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Monthly Archives: June 2013

What You Might Not Know About Schizophrenia and Mental Illness

11183369_sConfronting the reality of mental illness can be scary because it’s natural to have a fear of the unknown. The negative stigma that still exists can also serve as a hindrance for many who might otherwise benefit from professional help. That’s why when Josh initially came face-to-face with his schizophrenia, his first reaction was not to embrace it.

But when Josh did finally come to terms with the diagnosis, he said his life did a 180. He participated more in treatment and gained a better handle on the disorder that impacts nearly 2.5 million other adults living in America. Before that point, however, Josh said voices drove him to forcefully enter his parents’ residences. He even stole his sister’s car. Thirteen years after this incident and a stint in jail, Josh says that treatment and medication have changed his life.

Josh is not alone. According to an article featured at News-Press Now, over one in four Americans aged 18 and up are diagnosed with some form of mental illness each year. Estimates place the number of Americans living with severe mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar at close to 6 percent.

Experts advise that having a recovery plan in place can help with the management of serious mental illness and the achievement of life goals. Josh attributes his treatment program with helping him to live an active and normal life. He adds that the formation of friendships have helped support him along the way.

The role of family and friends is not to be underestimated. Loved ones should know that schizophrenia is a treatable disease and that there have been many new medications developed over time which offer relief. When taken as prescribed, antipsychotic medications help minimize symptoms, and long-acting injectable antipsychotic therapies (LATs) allow patients to reduce the number of pills that need to be taken on any given day. Medication is only one element of treatment for schizophrenia and other mental health problems, and many can successfully manage their symptoms with a combination of treatment strategies.

Family and friends can aid loved ones in overcoming barriers that impede treatment of mental illness. They also serve as a key support network to help walk them through the process. Family Guidance Center has treatment programs specifically geared to individuals living with schizophrenia and other mental disorders. To learn more about what you can do to assist a loved one in their process of recovery, contact Family Guidance Center.

Would you be Able to Spot the Risk Factors for Alcohol Dependence?

16141310_sMost people who end up dependent upon alcohol don’t do so intentionally, and it’s often a culmination of many factors both innate and environmental that lead to abuse. However, there are several risk factors that may make a person more prone to problematic drinking. While some people can drink responsibly their entire lives, for others, it’s not so easy.

An article found online at WebMD outlines a few of the elements that make a person more susceptible to alcohol misuse. Certainly not everyone who exhibits a risk factor for alcoholism is considered an alcoholic. But the following serves as a guide to help spot variables that could increase a person’s risk.

Family history of alcoholism
Research has shown there is a genetic link associated with alcohol dependence. This means that those who have family members living with alcoholism could themselves be more prone to misuse.

Early onset of alcohol use
Data indicates that the risk for adult alcohol abuse is impacted by the age at which a person starts drinking. Meaning, the younger a person is when he or she consumes alcohol, the higher the risk of problems down the road.

Gender
Males in particular are more apt to have issues with alcohol than women. In fact, they are at three times the risk for alcohol dependency as their female counterparts.

Alcohol-Friendly Surroundings
People living in places renowned for heavy drinking or locations where alcohol is easily accessible are more apt to drink themselves.

Feeling Unfulfilled
Alcohol can sometimes be used as a coping mechanism to navigate difficult life circumstances such as the end of a relationship or loss of a job, which may lead to a cycle of abuse.

Issues of Mental Health
Mental illness including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and PTSD all elevate the risk of alcohol dependence.

Alcoholism is a family disease that likely impacts the affected person as well as his or her family and friends. Loved ones serve an important role in helping dependent individuals seek treatment and remain sober. For assistance with addiction or to learn more about alcoholism, contact the Family Guidance Center.

 

Experts Agree that Childhood Mental Illness Is A Growing Concern

13085459_sAs an expectant parent you might play Mozart to your developing baby because it is supposed to increase intelligence.  You also probably look at infant toys which promise to stimulate brain development and you give cuddling and positive reinforcement to build baby’s confidence and security.  And at the first sign of a cold or ear infection, your little one is whisked off to the pediatrician’s office for a check-up.  So why do we tend not to be as attentive about the mental/emotional wellness of our children as they grow?  Experts across a range of disciplines warn that mental illness is more prevalent than ever among children, yet parents still seem to be unaware of the risk.

