Browsing: Mood Disorders

Bipolar Disorder – The First Steps to Managing It

Bipolar disorder, you have just been diagnosed with it. So what do you need to know about it? The short answer is that you best learn as much as you can about it. You should know all about a depressive disorder. You would also need to know what a manic episode involves. Indeed, knowledge of a hypomanic episode would be extremely useful. There are very good reasons this knowledge is essential. If you wish to manage bipolar disorder this level of knowledge is a key to achieving that objective.

Knowledge you gain about bipolar disorder enables you to learn to manage the disorder. By managing your disorder you give yourself the best possible odds for regaining control of your life. Normally this disorder goes in cycles. By this I mean that each person has a regular pattern they follow for each of their cycles. For instance take a person with bipolar type 1. A common pattern for this is hypomanic episode – manic episode – depressive episode. This is frequently followed by a period of stability.

A hypomanic episode can be treated far easier than an episode of mania. This being said there is often a danger in respect of hypomania. The danger is simply this. Many people find that the pluses of a hypomanic episode outweigh the minuses. The result is that they fail to acknowledge that a hypomanic is being experienced. Another possibility is that they fail to seek treatment for the hypomania. The unfortunate result is that manic episode arrives. These are far harder to treat than hypomanic episodes.

The good old saying “What goes up must come down” certainly applies in respect of an episode of mania. Often these are followed by a depressive disorder. Bipolar type 2 and cyclothymaic's disorder do not normally lead to mania. However, it is very likely that a depressive disorder will follow hypomania. For a person with bipolar, type 2 the depression can last for a very long time. This can be months, or even longer.

In my experience recovering from depression often only occurs when the afflicted person tries to make it happen. By this I mean that they must want to recover and make a strong personal effort to ensure that they do. Remember, not all people cycle from mania to depression. By learning about the disorder the afflicted person (or their friends and lovers) can recognize any bipolar episode at the earliest possible moment. For some people their cycle starts with a depressive disorder.

Whichever order their cycle runs seeking professional help is a must. This should be done at the first moment you suspect that a bipolar episode is being experienced. This gives the best possible chance of managing the disorder. In turn the best chance of regaining control of the afflicted person's life is experienced.

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What Are the Causes of Mental Illness?

The exact cause of most mental illnesses is unknown, but there are many known factors at play. These can be biological, psychological or environmental. The cause varies from person to person and it can be complicated. For most people who suffer from mental illnesses, the cause is some combination of these factors.

Genetic Factors

Most mental illnesses run in families. Twin studies have shown that there is a definite genetic factor. While your family history does not necessarily cause you to have the illness as well, it does put you at greater risk for developing it. In the case of schizophrenia, for example, people with close relatives that have the disorder are ten times more likely to develop it themselves. Chronic depression and bipolar disorder are similar.

Chemical Imbalance

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain through which the brain communicates with the nerves. When these chemicals are not working properly, the brain does not function regularly and this abnormal functioning leads to mental illness. This is why medications are used to treat symptoms. They restore normal brain functioning.

Early Development

Neglect or abuse in early life can lead to serious mental problems in adulthood. Severe emotional, physical and sexual abuse can all be contributing factors. The loss of a parent or any other traumatic event can lead to lifelong mental problems.

Long-Term Drug Use

There's a strong connection between drug use and mental illness. It's often hard to tell if the person is self-medicating to get rid of the symptoms or the drug triggers the symptoms. Marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, psychedelic drugs such as LSD, alcohol and even seemingly harmless caffeine have all been linked to mental disorders. Long-term abuse of any substance can lead to anxiety, depression and paranoia.

Disease or Injury

Traumatic brain injury or exposure to toxins in the womb can cause mental illnesses. Lead in paint has been found to cause mental problems and certain foods are shown to contribute to ADHD. Infections that affect the brain can cause damage to areas involved in personality and thinking. The effect of disease and injury on the brain is not well understood because researchers have few chances to study real-life cases.

Life Experiences

Any kind of trauma that is either extremely stressful or persistent can lead to mental problems. The death of someone close to you, the experience of war, long-term harassment, working too hard or even being unemployed for too long cause cause problems.

Society and Culture

Societal factors also contribute. There is a higher level of mental illness among immigrants, the poor, and people who lack social cohesion. Many blame the hectic pace of modern life and the dissolution of traditional values ​​for the rise in psychological disorders. Racial oppression can also be a factor. However, there is little scientific evidence to support these social and cultural factors.

If you're worried that you may suffer from a mental illness, seek professional help immediately. A qualified professional can diagnose you, help you find the causes, and get you started on the right treatment.

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Managing Mental Illness And A Relationship

Quick – show of hands on how many people driving for wellness have pushed someone away because they did not want to hurt or burden because of what goes on in their head? Oh right, you're over there. Well, I know the sentiment is quite common because I hear about it constantly. I understand where you are coming from. I've done it myself in the past. Today I understand that I was wrong for a number of reasons. There is no reason why we, the mentally ill, can not have fulfilling and loving relationships. The way we approach our relationships needs to be different than what would be considered typical.

* But I Do not Want To Hurt The People I Love
No matter what you do the other person is going to hurt from time to time. Hurting, pain, and misunderstandings are all normal parts of a relationship. Navigating the choppy waters and forgiving are what make a relationship successful. Besides, your partner has a brain of their own. They can decide for themselves if they feel like they are in over their heads. Granted, our challenges are different. All you're doing is changing the flavor of those challenges by pushing them toward someone else.

* But How Do We Make It Work Then
– The Well Partner – Learn to identify the symptoms of when you're partner is unwell. Remember that their perception will be skewed. They will say and do things based on what their mind is telling them is true. Unfortunately, there are many times we do not realize we are in an unwell period until we're looking back on the smoking ruins wondering what happened. You must learn to not take everything your unwell partner says to heart. When they re-balance, it is quite likely that their opinion will completely change again. Try to forge an agreement where you will handle the major responsibilities while your partner is unbalanced.

– The Unwell Partner – Do you trust your significant other? If you do, then you have a powerful tool to assist in finding and maintaining your balance. Help them understand what your indicators are. That way you have a person that you can trust to say “Hey, are you getting unwell?” rather than trying to figure it out on your own. You need to understand that during your unwell periods reality is not going to be as your brain is telling you. Do not make snap decisions and then follow through on them immediately. Clarify and search for the absolute truth at the core of every perception. Do this long enough and you will start doing it out of habit.

* Always Search For The Absolute, Core Truth Of Perception
One of my favorite metaphors that is applicable is that of the dark car. You and a friend see a dark car pass. One says “that's a pretty black car”. The other says “no that's navy blue”. The absolute core truth is that there is a car. The individual's perception is dictating whether it is black or navy blue and they respond accordingly. Now we apply that to a life circumstance.

You're a Bipolar man and you go to pick up your wife from work. As she's leaving, your wife hugs a male coworker. An unwell mind can take this a number of directions. “She must be cheating, I'm going to cave his face in” or “I knew she would ever leave me. I can not deal with this shit anymore. ” Both of those lines of thought are based on your perception of the situation.

