has a history of previous mental disease, or was suspected of having been 'unwell' before visiting the city.

7. Capgras Delusion

The victim of this disorder believes an acquaintance, normally a partner, or other close family member has been replaced by an identical looking imposter. It is a rare disorder and frequently related to people suffering from schizophrenia, dementia, or brain injury.

This disorder has been widely utilized in films and books such as The Stepford Wives.

8. Fregoli Delusion

In this rare disorder, Fregoli Delusion which is the exact opposite of the Capgras Delusion, a human being is convinced that many different people have one single identity that constantly changes appearance, or is in disguise.

9. Cotard Delusion

This is rare psychiatric disorder which can also include delusions of immortality. It is where a person is under the mistaken belief that he or she has ceased to exist, is dead, is putrefying, or has lost their blood, or internal organs.

10. Reduplicative Paramnesia

A person experiencing this delusion believes that a location or place, has been created identically so it exists in two or more places simultaneously, or it has been relocated to a different site. In one case a patient was firmly under the impression they were in a similar-looking hospital, but at a different location.

Dr Wendy Stenberg-Tendys and her husband are CEO's and founders of YouMe Support Foundation, providing high school education grants for children who are without hope. You can help in this really great project by taking a few minutes to check out the Sponsor a Student program at ( http://youmesupport.org ). It will change the life of some really needy kids in the South Pacific.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

A Guide To Mental Health Continuing Education Courses

A Guide To Mental Health Continuing Education Courses

The road to becoming a mental health worker requires several years of schooling beyond high school. After the internship and testing for credentials, you would think that you are finally done with school.

Wrong! Becoming a mental health professional is only the beginning and as long as you decide to practice in the career field, you are going to need to take some mental health continuing education classes.

Just because you have to take mental health continuing education courses doesn't mean that you aren't a good worker or professional.

Taking continuing education courses mean that you care and are committed to gaining knowledge and maintaining the utmost level of care and professionalism.

In order for you to stay up to date on all of the changes going on in the field, you must attend these classes.

Now there is no reason to think that if you simply take all of the possible mental health continuing education courses now, you can avoid having to take them later. Continuing education courses, just like regular college courses have a certain sequence or order they must be taken in.

Consideration is also given to what aspect of the field you are practicing in and what your role or job is in the mental health industry.

The credits earned from continuing education courses are used to help bolster any claims you may want to present at a later date for a promotion or different position, not to mention it also enhances your authority and credulity as well.

When you go to take your first continuing health class, you will find that you are not the only person who is currently working in the mental health field.

In fact, you will find that there are mental health professionals from all walks of their career. In these courses, it is all about what you do with the information that you are given.

If you fail to incorporate any of the information that is provided to you in your continuing education course, you run the risk of becoming deemed ineffective and obsolete. This can hurt your career and job aspects on several different levels.

Taking mental health continuing education courses is not something you may want to do after working so hard to get to where you are in your career, but if you want to keep your career and maintain a level of success that is beneficial to the further advancement of your career in the future.

Broaden your horizons and expand your potential by embracing your education courses. Take every bit of knowledge gained and use it to your advantage.

In the mental health industry, there is only one way you can guarantee your success and advancement and that can only be done by way of staying on top of your continuing education courses, being an excellent worker and having a great personality.

Take control of your future and take your career to new heights by completing your continuing education classes.

By: Andrew Stratton

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Mental Health Stigma

Mental Health Stigma

Despite the increase in publicity surrounding mental health and mental health issues, there is still a lack of understanding about mental health in general. For example, a research survey published by the government "Attitudes to Mental Illness 2007" reported that 63% of those surveyed described someone who is mentally ill as suffering from schizophrenia, and more than half believed that people with mental illness should be kept in a psychiatric ward or hospital. Overall the results showed that positive attitudes to people with mental health had actually decreased since 1994 which is worrying indeed.

Amazingly, many people still don't understand that mental health problems affect most of us in one way or another, whether we are suffering from a mental illness ourselves or not. If we bear in mind that a quarter of the population are suffering from some kind of mental health problem at any one time, then the chances are, even if we personally don't have a mental illness, we will know someone close to us who does, so it is our responsibility to understand what mental illness is and what can be done about it.

Many people with mental health problems will often feel isolated and rejected and too afraid to share their problems with others purely because of the way they might be perceived. This lack of understanding means they are less likely to get the kind of help and support they need and are in danger of slipping even further into depression and mental illness. People need to understand that mental illness need not be a barrier to a better quality of life and that help is available and that most people with a mental health problem can regain full control over their lives if they get the support they need.

A new guide to mental health

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has produced a new guide to mental health which was published in November 2007 and is aimed at informing the general public about what mental illness is and is a big step towards tackling the stigma that is still attached to mental illness.

The guide is written in an easy to understand format and over 60 mental health experts have contributed to it. The Mind: A User's Guide contains chapters that cover a whole range of mental illnesses and includes a section on how the brain works, how mental illness is diagnosed, and how to cope with it.

A Scottish survey

In Scotland, a national survey of public attitudes to mental health Well? What Do You Think? (2006) was published in September 2007 and highlighted that although people living in socially deprived areas have a higher incidence of mental health, the level of stigmatisation is still no lower than in other areas. This suggests that being confronted with mental illness is not enough to change the attitudes towards it.

There are also gender differences too. According to the Scottish survey, men with a mental health problem were more likely to be treated with suspicion than women and were also more inclined to avoid social contact with someone else with a mental health problem. Even out of those who displayed a positive attitude towards people with mental health problems, many said they would be reluctant to tell anyone if they had a mental health problem themselves which just goes to show that there is still fear surrounding other peoples' perceptions of mental health.

A CIPD Survey

A recent study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and KPMG consultants surveyed over 600 employers and reported that doctors are not doing enough to help people with mental health problems return to work and that this is costing the business world billions of pounds. For example, only 3% of the participants rated doctor support as "very good".

It may be that doctors really don't know what else to offer someone suffering from depression and anxiety other than drugs and time off work. Even more worrying was the fact that 52% of employers maintained that they never hired anyone with a history of mental illness which serves to perpetuate the stigma. On a more positive note, of those that did hire someone with a mental health problem, more than half said the experience had been "positive".

Changing attitudes

A lot is being done by governments and organisations to try to change public attitudes towards mental health but is it enough? Until we all recognise that mental illness doesn't discriminate, it can affect any one of us at any time regardless of our age, gender or social background, the stigma attached to mental illness is likely to persist.

Mental illness doesn't discriminate, it can affect any one of us at any time regardless of our age, gender or social background, and yet the stigma attached to mental illness still persists. Although a number of government initiatives, awareness campaigns and organisations have been set up specifically to tackle mental health stigma and change our attitudes towards mental health in general, there is still a long way to go.

It is therefore up to each and every one of us as individuals to make sure we are well informed and understand the issues involved because only when the public are fully aware of the facts will mental health stigma become a thing of the past.

Depression and anxiety are serious mental health conditions that can strike anyone at anytime. For more information about depression and self help come and visit our site.

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