Tag Archives: Mental Health

DHRE Mental Health Spotlight: Bipolar Disorder, Mania, and Depression

DHREA 25/05/2018

Every human will experience highs and lows of life, but some people experience more than the proverbial mood swing. For people with bipolar disorder, highs and/or lows can interfere with daily life. Work becomes harder, decisions are tougher, and relationships can suffer.

Knowing the symptoms of mood episodes of bipolar disorder, which include mania and depression, can be an important first step in getting treatment and support for yourself or a loved one. Most people associated bipolar disorder with the highs and lows in mood, but the disorder affects much more than that. Symptoms also can include changes in sleeping, eating, energy level, attention, and other behaviors. The average age of symptom onset is roughly 25 years old, although children and teenagers can also exhibit signs.

Mania

Mania is a term used to describe a high-energy or elevated mood state. A person with mania may feel on top the world or cranky for no reason. They don’t need as much sleep, and they might talk quickly as they struggle to keep up with their racing thoughts and stay focused on a single task. They also might feel they are capable of great feats, even to the point of having superpowers or being a celebrity. Because of this elevated sense of self-worth, they might be in danger of making risky decisions that can be damaging to their health or their future.

A manic episode must include at least three of the following symptoms:

  • increased talkativeness
  • increased self-esteem or grandiosity
  • decreased need for sleep
  • increase in goal-direct activity, energy level, or irritability
  • racing thoughts
  • poor attention
  • increased risk-taking (spending money, risky sexual behaviors, etc.)

Mania often results in problems in work, school, and relationships, and in some cases, it may require hospitalization. A less severe form of mania is known as hypomania, where a person exhibits high-energy symptoms but is able to continue with day-to-day responsibilities and may even see an increase in job performance. However, a hypomanic episode can easily lead to depression or a full episode of mania and should be treated.

Depression

Depression is a low-energy or decreased mood state commonly experienced by people with bipolar disorder. A person who is depressed can almost seem as if they’re moving in slow motion. They have trouble making decisions and feel discouraged when fun activities which lifted their mood no longer work. A person who has experienced 5 or more of the following symptoms may be experiencing a depressive episode:4

  • depressed mood
  • changes in sleep
  • changes in eating
  • fatigue or lack of energy
  • loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • restlessness or slowing down
  • feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • indecision or difficulty concentrating
  • thoughts of suicide

Not everyone who has bipolar disorder experiences depression, but if you have experienced manic symptoms, you may also be at risk of developing depression. It’s also important to remember that a low mood can sometimes take the form of anger or irritability, so you don’t necessarily have to experience stereotypical sadness to have depression.

Using Symptoms to Diagnose

Depending on your symptoms, your doctor or a mental health professional may give you one of several diagnoses. First, they will need to rule out whether the bipolar symptoms are caused by drug or alcohol use or another medical condition. People who are not receiving treatment for bipolar frequently use drugs or alcohol to cope with symptoms, so you may need medical assistance in detoxing from substances first before an official diagnosis can be made.

If you’ve experienced the full criteria for a manic episode, you may get a diagnosis of Bipolar I disorder. If you have manic symptoms but are not seriously impaired by them and have also experienced depression, you may receive a diagnosis of Bipolar II disorder. Finally, if you’ve experience manic and depressive symptoms without meeting the requirements for a full manic or depressive episode, your doctor may diagnose you with Cyclothymic Disorder. 

If you’re not sure whether you’re experiencing a typical shift in mood or one that might merit a diagnosis, ask yourself, “Have these symptoms interfered with work, school, relationships, or other daily responsibilities?” If so, then talk to your doctor or a mental health professional about your concerns.

Above all, it’s important to remember that the symptoms of bipolar disorder are treatable. People can move on to live healthy and successful lives rather than be governed by shifting moods. What steps can you take today to get the support you need for your mental health?

