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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Geriatric Mental Health Receiving Special Attention

Working to Better Address Mental Health Needs of Seniors

mental healthThe baby boomer generation is hitting retirement age. In fact, older adults now account for 13 percent of our entire U.S. population. The same demographic which has driven so much of American culture is continuing to be in the forefront of our culture – now in the field of mental health care. The issue of geriatric mental health was featured in the fall edition of the influential Harvard Review of Psychiatry. Here are some of the mental health challenges that were highlighted:

Depression

As older adults are confronted with debilitating and sometimes terminal health conditions, depression can be a common side effect. Rather than only working to help older patients with terminal illnesses overcome their depression, mental health professionals are also focusing on quality of life through more palliative treatments.

Dementia

Dementia is a term that is very broad. Experts are seeking to replace it with several terms that will be more specific in terms of degree. Instead of dementia, health care workers will refer to major neurocognitive disorder, mild neurocognitive disorder or delirium. More attention will be paid to catching neurocognitive impairment early (mild) and treating it in its initial stages.

Anxiety

Older adults do experience anxiety and anxiety disorders, but they are frequently difficult to identify because symptoms change with age. Understanding what anxiety disorder looks like in later life is important and will be receiving more medical attention.

As a person’s physical health wavers, mental health can also be affected. The many changes and losses that come with later life can likewise trigger mental illness. At Family Guidance Center we welcome reports of new areas of geriatric study. All of life deserves the best in healthcare –whether in physical or mental health services. Don’t assume that getting older goes hand in hand with feeling sad, or anxious because it doesn’t have to be that way. Come talk with us and see how we can help.

Chronic Depression Can be an After-Effect of Natural Disasters for Some Mothers

The Link Between Natural Disasters and Depression

depressionStories of the aftermath of hurricane Katrina have been many since the disaster. A study called “Hurricane Katrina: Maternal Depression Trajectories and Child Outcomes” appearing in the professional publication Current Psychology reported that 10 percent of moms who lived through Katrina were still experiencing chronic depression two years after the natural catastrophe.

For their research investigators followed 283 moms and their kids who has been living in the south Louisiana area when Katrina hit. For more than two years following the hurricane, investigators collected information used to measure depression from these mothers. They also tracked the mental and behavioral health of the children. For the 10 percent of moms who experienced depression, symptoms were persistent and serious even beyond the two year mark.

Since maternal depression can negatively impact parenting, researchers were also interested in looking for signs of depression and behavior problems in the children post-Katrina. The results were encouraging. Children seemed to not be affected by their mothers’ depression. Kids showed no signs of depression nor of depression-linked negative behaviors.

Moms don’t have to live through something as horrific as a hurricane to become depressed. But as this study reveals, depression symptoms can linger. Even when immediate circumstances improve, symptoms of mood disorder may not. If you are a mom and you have been feeling sad, listless and unmotivated for more than two weeks, you could be depressed.

Not addressing your depression can allow it to worsen. That affects you and those you love. Come to Family Guidance Center for a mental health assessment so we can help you find the treatment that is right for you. We will work with a team of healthcare providers, including your physician, to address the causes and symptoms related to your depression.

Suicide: Who’s at Risk?

The Numbers and Warning Signs for Suicide in the United States

Suicide 2Suicide is a serious problem all around the globe. There are 800,000 suicides worldwide every year (World Health Organization). Worldwide it is the number two cause of death among 15-29 year olds. But what about right here in the United States? What do the numbers show us and who is most at risk?

The Numbers Here at Home

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), suicide is the number three cause of death for U.S. adolescents and the number 10 cause of death for U.S. adults. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes figures which give even greater insight into this problem. According to 2013 numbers published by the CDC, there were 41,149 deaths by suicide that year. 2013 is the most recent year for which these numbers are currently available. The CDC also breaks risk down according to age, sex and ethnicity.

By Age

The largest percentage (19.1 percent) of suicides occurred in the 45-64 year age group. Not far behind were the elderly. An alarming 18.6 percent of those over age 85 took their own lives in 2013. Over 10 percent (10.9 to be exact) were in the 15-24 age range.