As recently as 2012, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that mental illness has overtaken physical illness on the list of leading childhood disabilities.  Physicians say that mental illness is one of the top five childhood disabilities for the first time in three decades showing that the problem of childhood mental illness is on the rise.

Professional psychiatric journals report similar findings saying that one tenth of U.S. children have a serious mental illness and a second ten percent have mild or moderate mental illness.  Given the fact that most lifetime mental illnesses form before age 14 years (National Institutes on Mental Health), as parents we should be as watchful over our children’s emotional and behavioral health as we are over his/her physical and intellectual development.

The rise in childhood mental illness means more children are being medicated for emotional and behavioral disorders than at any time prior.  But while medications offer effective treatment for some symptoms, it is still critical to address the root causes behind symptoms.  Professional therapy helps our children, and us as parents, to uncover some behavioral or situational triggers for the symptoms of mental illness and can show us new ways to work on the underlying problems.  Family Guidance Center offers a team of mental health professionals who can help you take the first step with an assessment of mental health symptoms, as well as help you decide on a treatment strategy. As parents we wouldn’t wait if it was the flu … don’t wait if you see your child struggling with a mental health problem.

Serving Teens Alcohol at Home Backfires on Parents

We all may know well-meaning parents who decided to permit teens (their own and friends) to drink alcohol at home where mom and dad could keep an eye on them.  They assumed that allowing kids to drink at home removed the taboo and would make drinking alcohol less about rebellion and therefore less appealing.  The actual facts show the opposite is true and what these parents also may have forgotten to consider is their own risk when they decide to serve alcohol to minors.

The National Institutes of Health has funded research which shows that serving under-aged kids alcohol in the home does not reduce the likelihood that children will be problem drinkers later.  Quite the reverse.  Research shows that kids who were given alcohol at home tend to drink more during their teens and are more likely to have drinking problems once they reach adulthood.

Parents who want to create a less uptight atmosphere around alcohol at home in hopes that it will lower kids’ desire to engage in risky drinking when they are away from home are building on a faulty premise.  The truth is that parents are influential in forming attitudes toward substance use.  If the parents are accepting and permissive about alcohol use,that is the message kids take away.  Parents who want to lower the risk of alcohol misuse do better to be very clear about the dangers of underage drinking.  Words and actions that reinforce that message are more effective in reducing bad alcohol choices by kids. Rather than promote alcohol use, parents should help teens learn about the consequences of underage drinking.

Parents who think their teen may already be engaged in alcohol use should not wait to seek help for both the addiction or dependence, and the mental health problems like chronic depression that often accompany alcohol use. Family Guidance Center can help with the mental health symptoms and illnesses that often go hand in hand with teen alcohol or substance use.  Early intervention is important to help teens who struggle with alcohol abuse.

 

June Kicks off PTSD Awareness Month – What Can You Do to Help?

19327601_sJust coming off the cusp of the Memorial Day holiday, celebrating the sacrifices and bravery of our armed forces remains fresh in most of our minds. What may be less talked about is the psychological trauma that many continue to harbor within upon returning home from service. This trauma can lead to post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Congress has set aside the month of June as PTSD Awareness Month, a time to bring attention to the condition and what can be done to help those living in its wing.

Typically, PTSD develops as a response to extreme trauma. Not everyone who experiences trauma will go on to develop PTSD, but those who do usually have stress reactions that intensify over time. Unchecked, symptoms can impair normal, everyday functioning. While mental health authorities are still unclear why certain people develop PTSD while others do not, there are individuals who seem to be more susceptible than others. It should be noted that PTSD does not always originate from wartime trauma. Any highly stressful event such as being the victim of a violent crime, living through a natural disaster, or even going through the pangs of childbirth can trigger the stress response.

An article published by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs offers some tips regarding what each of us can do to increase awareness and support those with PTSD who either aren’t aware of the condition, or who feel the need to remain silent because of stigma. As part of the “Take a Step” campaign, we are all invited to:

  • Challenge our opinions and understanding of PTSD

  • Expand our knowledge of the condition

  • Research treatment options

  • Take a stand and help someone in need

Reaching out for help with PTSD requires a lot of courage and support. Through awareness and understanding, we can break down barriers that impede those from getting the care they need. The Family Guidance Center would like everyone to know that there are effective treatment programs for PTSD which can improve symptoms considerably, but the first step is to seek assistance. To learn more about PTSD or treatment plans, contact the Family Guidance Center.