 

Articles referenced in this blog:

1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/dxc-20307970
2. http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder
3. http://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/doi/book/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596
4. https://www.icsi.org/guideline_sub pages/depression/diagnose_and_characterize_major_depressionpersistent_depressive_disorder_with_clinical_interview/
5. http://www.dualdiagnosis.org/bipolar-disorder-and-addiction/
6. http://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/doi/book/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596

 

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DHRE Mental Health Awareness Month: Signs To Look For In PTSD

DHREA 15/05/2018

Recognizing the signs of unresolved trauma can be tricky. Sometimes people who are having difficulties enter therapy without even knowing that they have suffered the trauma that is causing disruptions in their daily lives. The very nature of trauma lends itself to that. Often, when a person goes through a traumatic event, there is some degree of dissociation that happens and the person essentially “blocks out” all, or part, of the event, so his or her awareness of the trauma isn’t accurate, making diagnosis difficult. However, there are some common signs of unresolved trauma that you can look for.

THE EFFECTS OF UNRESOLVED TRAUMA

Just because someone who suffered trauma blocks out (consciously or unconsciously) what has happened, it doesn’t mean that he or she won’t feel the effects from it.

Peter A. Levine, Ph.D., who has treated and researched trauma for over 45 years, says, “The effects of unresolved trauma can be devastating. It can affect our habits and outlook on life, leading to addictions and poor decision-making. It can take a toll on our family life and interpersonal relationships. It can trigger real physical pain, symptoms, and disease, not to mention leading to a range of self destructive behaviors.”

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF UNRESOLVED TRAUMA

Even when memories of the trauma are hidden from a person’s awareness, there are signs that will become noticeable in his or her daily life. Below are some of the most common signs that someone is suffering from unresolved trauma:

  • Anxiety or panic attacks that occur in what would be considered normal situations
  • A feeling of shame; an innate feeling that they are bad, worthless, or without importance
  • Suffering from chronic or ongoing depression
  • Practicing avoidance of people, places, or things that may be related to the traumatic event; this also can include an avoidance of unpleasant emotions
  • Flashbacks, nightmares, and body memories regarding the traumatic event
  • Addiction and eating disorders in an attempt to escape or numb negative emotions
  • Sleeping issues including trouble going to sleep or staying asleep
  • Suffering from feelings of detachment, or feeling “dead inside” (This is perhaps the most devastating of the signs, because it creates a feeling of loneliness and isolation.)
  • Dissociation as a real disconnect in situations and conversations
  • Hypervigilance (a constant feeling of being on guard)
  • Suicidal thought or actions
  • Uncontrollable anger; acting on it
  • Self-harm, cutting, and mutilation
  • Not being able to tolerate conflicts as they once would have
  • Unexplained or irrational fears of people, places, or things

If you identify with any, or all, of the signs above, then you may want to ask yourself if it’s time to talk with a therapist about your trauma. Is it easier to function as you are, or to work through the pain you have suffered? It’s a question that only you can answer, but rest assured, you are not alone.

There are many people who have been traumatized, may even have developed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), who have worked through the events of their past, and recovered. There is help and support out there. If you’re experience one or more of the aforementioned symptoms, contact a professional!

(We are not professionals, but care about the well being of others. This should be used as a guide only.)

 

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How Social Media and Technology Triggers Anxiety

DHREA 12/04/2018

Do you feel like you’re behind in your life? Have you ever said to yourself, “I should be further ahead by now!”? It’s such a discouraging place to be. But what’s worse, this feeling keeps you from moving forward and getting to where you want to be. At the end of the day, you just keep feeling stuck and worried. So, if that’s the case, you’ll want to keep reading to learn how to stop feeling behind in your life.

According to life coach and author of Make Every Man Want YouMarie Forleo, believes this feeling of being behind in life is actually a sickness. In fact, people can feel it no matter how much they accomplish or how old they are.

But there is one very important step to overcome this sickness of feeling behind. It’s not easy and it definitely takes discipline and some vigilance, but it’s totally worth it in the end. Are you ready?

It’s time to stop comparing yourself to others, and it’s time to put down your smartphone.

