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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Howie Mandel: Shaking Hands is No Deal

As a viewer, you may have tuned in and watched the show Deal or No Deal with host Howie Mandel, aOCD 2 television actor, host, and comedian originally born in Canada. What you might not know is that Mandel
rarely ever shakes hands with anyone, including contestants on his show because he has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and an irrational fear of germs. Mandel has also been known to douse himself in hand sanitizer before extending a hand to The Tonight Show host Jay Leno when appearing on the program recently as a guest.

According to an interview with CNN, Mandel’s OCD started when he was a child. Though, at the time, he didn’t understand what made him not want to touch his dirty shoe laces. The condition left him feeling isolated even though the National Institutes of Health stimates that OCD affects more than 2 million Americans.

The problem, says Mandel, is that our country still views mental disorders in a negative light and has disproportionate resources for coping with issues of mental health as opposed to other areas of wellness including medical and dental care. He advocates that mental health, particularly youth mental health, is
deserving of the same attention we give to other aspects of healthcare and that it’s unjust for people to feel shamed for seeking help with depression when they are encouraged to see a professional for say, a routine infection.

Mandel, who also lives with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression, says that OCD is complicated. Sometimes he is more affected by it than other times. And while he knows that touching someone’s hand is physically not going to kill him, there have been times when he can’t keep his mind from racing when just such an encounter occurs.

As Mandel has proven, it is possible to live a successful life in the midst of mental illness. The first step is to talk to a mental health professional if you suspect something out of the ordinary. Family Guidance
Center has mental health professionals  trained in helping both children and adults work through various issues
affecting mental health. To learn more, contact a team member at your local Family Guidance Center.

Mental Illness is Common but Hard to Identify

ADHD 7There are many forms of mental illness that can occur during the childhood years. Conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, eating disorders, and substance abuse are fairly common among youth but may initially be hard to identify. Young children especially may have difficulty putting their feelings into words and may only be able to express that they “don’t feel good”.

There are other factors which may interfere with a diagnosis of mental illness. Symptoms of mental health concerns may be intertwined. For instance, a child could be affected by both depression and an eating disorder or anxiety and ADHD. Since children are still in a crucial stage of development, it can be easy to chalk symptoms up to growing pains or simply going through a phase.

So how do you as a parent know when to be concerned? Speak to your child’s pediatrician if you notice any of the following:

  • An abrupt change in sleeping or eating habits.
  • A sudden loss of interest in school or persistent poor grades.
  • Change of personality. For instance, a once happy, upbeat child becomes emotional, distant or exceptionally nervous.
  • Pattern of substance use.
  • Difficulty interacting with others at home or at school.

The bottom line is, if you are a parent concerned about mental illness, listen to your instincts. It’s better to have something checked out than to ignore a potential problem that could evolve and worsen over time. Additionally, early identification and attention to mental health conditions typically yield the best treatment options.

If your pediatrician suspects a mental health concern may be present, he or she can help connect you to a mental health professional who is better equipped to provide the care and services your child needs and deserves. School counselors and other families living with mental illness are also excellent sources of support.

Family Guidance Center is committed to walking families through the process of coping with mental illness. Last year alone, Family Guidance Center was able to provide assistance to nearly 1,000 children across 50 schools. Mental health is a manageable disease; contact Family Guidance Center to learn more about programs geared toward youth.


Six Signs of Childhood Mental Illness

ADHD 9Most parents want what is best for their children and work hard to ensure they have every opportunity possible to achieve their true potential. This can be challenging, however, for the child living with an untreated mental illness. Since children mainly rely on their parents to spot such concerns, it’s beneficial for moms and dads to have a good understanding of what mental illness is and what it might look like in their kids.

Common mental health conditions in children include anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism spectrum disorders with some children experiencing more serious conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Just as with any physical ailment a child might have to overcome, untreated mental illness can impact a youngster’s ability to interact with others and perform well at school.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are certain signs for which parents should be vigilant which could indicate the existence of a mental health condition:


  1. Poor concentration. Evidenced through fidgeting, difficulty paying attention, or general inability to sit still.
  2. Abrupt changes in mood. While everyone experiences ups and downs, parents should watch for withdrawal or intense sadness that persists for two weeks or longer. Any enduring changes in mood that affect relationships with others should also be noted.
  3. Increase in aggression or risky behavior. Look for a sudden increase in fighting or violent words or actions toward others.
  4. Changes in stature. Sudden weight loss could be indicative of conditions such as anorexia or bulimia.
  5. Selfharm. Cutting or self-mutilation may be a cry for help for those experiencing suicidal thoughts or tendencies.
  6. Drug or alcohol use. These substances could be used to numb symptoms or as an escape from reality.

