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Tag Archives: depression

How to Identify Mental Health Concerns in the Elderly

Mental Health 9Mental illness affects individuals of all ages, including the elderly. While it may come as no surprise that dementia stemming from Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent form of mental illness in the aging population, what might be unexpected is that many older individuals also experience a number of mood disorders and depression.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as one in five adults in their mid-fifties report a mental illness of some type. However, almost a third of this population does not get the needed help.

One factor inhibiting the elderly from getting treatment is that they are less apt to report psychological symptoms than they are physical health concerns. But poor physical health can also take a toll on mental health. For instance, feeling physically unwell can increase one’s risk for developing symptoms of depression.


According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, there are several factors that could compromise an elderly person’s mental health:

•           Losing independence or being relocated because of an inability to care for oneself

•           Experiencing the death of a spouse or other loved one

•           Taking medications that interfere with one another

•           Engaging in substance abuse

•           Not maintaining a healthy diet

•           Living with a disability or chronic illness

It’s important to learn the facts about senior mental health. Oftentimes mental illness is confused with the natural process of aging. But depressive symptoms that persist beyond two weeks or a sudden loss of concern for things once important could be red flags of something more serious. Other factors to lookout for include thoughts or talk of suicide or worthlessness, changes in appearance, housekeeping, or grounds maintenance, lack of energy with no explanation, altered sleep patterns, and withdrawal from the outside world.

Armed with knowledge, caregivers and family members can stay vigilant of changes in aging loved ones so that they can get support in the event of a problem. If you suspect something out of the ordinary, contact Family Guidance Center.

Army Designates Month of October For National Depression Awareness

11183369_sDepression affects individuals in every profession and walk of life, including the military. As part of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, all soldiers deploying or coming home after being displaced have to be screened for depression. Depression can be easy to overlook as everyone has periods of being down, especially when being separated from family.

Per an Army resource, 67 percent of those with depression don’t get the help they need. For that reason, the Army has designated the month of October as National Depression Awareness Month. During this time, free mental health screenings are available and the focus shifts to educating soldiers and their families regarding the signs of depression.

Depression symptoms persist for an extended period of time and can include feelings of hopelessness, sadness, anxiety, negative thoughts, lack of concentration, disrupted sleep patterns, and the use of drugs and alcohol to help self-medicate. Screenings offered by the government can help affected individuals identify when there is a problem and determine the proper course of treatment. The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs are sources for screenings as are local community health agencies.

Clinical depression is not to be taken lightly. Left unchecked, the condition can result in suicidal thoughts or acts. But if there’s one message that Major General Gregg Potter had for his soldiers, it’s that getting help is not a sign of weakness, but rather strength.

Major General Potter served as commanding general for the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca. He was a keynote speaker at last year’s Stand Down Day for Suicide Prevention held at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. His advice was to reach out and try and talk with those who might be acting differently in an effort to get them the help they need.

Depression is highly treatable. If you know someone who is living with depression, contact Family Guidance Center to learn more about help in your area.

Do the Fall and Winter Months Leave You SAD? Tips for Confronting Seasonal Affective Disorder

SAD 1As fall and winter months approach, the days become shorter and daylight diminishes. Meanwhile, colder weather and bad conditions dictate that individuals spend more time indoors. While this can cause anyone to go a little stir-crazy, some individuals experience a more serious condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is actually a form of depression, and people with the condition find themselves in a persistent sadness that coincides with the change in the seasons.

The signs of SAD are very similar to traditional depression except that with SAD, symptoms are mainly triggered during the more dismal fall and winter months. Affected individuals may experience a loss of interest in things once important, abrupt changes in mood, irritability, changes in appetite and sleep, and lack of focus. SAD may also lead to poor grades at school, diminished performance at work, and a desire to sequester oneself from others.

SAD can be draining, but there are things that can be done to help. Light therapy, a form of treatment where individuals are exposed to a type of light similar to the natural light of the sun, has been known to provide some relief. But perhaps the best line of defense is to be preemptive when it comes to confronting symptoms.

