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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Depression in Summer Could Be SAD

SAD 2A mood disorder known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a form of depression that comes and goes according to the calendar. People with SAD feel depressed at the same time every year. For most, this disorder manifests during the short, dark days of winter when a lack of sunlight dampens the person’s mood. But small minorities of Americans experience another form of SAD, called reverse SAD, and they feel blue during summer. Specialists think that reverse SAD could be caused by over-exposure to sunshine or it may be a reaction not to the sunshine itself, but to high heat.

Relation to Bipolar Disorder
The way SAD manifests itself differs depending upon whether it shows up in winter or summer. For this reason, among others, some experts have connected the condition with another mood disorder; bipolar disorder. In one sense, a person could view SAD as evidencing one end or the other of the bipolar spectrum. People with winter SAD show more of the depressive symptoms associated with bipolar while those with summer SAD evidence more of the manic symptoms.

People with summertime SAD may experience: insomnia, anxiety, irritability or agitation, hopelessness or guilt. Unlike other forms of depression which usually lower a person’s libido, people with summer SAD may actually experience an increase in sex drive. Headaches can also be a symptom of SAD.

Winter Versus Summer
The chief difference between winter and summer SAD has to do with energy. Those with summertime SAD tend to be more energetic while those with winter SAD have low energy and are uninterested in even pleasurable pursuits. Connected to the difference in activity levels is the difference in weight change. Summer SAD often leads to weight loss while winter SAD often produces weight gain.

The other big difference between the two is that winter SAD may improve with light therapy while summer SAD doesn’t get better by sitting indoors in the dark. If you find that you experience depression every summer that seems to get better when fall rolls around you may have summer SAD. This kind of disorder only improves with counseling along with possible medication. If this describes you, call Family Guidance today and talk with an expert.

Heroin Addiction Could Fast Replace Addiction to Prescription Drugs

Addiction 6It’s being reported in news publications all across the country. Heroin is no longer a back alley, inner city drug used by the disenfranchised – it’s quickly replacing prescription drugs as the preferred substance for white, middle and upper-middle class suburbanites. A recent study appearing in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry shows that the reports are true. Heroin has found a new home.

The WashingtonUniversity, St Louis study collected its data from 150-plus drug addiction treatment facilities located across 48 states. The study’s lead author, Theodore Cicero, says that heroin began as a drug for the lower classes (1940s), then migrated into cities where it became popular with minorities (1970s) and has more recently gained favor among white non-urban dwellers (2010s). Federal agencies from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to the Office of National Drug Control Policy say that the number of heroin users in America has at least doubled just over the past decade – mostly among young, wealthy, white populations.

Most experts attribute the trend to the nation’s recent prescription drug addiction epidemic. Experts studying the phenomenon point to the overwhelming preference among prescription drug abusers for opioid medications. Heroin belongs to the same drug family (opioids) as those painkillers. It’s just much cheaper and easier to get than prescription medications. Especially now that drug dealers are willing to make deliveries in the suburbs.

That means that every successful effort to cut off diverted uses of prescription painkillers will likely see a commensurate rise in the number of heroin users.

Drug addiction is not an availability issue, it is a psychological issue. People use drugs for a reason and until they learn a new way to address that reason, they may turn to another substance to use. At Family Guidance, we understand all about what drives drug use and can help you find new ways to cope. Call us or stop by today.

How to Tell When Binge Drinking is Turning Into Alcoholism

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 38 million Americans misuse or abuse alcohol. One out of every six Americans binges regularly. Heavy drinking accounts for more than 80,000 deaths per year and is the number three cause of preventable fatalities. So how can a person know if they are on a downward slope toward alcoholism?  There are some warning signs alongGet-Help-Now2 the way.

1. You are Drinking Heavily Every Weekend
If you have several drinks in a row every weekend, it could be a warning sign of an alcohol addiction. Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in a single episode. If this describes your weekly drinking, take inventory.

2. You Drink More Than You Plan to Drink
If you go out with co-workers expecting just to have one or two glasses of wine but wind up drinking more every time, it could signal an addiction. Try keeping tabs on your alcohol consumption. Write down exactly how many drinks you have per night, per week and per month.

3. Your Drinking is Filled with Memory Gaps
If you find that you forget portions of your evening of drinking it’s a red flag. Binge drinking affects memory.

4. Drinking Becomes More Important Than Your Responsibilities
If your drinking affects your job responsibilities, taking care of your family or other responsibilities then your drinking is out of balance. Alcohol addiction doesn’t happen overnight.

5.  People Around You Voice Concern
Ask yourself if you would be willing to let someone else assess your drinking levels. If not, why not? Would you be willing to allow a loved one to set your drinking limit? Again, if not, why not? When people around you mention concern or you avoid hearing their concern there is a possibility that casual drinking may be moving toward the direction of alcohol dependence or addiction.

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, you can get help. Contact the professionals at Family Guidance today.

When You, the Parent, Suspect Your Child May be Facing Mental Illness

Mental Health 11If you, as a parent, suspect problems with your child’s physical health you don’t ignore those feelings. The same should be true if you feel concern over your child’s mental health. If you observe changes in your child which cause you worry don’t push those feelings aside, instead take a close look and be prepared to talk with someone else about what you see.

If you suspect the possibility of mental illness, here are some things to look for:

  • Poor academic performance – especially if your child did fine in the past
  • Aggression
  • Significant mood swings
  • Social withdrawal, anxiety, sadness
  • Trouble dealing with close relationships
  • Changes in appetite or sleep pattern
  • Threats of self-harm or harm to others
  • Chronic drug or alcohol use

If you notice one or more of the above without any obvious explanation then:

  1. Talk to your doctor. Let them know what you’ve observed and be honest about your concerns regarding mental health. The doctor can conduct a full physical exam in order to rule out other possible explanations for your child’s symptoms.
  2. Talk to the school. Teachers and faculty at your child’s school spend a great deal of time interacting with your child. Get their input.
  3. Talk to a mental health professional. You can ask your doctor for a referral or you could ask for the recommendation of your pastor or other trusted friend. The specialist can conduct an assessment which will help identify or rule out mental illness.
  4. Talk to other parents with children who have mental illness. It’s hard to overstate the importance of having a support system when a child has any kind of illness, including mental illness.

If you suspect that your child may be struggling emotionally or behaviorally in ways that could be linked to mental illness contact our professional staff at Family Guidance. We can help with everything from assessment to treatment to providing family support.

A Stigma Toward Mental Health Conditions

Depression 4More than a decade ago the Surgeon General of the United States declared stigma toward mental health to be the greatest obstacle to receiving proper mental health care. Unfortunately, that stigma persists and it causes many with mental illness to become isolated –something that only makes things worse for them.

Fear of stigma may help to explain why only 40 percent of the 450 million people in the world living with a mental health concern ever seek out help.  Despite years of public awareness efforts, more remains to be done to set the record straight about mental health. It is an important part of overall health and it is treatable. It should be looked upon the same as if someone had diabetes or high blood pressure.

The stigma towards mental health problems is not lost on those who live with mental illness. The person feels trapped in their situation and is discouraged from ever reaching out to ask for help. This is unfortunate since mental illness is highly treatable. Many forms of mental illness enjoy excellent recovery rates with proper treatment, and other chronic conditions can be well managed.

If someone you know is struggling with behavioral health or mental health symptoms, please don’t turn away. Choose not to be part of perpetuating a stigma towards mental health. Draw near. Encourage them to ask for help. Offer to take them. Family Guidance is staffed by caring and well-trained mental health care professionals who understand what your loved one is going through and who can help them find the way to better health.