The core, absolute truth is that she simply hugged someone. Maybe he had a baby. Maybe someone he loved died. All you have to go on is what you witnessed and how your mind is perceiving it. Instead of reacting immediately on the thoughts to either attack him or commit suicide; back up to the core truth and just ask about it. An unwell thought process will rarely match up with what reality actually is.

It's not about turning someone you love into your caretaker. It's about confronting the problem together with a cohesive plan and course of action. You will have plenty of opportunities to return that care and understanding later on. When you're well, you do what you can to lighten the load of your partner so they have time to recuperate. Your relationship will fail if you can not let your partner in to understand your illness. To succeed, both parties need to learn how to manage a relationship with mental illness present. You can succeed and enjoy a happy relationship.

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Exhausted And Tired? Why Do Bad Things Happen to Me?

Often times, we get looped in a vicious circle of unfortunate events, adverse situations, unlucky circumstances, awkward relationships and feel trapped! It does not stop on the personal front, but expends to disastrous business deals, ill-timed accidents, and dangerous incidents. One thing after the other keeps happening without the fate changing! Sometimes we get entangled in a ferocious spin of uncontrollable experiences! We feel exhausted and out of control.

“How come bad luck, never sees to leave me?” I hear you ask. Or does everyone around you feel so much in control … and you want to feel that way, so badly?

At times, valuable years of our life are wasted, and on occasion an entitlement life-time goes in a negative spin. Most may not realize, their good fortune, until they have lost it or it becomes too late to appreciate it.

Have you been suffering or have been unhappy for a very long time?

  • Distressful situations keep occurring … and same hands of people are involved!
  • Are you always blaming others and feel like a victim?
  • Does everything you do or touch turn into a disastrous mess?
  • Are you exhausted all the time and feel very dark inside and outside?

Are you concentrating on all the things that have gone wrong?

  • Still complaining, about an incident that happened nearly two months ago?
  • Can not find the strength to understand and forgive the misunderstanding that lead to an argument with a loved one?
  • Does the conversation at the dinner party, revolves around how difficult life is?

This small truth releases those who take time to grasp and grasp; Thoughts becomes Life!

The insight came to me that, each time, we continue to think and feel in an unhelpful, unconstructive and depressing way NOW, another event or situation will arise and it will be worse or catastrophic! It normally drains and wears individuals out. What are the tell-tales signs of someone who are caught in this damaging down-ward spiral? Many would feel unappreciated and unrewarded at the best of times. They would not enjoy nor see the benefit of doing anything! No matter how good things are or could be, some people are unable to see any good in anything or anyone. Until … the awareness, of how well our world is.

The astounding revelation is; “Each and every time, wherever we put our full attention on; we create that in our future”. This secret changed everything for me. In other words today what ever I am feeling while thinking about the on-goings in my life … it will attract / repeat that same feeling again in my future! ”

So how do we create?

Thoughts have wings … and it can fly!

Each time we think, ponder, remember, discuss, re-act, imagine, consider, suppose, assert, sense, reason, deliberate, mull over, and weigh upon WE CREATE.

Often times I am questioned, “Surly we would not have created this unfortunate event?” Egypt “How could I have wished this myself? I would not even wish this on my enemies.”

When we unintentionally or kindly visualize every kind deficiency, limit, or discord, we create these conditions; this is what many are unconsciously doing all the time.

How can we create what we want?

To improve our state of affairs or conditions, we must first improve ourselves. Our feelings, thoughts and desires will be the first to show improvement.

When we begin to understand that contentment, well-being, accomplishments, wealth, and every other condition or environment are results, and that these results are created by right thinking, whether consciously or unconsciously, we shall realize the importance of a working knowledge of the laws governing thought.

To be happy, we should make deliberate effort to feel good. It is surprising, how even the smallest gesture, to feel at ease, will take away the feeling of hopelessness. Find positive people and take pleasure in doing little things.

When we take time to be in stillness to think, ponder, remember, discuss, re-act, imagine, consider, suppose, assume, sense, reason, deliberate, mull over, and weigh up ONLY THE BEST, POSITIVE PART OF YOUR DAY , we create what we want.

The most helpful way is to find people who are less loyal then us and give them a hand. Doing something for nothing has proven to be a very good method to improve how we feel and it will make anyone feel worthy. One of the most effective ways to improve our state of being is to Meditate.

Our life on this earth is a blessing. To comprehend this is an amazing and brilliant TRUTH, which liberates us from an uncontrollable and destructive way of life.

We are master creators of our life. We have the free will to put our thought or full mind on ANYTHING and it will become REALITY. We can be, do and have anything that we choose to put our mental attention on. Outwardly, anyone or anything becomes responsible to create it, however our thoughts are what caused it.

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What Is a Panic Attack and How to Overcome One?

A panic attack can be succinctly described as a sudden feeling of terror and uncontrollable anxiety which for sufferers will not be one off, but instead strike repeatedly and unexpectedly without warning. If this is something that resonates with you, then there are a number of panic attack symptoms that point towards a susceptibility to the condition.

In short, and without going into too much detail, when a suffering this often crippling disorder, an individual will generally experience a combination of the following:

• Shortness of breath
• A pounding heart
• Dizziness
• An out of control feeling
• Rapid breathing
• Sweating and trembling

Such attacks will occur suddenly and will usually last about 10 minutes, with some changing for only about 5 minutes with the longest lasting for up to 20 minutes. Individuals suffering panic attacks have often checked themselves into hospital believing that they are suffering a heart attack and according to statistics, the condition is becoming increasingly common in Western society.

Panic attacks usually begin when a patient is between 15 and 25 years of age and the term for the chronic form of the illness is 'panic disorder', in which the condition will repeat itself continuously if left untreated. Even patients who live in fear of another attack or change their behavior due to fear of panic attacks will be said to be suffering from a panic disorder.

Health practitioners are unsure as to why panic attacks occur in certain individuals and what sparks the first occurrence. One theory regards the body's own response to extreme situations in that it will produce a natural response to threats which is referred to as a flight-or-fight response. During such a response, the body will respond with rapid heart beat, fast breathing and a surge of energy. As there is usually no immediate danger for individuals who suffer attacks, it is there recommended by some that an imbalance in the brain chemicals is the cause. Also hereditary factors may be to blame.

Neverheless, there is little doubt that those individuals who have a panic disorder, will be sentenced to any combination of exacerbating factors which potentially include:

• Depression
• Alcohol abuse
• Living for long periods of time with high stress levels
• An overactive thyroid
• Use of illicic drugs such as cocaine and marijuana
• Use of medication used for the treatment of asthma and heart conditions

Thankfully, there are a number of treatment options available to sufferers. Upon diagnosis, healthcare providers will attempt to find the underlying cause of the panic attack; particularly the trigger to attacks which will help with management and potential medication.

If you any of the above sounds familiar, it's definitely worth visiting your doctor for a proper diagnosis and assistance with treatment.

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Of The Mental Health Profession And Fallibility

The quest for mental wellness is tightly intertwined with the advice and beliefs of the medical profession. The problem is that some medical professionals are not competent providers of care. The keyword is “some”. This is not an attack on the entire medical profession. The expectations that we, as a society, place on these people is entirely unrealistic. Who can spend their entire career doing any activity and not make a single error?

