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Depression and Homesickness Among College Students

Discerning the Difference Between Homesickness and Depression When Your Student Heads off to School

depressionCollege students face many new experiences. For entering freshmen, the sheer number of new circumstances can, at times, feel overwhelming. For some college students, that overwhelming feeling can turn into depression. As the parent of a college student, you’ll want to be able to tell the difference between normal homesickness and concerning depression.

Think about what college freshmen are dealing with as they begin college life away from home. They’ve left behind home, family, comfortable routines, pets and friends. Homesickness is an all-too-common reaction for those just entering college. And the symptoms of homesickness can range from mild sadness to profound difficulty adjusting. The grief, insecurity and stress of starting something so totally new can leave kids feeling nostalgic for home and pessimistic about their new venture. This emotional struggle can last weeks, a semester, or even for the first year – though, it usually ebbs and flows. What’s important to remember (both parents and students) is that homesickness is normal.

On the other hand, if symptoms of homesickness persist or worsen after the first semester, it’s possible that the student is developing depression. If homesickness is interfering with the student’s ability to learn, study and take part in fun activities – it may actually be more than homesickness. As a parent, be prepared for some homesickness. However, if this sadness isn’t punctuated by times of fun and positive growth then you might suggest your child pay a visit to the campus mental health office.

Since homesickness can last a while, you might want to monitor your student for the first semester. If you are still concerned when they come home for a fall or Christmas break be sure to bring them in to Family Guidance Center. We’ve helped many young adults get through the emotional challenges of change and loss. We can help your college student too.

Male Depression Gets a Voice

Why Men Avoid Getting Help for Depression

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in 10 men in this country experience anxiety ordepression depression in a year. Depression affects men of all ages-yet, less than half seek out treatment.

A recent polling of 21,000 men revealed that nearly 40 percent of those younger than 45 years had either talked with a mental health worker or taken medication to treat a mood disorder within the last year. That figure is nearly identical to the number of men over age 45 who had done so. Clearly, depression affects younger males, too. The poll also revealed that young white males are more likely than their Hispanic or black peers to experience depression.

Hollywood celebrity Jared Padalecki can attest to the truth of such findings. The 25 year old recently went public with his own struggle with depression. Fans have been hugely supportive. But not all men are as ready to admit their struggle. Many men believe that depression is somehow tied to female hormones and therefore not a problem men should face.

Researchers have been actively working to lower the stigma associated with men seeking help for depression. They have used video clips of men talking about their own depression and the benefits of treatment to change perceptions. The strategy has helped to lower this stigma for men.
If you are a man and find yourself not feeling in control of your emotional well-being don’t ignore it. You may feel bouts of sadness or you may experience anger, frustration or irritability – without any real cause. If so, know that you are not the only one. Many men experience depression. Be one of those who does something positive about it. Contact Family Guidance Center and set up a time to talk with one of our mental health professionals.

Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder: Similar Yet Not the Same

Understanding What Separates Bipolar Disorder From a Personality Disorder

bipolar disorderSometimes two things can look quite similar when, in fact, they are quite distinct. In the case of mental illness, some conditions share enough symptoms that one may easily be mistaken for another without enough data to inform the diagnosis. Bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed as depression since it is the depressive symptoms which usually attract attention. But even once the variances of mood are taken into account, bipolar disorder can also be mistaken for another condition with shifting emotions. Bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder may seem similar, yet they are not the same.

Bipolar Disorder

Like borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder is recognized by the extreme mood swings it produces. However, there are important points of differentiation in those mood swings. In bipolar disorder, the mood swings are typically uncaused by any outside circumstance. Emotions tend to swing from very high to very low. The high, or mania, brings euphoric feelings of greatness, energy and ability. At the opposite pole are long stretches of depression characterized by lack of energy, no motivation and feelings to near-total incapacity. These swings are often interrupted by significant breaks during which the person experiences moderate emotion and behavior.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

The person with borderline personality disorder has trouble keeping emotions under control. But unlike bipolar disorder in which mood shifts occur inexplicably, the person with BPD usually experiences emotional flares as the result of a relationship trigger. The person with BPD may regularly have bouts of anger, not just during certain phases of their illness. BPD is further characterized by a fear of being abandoned which creates an unhappy cycle since unsteady emotions often hurt relationships.

At Family Guidance Center we have experience helping people with illnesses where symptoms overlap. We realize how much conditions such as BPD and bipolar disorder interfere with daily living – and we can help. Contact us today.

Alcohol Abuse Among Older Adults

Signs of Alcohol Abuse to be Aware of

alcohol abuseAccording to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) around 80,000 American seniors engage in alcohol abuse. The actual number of seniors abusing alcohol could be higher since physicians may attribute signs of abuse such as depression, sleep problems, poor appetite or falling to normal symptoms associated with aging. Further, since many seniors may not mix socially as often as younger adults, alcohol abuse may not be quickly recognized by friends or co-workers.

You may be the only one watching for signs of alcohol misuse by a senior loved one, so know what to look for. Main signs of an alcohol abuse problem include finishing their drinks in rapid succession and becoming irritable or testy if they can’t drink every day. Other symptoms to watch for include a poor appetite, harming themselves when drinking or using alcohol to escape problems or in order to be able to cope with difficulty.

Another sign of alcohol abuse is hiding how much you drink so you may need to pay close attention in order to determine just how much your loved one is drinking. Older bodies do not metabolize alcohol as quickly or efficiently as younger ones.

Alcohol abuse is serious at any age. For seniors, it can aggravate existing health issues and may be deadly when combined with certain medications. If you suspect that your older loved one is abusing alcohol, help them to know that they are not alone and help is available. Contact us at Family Guidance Center. We can help you with advice on encouraging your loved one to seek help and we can help them learn how to break the habits of alcohol abuse.

Being Prepared for a Mental Health Crisis

Recommended Steps Before the Mental Health Crisis Occurs

mental health crisisHow well prepared are you in case of a mental health crisis? Such crises are more common than you think. According to our nation’s CDC, a mental health crisis sent 4 million Americans to hospital emergency rooms. If you have a loved one living with a mental health condition, there are steps you can take to be prepared beforehand in the event of a possible moment of crisis.

Be Informed

If someone close to you is living with a mental health condition then you want to be informed about their illness. Know what the common symptoms of the condition are and how frequently they show up. You need to be able to tell if symptoms are worsening in an out-of-the-ordinary manner. It’s also helpful to inform yourself regarding all of the available mental health services in the area.

Be Alert

Suicide is a serious and very real risk for those with a chronic mental health condition. But it is not the only crisis point. Extreme panic attack, paranoia and hallucinations also constitute a mental health crisis. These can be debilitating. If your loved one becomes unmanageable, overly agitated or behaves violently, take note. And if they talk about suicide, pay attention. Nearly 90 percent of those who take their own lives spoke of doing so beforehand.

Be in Touch

A mental health crisis most often will present warning signs. It’s so important that your loved one is meeting regularly with a mental health professional and that you feel comfortable contacting that person should you see signs of trouble.

Family Guidance Center is staffed with trained mental health professionals. We are here day in and day out to help your loved one. We also offer families support and guidance. With care you may be able to avoid a mental health crisis.