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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Navigating the Stress of the Holidays With a Mental Illness

Holiday Stress 1Holiday time usually means crunch time. The pressure of activities and the stress of shopping and preparing can feel like too much for anyone. When a person is living with a mental illness, added pressure can seem overwhelming. Here is some expert advice on how to cope with holiday stress when life already feels challenging enough.

1. Keep your healthy routine
With all the seasonal demands on your time, be extra careful to protect those things which help you be your best. Safeguard your sleep. Don’t skip exercising. Have some relaxed social time.

2. Be realistic
It likely won’t be possible to attend every event, prepare perfect food for every meal, or meet everyone else’s expectations. So do some planning and decide what you can and what you cannot do. If saying “no” makes you feel guilty, ask your counselor or a friend to help keep you accountable to limiting
your activities.

3. Identify your stressors
Maybe being with family is a major stress factor for you. If so, consider just showing up for pie and coffee rather than for the entire day. Or, have a temporary escape avenue – like walking the dog or calling a supportive friend. Your friend may appreciate the time-out from her family for a few minutes as well. Whatever it is that makes you feel overwhelmed, have a plan for coping in advance.

4. Don’t isolate
If you are struggling when everyone around you seems happy it may be tempting to withdraw and isolate yourself. Instead, call a trusted friend. Maybe meet them for lunch. As much as you want to pull away – resist the temptation. The only way to halt the downward spiral is with an upward decision.

5. Don’t drink, do laugh
Alcohol will not help your feeling of being overwhelmed and in fact can make the situation worse.  On the other hand, research has shown laughter to be good best medicine for stress, so be sure to laugh a lot. Check out a funny movie. Read the comic section of your newspaper. Play a fun game.

If you’ve been trying to hold it together on your own but the holidays make you feel pushed to your limit, there’s no need to feel alone. The team at Family Guidance Center understands what you’re going through. Give them a call to find help and support even in the midst of a busy season.

ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas Seeks Treatment For Alcohol Dependency

News 1Coming forward and confronting a problem with substance abuse can be difficult for anyone. But for someone in the public eye, that pressure is presumably amplified. Elizabeth Vargas, 51, long-time reporter for ABC News recently checked into a treatment facility for alcohol dependency.

ABC News was quick to voice its support for Vargas, who is also an anchor for 20/20 and has had a 20 year history in network news. The network is proud of Elizabeth’s bravery in confronting her illness and is ready to have her back says Jeffrey Schneider, spokesman for ABC News. Vargas is considered more like family than an employee of ABC News, where her work in the industry has earned her positive recognition.

Vargas’ network career began in 1993 with NBC before she later transitioned to ABC. Vargas was a familiar face on Good Morning America while Robin Roberts was away receiving bone marrow transplant. Many also know Vargas from World News Tonight where she worked as co-anchor with Bob Woodruff until he suffered a serious injury caused by an explosion while covering a story in Iraq.

Vargas says she hopes that by publically admitting her dependency and seeking help that she can encourage others dealing with alcoholism to also do the same. The reporter decided it was time to get professional help after she realized her reliance on the drug was growing increasingly stronger. She credits her strength to her family and friends who, like her employer, have supported her along the way. “…..we will support her in every way we can,” said Schneider.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., alcoholism affects nearly one out of every 12 adults in the United States, making it the most abused substance in the country.

Recovery is a daily journey, but one that doesn’t have to be walked alone. Family Guidance offers a comprehensive approach to treatment that includes options for both inpatient and outpatient care coupled with a social detoxification program. Visit familyguidance.org to learn more about beating dependency.



New Rules Mean New Hope For Mental Health Care Access

After a year of evening news stories about mass shootings and the mental illness that inspired them, President Obama has taken decisive action that should make it easier to access mental health services for 62 million Americans. The President has imposed new rules that require insurance companies to provide coverage for mental health care that is comparable to coverage offered for all other types of illnesses.

The rules are due in part to implementation of the president’s signature Obamacare health policy and in Obamacare 1part to a law written in 2008 which prescribed greater parity for mental health care services. The move is welcomed by mental health professionals who have long hoped to see the removal of prejudicial distinctions between physical and mental illness. In other words, the more that mental health is treated as a normal part of overall health, the fewer stigmas there should be in seeking out services.