Instead, I'm talking about the dangerously incompetent or ignorant. Doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, therapists- they are just people. People do stupid things for misguided reasons or just plain, old-fashioned incompetence. None of us can afford to take the word of a medical professional at face value. The stakes for our personal well being are simply too high. That is why each and every person receiving care should accept the responsibility of understanding why they are doing what they are.

A good example is from a recent interaction I've had. A mother and father are trying to get their unstable, Bipolar daughter stable. Over the course of six months, she's been in and out of psych wards. She's extremely unstable to the point where she is likely to be a threat to herself or her family. The girl has seen different psychiatrists in that time frame. Every couple of weeks her medication has been changed at the behest of the doctor with the approval of her father. The father does not understand how mental illness or medicating function. It takes 4-6 weeks for several mood stabilizing medications to raise to the therapeutic levels within the blood stream. It is quite likely that he, and the doctors, are making her stability worse by changing it so often.

Enough time is not given to see if the medication is functioning. Instead of using an emergency mood stabilizer to get her through the hardest times, they are changing the medication altogether. The worst part is that one of these medications may very well have worked for her. Now, she will just look back and say “Oh, I already tried that and it did not work” without ever reaching the point where she could tell if it actually was working or not.

The daughter and father put their blind faith in the knowledge of these “professionals”. The truth of the matter is the medical profession is subject to the same pointless garbage that every other business is. Some people do not know what they're talking about, others are incompetent, and still others simply do not give a damn. The father does not have to be a doctor to look up the functionality of psych medication and find that a majority of it requires far more time to work than they are giving. That would require his accepting that he may not know everything about treating mental illness. And I'm sorry, but “liking” a doctor is no reason to assume they are competent.

I know I've crossed paths with many people that I've liked in life that have been terrible at their job. I'm sure if you think about your workplace, you can come up with a few yourself.

I get it. It sucks to watch someone you love go through such a difficult time. The desire to help is only natural. The problem is that mental wellness is not something delivered overnight. It requires patience and navigating the rough patches when they come up. Do you want the highest chance for success? Educate yourself on your (or your loved one's) condition and how it is treated. Always ask questions. Always steer clear of any “professional” that will not answer your questions openly and help you understand.

There are plenty of wonderful, self-sacrificing, knowledgeable people involved in the mental health field; but the stakes are simply too high for us to put blind faith in anyone with regard to how we pursue our mental wellness.

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PTSD Healing Needs More From Catholics and Christians

If you look on the Internet and search various statistical sources like the Sidran Institute you will find reference to results from those persons having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) Here are just a few to mention:

1. Past trauma stress disorder creates a monstrous economic burden to our communities.

2. A $ 42.3 billion is wasted due to treatments spent on misdiagnosis and not treating the underlying causes.

3. From the over 90,000 Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan one in every five will have PTSD.

4. Children who witness homeless or sexual assault are 100% likely to develop this anxiety disorder.

5. Persons of color are more susceptible to getting this Mental Health disorder.

6. A staggering 50% of all outpatient Mental Health patients have this type of trauma.

7. One out of ten women have this traumatic disorder and are twice as likely to develop it than men.

The current situation in America is that there is an emerging movement through the Christian community to connect (healing, not treating) this Mental Health disorder. This is the largest difference in using Alternative, Self-Help processes in that the person suffering from past traumatic events is given the knowledge that they are able to heal them through through connecting to our Higher Power (Christ is mine.) I must emphasize the essence of this epistemology that links to another type of healing the self through New Age thinking.

Too often both Born Again Christians and Catholics get cooked up in fixing on their differences and issues like “being saved” and the consequences of abortions. Those of us in faith know that Satan uses a division of spiritual forces to weak that power over him.

Given such, I propose that instead of being at odds with each other, Christians and Catholics yoke in a united, spiritual front in celebrating the word of God through scriptural truths. As a solution this means to follow Christ's word without interpreting it into any type of dogma, but take it for what it is in meaning that transforms itself through faith.

As I mentioned the dichotomy of New Age thinking, that can only take you so far without a true belief that Christ actually was born to save sinners (in humility of whom I am the greatest.) The difference is that in the Science of Mind paradigm Christ and scripture are used for just that, a model of how we should live our lives rather than the birth and divinity of Christ himself. Although, without researching scripture with faith and discernment we miss out on instructions that are mentioned repeatedly that point to “putting off the old man, removing our filthy garments, and becoming a new creature.” Perhaps we need to look more deeply into the parable of “drinking new wine in new vessels” in explanation of getting rid of old patterns of negative thinking and celebrating healing of self through positive thoughts that manifest into our present state of being.

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How to Deal With Mood Swings During Pregnancy

During pregnancy it is very common to experience bad mood. In fact, it is pregnancy and menopause that cause the most mood swings over all else. The reason for both situations is that the neurotransmitters in your brain begin to change and dole out different and unusual levels of hormones. For the most part it is the hormonal imbalance that cause these bad mood; sometimes though it is just pure irritability from being big, hot and uncomfortable.

Being pregnant can be a time of stress and overwhelming feelings. One day you may be extremely happy and the next you may feel very down. The worries of becoming a parent are enough to make anyone moody! It is indeed a scary experience; but a joyful one at the same time. So, now that you know your feelings are normal, take the following tips into consideration while you are waiting to become a new mum.

Tip 1: Relax as much as possible. I know how stressful it can be to prepare for a new addition. However, resist any urges you have to get as many tasks completed before the baby arrives. You do not have to get everything done at one time and trying to do so can cause those mood swings to erupt. So, listen to your body and mind and take it easy when you need to. The chores will still be there after you get some rest and me time.

Tip 2: If you find that you are having more and more bad mood day, try something that is meant for relaxation. Try meditation or yoga. Try taking a walk or laying back to listen to your favorite soothing music. Relaxing is the best way to avert those mood swings and make you feel better overall.

Tip 3: Talk to your spouse, friends and family about the way you are feeling. Sometimes simply saying out loud how you fell is enough to make things better. Your mood swings can also be stressful and confusing to your loved ones and talking about them can help everyone understand and support you better during this trying time. Joining a new mum group can also be helpful as you are not the only mum going through these horrible feelings. Sharing experiences and advice can make it to where you do not feel so alone in what you are going through.

Tip 4: If you simply can not get past the way you feel and they seem to be getting more severe, it may be time to discuss this with your doctor. For some women, what are seemingly normal pregnancy mood swings can be connected to more serious conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder or a number of other illnesses.

The main thing is to take care of you. If you feel that there is something you need in order to feel better than do it. While it is important to think of others in your life, it is more important to make sure that you are OK; especially during pregnancy.

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Bipolar Stigma: From A Bipolar Disorder Patient’s Point-Of-View

Stigma – noun (pl. Stigmas or esp. In sense 2 stigmata | stig-mäta |) a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person: the stigma of mental disorder

Today's mass media are the number-one enemy of the mentally ill. Their relentless drumbeat of anachronistic stigma and images of mood disorder patients are shameful. They portray bipolar disorder patients as cold-blooded killers and depict images of patients lying on couches undergoing psychoanalysis, harsh institutional environments like those shown in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and flaming patients under “shock” therapy. These antiquated stereotypes are untrue.