By Sex and Ethnicity

In this country, men are four times more likely to take their own life than are women. White males accounted for a staggering 70 percent of all suicides in 2013. While suicide is a serious concern for all ages, races and genders, white men seem particularly at risk.

Warning Flags

It is important to know the warning signs that can alert you to the risk of suicide in someone near you: talk about suicide, aggressiveness, increased substance use, self-isolation, recklessness, and severe mood swings (when their mood suddenly calms it can be a sign of imminent danger).

Should you be concerned about the risk of suicide in someone you love or feel that you may be at risk yourself – reach out and ask for help. You can call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-TALK (8255) any time day or night. You can also ask to talk with someone here at Family Guidance Center. If you sense danger, don’t hesitate to get help.

What You Can do When You Have a Co-Worker With Depression

Recognizing Key Signals That Let You Know You Have a Co-Worker With Depression

co-worker with depressionNearly 10 percent of the U.S. adult population experiences some form of depression every year. That means that someone in your office, perhaps at the desk adjacent to yours, may be dealing with this disease. The likelihood that you will have a co-worker with depression this year or in the years to come is high. How valuable, therefore, for you to become familiar with some of the telltale signs of depression and to know actions you can take to help.

Symptoms

The way to recognize a co-worker with depression is to be alert to common symptoms associated with the disease. Among the most common symptoms are changes in sleeping and/or eating patterns. The person may eat or sleep more or less than normal. Another frequent symptom is the loss of interest in things that used to be enjoyed – including aspects of work. If the person used to like to camp or play sports or work on certain projects but suddenly seems almost entirely uninterested – this could be a warning flag signaling depression. Trouble reaching decisions, negative talk and avoidance of social interactions are all hallmark signs of depression.

Be Supportive

If you suspect a co-worker may be experiencing depression avoid criticizing them for feeling down. Be a listening ear and someone your co-worker can trust to open up to.
Sometimes, it helps to talk with someone who knows how to listen. You can also suggest they seek help with a mental health professional and offer to take them and be a support system for them.

At Family Guidance Center we’ve helped people with all levels of depression. If you think you may have a co-worker with depression, don’t look the other way. Come alongside with support. Practical steps can make a tremendous difference in the life of someone you work with.

PTSD and Children

Understanding the Differences and Similarities in PTSD and Children and PTSD and Adults

PTSD and childrenThe natural instinct of every healthy adult is to protect children. Grown-ups yearn to shield kids not only from harm itself, but even from being exposed to witnessing the danger, pain and hardship of others. Yet our world is filled with potentially traumatizing events. So full, that adults may have become desensitized to what can still alarm children. PTSD and children is a reality which can result from living in such a world.

Traumatic events like physical abuse, neglect or abandonment, or living in a high crime (especially violent crime) area can be self-evident triggers for an anxiety condition such as PTSD. There are, however, less obvious events which may also lead to PTSD in kids. A car accident, a medical procedure, a tornado or house fire can also create fears that refuse to subside. Parental strife, the death of a loved one or a move to a new school can seem far more troubling to children’s eyes than they do to adult ones.

Anytime there is a frightening situation where the child feels powerless and senses that adults are unable (or unwilling) to act as protectors, can become a source of lingering worry. It is the same combination of danger and powerlessness that triggers PTSD in grown-ups. What may differ are the events which make a child versus an adult feel threatened and powerless.

Keep in mind that not all frightening experiences produce PTSD. The same event may be mildly disturbing to one child and yet profoundly disturbing to the next. In this sense, PTSD and children is similar to PTSD and adults. The level of anxiety is unpredictable. Being upset for a time following upsetting circumstances is not PTSD. Most people will feel distressed after living through a fearful event. But if your child still seems shaken and troubled several months after an event, it could be PTSD.

At Family Guidance Center we have experience with PTSD and children. We know what it looks like and we know how to help. If it’s been nine to 12 weeks and your child still seems unduly upset, call us and set up an appointment to meet with one of our mental health professionals.