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Monthly Archives: May 2013

What Do You Know about Borderline Personality Disorder?

10047180_sFor those affected by mental illness like Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) it can seem as if the world has rejected them and that people just don’t understand – and that’s probably because many don’t. This lack of knowledge is what keeps apprehension and negative stigma alive when it comes to confronting BPD. But May is Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month, and each of us has the opportunity to help tear down barriers that make it more difficult for those living with the disorder to seek help.

According to a recent Psychology Today article, about six percent of people across the globe have BPD. Tragically, nearly 10 percent of those affected will die by suicide. BPD is a serious psychiatric disorder and is responsible for about 20 percent of inpatient psychiatric visits. Those affected may exhibit the following:

  • Severe mood swings and fits of rage. Unlike bipolar disorder, BPD is characterized by mood disruptions that come on quite suddenly and occur with regularity. Someone with the disorder may cycle through the full gamete of emotions within just a few hours, being happy one minute and depressed the next. Though those with BPD crave affection, their outbursts of anger can be detrimental to the very relationships they are so desperate for.

  • Compulsivity. A person with BPD may develop a shopping or gambling addiction, engage in risky sexual behaviors, steal on a whim, or abuse drugs or alcohol.

  • Feelings of emptiness and fear of abandonment. Because many have trouble ascertaining their own identity, those with BPD are often insecure and have a strong fear of being rejected by those they care about, even if those fears are irrational or based on false perceptions.

  • Self-harm and suicidal tendencies. One source reports that about three-quarters of individuals with BPD who pursue treatment have inflicted self-harm of some type. These individuals are also more susceptible to suicidal thoughts and behaviors than others.

  • Split thinking. To a BPD person, the world is black and white – people and situations are either 100 percent bad or 100 percent good, and there is rarely an in between.

This month the Family Guidance Center would like to join in raising awareness for BPD because awareness provides hope. Those with BPD have to work through their own issues and emotions without having the added stress of societal stigma and being misunderstood. Learn the facts about borderline personality disorder. And if someone you know exhibits any of the symptoms mentioned, encourage them to contact the Family Guidance Center.

Area Health Centers Work Together to Provide Better Access to Care

11336575_sFar too often, emergency rooms are being sought out for problems that could be handled in a traditional doctor’s office or an urgent care setting. Research shows that healthcare access ranks as one of the top community health concerns, but the emergency room was never designed to be the first point of contact in the process of receiving care. According to Brent VanConia who serves as president of St. Mary’s Health Center, area providers and health centers are working together to make healthcare more accessible through means other than local emergency departments as well as educate the public regarding their best-suited options.

A News Tribune article provides some background on what is being done to minimize costs and provide better access to care. Because emergency rooms are designed for elevated trauma, they are expensive to maintain and operate. And according to Capital Region Medical Center’s VP of operations, Janet Weckenborg, those resources need to be available at a moment’s notice.

One suggestion to provide better care access is to increase Medicaid coverage within the state. But while expanding access to Medicaid will improve the situation, experts agree it is not a fix-all. Other hospitals are looking to implement a solution like that provided by Heartland Health in St. Joseph. Currently, the hospital prioritizes emergency room patients based on the severity of their condition, and while everyone is evaluated, minor cases are reviewed by a nurse or nurse practitioner and are later “navigated” to other facilities for appropriate care. The model has resulted in less minor visits to the emergency room.

Mental health is no different. Expanding access to all types of healthcare, both physical and mental, is important to preserving a person’s overall well-being. Sustaining regular communication with the right provider is also important to ensure patients receive the highest level of care. Many times, the physical symptoms that accompany a chronic mental health problem can become severe — leading to further emergency room visits –while the mental health problem at the cause remains undiagnosed and untreated. Mental health professionals at the Family Guidance Center provide screenings and several other mental healthcare services, regardless of income. For more information on how to set up a visit, call Family Guidance Center today.

 

 

Hi, I’m Sadie. I’m Just a Kid, and I’m Bipolar

16714079_sMeet “Sadie,” a vibrant and creative young girl with a vivid imagination who loved to dance, dabble in art, and engage others in extensive conversation, even as a toddler. Like most kids her age, Sadie had a hard time paying attention and sitting still. But when a preschool teacher approached Sadie’s mother, Dorothy O’Donnell and told her she might want to have Sadie evaluated for ADHD, O’Donnell was infuriated. How could a 3-year old possibly have ADHD?

O’Donnell’s pediatrician also dismissed the diagnosis, saying that all children are unruly and that Sadie would mature at her own pace. But as time wore on and O’Donnell continued to get calls from teachers about her daughter’s erratic behavior, she thought it might be best to get a second opinion.

As O’Donnell puts it in a recent article featured at GreatSchools.org, school can be a reality check for parents whose children are affected by mental illness. Within the family it may be easy to dismiss unusual behavior, but in school, all of a sudden your child is viewed through new sets of eyes – it may be only then that things come clearly into focus.

In Sadie’s case, there were bouts of energy that drew people to her bubbly personality, but then were also extreme fits of rage. She was known to be overly silly and blurt out inappropriate remarks. She’d also threatened to hurt herself and others when things didn’t go her way. Sadie also confessed to counselors that she regularly felt sad and that she had no friends. She considered herself a bad person and stopped wanting to go to school because she didn’t see herself as very smart.

