Lately have you noticed you are forgetting things, feeling groggy even after a good night's sleep, irritable? Dr. Richard Friedman has some ideas about how social isolation may be making our brains duller. Check out this article he wrote in the Washington Post.
Good Mental Health is no different than good physical health. In fact, good mental health contributes to better physical health.
Seeing a physician isn't embarrassing if we have the flu, a high fever, or other serious health problems. No one will criticize you for seeking medical help for a physical health problem and, indeed, most people would fault you if you didn't seek medical help.
Yet we often find that mental health issues bring a very different reaction. People sometimes see mental illness not as a health issue, but as a character flaw, a serious defect, something that marks a person as weak, unstable, perhaps even violent or dangerous.
Such reactions have serious consequences for millions of Americans who could be healthier and happier if they were receiving the mental health help readily available. But many don't seek such help out of fear of being "labeled" with a mental illness, feeling family and friends won't understand, or that it could lead to discrimination at work or school.
Too many people who could use help instead see their condition as a sign of personal weakness. They may mistakenly believe that they should be able to control whatever is wrong without outside help.
Please, work to correct this misinformation and encourage people to seek needed treatment. For example, researchers estimate that one in eight U.S. adolescents is suffering from depression. Each day an estimated 3,000 young people in grades 9 to 12 attempt suicide, yet only 30% of young people facing mental health issues ever receive any type of treatment or intervention. This lack of treatment helps lead to more than 4,600 suicides by young people each year. The statistics are even scarier among senior citizens and our military veterans.
What you can do:
If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health issue, don't give in to the stigma, but rather take action for better health. Talk to a friend or family members about what's bothering you and look into assistance from a mental health professional. Seeking mental health help is not a weakness; it's as logical and right as seeing a doctor for the flu.
Adapted from American Counseling Association’s Counseling Corner Blog.
Here are some thoughts from Markus Howard on The Marquette basketball team about his mental health treatment as published in The NYTimes.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it's time to talk about confronting the stigma around therapy. Many people would benefit from therapy but won't choose it because they feel ashamed and weak when confronted with emotional difficulties. There is no shame in seeking professional help for emotional difficulties anymore than there is to visit a medical doctor for your physical health.
Physical and Mental Health are entwined. Ignoring either can lead to greater difficulties. Early intervention is the key to dealing with both physical and mental problems.
Men are particularly at risk from not talking about emotional issues. Men can perceive themselves as weak and inferior for feeling anxious, depressed, angry, overwhelmed and other uncomfortable emotions. Stuffing feelings down or ignoring them can be dangerous to functioning in relationships, can interfere with concentration at work, contribute to fatigue, irritability.
Here are some excerpts from an article by Sean Evans, "Not Talking About Mental Health is Literally Killing Men", May 2, 2018.
"Your mental health is inseparable from your physical health. Not a revolutionary concept, but what is astounding is the stigmatization that still surrounds men who dare to talk about their emotional struggles.
Men who are vocal about any kind of mental issues can be dismissed as weak. As inferior. As flawed, broken guys who are more likely to be ostracized for their honesty, instead of rewarded for their bravery. Instead of affording a fellow man compassion, we mock, belittle, and turn a blind eye. We freely spit the phrase, 'Man up', as though your gender alone should suffice to guide you through your darkest times.
Or worse the response can be 'Well, that sucks', then change the subject because talking about feelings is just too real.
What’s real is the fact that 9 percent of men experience depression. That’s more than 6 million men. More than 3 million men struggle with anxiety, daily. Of the 3.5 million people diagnosed as schizophrenic by the age of 30, more than 90 percent are men. An estimated 10 million men in the U.S. will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. One in five men will develop and alcohol dependency over a lifetime. Male suicide is rising at such an alarming rate that it’s been classified as a 'silent epidemic.' It’s the seventh leading cause of death for males. That’s a staggering statistic.
It’s okay to feel depressed. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be anxious. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to not have everything figured out, to feel a wave of uncertainty come crashing over you and not know which way is up, or when your next gulp of air will come. These are perfectly normal feelings that every man experiences. And it’s okay to talk about it. What’s not okay is suffering in silence." You can read the full article here.
Freud called therapy the Talking Cure. It's time to talk!
Here are some misconceptions about therapy which may block someone from seeking help.
Most people experience a slump in January and February after the frenetic end-of-year and new year festivities. Some of this is merely fatigue but the Winter Blues can leave you feeling, sad, irritable, unmotivated. If these feelings intensify and lead to sleep problems, changes in appetite or weight, depression, you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
If your symptoms are in the milder category of Winter Blues there are several things you can do to help yourself feel better.
Just about everybody goes through stressful times at work. Projects pile up, you stay late and take work home with you and the flow of emails doesn’t slow down. When this becomes the norm, it’s time to re-evaluate your work-life balance and make some healthy changes to avoid job burnout.
How do you know when it’s time to examine how your job fits into your life?
Become a Time Realist as this article from The NY Times says.
Here's some information from the Cleveland Clinic about the illusion of multitasking.
The Dead of Winter Can Leave You Feeling Depressed
More than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression, according to the World Health Organization. Twice as many women than men have depression, and all ages are affected.