Today patients are stabilized, not pharmaceutically “managed” to make them groggy and more easily handled. Medical and psychological treatments are instead humanely administrated in comfortable settings, all the while treating the whole individual mentally, physically and emotionally. Although there is no cure for bipolar disorder , it can be managed and the patient stabilized. Stabilization is achieved by means of:

  • Psychological Counseling
  • Psychiatric Drug Therapy
  • Patient Positive Lifestyle Changes

“Pop psychologists” like Dr. Phil demean the profession by chasing fame and wealth at the expense of their “victims.” They stoop to street-talk terms in discussing and dramatizing issues rather than using accurate clinical terms, referring to a schizophrenic as “crazy,” for example. They promote dramatic interpersonal conflicts to raise viewer ratings. So it is with “expert witness” psychologists who serve as hired guns whenever an attorney needs help with a case. These doctors' primary skill is uttering clinical “shop talk” to impress prisons and drive home an attorney's point.

Aside from seeking wealth, these two brands of psychologists shun clinical work and avoid interaction with real patients to eliminate encounter with unpleasant patients, and to avoid the risks and overhead associated with being in business. Malpractice insurance and unpaid accounts come to mind.

The general public has little to rely on other than errant media views coupled with the strange behaviors of mental patients. When coupled, these two forces create the societal stigma that now exists in the US Folks need to know the truth:

  • Bipolar Disorder and Clinical Depression are biologically caused, like diabetes or cancer
  • Bipolar Disorder is mostly genetic in origin and / or results from extreme stress
  • Bipolar Episodes can be triggered by traumatic accidents or by extreme physical, mental, or emotional stressors
  • “Misbehaviors” of mood disorder patients are involuntary
  • “Misbehaviors” of mood disorder patients are not character flaws or moral weaknesses
  • “Misbehaviors” of mood disorder patients are not sin
  • The typical course of Bipolar Disorder is one of launching into mania and then descending into depression. In “mixed-states” mania and depression occurs together

One must be armed with the truth in order to withstand and combat the insults and abuse that accompaney those of us who must end the ridicule of others. Many of us are too shy, embarrassed or timid to go on offense. If unable to confront these detractors personally, a bipolar person can join a larger organization dedicated to ending stigmatization of the mentally ill.

The bottom line is that bipolar patients can lead fruitful and fulfilling lives -despite the disorder-when following their treatment plans and choosing positive lifestyle changes.

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The High’s and Low’s Of Bipolar Disorder Patients

What is Bi-polar disorder?

Bi-polar disorder is a condition that affects many different kinds of people all around the world. Most people can control their moods and deal with the different types of situations that affect them. People diagnosed with this disease have a hard time transitioning between different types of moods. Patients experience mania, hypomania and periods of severe depression. Although the exact cause of this disorder is unknown, it is more likely to occur in individuals who have a family history of this disease. The symptoms of this disorder can negatively affect the individual's life and make them do things that they would not do in a sober state of mind. Bi-polar disorder is split into three subcategories, Bi-polar disorder type I, II and cyclothymia. The disorder is divided up based on the severity of the symptoms that occurs. In disorder type I, patients have experienced at least one episode of mania. In type 2 a patient experiences hypomania, which is like mania but is not as intense as mania. Cyclothemia is not as intense as type I and II, patients experience periods of elevated mood and depression but not nearly as dangerous as the other types of bi-polar disorder.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Bi-polar disorder vary depending on the type of disorder that is diagnosed. Most symptoms are very closely related to the symptoms of substance abuse. In Bi-polar disorder type I, symptoms tend to be more detrimental than type II and cyclothymia. A patient experiences episodes of mania followed by long periods of depression. People experience sudden bursts of energy followed by racing thoughts, reduced appetite and need for sleep. This change in personality results in impulsive and risky behaviors. Some patients go on shopping sprees, participate in unprotected sex and are more likely to try drugs and other dangerous substances. Their attention span greatly decreases and they become distracted very easily. In extreme cases of mania some patients experience grandeur and psychosis. They suffer from delusions and hallucinations, false beliefs that they were chosen for a specific task. People going through the mania phase might not even feel anything is wrong with them but to other people they seem to be acting weird and not themselves. This can often cause problems in relationships, family life and the workplace. Although the mania phase causes damage to the patient's life, depression is still far worse. Depression occurs usually after mania and can be more detrimental. Patients experience decreased energy, low self confidence, low self worth and no pleasure in anything that they once enjoyed. Anxiety, anger, and guilt are also common in the depression phase. Phases of depression can make patients more prone to hurt themselves or commit suicide. These phases can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months if left untreated.

Treatment

Treating this type of condition is never easy for psychiatrists. Even with the advances in technology, there is no permanent cure for bi-polar disorder. Most treatment methods focus on managing the symptoms and teaching patients to recognize the symptoms of an episode. Group therapy is another method used to get family members involved in the treatment process. This also helps the patients figure out what causes them to transition into mania. Most treatment methods also require the use of medication to be more successful. Anti-depressants, benzodiazepines and other mood management drugs are used to help patients transition from one mood to another. These drugs are also used to decrease the symptoms of mania and depression.

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Life Skills and Trauma Stressors

Health professionals may be baffled when survivors of trauma come to them after recovery, on reassessment, find out symptoms have recurred.

Trauma is a serious assault on a human's life functioning.

What happens to get in the way of a regular day-to-day activity like paying the bills or problem-solving to suddenly make it all seem like a monumental feat?

Could it be a day or two before, or after a holiday gathering that negative emotions or physical symptoms got triggered, and a survivor remembers a traumatic moment that surfaces without a warning?

Trauma happens to people who experienced a psychologically disturbing and life-risking event. A person having survived an accident, injuries, illness, physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse, or other crime; a person who is a war veteran, army officer, or settlement refugee who comes from war-torn or a violent country; it can happen to a search and rescue worker; natural disaster survivor, or a bystander of a traumatic episode.

A survivor can relive moments of terror, feelings of culpability, remorse, rage, or disillusionment about life.

Reliving a tragic event can arouse emotions that cause fatigue, low energy, weepiness or lack of concentration or impatience with others. Outbursts of anger happen for no reason. The memory of trauma comes by flashbacks and nightmares, and it can become so severe it's difficult to lead a normal life.

Unbeknownst to a survivor of trauma, belief that healing has taken place and recovery is over and done with plays havoc on the mind. Thoughts, feelings and emotions are stirred-up. Without warning, symptoms return to cause grief. The ability to manage simple home or work tasks becomes daunting.

Joint pain or inability to sleep through the night can occur during a traumatic flashback. Agitation and self-inquiry like “who am I” and “will I ever feel normal? Or” am I going crazy? ”

Disharmony grows in relationships and clouds of doom become a veil over the survivor.