If you suspect that your child might be affected by a mental health disorder, contact Family Guidance Center. Mental illness is highly treatable and often the best prognosis is achieved when conditions are addressed early on. Don’t let stigma or misinformation stand in the way of your child being the best he or she can be; visit familyguidance.org to learn more.

Five Tips to Supporting Your Partner Through Bipolar Disorder

When someone you love is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it can create unique challenges within theBipolar Disorder 2 relationship. Maybe you always knew something was different but couldn’t quite put your finger on it. Receiving a bipolar diagnosis does not change a person, but it does create a better opportunity for the affected individual to access the professional care and support they deserve. And of course, some of the most important backing will come from you, the spouse or life partner who is daily standing by their side.

It’s important to understand that bipolar disorder does impact how a person feels and behaves. Educating yourself about the disease, however, and learning how to support your mate through it will help ensure that both of you get what you need from one another. Here are five tips for nurturing a loving and respectful relationship despite the condition.

  1. Extend some grace. As with any ailment, physical or mental, there will be good days and bad. While medication and treatment plans will help minimize symptoms, there is no set cure. Initially, episodes may even worsen as the individual tries to work through their feelings and emotions.
  2. Don’t underestimate your role in symptom management. Attend appointments and address any concerns you might have with a mental health professional. Don’t be afraid to assist your loved one in staying on track with prescribed medications.
  3. Be positive and encouraging. Giving your partner your vote of confidence may provide just the mental boost needed to make it through a tough day.
  4. Be vigilant of triggers. Being aware of catalysts and signs of impending mood shifts can help minimize episodes and make them more tolerable. When episodes do occur, the best strategy is to talk through them and reassure your support.
  5. Know there will be limitations. Some household chores such as managing the finances might be best suited for you because they could otherwise ignite a certain level of unnecessary stress.

Working through a bipolar diagnosis and beginning a plan to manage symptoms may take time and patience. However, it doesn’t have to define a person’s life. If you would like more resources or assistance with helping a loved one manage bipolar disorder, contact Family Guidance Center.

Overcoming Depression: Seeing Life Through a Different Set of Eyes

Anyone who thinks they are immune to experiencing depression does not understand the disease. While there are many life scenarios linked to depression, when sickness and disease strike, many people go through a time of depression. When he was diagnosed with keratoconus, an aggressive eye disorder that leads to progressive blindness, Olympic bobsledder, Steven Holcomb discovered firsthand that having a chronic physical illness can definitely take a toll on one’s mental health.Olympics 1

As his keratocconus worsened, Holcomb began to feel a distinct change in his personality. He started withdrawing from others and became overcome with depression. He tried various treatments, but to no avail. Eventually he memorized the vision test given to U.S. athletes because he didn’t want his teammates to discover just how bad his eyesight was, a discovery that might end his career.

According to Holcomb, it’s one thing to be born without sight but quite another to find yourself growing more and more blind each day. In 2007, his sight had deteriorated to a devastating level, and his depression got the best of him. He found himself secluded in a hotel room downing a deadly combination of whiskey and 73 sleeping pills. Despite his attempt at suicide, Holcomb woke up to see another day. It was in that moment he knew he was alive for a reason and had been instilled with a greater purpose.

After 12 years searching for a cure, in 2008, his efforts paid off. Holcomb stumbled upon Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler in Beverly  Hills who was able to surgically restore his sight to 20/20. Undergoing the innovative, new procedure allowed Holcomb to continue his career, and he even went on to win the gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Holcomb initially didn’t want to discuss his condition with anyone because he didn’t want to be perceived as weak. A true overcomer, he describes his life journey as “tough”, but “amazing”. As Holcomb’s story
proves, however, success lies in persistence, how we choose to view life’s tough situations, and reaching out to others for help when needed.

Every day, Family Guidance Center works with adults and children affected by depression and other mental illness. While mental illness isn’t something that is chosen, it doesn’t have to define the course of a person’s life. With support programs like that offered through Family Guidance Center, there is hope for a brighter future.