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Monthly Archives: June 2015

New Schizophrenia Study Will Investigate Possible Contributors to Rapid Aging

Research to Help Understand and Treat Rapid Aging Effects of Schizophrenia

schizophreniaSchizophrenia is a chronic mental illness that affects approximately one percent of the adult U.S. population. The illness deeply affects the individual’s personality. Common symptoms include experiencing delusions and difficulty discerning between real and imagined events. This disconnect with reality typically leads to social isolation.

The illness is also often accompanied by hurried physical aging, including the serious physical health problems usually encountered later in life. The physiological companions to schizophrenia are the main reason why the lifespan of a person with the illness is often cut short by as much as 25 years. A National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) funded study will look deeper into this association.

Previous research has shown that the body of a person with schizophrenia actually ages faster than normal. In the past, healthcare professionals attributed the rapid aging to limited availability of treatment. However, despite significant improvements in treatment access and therapies, physiological ill-effects can remain. The planned study will therefore look deeper for new answers to improve treatment. The study is scheduled to last five years and will closely examine 250 plus middle-aged patients with schizophrenia.

Once each year for five years, study participants will undergo medical and psychiatric scrutiny. Investigators plan to track things like oxidative stress, telomere length, insulin dysregulation, cell aging and how taking one or more medications over a period of years may impact the aging process. By looking at the biological mechanisms of aging as well as the impact of current drug therapies, researchers aim to find out what leads to the speeding up of aging. Then new treatments could be devised to slow down the process more.

If someone in your life is affected by schizophrenia, directly or indirectly, you need to learn all you can about this mental health condition. People living with the illness and those caring for them need a place to go where someone understands the challenges they are facing. At Family Guidance Center we can be that place. Call us or stop by today.

Women More Apt Than Men to Develop a Mood Disorder

Researchers Believe Female Hormones Could Trigger a Mood Disorder for Women

mood disorderWhen studying illness researchers are interested not only in how the disease behaves and progresses, but also in what may cause or contribute to the development of the illness in the first place. Risk factors are those things which seem to make a person more likely to contract or develop specific health issues. Risk factors can be behavioral (e.g. smoking may lead to lung cancer), they can be hereditary (certain illnesses run in families) and they can be environmental (loud work environments may cause hearing loss). For some conditions, even your gender may pose a risk factor. Women, for example, are two times more apt than men to experience a mood disorder.

Hormones Could be Attributed
One reason that women may be more susceptible to developing a mood disorder could stem from their hormone system. Investigators believe that hormones are linked to mood disorders because it is only during a woman’s reproductive years that there is a measurable difference in the prevalence of mood disorder between men and women. Before and after that season of life mood disorders seem to affect similar numbers of males and females.

In fact, hormones and mood disorder could be symbiotic. Women face a higher risk of mood disorder around hormonal events such as menstruation, childbirth and menopause. At the same time, the presence of a mood disorder can impact hormonal events such as early menopause. This means that if you are a woman still in childbearing years, it’s important that you not ignore any signs of a mood disorder.

Mood disorders can become chronic and persistent — but they are manageable with help from experienced mental health professionals. Please contact us at Family Guidance Center. We understand and we can help.

The Connection Between Mental Health and Physical Health

How Treating Depression Aids Both Mental Health and Physical Health

When a person is living with depression, it can impact their everyday quality of life. It can also impact their physical health. The connectionmental health and physical health between mental health and physical health is strong. And just as chronic illness may lead to depression, depression can deepen the symptoms of physical illness. If you treat depression effectively it can actually help to alleviate some physical discomforts associated with chronic medical conditions.

The mental health and physical health link works in both directions. If you have untreated depression, you are more susceptible to some physical conditions such as heart disease, irritable bowel, stroke, back pain or certain kinds of cancer. On the flip side, patients living with these kinds of chronic illnesses are more vulnerable to developing depression. Thus, whichever came first, the association between mental health and physical health persists.

By treating your depression you can significantly impact your physical health and your quality of life. Treatment for depression may include use of antidepressant medication, but not necessarily. Sometimes, lifestyle changes such as adding moderate exercise into your daily schedule and paying attention to your sleep routine (sleep hygiene) can be enough to turn things around. A short-term course of cognitive behavioral therapy which helps you learn to take charge of thought patterns is another way to help clear the fog of depression.

What matters most is that you realize the importance of addressing depression. It could trigger other health matters or make existing health matters worse. Either way, taking steps to address your depression is a smart move. At Family Guidance Center we can help you find the treatment which will be most effective in dealing with your depression. Call us today and take the first step toward a better quality of life.

Social Anxiety is More Than Feeling Nervous

Ignoring Social Anxiety Can Lead to Other Mental Health Challenges

social anxietyWhile most people feel nervous or even scared to be in front of a group of people, those feelings are not the same as social anxiety. Worry about how you’ll appear to others or how you will perform in front of others is a common and natural emotion. Social anxiety includes those things, but it goes beyond the infrequent butterflies of social demands. Anxiety goes hand in hand with the overwhelming conviction that you will fail or be judged negatively. It isn’t just worry, it’s the inner certainty that somehow you just are not good enough.

For the person with this form of anxiety, the fear of experiencing failure or rejection is overpowering enough to cause physical symptoms like sweating, headaches, rapid heartbeat, muscle twitching, stomach ache or dizziness. Those symptoms, while unpleasant don’t seem overly concerning in themselves, however, the desire to avoid them is what makes this kind of anxiety problematic.

The desire to avoid such experiences often leads a person to withdraw from healthy social interaction. If you are dreading every place where you might become the center of attention, you find ways to escape those situations. Pretty soon, you begin avoiding situations where you might be noticed. The social isolation frequently leads to depression.

Social anxiety is not a rare condition. It affects 15 million adult Americans. The symptoms usually begin around age 13 – a time when insecurities are common. More than one-third of those with social anxiety wait 10 years or longer to seek out help. By then, the condition has usually become highly disruptive in terms of everyday living.

If your fear of being judged harshly seems to control where you go and what you do, it’s time to do something about it. Call the Family Guidance Center, we can help. Ignoring your anxiety will only make things worse.