The Canadian Mental Health Association reports this kind of impact can develop into acute anxiety or more commonly “post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”

PTSD is one of several conditions known as an anxiety disorder. It affects about 1 in 10 people, characterized by reliving a psychologically traumatic situation, long after any physical danger involved has passed.

Taking care to know and understand disruptive emotions that could arise after flashbacks are vital life skills tools.

Self-awareness and self-care is arsenal for a trauma-episodic memory.

Life can suddenly become crushing because an ants of images, conversations, smells, or sounds, serve to remind something happening now related to a traumatic event back then.

Psychology Today reports PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults. It is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse, gambling, eating and anxiety disorders.

When other conditions are appropriately diagnosed and treated, the likelihood of successful treatment increases.

Mayo Clinic oncologist Edward T. Cregan MD explains coping with traumatic stress is an ongoing process. He explains we'll be of more help to our loved one (to ourselves) if we learn about the effects of trauma.

Life skills can help people draw from a broad range of problem-solving behaviors to meet the challenges at work, home or socially. The extent to which an individual with trauma integrations survival behaviors in their lives after their trauma is in itself a measure of success and describes much support.

In trauma recovery people learn during their healing it is important to accept feelings of denial, to keep active, seek support, face reality of the triggers, and to ground themselves after a flashback.

Trauma survivors need to take time to process feelings associated with the experience and know how to find quiet time to be alone or find someone in the family or amongst friends to share the experience. They need to know sharing the experience is accepted without judgment.

The key is to recognize trauma may surface at different times of the year.

Dr. Cregan describes the best way to approach trauma is by finding some ways of normalizing it – thinking about not being overwhelmed or frustrated by symptoms and difficulties (as opposed to catastophising thoughts like, 'It's coming again, I am back to square one' and emphasizing coping strategies like staying active, taking care of yourself, seeking social support).

Family members and friends care deeply, yet hold beliefs healing should be done with quickly. This can hinder a trauma survivor's healing. Advocating “life is too short” and “stop focusing on the past – get over it” prolongs the curing period.

Healing takes time and it is different for everyone.

Family doctors notably agree it is part of essential life skills for a survivor to understand and express feelings, deal with anger associated with trauma, and protection thought processes so as not to undersine the ability to cope day-to-day.

Awareness is essential.

Emotional wounds take time to heal, or some cases may never heal.

Emotions from a traumatic event can take years to show up and when they do, it's a rude awakening. A realization surfaces to reexamine the memory and the pain associated with it. What can happen is a recall of more memory, adding to the original trauma. Once this happens, it describes the processing time for the survivor to work through it, and get ready to come out at the other end stronger for it.

Trauma can cause ongoing problems with self-esteem. It affects management of simple life skills. Overcoming trauma is easier for some than others. Some go on to inspire others who is just entering the dark stage of a life-changing journey.

The impact of trauma on the entire person and the range of the therapeutic issues are what need to be addressed. Recovery happens when the person is ready to move past the pain of it.

Symptoms come back in bits and pieces, like a flashback in a movie trailer – it can subside.

Dr. Creagan believes we can help a loved one with post-traumatic stress by being willing to listen, but do not push. Choose a time when you're both ready to talk.

During the process of recovery from trauma, it can take months, years, even decades. For some, PTSD never leaves.

Trauma assaults a person's ability to manage simple life skills. Usually this is needed to help understand the world around or know the tools to allow a fulfilling life. Daily tasks, going to school or work, building relationships, or one's personal feelings of belongingness or connectedness becomes visibly exhausting.

Trauma symptoms get in the way of meeting aspirations to live to one's full potential.

Many treatments are available for PTSD to meet the unique needs of the survivor.

Everyone is different, so a treatment by someone experienced with PTSD may work for one person and may not work for another.

Life coaching is available to give supporting listening – without attempts to repair but help resolve some of the strong feelings such as shame, anger, or guilt. A life coach can offer strategies to help map out a plan to get beyond PTSD and work at meeting life goals based on a new method of human functioning.

A life skills approach to trauma is about finding a new personal life balance. Breaking through another wall of understanding and self discovery during recovery of trauma, is about learning to live with a new agenda of copying skills. Taking time to find what works best during healing from the effects of trauma is worthy of investment.

Giving up is not an option, but seeking self-love and understanding, or getting the help needed all brings added successes to an especially brave life of a survivor living with the stresses of a past trauma.

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How to Ease Anxiety During Pregnancy

This is a dilemma that many mother's face in today's age. With all the physical and hormonal changes going on often small issues seem to become insurmountable.

Remember to recognize the issues that you actually can do something about and forget the rest. NEVER SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF !!!

Below is a list of suggestions on how to ease your anxiety. Please read them and then choose those that resonate with you. You do not have to do all of them BUT do do some.

  • It's important to rest when you feel the need.
  • Take time out and do “me” stuff.
  • Use your friends and share your concerns with them. Go out and enjoy their company.
  • Converse about and discuss your troubles.
  • Go to parenting classes and ask questions and learn about what may be troubling you.
  • Talk to family. You do not have to do things on your own.
  • Read books on the topics of concern but remember not everything will appeal to you OR just read a book for enjoyment. It is great to escape from your troubles in a good novel.
  • Eat well and healthy. This will give you more energy and help prevent excess weight from weighing you down. Seek help from your doctor, pharmacist or health practitioner on what they suggest and if unsure.
  • Keep fit. Its important to keep up your exercise but also to attempt appropriate exercises to stretch the right lower muscles to prepare for birth. Birthing exercise classes are available as well as DVD's. Inquire, go and DO. Exercise releases those happy endorphins which will also help to allay those mixed hormones that cause moodiness and enhance anxiety.
  • Vitamins, herbs and nutrition. These are paramount not only for the health of your baby but also for you. Everyone hears about folic acid for prevention of neural tube issues but do not forget calcium and magnesium, the vitamin Bs and a host of others. Your pharmacist is a good source of information. Remember that the baby takes priority for receiving the nutrition and not you so make sure you consume not only for the baby but for you too.
  • Be ready for the birth. Make your lists so that your subconscious mind will not be pestering your mind all day long not to forget. Keep a pad and pen handy and write down all the things that pop into mind. Do not let it sneak up on you. Prepare your hospital bag. Be aware of what you are in for and yes, prepare.
  • PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE! If you know you have prepared well then there will be no need to be anxious all the time.
  • Discuss your money issues with your partner or if on your own make a budget. Stick to the plan so that there will be no need to be anxious over money concerns. MOST baby items do not have to be brand new and can be obtained from friends, eBay, garage sales etc at minimum cost. You do not have to have a brand new house or a large one or a brand new car. The baby needs you as relaxed as possible and not all stressed out trying to juggle an unrealistic budget.
  • Different government funding or assistance may be available to help out in certain cases. Do not ignore this one.
  • Share one on one time with your partner. Do not forget to involve him in the pregnancy. Having your partner on side will certainly help to reduce the anxiety. They are having their own issues and may not be always aware of what is happening to you. Also your partner may feel isolated due to the personal bond that you share with your unborn child.
  • Talk about the changes that will occur once the baby is born. Talk about your plan on raising your child. This will resolve anxieties issues also after birth.
  • Take relaxation classes. We often forget what it is like to relax.
  • Use positive affirmations and reinforcement. Enjoy the experience. Be a half full kind of person not the glass is half empty.
  • Practise deep breathing techniques that can be used at any time to help relieve any anxiety or panic attacks that occurs.
  • Seek help if anxiety and stress are getting on top of you. There are many natural products available that are safe in pregnancy that you can use to help ease the anxiety. Speak to your health practitioner including your pharmacist on this issue. There is also cognitive therapy and if needed medications available.