Depression is especially important to recognize in pregnant or postpartum women, patients who are elderly or have cancer and in children and teenagers, as it can often be overlooked and can lead to devastating consequences.
At its worst, depression can lead to suicide, with more than 800,000 people dying of suicide every year. Notably, people who have gone through unemployment, loss of a loved one, a divorce or separation or even suffered a heart attack can become depressed. Depression also runs in families, so it’s important to know your family history of mental illness.
When patients with depression go to their doctors’ offices, two-thirds will present with symptoms such as a headache, backache or another type of pain, rather than admit they have depression. Often, it takes a direct question, such as “are you depressed?” for it to be recognized.
Common symptoms of depression
The following symptoms are typically present for at least two weeks, and depending on the number of symptoms, one can classify depression as mild, moderate or severe:
The more we understand and talk about depression, the earlier we can recognize it in our friends, families and loved ones. And for someone who’s suffering from this very real and debilitating disease, talking with a doctor can be the first step toward recovery.
Here's an article from The NY Times naming depression a chronic disease such as cancer which can go into remission but can ultimately be a fatal disease.
Treatment for depression
Treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms. It can range from simple recognition of the disease to medications and, sometimes, admission to a hospital for intensive treatment. Many patients with depression benefit from counseling and behavioral therapy. Regardless, neither counseling nor medications work instantly. It can take up to two weeks to begin to see the beneficial effects of medicine and up to four weeks to see the beneficial effects of counseling.
People with depression have a lower quality of life and a higher risk of suicide than those without depression. Additionally, depressed patients affect the quality of life of those who live and work with them. Recognizing the symptoms of depression and identifying ways to manage and alleviate it can have a profoundly positive impact for the patient and his or her loved ones.
This post is based on one of a series of articles produced by U.S. News & World Report in association with the medical experts at Cleveland Clinic.
Sadness that won’t go away, episodes of crying, dwelling on bad feelings. All of those familiar mood-disorder symptoms are common in women with depression — but not so much in men.
“When men are depressed, they may be less likely to express sadness and more likely to express anger, irritability and aggression,” says clinical psychologist Adam Borland, PsyD.
Other signs of depression in men can include:
Men and women also may share some basic depressive symptoms, like low energy, poor concentration and lost interest in activities they used to enjoy says.
Not all drops in mood are depression. Common sadness or irritability is usually temporary and triggered by something specific. Depression may have no clear trigger. And symptoms seem to take over your life (emotionally and physically), for two weeks or longer.
The effect on a man’s body
The thing about a mood disorder is that it’s not just an emotional problem. It can have physical effects too.
In women, depression can present as panic attacks or eating problems. Men, however, are more likely to complain of headaches, digestive problems or other physical aches and pains, says. They may have trouble sleeping or eating — or sleep or eat too much.
They also may have decreased sex drive and trouble performing in the bedroom.
It’s often easier for men to see a doctor for their physical issues than emotional ones. They may be less willing than women to talk about emotional issues or less likely to realize their physical symptoms are depression.
How to treat male depression
Men who may be depressed should start by seeing their primary care provider, who can rule out other health conditions and discuss ways to treat depression. Usually depression is treated with psychotherapy, medication or both.
Therapy can help patients uncover and change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors that could be contributing to depression. Sometimes it includes finding new ways of dealing with interpersonal conflict or other problems.
Antidepressants treat depression well, but can take several weeks to work fully. Symptoms may lift slowly and gradually.
There are dozens of safe and effective antidepressants available, but they don’t work the same in everyone. It may take more than one try for you and your doctor to find the right antidepressant for you.
What to do if a man is depressed
Many men won’t seek medical care for depression on their own. They may need encouragement from family or friends who’ve noticed a change in their ability to work, interact with others or function in everyday life.
If you think the man in your life may be depressed, here’s how you can help:
Now that spring is here it’s time to revise or create an outdoor exercise routine. The list of the benefits of regular aerobic and strength-training exercise is too long to post here. However, relief of depression is an important one.
Depression is a common disorder that is associated with compromised quality of life, increased health care costs, and greater risk for a variety of medical conditions, particularly coronary heart disease.
Here are some tips to help you get started and maintain the benefits of regular exercise.
To use that famous NIKE slogan, “Just Do It.”
Here is a recent article from Slate which provides information on the anti-depressant effects of regular exercise. Exercise and Happiness from The NY Times provides more information. And another one about exercise to lower blood pressure and reduce fat.
It doesn't always have to be a teen vs. parent fight. Parents and teenagers are always going to disagree about some things. It's simply the nature of the beast.
You, as the parent, are the half of the relationship with experience, who knows the limits, who wants to protect your child and who hopes to help guide him or her in positive ways.
Your teenager is the half of the relationship who is not only dealing with physical and emotional changes, peer pressure, and the normal developmental growth of desiring more independence, but who has to also put up with all the rules, "those totally unfair rules", that you, the parent tend, to impose.
Yes, some conflict between parent and teen is inevitable, but there are things you can do to minimize the disagreements.
Adapted from American Counseling Association’s Counseling Corner Blog.
Here's some interesting insight into the adolescent brain from The New York Times and more about depression and anxiety in adolescents.