According to Dr. Devin Byrd of South University’s College of Health   Professions, it’s beneficial to be aware of one’s habits, anxiety levels and social involvement. Experts recommend partaking in regular exercise such as yoga or walking, getting sufficient sleep, eating a nutritious diet, and making time for leisure activities with family and friends.

Now that fall is here, if you or someone you know is experiencing an unexplained loss of energy or a feeling of perpetually being down, it may be time to talk to a professional about Seasonal Affective Disorder. Family Guidance Center has therapists trained in providing assistance with various forms of depression. To set up a screening or to get more information about SAD, contact Family Guidance Center.

The Face of Depression

Depression 1Depression is a disease of the brain affecting at least one of every 10 American adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Depression isn’t usually something that can be spotted from the outside. In fact, ask the ever common question, “How are you”, upon crossing paths with someone who happens to have depression and the likely response will probably be something polite like, “Fine! How are you?”

While that may be the furthest thing from the truth, it’s ingrained in members of society that it’s not nice to unload one’s private life onto others in casual conversation. Thus, a little white lie is told and everyone keeps moving. While it may be true that that sort of conversation is not appropriate for every person in passing, it is important to note that talking about feelings of depression or being down are important with family, friends, or one’s doctor. If it’s difficult to speak to loved ones or those in the medical profession, it may necessary to open up to a therapist.

Depression is not simply a temporary feeling of being sad. While everyone has his or her ups and downs, depression is not something that just goes away with time. The illness may leave individuals perpetually feeling worthless, unworthy of love or affection, different, cut-off from others, tired, lost, or despondent. At first, some people may not even realize that what they are experiencing is actually depression. They may simply wonder, “What is wrong with me?”

They may further isolate themselves from others and the surface level conversations where they have to pretend that everything is fine. Depression can also lead to thoughts of suicide when affected individuals begin to feel that they are a burden on everyone around them or that the world might just be better off if they weren’t around.

But depression doesn’t have to feel that way. Family Guidance offers coordinated treatment programs to help individuals at home and within their community. To learn more about Family Guidance’s innovative approach to success, visit familyguidance.org.

Could You Spot Pediatric Depression in Your Child?

Pediatric Depression 1For many children, childhood is a fun and carefree time. For others with depression, this may not be the case. Research shows that pediatric depression can manifest itself in children even as young as preschool age. But how can parents distinguish between normal shifts in mood and a more serious mood disorder like depression?

According to author and clinical psychologist, Deborah Serani, PsyD, in her book entitled Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers, there are several signs parents and caretakers can watch for to help identify true pediatric depression.

Here are a few red flags in children that may be cause for further evaluation:

Withdrawing from the outside world or losing interest in things that the child would normally enjoy such as play, school, sports, or hanging out with friends.
Becoming lethargic, tired, or easily agitated. Children may also complain of physical aches or pains.

  • Expressing repeated feelings of worthlessness – not being good enough or not measuring up.
  • Exhibiting a distinct change in behavior that is out of the norm. For instance, a sudden slip in grades or desire to sleep more.
  • Isolating oneself or retreating to a secret hiding spot.

Parents or caregivers who have concerns should take the following actions, said Serani.

  • Talk to a doctor to rule out any medical conditions like anemia, mono, or a streptococcus infection, which could be the cause of depression-like symptoms.
  • If no medical condition is present, visit with a mental health professional trained in mood disorders. Childhood screenings can help identify depression or precursors for depression as well as best-suited options for treatment or intervention.
  • Continue to remain vigilant regarding symptoms. Every child has “off” days. However, symptoms of depression usually endure for more than two weeks and start to affect various aspects of daily life.

If you or someone you know has concerns about pediatric depression, contact Family Guidance Center. Depression isn’t a condition that children simply outgrow, and the best outcome for treatment comes with early attention. Last year alone, Family Guidance helped nearly 1,000 area children. Learn more about free screenings and available programs at familyguidance.org.