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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Family and Friends Important in the Management of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder 1Bipolar disorder can be a lonely disease, but it doesn’t have to be. While friends and family members are important to staying healthy, in states of mania or depression,  they are often the first to be cut off from the affected person’s life. Stigma can cause individuals to withhold information about their condition, but that only serves to make matters worse. Being forthright with issues of mental health is the easiest way to help others understand and gain support.

A recent article found at WebMD underscores some ways to initiate open and honest communication with loved ones and peers.

  • Develop a support network Pick several people that you trust to be members of your support team. One person is not sufficient. Parents, siblings, other family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or even a social worker or pastor can all be integral should an emergency occur.

  • Teach them about bipolar disorder Let family and friends know that highs and lows are normal symptoms of the condition and educate them regarding what to expect when you have an episode. Discuss any pertinent treatment plans and advise that their involvement is crucial in your management of the disorder. If you have children, they also should receive an age-appropriate explanation of the disorder so that they are not fearful.

  • Devise a plan It’s hard to think clearly in a state of mania or depression. Having a plan in place with specific boundaries ensures you get help when you need it but also prevents a well-meaning person from being too overbearing. Talk about what will happen if things get out of control. For instance, in a state of mania, maybe a family member takes your keys to prevent rash behavior.

  • Get help Research indicates that about 4 percent of the population may be affected by symptoms of bipolar disorder. You are not alone. Keep contact with friends and family and fight the urge to withdraw.

For the past 100 years, professionals at the Family Guidance Center have been working to reduce stigma and help those with mental illness live happier, healthier lives. There are many different types of treatment available for those with bipolar disorder, and many people with this illness can lead productive, successful lives. If you would like to learn more about the disease or have questions, contact Family Guidance Center.

PTSD – How You Can Help Someone in Need

PTSD 1Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder (ASD) can be brought on by a number of different events. Victims of violent crime such as rape or robbery, those who have served time in war, and even women who have undergone traumatic childbirth experiences can develop such disorders. While individuals with ASD will only exhibit symptoms within the first 30 days after the event, those living with PTSD may experience symptoms that persist indefinitely.

PTSD can make it difficult to accomplish daily routines. Tasks such as attending work, going to school, or managing finances may create significant anxiety or difficulty for someone with the disorder. Individuals with PTSD may suddenly seem detached from loved ones and uninterested in things that were once important to them.

Fortunately, PTSD is treatable and many of those who seek treatment experience a high rate of success in adjusting back to a normal life. Many times we feel as though we have to fix things when a loved one exhibits problematic symptoms. But an article presented by the Mayo Clinic suggests that there are more effective ways to be of support.

It’s important to let your loved ones know that their feelings are important to you and that you are willing to listen when they are ready to share. However, they must first be open to discussion so the best course of action is to just be reassuring and not pushy.

When they do express a readiness to communicate, pick a time and place where you can quietly sit down and talk. Don’t interrupt or interject your own feelings on the matter. It’s best to simply listen. If the conversation becomes overwhelming at any point, it’s ok to initiate a break or resume the conversation at a later date. Take all talk of suicide seriously and never leave a person in this state alone or with any items that might be used for harm.

Learn the facts about ASD and PTSD – those who are informed are better prepared to help those in need. Family Guidance Center is a great resource for help and has mental health professionals available to help walk your loved one through the process of recovery.

April Marks National Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol-use disorders affect over 18 million people living across the country. But the effects of alcohol are even broader still – children, spouses, other loved ones, and friends also carry the burden of alcoholism. It is estimated that a quarter of all American children have resided in households where one or more family members had an alcohol problem.

According to a report revealed on NCADD’s website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that alcohol abuse costs the U.S. economy somewhere in the neighborhood of $223.5 billion each year. The price associated with alcohol abuse comes in the form of lost productivity at work, increased healthcare costs, extra burdens on the legal and criminal justice systems, and vehicular accidents stemming from intoxication.

This year marks the 27th anniversary that the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month. Since 1987, every April the organization calls awareness to the issue in the hopes of educating the public regarding the dangers of alcohol and reducing stigma that frequently stands in the way of people getting help.