In summary I will once again say:

DO NOT SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF

The house can be cleaned over several days; the washing up can wait wait the next morning; the washing and ironing never go away so do not hassle over it.

Do not forget to laugh. Laughter is the best medicine.

Enjoy your anxiety reduced pregnancy!

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Ways to Prevent a Relapse of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder affects about 1% of the population. It is a chronic relapsing illness characterized by episodes of mania and / or depression. It can have disastrous consequences on a patient's life especially if they have many relapses and the illness is not well controlled. If you suffer from Bipolar Disorder you may find yourself having difficulties at work and problems with your fellow workers. Social impairment can set in as well when family members become frustrated with your behaviors when you were unwell. In particular, divorce rates are much higher in sufferers of Bipolar Disorder. Patients with Bipolar Disorder are at a higher risk of completing suicide especially when they are in an unwell state of mind.

Therefore preventing relapses of Bipolar Disorder is critical in preventing deterioration in the psychosocial and occupational functioning. Here are some steps you or any other individual afflicted with Bipolar Disorder can take to ensure that you have the lowest possible risk of getting a relapse.

1. See your psychiatrist

Many times, patients will default on their treatment because they are not convinced about the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and are unsure how medications or therapy can help them. Often, the diagnosis of Bipolar is made when the patient is unwell and even if the doctor did take a great deal of time to explain and psycho-educate about Bipolar, the patient may not be able to comprehend the issues at hand given the poor judgment and concentration one has during a manic or depressive episode.

Therefore, education about the illness and treatment must be repeated in subsequent sessions when you are feeling better. If your psychiatrist is not doing that, it is best that you bring this up yourself and clarify any doubts or questions you may have about your condition.

Engaging well with your psychiatrist will help you gain understanding into your illness and build trust in the treatment regime. This takes time and therefore it is really important for you to stick to your appointments and to see your doctor regularly.

2. Understand yourself

Nobody knows you better than yourself. Yes, not even your therapist or your psychiatrist. You know best what stresses you out and what makes you happy and contented. Finding time to explore these issues and being aware of them will help you along. Know your own limitations and seek to accept them. Remember, only by accepting who you are, can you start to change yourself.

Many patients with Bipolar Disorder will begin to worry whether they are relapsing when they feel happy or when they feel sad. Knowing the limits of your mood and charting them down on days you are normal will help you to understand them better. By understanding what is your normal mood, you can begin to be aware of abnormal mood states and to take necessary steps when they occur.

3. Understand your illness

In Bipolar Disorder, there is often a relapse signature. This means that a pattern may be discernible prior to a relapse. For example, some patients may start to have sleepless nights or they may start to notice that they are more talkative or talking more quickly. Understanding your illness will help you to identify your relapse signature. This will in turn allow you to seek treatment early and to prevent relapse.

4. Stick to your schedule

It has been shown that patients with Bipolar Disorder do well when they have a stable bio-social rhythm. This means that maintaining regular daily rhythms in activities such as sleeping, waking, eating, and exercise can increase quality of life, reduce symptoms, and help prevent relapse.

5. Stick with your meds!

The best proof for preventing a relapse is to make sure that you take your medications regularly and to have it refilled in a timely manner. Often, doses of medications can be reduced when the illness is in remission. If you are experiencing side effects with your medication, you should discuss with your psychiatrist how best to reduce or overcoming them. Stopping your medications abruptly will put you at risk of relapse!

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A Bipolar Disorder Lesson From a Bipolar Patient’s Point-Of-View

When acquiring knowledge it is best to define terms either before or as they are being used. Let us begin by defining:

Bipolar (Affective) Disorder (manic-depression): a “mental disorder” exhibiting oscillating periods of elation and “clinical depression.” It is essentially a psychiatric diagnosis of elevated and depressive cognition, moods, behaviors and energy levels. The clinical term for the elated moods is “mania”. A gentler form is “hypomania.” Afterwards, bipolar individuals typically manifest either depressed symptoms or a “mixed state” in which features of both highs and lows are simultaniously present. These up-and-down events quickly slide through “average” mood zones enjoyed by the general population. For some folks, “rapid-cycling” between up-and-down mood levels occurs. Fierce manic episodes can exhibit delusions, psychosis and hallucinations. The bipolar mood range, in increasing levels of manic severity, are termed cyclothymia, hypomania (bipolar-II) and mania (bipolar-I). Decreasing levels of clinical depression are cyclothymia, depression (bipolar-II) and clinical depression (bipolar-I). Clinical depression alone is termed “unipolar.” [abridged-paraphrased Wikipedia “Bipolar Disorder” entry]
The bipolar continuum (spectrum) is best illustrated verbally as follows:

MANIA (BIPOLAR-I)

HYPOMANIA (BIPOLAR-II)

CYCLOTHYMIA (HIGH)

AVERAGE MOOD HIGH

AVERAGE MOOD

AVERAGE MOOD LOW

CYCLOTHYMIA (LOW)

DYSTHYMIA (BIPOLAR II)

CLINICAL DEPRESSION (BIPOLAR I)

Patient moods are continuously variable as they ascend and descend this bi-directional spectrum, prompting Johns Hopkins leading Professor of Psychiatry, Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison and Bipolar I patient, to call bipolar disorder “this quicksilver illness.”

“Average Mood” is just another day at the office and at home with no cause for either sadness or celebration.

“Average Mood High” might be a time when you marry, birth a baby, earn a raise or win the lottery.

“Average Mood Low” could range from the loss of a favorite pet to the passing of a family member.

“Cyclothymia High” may be a time of extra energy and focus and general exuberance without drug use.

“Cyclothymia Low” can be a habit of extra sleepfulness or sleeplessness and a gloomy outlook.

“Hypomania” is a period of excess energy, high productivity, many achievements and goal-orientation.

“Dysthymia” is sluggishness, loss of normal interests, negativity and general malaise.

“Mania” is a time of grandiosity, rapid and pressured speech and frightening, erratic behaviors.

