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Author Archives: Family Guidance Center

Seasonal Depression is Most Prevalent in Winter

Do You Have Symptoms of Seasonal Depression?

seasonal depressionIf what you feel most about winter is bleak, gray and feels somewhat hopeless, you may be among thousands of Americans with seasonal depression. In fact, for some people, seasonal depression is an annual reality. Seasonal depression doesn’t only strike in winter, but for those affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the dark months are the most common trigger.

Just what causes SAD remains unclear, though there are some theories on what leads to seasonal depression. One explanation suggests that the lack of bright sunlight may result in the brain’s reduced manufacture of the mood-affecting chemical serotonin. This wouldn’t explain why some people experience seasonal depression in spring or summer, yet the theory does match what’s been observed about the condition for winter SAD. For example, SAD more often affects people living in countries with a cold, dark winter season and does not show up as often in tropical, sunny climes.

A person with SAD may feel lethargic, hungry, unfocused and more desirous of solitude. They may gain weight as a result of increased appetite and less activity. Depending upon the severity, a person may find that their seasonal depression symptoms affect work or personal relationships in a negative way. The condition tends to affect more women than men.

Seasonal depression often begins just as a person enters adulthood and persists in a predictable manner according to season, year after year. The good news is that just because a person has been experiencing seasonal depression for a number of years, they don’t have to continue feeling deeply sad and live with these symptoms. Treatment is available and may include rising to get outdoors and expose yourself to the morning sun, bright lamps, antidepressant therapy and meeting with a mental health professional.

If you find that winter brings on a weight of sadness that affects your daily life, stop by and talk with us at Family Guidance Center. Winter doesn’t have to be a season lived with seasonal depression.

Major League Pitcher Sabathia Seeks Treatment for Alcoholism

Sabathia’s Message: “Alcoholism is an Unprejudiced Disease”

alcoholismIf you reach the pinnacle of your career,  have crowds of adoring fans and earn an undreamed salary, it would be hard to imagine that anything could be better. But Major League Baseball pitcher CC Sabathia could tell you differently. The 35-year old Yankees player and father of four recently went public with his years-long struggle with alcoholism and his steps toward recovery.

Sabathia tells the public how he has spent the past three years hiding his illness until he finally sought professional treatment. He tells how he tried to overcome alcohol addiction on his own with some success – a few months of sobriety – only to “fall off the wagon” and back into heavy, secretive binge drinking.

The pitcher described travelling with his team only to spend entire weekends holed up in his hotel room consuming all the alcoholic beverages in the mini-bar. This happened repeatedly and Sabathia says he spent great energy hiding his struggle. Near the end of this year’s season, he reports experiencing a three-day alcohol binge during a weekend ball trip to Baltimore. It was then that he decided to get help.

Though the baseball playoffs were just ahead, Sabathia made the decision to sign himself immediately into a 30-day treatment center. This kind of decision risked his relationships with teammates, not to mention Yankee fans. Fortunately, Sabathia was surprised by an outpouring of team support for his choice to get help.

The other outpouring of support has come from Sabathia’s own family. His wife and children, the oldest of whom understands fully what has transpired, are all on his team.

Sabathia’s message to a watching and listening public? As summarized from interviews, it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, down and out or at the peak of success – alcoholism is an unprejudiced disease. It affects all people and needs to be treated just as any other disease would.

At Family Guidance Center we’ve seen treatment establish a path to lasting recovery for those living with alcohol addiction. We know things can change. Contact us and let us help you.


How the Health Care Home Solution Can Improve Patient Outcomes

St Joseph on Cutting Edge With Health Care Home Initiative

Health Care HomeIn America today, many citizens believe that information silos can be dangerous and that it is important for various departments to share vital information and work together to keep us safe. This idea that information silos create unnecessary dangers has also reached into health care as well. The Health Care Home program is based on the reality that providing integrated treatment across healthcare disciplines is in the very best interests toward patient well-being.