This year’s theme is entitled “Help for Today. Hope for Tomorrow,” and highlights the importance of early prevention and treatment efforts. Data shows that adolescent alcohol use which precedes the age of 15 quadruples a person’s risk of developing an adult-onset alcohol addiction as compared to those who didn’t start consuming alcohol until at least the age of 20.

Children with poor support networks or those with depression or anxiety are at higher risk of alcohol abuse. So are kids who experience trouble in school or who have family members who abuse alcohol. Studies show that children do care what their parents think about underage drinking and that parental involvement and education are key to decreasing levels of alcohol consumption.

Alcohol use is tied to higher instances of crime, divorce, car accidents, and domestic abuse. If you or someone you love needs help coping with alcoholism, the Family Guidance Center can help you take those first critical steps toward sobriety and living a happier, healthier life.


Substance Abuse and ADHD Often Linked

Substance abuse and mental health disorders often go hand-in-hand. It can be difficult to pinpoint whether drug use causes mental health concerns or if undiagnosed mental health problems open the door for substance abuse. In all actuality, experts say that it can occur both ways. Those living with mental health problems might use drugs to cope with symptoms, while other individuals under the influence of drugs discover that the capacity to disrupt the brain’s normal development from the drug use may lead to compromised mental health.

A Psychology Today article also points out that adolescents may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of substance abuse as their brains are still growing and developing. Ironically, ADHD in adolescence has been linked to higher rates of drug abuse. A decade-long study whose results were released in 2011, uncovered that individuals with ADHD had nearly a 50 percent higher risk of turning to substance abuse at some point in their lives when compared to others without an ADHD diagnosis.

ADHD 4Some parents questions whether it is the ADHD medications themselves that lead to a greater likelihood of later substance abuse. Because there were almost 3 million children and adolescents prescribed ADHD medications in 2007 alone, it’s understandable why parents might be concerned. Though, many studies on the subject can put that fear to rest as there has been no credible evidence linking stimulant use among kids with ADHD to higher instances of drug experimentation or later substance abuse.

In fact, research seems to support the exact opposite. One study made public in 2008, examined 114 children with ADHD for half a decade. And while 94 percent received stimulant treatment, the group was at nearly a 75 percent reduced risk of developing a problem with substance abuse despite their use of medication.

Experts say that it’s important to be aware of the co-existence of mental health and substance use disorders. Mental health professionals at the Family Guidance Center can help individuals sort through symptoms so that one or both conditions can be correctly diagnosed and treated. If you suspect that a loved one may be affected by either an issue of mental health or substance abuse, help is available through Family Guidance Center.

Frequent Moving Takes a Toll on Low-Income Children

Children Mental Health 1It’s often a difficult decision to pick up and move one’s family to another location. Though, sometimes circumstances don’t leave much of a choice. It’s not uncommon for parents to be concerned about uprooting their school-aged children, especially when they have already formed strong friendships and emotional bonds with students at their current school. But what about children under 5 who haven’t officially started attending classes yet?

Research shows that children of lower income families seem to be most affected by the process of moving. A study conducted by investigators at Cornell University in partnership with the National Employment Law Project uncovered that although moving is something that many of us experience at some point over the course of our lifetimes, children living in poverty are forced to relocate three times or more before their fifth birthday. Many experience more problems with depression, anxiety, and paying attention.

As part of the investigation covered in a recent Psych Central report, researchers examined data for over 2,800 children taken from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. They were particularly concerned with the impact of persistent relocations on children’s preparedness for coursework in a classroom setting.

Data indicates that families in the lower income bracket tend to move more frequently than others, and that the housing crisis and tumbling job market have driven low-income families to seek out work and affordable housing wherever they can find it. Study results also showed that increased behavioral issues only seemed to occur amongst children of low-income families.

Moving can be stressful. If you or someone you know has been forced to relocate several times with young children, assistance for problems like anxiety, depression or related mental health conditions can be found at the Family Guidance Center. Mental health professionals are available to all, regardless of income, and can help provide families and children with mental health support they need adjusting to a new environment. For more information on relocation assistance, contact the Family Guidance Center.