But, stigma is not the only thing being lowered by the President’s rules. These rules should also lower bureaucratic red tape that keeps people from the help they need. For example, in the past, a person with a physical injury who showed up at the hospital emergency room was admitted and given treatment before submitting to the insurance company. On the other hand, a person with a mental concern like depression or suicidal feelings was required to get the okay from their insurance company first, before receiving treatment. No longer.

The new rules further impose parity by allowing mental health patients to go out-of-state in order to get the best or most appropriate treatment. Cancer patients have long been able to seek out care from treatment centers in other states. Now, persons looking for help with substance abuse or mental illness will be able to do the same.

The new rules offer hope that more people will receive the treatment they need as the barriers to that help are removed. If someone you know is struggling with mental health concerns please contact The Family Guidance Center today.

DO’s and DON’Ts For Aiding a Loved One With Depression

Alcoholism 4

Depression is an illness that can be very isolating. A depressed person may not even realize why they are depressed or understand that there is an underlying biological cause for feeling melancholy. Family and friends can play an important role in helping to support their loved one through the process of confronting and treating depression.

When a person is experiencing depression, they may become confrontational and offering support can be difficult. However, during a time of crisis, family members and friends are often the most influential people in the affected person’s life and can have a tremendous impact, despite efforts to push them away. During this time, empathy, patience and persistence go a long way toward encouraging recovery.

The following are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to familial involvement in depression:

  • DO make efforts to reach out even if the affected person seems withdrawn and doesn’t want help.
  • DO understand that recovery is possible and remain positive and encouraging.
  • DO continue to include the depressed person in family discussions, events, and everyday matters.
  • DO talk openly and honestly about the condition including treatment, hospitalization if applicable and expectations.
  • DO follow doctor’s orders and be strong for the loved one.
  • DON’T try and tell a depressed person how to feel or what to think.
  • DON’T undermine treatment efforts by downplaying the illness such as chalking it up to a phase or a need for a vacation, more vitamins, etc.
  • DON’T ridicule the person for their concerns or fears no matter how irrational they might seem.
  • DON’T expect functioning beyond what someone is capable, for example, getting out if they don’t feel like it.

With depression it’s important to take one day at a time. Everyone appreciates some periods of being alone. And while it’s important to respect a depressed individual’s space, experts say it is better to err on the side of caution when it comes to involvement even if it seems efforts are futile.

Family Guidance Center offers coordinated care programs for those living with depression. Everyone has times when they experience symptoms of depression, but depression doesn’t have to define a person or dictate the course of their life. Help is available. For more information, contact Family Guidance Center.


What Everyone Should Know About American Mental Health

Mental Health 13The term mental illness still has a negative connotation for many Americans. This is partially due to lack of education and understanding of what it means to be affected by a mental health condition. Still others have let television and the movies, which often focus on extremes, shape their opinions of mental illness.

Sadly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only little more than half of adults in this country feel that the public sympathizes with those living with mental illness. Those experiencing symptoms of a mental disorder also feel the disconnect, with three-quarters reporting that American adults don’t show concern for people affected by mental health conditions.

The paradox is that mental illness is fairly common in the United States, and its prevalence has been increasing over the last several decades. Part of the reason for the increase is advancements in identifying and treating the disease. Looking around, there are about 20 percent of adults that live with mental illness on any given day says SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Per 2011 figures, severe mental illness affects up to 11.5 million Americans age 18 and older.

The most prevalent mental health conditions faced by Americans include disorders related to depression and anxiety. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 2005-2006, those between the ages of 40 and 59 were at twice the risk of depression as the rest of the population. CDC data also indicates that psychological stress and poverty go hand-in-hand. Yet, per 2007 figures, not even half of those reporting serious mental distress had sought treatment the year prior.

For years, Family Guidance has been working within the community to stamp out stigma related to mental illness. Stigma can serve as a barrier to keep those who need help from getting it, but many people who seek help lead very productive lives despite mental illness. Learn the truth about mental illness, visit familyguidance.org.