The Goal of Health Care Home

Almost 68 percent of those living with chronic mental illness also live with a chronic health condition. Studies show that the presence of mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, can worsen the symptoms of a health condition. For too long, many individuals have been treated by one caregiver for one issue, and had to see another provider for another condition — while the two health providers weren’t working in tandem for the best outcome. When mental and physical health providers work together and share pertinent information, consumer outcomes improve.

Not only are outcomes improved, but they are improved at far less cost. The goal is to reduce emergency room visits, hospitalizations and Medicaid costs for patients with persistent mental illness — while providing high-quality, coordinated behavioral health care and primary health care that links physical health needs with mental health needs. Most importantly, the Health Care Home initiative helps consumers live a longer, healthier life.

At the Family Guidance Center our Health Care Home program of integrated health care has successfully improved treatment for 150 children and nearly 500 adults during the past year alone. If your loved one is living with both a chronic physical or mental health condition, please contact us and see how Health Care Home could improve their wellness.

Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder: The Similarities and the Differences

Though Bipolar Disorder is Better Known, Borderline Personality Disorder Occurs Nearly as Often

bipolar disorderBipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder are two different mental illnesses that often get confused with one another. They do share some similarities yet they are also very different diseases. Bipolar disorder is more well-known, but both occur with similar frequency.

A study conducted at Rhode Island Hospital performed personal interviews with 307 patients with diagnosed borderline personality disorder but no bipolar disorder and 236 patients with bipolar disorder alone. Researchers wondered about the morbidity (how often something occurs) of people affected as well as of specific symptoms. In other words, how many people experience each disorder and with what symptoms and what frequency of symptoms?

What Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder Have in Common

Researchers found that approximately the same number of people were affected by each disorder. This is in contrast with currently accepted data which suggests that bipolar disorder occurs around twice as often as borderline personality disorder. Patients with both disorders had alarmingly high morbidity rates for suicidal ideas or attempts. They also looked much the same in terms of psychiatric hospital admission and amount of time missed from work.

What’s the Difference

There were notable differences, however between the two mental illnesses. Those with borderline personality disorder were found to have more co-existing (comorbid) disorders, more social struggles and more substance abuse and tested poorer in reference to general functioning.

Borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder are both mental health illnesses that can affect you or those you love with symptoms that can be debilitating without treatement. At Family Guidance Center we have experience in treatment for both mental health diagnoses and can help you with a treatment plan that is specific to your disease. Our mental health professionals can work together with your healthcare team to provide integrated and comprehensive treatment to help you lead a healthier happy life.

SATOP Program Matches Intervention Level With Individual Need

Who Qualifies for SATOP and What Does it Entail?

The intent behind Missouri’s Substance Abuse Traffic Offenders’ Program (SATOP) is to help educate individuals who drinkSATOP 2 and drive about the dangers and risks associated with this decision. SATOP is a structured intervention required for all Missouri drivers who lose their license as a result of DWI.

Missouri law requires these offenders to take part in a three-part assessment. The assessment costs $126 and must be paid for by the individual. During the assessment the person’s driving record will be examined, they will take an online mental health screening and will meet one-on-one with a behavioral health specialist. After being assessed, the person is then asked to fulfill a minimum of 10 hours of intervention education. In order to have their license reinstated, the offender must complete the intervention program to which they are assigned.

There are multiple education options and a behavioral health specialist will have a say in which program is most appropriate for each individual. The goal of the intervention is to help offenders understand the choices they have made and to take responsibility for those choices.

There is a program designed specifically for under 21 offenders whose arrest included a citation for substance possession or misuse. Low-risk adult offenders may be assigned to a 10-hour OEP (Offender Education Program). Higher risk offenders may be asked to participate in a Weekend Intervention Program (WIP) which lasts 48 hours or a Clinical Intervention Program (CIP) which takes 50 hours to complete. Repeat offenders and those whose assessments indicate the need may be placed in the SROP (Serious Repeat Offenders’ Program) or in Level IV Traditional Treatment for substance abuse.

It’s important to keep in view that SATOP is about deterring poor decisions in the future. There are multiple ways to intervene and help steer someone into a safer direction – SATOP is designed to match the right level of intervention with each person’s need. At Family Guidance Center we offer the SATOP program. Contact us to find out more about our SATOP program.