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Family Guidance Blog

The Face of Depression

Depression 1Depression is a disease of the brain affecting at least one of every 10 American adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Depression isn’t usually something that can be spotted from the outside. In fact, ask the ever common question, “How are you”, upon crossing paths with someone who happens to have depression and the likely response will probably be something polite like, “Fine! How are you?”

While that may be the furthest thing from the truth, it’s ingrained in members of society that it’s not nice to unload one’s private life onto others in casual conversation. Thus, a little white lie is told and everyone keeps moving. While it may be true that that sort of conversation is not appropriate for every person in passing, it is important to note that talking about feelings of depression or being down are important with family, friends, or one’s doctor. If it’s difficult to speak to loved ones or those in the medical profession, it may necessary to open up to a therapist.

Depression is not simply a temporary feeling of being sad. While everyone has his or her ups and downs, depression is not something that just goes away with time. The illness may leave individuals perpetually feeling worthless, unworthy of love or affection, different, cut-off from others, tired, lost, or despondent. At first, some people may not even realize that what they are experiencing is actually depression. They may simply wonder, “What is wrong with me?”

They may further isolate themselves from others and the surface level conversations where they have to pretend that everything is fine. Depression can also lead to thoughts of suicide when affected individuals begin to feel that they are a burden on everyone around them or that the world might just be better off if they weren’t around.

But depression doesn’t have to feel that way. Family Guidance offers coordinated treatment programs to help individuals at home and within their community. To learn more about Family Guidance’s innovative approach to success, visit familyguidance.org.

Could You Spot Pediatric Depression in Your Child?

Pediatric Depression 1For many children, childhood is a fun and carefree time. For others with depression, this may not be the case. Research shows that pediatric depression can manifest itself in children even as young as preschool age. But how can parents distinguish between normal shifts in mood and a more serious mood disorder like depression?

According to author and clinical psychologist, Deborah Serani, PsyD, in her book entitled Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers, there are several signs parents and caretakers can watch for to help identify true pediatric depression.

Here are a few red flags in children that may be cause for further evaluation:

Withdrawing from the outside world or losing interest in things that the child would normally enjoy such as play, school, sports, or hanging out with friends.
Becoming lethargic, tired, or easily agitated. Children may also complain of physical aches or pains.

  • Expressing repeated feelings of worthlessness – not being good enough or not measuring up.
  • Exhibiting a distinct change in behavior that is out of the norm. For instance, a sudden slip in grades or desire to sleep more.
  • Isolating oneself or retreating to a secret hiding spot.

Parents or caregivers who have concerns should take the following actions, said Serani.

  • Talk to a doctor to rule out any medical conditions like anemia, mono, or a streptococcus infection, which could be the cause of depression-like symptoms.
  • If no medical condition is present, visit with a mental health professional trained in mood disorders. Childhood screenings can help identify depression or precursors for depression as well as best-suited options for treatment or intervention.
  • Continue to remain vigilant regarding symptoms. Every child has “off” days. However, symptoms of depression usually endure for more than two weeks and start to affect various aspects of daily life.

If you or someone you know has concerns about pediatric depression, contact Family Guidance Center. Depression isn’t a condition that children simply outgrow, and the best outcome for treatment comes with early attention. Last year alone, Family Guidance helped nearly 1,000 area children. Learn more about free screenings and available programs at familyguidance.org.


Three Tips to Overcoming Addiction in the Midst of Depression

Alcoholic 1Alcohol is often used to mask deeper emotions such as depression that people don’t wish to confront. For the person living with depression, avoiding alcohol can be particularly difficult because of the underlying emotional turmoil that fuels addiction. Entering into a joyous occasion such as a birthday celebration or holiday party can exacerbate feelings of depression and even serve as a catalyst for drinking as the affected individual struggles to understand why he or she can’t relate to others who always seem so happy.

Men and women diagnosed with depression may wonder if recovery from substance abuse disorders is even possible. The fact is there are treatments designed for those who are working through both issues. Medications can also help to regulate moods and minimize cravings.

Here are three tips for those living with both depression and dependency to ensure a successful recovery:

  • Keep away from people or situations that serve as triggers for drinking or depressive symptoms. This doesn’t mean that it’s necessary to take a rain check for every celebratory event. For these occasions, it’s important to take along an accountability partner and have a plan for the night’s agenda. For example, maybe the plan is only to stay for an hour, say hello, then exit before any drinks are served. If it’s early in the recovery process, such events may need to be avoided altogether until the person has regained some footing.
  • Reach out and build a strong support network. It’s critical to have people to talk to when feeling low or when reinforcement is needed. It helps to include other relatable individuals in this group who are also working through the same issues of depression and addiction.
  • Take ownership of the recovery process. Ultimately, no one is going to make a person get sober other than themselves. It’s important to realize that temptations will always exist, so it’s critical to learn the skill of self-control and know when to say no.

Family Guidance Center works with over 1,600 people every year to aid in their recovery. The symptoms of substance abuse and depression are manageable and treatable. The truth is, each year mental health affects about 25 percent of the adult population. Call Family Guidance Center today learn more about programs in your area.

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.

Know the Warning Signs: When to Seek Professional Help

Mental Health 5For many people, it’s hard to admit the need for help. But throughout the course of life, everyone at some point could use some help. Certainly not every problem warrants professional help. How then do you differentiate between issues that could be improved from mental health treatment and those which could subside on their own?

An article found at Psychology Today provides some insight into when to seek the help of a mental health professional. Here are a few signs that may indicate a need for assistance:

Experiencing trauma In the midst of a traumatic situation, the body’s fight or flight response takes over and helps us self-preserve. It isn’t until after-the-fact that the presence and symptoms of trauma are noticeable, in many cases. If your history includes neglect, abuse, witnessing a horrific event, or if you were a victim of an incident yourself, there is healing in recognizing the presence and impact of trauma with a professional and moving toward healthy coping strategies.

Coping with personal loss Situations like losing a loved one or going through a divorce can literally take the life and energy out of a person. Even losing a job can severely impact personal self-esteem and the will to move forward. Grief from these types of situations can continue for extended periods of time and impact other relationships as well.

Using drugs or alcohol to avoid dealing with problems Relying on drugs or alcohol only serves to make problematic situations worse. If you have trouble giving up substance use despite a desire to do so, or continue to use substances even though doing so yields negative consequences, this could be a sign of an addictive or compulsive disorder that merits further attention.

Warning signs usually start with a person feeling unlike themselves. Perpetual sadness, anger or despair, or continued problems eating or sleeping, should not be ignored. Other signs warranting expert help include loss of interest in things that were once important, a withdrawal from loved ones, or suicidal thoughts. Family Guidance Center is a source of professional help and support and offers services to all income levels. Most mental health problems can be greatly improved with proper diagnosis and treatment. Contact the Family Guidance Center for more information about first steps toward getting help from an experienced mental health professional.