Further evaluations revealed that Sadie had early-onset bipolar disorder, a mental illness that had run in both O’Donnell’s and her husband’s families. But even armed with the knowledge that such disorders are often genetic, O’Donnell wasn’t ready to accept that her daughter might be affected.

Like most parents, after hearing horror stories O’Donnell fought the idea of medication. But when her daughter looked up at her one night and told her that she didn’t want to live anymore, O’Donnell knew that she had to try something different. Just like the journey of parenthood, treating Sadie’s mental illness would involve trial and error to find the right path.

If you suspect your child might be affected by a mental illness, it’s important to seek help early. The fact is that many mental disorders are highly manageable with the right forms of treatment. Family Guidance Center can help you develop a plan that works for your family and can walk you through the process – one step at a time.

Society Can Do More to Reduce Stigma of Youth Mental Illness

16035530_sThe truth about children and mental illness is complex. It’s multifaceted. It’s also a matter of life and death, in many cases. In fact, during the past 15 years, 323 students died in school shootings — but during that same time period, more than 60,000 young people committed suicide.

Many people may know a child who is living with symptoms or behaviors that seem outside the typical range of childhood actions, or are leading to problems at home or school. However, you may not realize these symptoms could be pointing to an undiagnosed mental health disorder.

Left untreated, mental illness among children can lead to lifelong problems in school, in adulthood and even remarkable increases in suicide risk. But it doesn’t have to. Most children diagnosed with a mental illness can, and will, respond favorably to professional mental health services and can maintain a high quality of life well into adulthood.

We must do more to reduce stigma and increase access for prevention and treatment of mental health problems for our children and youth. Here are some important statistics to know and share during this time, which is designated nationally as Children’s Mental Health Week:

Half of all mental health disorders begin by age 14. Common mental health problems among children include ADHD, chronic depression, mood disorders or anxiety and impulse disorders.

Only 20 percent of children with mental health disorders are identified and receive mental health treatment. This negatively impacts success in school, which is the biggest predictor of success in adulthood.

Nationally, students with a mental illness are twice as likely to drop out of school. And nearly 75 percent of those who drop out will be arrested within five years.

It is easy to see that mentally ill youth who do not get the treatment they need may lead lives of unfulfilled potential. However, many may not realize these children may also attempt to take their lives:

Every day there are approximately 12 youth suicides or 4,300 a year. In fact, suicide is the sixth leading cause of death among 5- to 15-year-olds.

Among those ages 14 to 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death behind homicides and accidental death.

More teens die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects and chronic lung disease — combined.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 16 percent of students report that they have seriously considered suicide.

Missouri is not exempt from these tragic statistics; in fact Missouri’s youth suicide rate is higher than the national average. This is why Children’s Mental Health Week is so important.

There is no single solution or easy answer. In fiscal year 2013, as the local Community Mental Health Center, Family Guidance Center served 767 severely emotionally disturbed children and their families in our nine-county service area. Family Guidance Center had staff in more than 20 schools in five school districts, and full-time staff in six schools.

We, among others in our region, are committed to preventing youth suicides by stressing early intervention and treatment, working with children and families before suicide ever is contemplated. Our children’s staff drove 198,000 miles delivering services last year, right into the homes and schools of local families.

As a society and as a community we can do more by focusing on reducing the stigma of mental illness and stressing the value of early identification and treatment. We can provide more training for schools and teachers on identifying children who may be at risk for mental illness. We can place more mental health professionals in schools, and we can continue working to educate the public.

As a society, a state and a community we can do better. We can’t afford not to, because the lives of our young people are too important.

Source: Guest Column, St. Joseph News Press
by:  Garry Hammond, President/CEO, Family Guidance Center

ADHD Impairs Prospective Memory in Adults

9240550_sA good portion of children affected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) continue to experience symptoms into adulthood. ADHD can impair both cognitive and behavioral control, and according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, symptoms usually present prior to age seven. While children typically learn to control behavioral issues over time, the disorder still impacts the ability to focus, plan and perform various executive functions even as an adult.

What isn’t known is how ADHD might impact adults’ prospective memory. Prospective memory entails remembering details or events that are to occur in the future, such as showing up for a scheduled appointment. PhD candidate, Anselm B. M. Fuermaier of the Department of Clinical and Developmental Neuropsychology of the University of Groningen, the Netherlands sought to learn more about the disorder’s effects on prospective memory.

Participants were asked to plan for and complete an action that would occur in the future. Fuermaier examined a total of 90 adults – half who had been diagnosed with ADHD and half who had not been diagnosed with the disorder, to examine deficits in prospective memory. ADHD participants did not receive any medication to treat their condition.

Fuermaier found several discrepancies in prospective memory when comparing the two groups. For instance, the group with ADHD did not put as much detail into planning as their peers. They also didn’t plan as much as the control group when preparing for numerous upcoming events.

According to a recent article, those with ADHD also had a hard time taking the necessary steps to put their plans into action.  According to Fuermaier, prospective memory is essential for normal work and social interactions and also plays a role in successful treatment. Difficulty in remembering to attend therapy sessions or take required medications as directed can lead to poor treatment outcomes, including increased stress and anxiety, difficulty maintaining employment, and even physical sickness.

According to current figures, approximately two to five percent of adults worldwide live with ADHD. Untreated, these individuals may develop poor coping mechanisms to compensate for the disorder. Learn to control and manage your symptoms of ADHD instead of letting it control you – contact the Family Guidance Center and find out more about screenings and a treatment plan that fits your goals.