As Forleo likes to put it, every time you compare yourself to others, it’s like doing shots of a very bad liquor. And it leaves you with a comparison hangover, where you feel anxious, hopeless and frustrated. What’s worse, comparison is very good at taking away your happiness, since you never feel satisfied with what you have or where you are.

So how can you stop comparing and stop feeling behind in life?

Forleo recommends putting on some blinders, so you don’t spend so much time watching everyone else. This can mean going on a social media detox and unfollowing people who trigger your comparison habits. It can also mean cutting out unrealistic portrayals of reality on TV or magazines. When you stop focusing on whatever everyone else is doing, you get to spend all of your energy, focus and intention on what you want to do. That will help you get to where you are and you’ll probably stop feeling behind in now time.

Now let’s talk about those tiny little triggers in your pocket or purse…your smartphone.

Smartphones are great, but it’s safe to say we could all benefit from a smartphone break from time to time. Smartphone use has been linked to increased rates of anxiety and depression in teenagers. And a new study shows that for some individuals, too much smartphone use can prevent them from dealing with emotional upsets in a healthy way. 

In a new study entitled, Distress tolerance and mindfulness mediate relations between depression and anxiety sensitivity with problematic smartphone use, researchers surveyed 261 college students over the course of one month.

First the study set out to see how a student’s depression severity and anxiety severity would impact their tolerance for distress as well as their mindfulness. Once researchers identified the students distress tolerance and mindfulness, they predicted their smartphone use for the coming month.

According to study author, Jon D. Elhai, “People with less ability to endure emotional distress, and people who use less mindfulness awareness to regulate emotion, had greater severity of problematic smartphone use.”

Therefore, without the ability to process, cope and work through emotional distress can increase the likelihood of reaching for the smartphone. However, since excessive use of smartphones have already been shown to increase depression and anxiety rates in young adults, this behavior will only keep individuals in a vicious cycle.

The solution? Elhai explained that “The ability to regulate emotion may be an important variable to help offset problematic use of technology.” Therefore, it may be imperative for individuals who struggle with depression and anxiety to develop emotion regulation skills. This can help them cope and process emotions in a healthy way, rather than rely on smartphones.

 

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Studying Social Anxiety

DHREA 02/04/2018

Mental Health Awareness Month is approaching fast. Every day we’re starting to understand mental health more and more, albeit baby steps. Nevertheless, progress is progress. Over the next couple weeks and all through the month of May, we’ll be spotlighting mental health topics to both end the stigma attached to various illnesses, and to raise awareness for those who may be suffering.

Social anxiety is a debilitating mental illness that affects millions of individuals worldwide. And even though it’s so widespread, it’s still quite a mystery to both those affected and medical professionals alike. However, new research has identified a relationship between anxiety and the preoccupation with making mistakes.

Behavioral inhibition is a temperament that is considered to be a risk factor for developing social anxiety later in life. So, researchers set out to see if toddlers who exhibited behavioral inhibition at the ages of 2 and 3 would then develop social anxiety.

Their study, published in December of last year, observed these 107 children, when they had reached the age of 12. By using an electroencephalogram, researchers monitored the electrical brain activity of these children while they completed a psychological test, known as the flanker test.

The children performed this test twice:  Once when they were told that they were being observed, and then a second time when they were told they were not under observation.

Researchers found that behavioral inhibition – the temperament which had been observed when the children were toddlers – as well as their current social anxiety, were both linked to a hypersensitivity toward making mistakes when under observation.

Study author, George Buzzell, from the University of Maryland, explained that “one of the mechanisms through which social anxiety arises is an excessive focus on one’s self, and one’s perceived mistakes, in social situations. For individuals with social anxiety, this excessive focus on one’s perceived mistakes distracts/detracts from the ongoing social interaction.”

This research suggests that social anxiety may largely be due to the fact that individuals fear not only making mistakes, but fear being seen while making these errors. To those affected by social anxiety, this could be a huge step in understanding and working around their illness! 

 

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