“Clinical or Major Bipolar Depression” is a total loss of interests and hope, often featuring suicidality

Here are a few American statistics:

  • Women suffer major depression twice as much as men
  • 90% of all suicides result from clinical depression
  • Men and women suffer manic-depression equally
  • 1 of 3 bipolar individuals will either attempt or complete the act of suicide

You have likely seen more than enough lists of manic and depressive visible behaviors, but it is important to exist to those listed in the “Psychiatrist's Bible,” DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). The DSM-5 will be published in May 2013. It is from these basic definitions that we can build a discussion and understand what is to follow. Here are the essential “Diagnostic Criteria for Manic Episode:”

  • Abnormally, persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood
  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity [w / uninhibited, skewed volition]
  • Decreased need for sleep, eg, feeling rested after only 3 hours of sleep
  • More talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking
  • Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing
  • Distractibility, ie, attention too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli
  • Increase in goal-directed activity (either socially, at work, at school or sexually) or psychomotor agitation
  • Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences, eg, the person engages in unrestrained buying spreads, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments
  • Mood disturbance insufficiently severe to cause marked impairment in occupational function or in normal social activities or relations with others, or to necessitate hospitalization to prevent harm to self or others
  • [Giving away money or cherished or valuable possessions]

I have included this last, bracketed symptom, as that has been my own personal experience during my bipolar I episodes and also that of many of my co-patients and manic-depressive friends. Although this frightening list is not intended for use by “armchair psychiatrists,” it is useful for spotting and obtaining professional help for a mood-challenged friend or family member. Mania reminds me of the metamorphosis that produces the “Incredible Hulk.” My bipolar-I episodes always involve an obsession-either “seeking true love” or “starting my own high-tech energy company.” Oh, the wonders of manic grandiosity!

Well, DSM-IV has been kind enough to help us understand what bipolar mania is. Here it does likewise for clinical depression in the form of “Diagnostic Criteria for Major Depressive Episode”:

  • Depressed mood (can be irritable mood in children and adolescents) most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated either subject account or observation by others
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated either by subject account or observations by others of apathy most of the time
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain when not dieting (eg, more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day (in children, consider failure to make expected weight gains)
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia almost every day
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down
  • Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or appropriate guilt (which may be delusional) almost every day (not purely self-reproach or guilt about being sick)
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subject account or as observed by others)
  • Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide
  • [Vegetative, catatonic; retarded or loss of motor skills; unable to commit the act of suicide]

Once again, this last, bracketed listing is based on my personal experience and that of many of my co-patients and manic-depressive friends. When taken together, all of these up-and-down states are can be pepered with psychosis, hallucinations and delusions, making a psychiatrist's diagnosis that much more difficult to make. Bipolar diagnoses are primarily made by psychiatrists (64%), psychologists (18%), and general practitioners (13%). In suspected cases of mental issues it only makes sense to cut to the chase and make an appointment with a psychiatrist. This specifically trained professional is best able to treat a mood disorder patient. There are also “mixed episodes” during which an individual will suffer both manic and depressive characteristics simultaneously-pure hell. Once properly diagnosed, the patient and doctor will need three years, on average, to sculpt a useful combination of psychotropic (psychiatric) drugs to achieve acceptable patient mood stability, the goal of which is to reduce the frequency, duration and intensity of episodes. These potent drugs have wicked side-effects and must be a carefully selected combination chosen from the five major classes of psych medicines:

  • Mood Stabilizers
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Anxiolytics
  • Anticonvulsants

When the bipolar patient is manic, he or she is feeling good and is illegally to visit a doctor without coerced by another individual. That is why psychiatrists often diagnose manic-depressive patients with unipolar (depressive) disorder because the only time he gets to see the patient is when he or she is feeling bad. It is fascinating that nearly 70% of bipolar-disorder sufferers are misdiagnosed an average of 3.5 times before that correct diagnosis is dialed-in. The manic individual is on a “high” and feels wonderful-there is “no need” for a doctor.

Because bipolar or depressive disorders involve relative amounts of neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine) in the brain's limbic system (that portion of the brain responsible for emotion, behavior, motivation and long-term memory), a paucity of them results in depression and a surplus of them results in mania. Neurotransmitters are what transmit electrical signals between nerve endings, and, in this case, those of the neurons found in the brain. Unfortunately, there are no physical tests, no “dipsticks,” blood tests, imaging, invasive or non-invasive medical techniques for determining the relative levels of these biochemicals. Bipolar disorder is every bit a physical disease as are diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Here are the ways psychiatrists must achieve their diagnoses for their mood patients:

  • Questioning the patient
  • Questioning family, significant others
  • Establishing a patient history
  • Behavioral observation
  • Reading body language
  • Evaluating speech characteristics
  • Combining the results of these presentations with knowledge and experience

Although bipolar disease can strike anyone at any time, it usually can be traced to either a genetic component or a crippling physical, mental or emotional stressor like child abuse or PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that produces tremendous amounts of anxiety and stress. On the genetic side, children having a sibling or parent with manic-depression have up to six times the likelihood of inheriting the disorder. Other predispositions and correlations for having bipolar disorder are having a Germanic heritage, a high IQ, or being an artist or scientist. Musicians, composers, poets, painters, philosophers, photographers, comedians, TV personalities, sculptors, etc., have an elevated risk of being bipolar when compared with the general population. My casual study of 277 famous persons revealed 84% were in those fields and suffer (ed) mood disorders. I can identify at least five triggers that launch bipolar episodes:

  1. Stressors (including major life events); physical, mental and emotional
  2. Substance abuse
  3. Sleep deprivation and severe circadian rhythm disruption
  4. Seasonal change
  5. Medicinal side-effects

When it comes to religion, much of Christendom judges those having mental disorders as being sinful, shameful, lacking faith, weak, self-centered, selfish, storytellers, guilty or demon-possessed. Or “That is just an excuse, you are trying to get attention.” These judgments result in private upbraiding, public ridicule, shunning or excommunication. The affected person's beliefs fail when his mind fails. Other significant world religions either quarantine or eradicate mentally persons (defectives) by using any means possible, including homicide. It is interesting to note the statistical incidence of people's mood disorders is unaffected by any particular religious belief or affiliation.

Depression is the number three reason for doctor visits in America today and the class of psychiatric drugs prescribed is second only to analgesics (painkillers). It has historically taken an average of four doctors and ten years to correctly diagnose a case of bipolar disorder. Even today only 49% of those with manic-depression receive treatment. Most of the reminder, unaware of their disease, will unwittingly self-medicate with “feel-good” drugs, food, alcohol and wanton (hyper) sex. Denial can be a mental patient's best friend. Bipolar disorder is very much like a “mood roller-coaster,” with rapid ascents into mania, yet slower descents into suicidal depression stemming from a loss of confidence, identity and neurotransmitter imbalances. Our thoughts race at disturbing speeches while manic. When depressed we feel envious of anyone who is not in our place. We must train others to understand us and help us no matter how impossible that sees. And we must live “in the moment” every day. Our only real duty is to avoid mood swings that steal our reason and cause the loss of hope that constitutes our desire for death.

Fortunately, these numbers are generally trending better due to higher levels of awareness and today's many campaigns against stigma and discrimination targeting the mentally ill. Stigma of the disorder is fueled by the popular media characterization of bipolar individuals as being crazed homicidal maniacs having murderous / suicidal intent. Stigma means “disqualification and disgrace.” It alienates its victims, creates undeserved prejudice against them, and produces a societal shame that delivers a powerful blow to those already suffering a horrific mental disease. Stigma is every bit as appropriate for the mental patient as it would be for the heart or cancer patient! The sufferer considers herself a public “killjoy,” and hides it as best she can. She and others like her often can not summon the self-esteem and confidence to share their emotional battles. Every societal aberrance appears to have its own equal and opposite form using the word “phobia.” Should those guilty of fear of the mentally ill be branded “psycho-phobes?” It has been my experience that, like “mean” drunks and “happy” drunks, there are both “mean” and “happy” individuals who suffer episodes of bipolar disorder. The “mean” and violent ones are only those who abuse drugs and alcohol. After all, violent persons are not born, they're made.

Bipolar individuals, on average, will suffer 8 to 10 episodes over their lifetimes. It is living hell on earth without a cure. It can only be managed. The impact on society includes these facts:

  • Manic-depression is near the 2nd-highest reason for federal disability rewards
  • Unemployment for mood disorder sufferers is 50% higher than the US average
  • Bipolar patient lifespans are 9.2 years shorter than the nominal US age of 78 years

Because drug therapy often requires 2-3 weeks to begin exhibiting a therapeutic effect, hospitalization may be indicated for the patient's safety during a mood disorder episode. Sadly, “new and improved” healthy patient outlooks, beliefs and budding improved behavioral habits, when compared with previous behaviors, can actually spook family and friends and cause a separation of ways. Co-dependencies vanish. Outpatient counseling is often required to either prevent this ordeal or deal with its aftermath. A new setting may be a big boon to the psychiatrist patient. Whether manic or depressed, the individual's feelings must be adjusted-restored to a stable range. Julie A. Fast has described a “centered” bipolar's life as being possible, wonderful, having fun and enjoying one's talents. I have also found these aspects of stability to be true and have reached my treasured state of serenity ..

For me, clinical depression, a crafty adverse, produces the worst suffering. Its simplest definition is “anger turned inward.” A depressed patient must find a non-injurious, non-destructive way to vent those demons of anger to slam the brakes on a dangerously depressing depression.

Imagine awaking after being buried 6 feet under, the utter hopelessness of your shouts going unheard, unable to roll over in your coffin, claustrophobic. Clinical depression's hopelessness is worse! Suicide easily becomes a viable, attractive option. In the words of Marybeth Smith, “… I just want to end the pain.” The wild mood swings of bipolar disorder in a sufferer have nothing to do with volition, choices or will. With depression, one may unknowingly begin to sink into the abyss of hopelessness.

“You can always think your way into a depression but can not always think your way out [of one].” – Dr. Lewis Britton

At that point the only option is either drug therapy or ECT. Because psychiatric treatment usually involves only 15-minute “meds checks,” a patient must request a referral for a psychiatrist who can provide the “talk therapy” needed for the patient to work out thinking, behaviors, lifestyle and myriad other issues. Patients must be ascertained whether or not their psychiatrists and psychologists will communicate with one another to create a holistic continuum of care. The patient must learn habits of living including eating, exercise and sleeping habits. Mood disorder behaviors are non-volitional and re-learning healthy physical, mental and emotional habits is a must for preventing further mental mayhem. Friends and family can neither sympathize nor empathize, never having “been there.”

Serenity is my ultimate mental health goal. I have nearly achieved it by eliminating nearly most stressors in my life and it feels great. No problem distracts or strangers me anymore, most likely due to having already survived the worst that can happen to me at both extremes of bipolar mania and depression. In addition to Psychiatric and Psychological help are voluntary support groups, both physical and online. Internet forums and communities, if their members stay on-track, can be quite helpful for depressed and manic-depressive individuals as episodes, doctors, medicines and the like are hashed over and common ground is established for self-revelation, sharing and caring.

I am often asked whether there is 1) a greater number of mentally ill people today, 2) if the bar is being lowered by the Psychiatric community to drum up more patients, or 3) if there is always been so many of us in the past who were misunderstood, misdiagnosed or ignored. I am inclined to say that it is an amalgam of all three at the risk of sounding simplistic or “politically correct.” I say this because I believe all three propositions can easily be tied to the increasingly rapid advance of technology's increasing impact on manankind over the decades. But I'm certainly open for any suggestions to the contrary.

In conclusion, “manic-depression” remains a “hot-button” topic today among health professionals, the media, patients and a confused public. Well-meaning websites and blogs litter the internet with both accurate and erroneous content and advice, and these venues must be fact-checked and negotiated with care. Although not up to academic standards, a Wikipedia search of “bipolar disorder” is probably the most handy and accurate source for the average inquisitor. Having read it myself, this mental patient recommends it for all concerned.

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The Link Between Addiction and Dopamine

Have you ever wondered why some people are more prone to addiction than others? Even for certain diseases like diabetes or hypertension? Just like we have different looks, our bodies are different too. Studies carried out on addicts have pointed out to dopamine been the main cause of addiction. Drugs which increase dopamine in the brain can have untoward effect on certain addictive behaviors such as compulsive gambling, hypersexuality, and overeating. One such drug is Levodopa. In fact, one of the most addicting drugs is cocaine which acts mainly by inhibiting the recycling of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters in the brain and it induces pleasure as well as affecting bodily movement, motivation and cognition. Dopamine that controls certain pleasurable feelings in the body caused by eating food, orgasms during sex and by addictive behaviors. That's why addictions are pleasurable and the brain becomes hooked to the dopamine to produce the same effect, every time the habit is repeated.

The question now probably lingering in your mind is how dopamine causes addiction. As stated above, certain habits such as gambling, shopping, computer games and etcetera, cause release of dopamine from the brain. However, when these habits are repeated regularly, less and less dopamine is released in the brain and then, pleasurable feelings are reduced. A person will then try to repeat the habit often so as to have the same pleasurable feeling. Due to low dopamine levels in the brain, the person will have low moods, feel irritable and feel less satisfied by the habit. Addiction that sets in and the person becomes hooked to the habit in the quest to try gain more pleasure from it. However, most addictions have a cost to pay especially when it comes to finances, careers or family affairs as they spend a lot of time on the habit. A resultant job loss or financial constraint can bring in a lot of despair and the addict will result in the addictive behavior to seek more pleasure and to try escape from reality. Addiction that becomes a total part of their lives.

Studies have shown that most compulsive gamblers have low dopamine levels. It's also observed that environmental factors can influence dopamine levels. Dopamine is thought to induce strong feelings of satisfaction and for addicts, the unconscious need for its release becomes important, for instance, when the gamble. All addictive behaviors and drug of abuse stimulate the release of dopamine, or increase its activity in an area of ​​the brain known as the nucleus accumbens. Several studies have shown that people with genetically low dopamine levels are also more prone to becoming addicted to certain behaviors or drugs of abuse. These drugs of abuse can trigger large surges of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens because causing euphoric and relaxed feelings. Ironically, smoking tobacco can also cause the same dopamine surges in the brain. Another study concluded that those added to multiple substitutes such as alcohol, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin have reductions of dopamine 2 receptors in the nucleus accumbens and the striatum of the brain. These changes can persist for months, even after stopping to take them, since an increased risk relapse to the same drug abuse. In all these cases, dopamine levels in the brain consistently reduce and one will therefore require higher doses of the drug or increased involvement in the addictive behaviors so as to try achieve the same pleasure and feelings as before. Dopamine that plays a major role in addiction.

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