Mental Health Awareness Month #8

Mental Health and Aging

The United States Surgeon General reported that while most older adults enjoy good mental health, nearly 30% of those 55 and older experience mental disorders that are not part of the normal aging.  The following are some of the most common disorders:

  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

The statistics on mental illness in seniors are sobering, but with knowledge and vigilance, caregivers can stay aware of the emotional and mental health of their older loved ones and make sure they are properly treated if they are experiencing a problem.

You might not be surprised to read that the most common mental health issue among the elderly is severe cognitive impairment or dementia. An estimated 5 million adults 65 and older currently have Alzheimer’s disease — about 11% of seniors, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Depression and mood disorders are also fairly widespread among older adults, and disturbingly, they often go undiagnosed and untreated. The CDC reports that 5% of seniors 65 and older reported having current depression and about 10.5% reported a diagnosis of depression at some point in their lives.

Often going along with depression, anxiety is also one of the more prevalent mental health problems among the elderly. Anxiety disorders encompass a range of issues, from hoarding syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder to phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). About 7.6% of those over 65 have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, says the CDC.

One of the ongoing problems with diagnosis and treatment of mental illness in seniors is the fact that older adults are more likely to report physical symptoms than psychiatric complaints. However, even the normal emotional and physical stresses that go along with aging can be risk factors for mental illnesses, like anxiety and depression.

As our loved ones’ age, it’s natural for some changes to occur. Regular forgetfulness is one thing, however; persistent cognitive or memory loss is another thing and potentially serious.

The same goes for extreme anxiety or long-term depression. Caregivers should keep an eye out for the following warning signs, which could indicate a mental health concern:

  1. Changes in appearance or dress, or problems maintaining the home or yard.
  2. Confusion, disorientation, problems with concentration or decision-making.
  3. Decrease or increase in appetite; changes in weight.
  4. Depressed mood lasting longer than two weeks.
  5. Feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt, helplessness; thoughts of suicide.
  6. Memory loss, especially recent or short-term memory problems.
  7. Physical problems that can’t otherwise be explained: aches, constipation, etc.
  8. Social withdrawal; loss of interest in things that used to be enjoyable.
  9. Trouble handling finances or working with numbers.
  10. Unexplained fatigue, energy loss or sleep changes.

Don’t hesitate to seek help if your loved one is experiencing any of the symptoms above, urges the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation.

There are professionals out there willing to help, including your family doctor, who is always a good place to start. You could also consult a counselor, geriatric psychiatrist or psychologist. The important part is not to stand by and suffer alone.

With the combined efforts of caregivers, family, friends and mental health professionals, we can help ward off mental illness in our older loved ones and make sure they are on the right track to healthy aging.

Written by: A Place for Mom


Mental Illness Awareness Month #7

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)(also known as Social Phobia) is an Anxiety Disorder described as an overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in normal social situations. People with SAD have an intense and chronic fear of being judged by others and of being humiliated by their own actions.

Can SAD be dangerous?

To a certain degree, yes. People with SAD suffer from distorted thinking, including false beliefs about the negative opinions of others.  In addition, it has been found that these individuals often suffer from consequences of social withdrawal and also are prone to depression.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an Anxiety Disorder that usually develops after an individual has been involved in one or more terrifying events in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. It is a severe and ongoing emotional reaction to an extreme psychological trauma.

What can cause this?

The trauma may involve someone’s death or a threat to someone else’s life, serious injury, or a threat to physical and/or psychological integrity, such as instances of sexual abuse. In some cases it can also be from profound psychological and emotional trauma, apart from any actual physical harm. A person suffering from PTSD is affected to such a degree that normal coping strategies and defense mechanisms fail to provide adequate relief.

Bipolar Disorder is a serious mood disorder that causes individuals to swing between extreme feelings of high and low (mania and depression). Bipolar Disorder deeply affects one’s energy levels, attitudes, behavior and general ability to function.

In the United States, about 5.7 million adults — about 2.6% of the population — have a condition called bipolar disorder. Of those, 1.5 million adults live with Bipolar I Disorder (also known as manic-depressive illness). The condition tends to start in late adolescence or early adulthood, but it can appear in children and older adults as well.

Can it be treated? Yes, speak to your medical physician right away and tell them what symptoms you are experiencing.

Mental Health Awareness Month #6

In men, depression can be a serious yet treatable condition.  Around six million men suffer from depression each year.

Symptoms of depression: 

Changes in appetite that result in weight losses or gains unrelated to dieting,  restlessness or irritability, feelings of worthlessness and difficulty concentrating, or making decisions or thoughts of death or suicide or attempts at suicide.

You are human.  Many men feel ashamed of being labeled s depressed, but remember that you are a human being, and that depression is treatable.

Children’s Mental Health

For parents/guardians, the key to successfully handling mental disorders in children is to recognize the problem and seek the appropriate and necessary treatment.

Conduct Disorder- Children with a conduct disorder have behavior that shows a strong disregard for the rules of society and life in general.  Conduct disorders are often one of the most frequently seen mental disorders in children.

Get help-Do not be afraid to ask for help getting help, as the appropriate treatment for conduct disorders is essential.  Treatments are aimed at helping and guiding young children in order for them to realize and understand the effects their behavior has on others.

Are Mental Illnesses Inherited?

Yes, many mental illnesses are hereditary.  The most common mental illnesses that are passed on in an individual’s genes are Bipolar Disorder and schizophrenia.  If you believe that your child may have inherited a mental health trait from yourself or another family member, speak with our child’s doctor.  Be sure to inform him/her of your family’s mental history and express any questions or concerns you may have.

Mental Health Awareness Month #5


Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that manifests itself in children.  Traits of autism include delayed language development, hindered social skills, persistent fixation of physical objects, and overall problems with communication.  Asperger’s is a sub-category of autism.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression affects women who have just given birth.  it can range from moderate to severe.  Giving birth brings about all sorts of new changes and emotions, and many women experience the blues, but diagnosed Postpartum depression is more intense and full-blown.

Recognizing Early Warning Signs of Mental Illnesses.

Serve mental illnesses such a schizophrenia or bipolar disorder rarely emerge out of the blue.  Instead, family, friends, teachers, co-workers, or the individuals themselves start to notice that something is not quite right gradually.

Signs and Symptoms to Be Careful About.

Problems with concentration, memory, or  logical thought and speech that you haven’t experienced in the past.

Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, or smells as well as an overwhelming feeling to avoidance of over-stimulating situations.

When should treatment begin?

As soon as possible!  There are clinics that specialize in mental health disorders around the country, testing is normally scheduled relatedly quickly.

Mental Illness and Suicide.

Mental health studies conclude that people with poor mental health are 10 times more likely to attempt suicide.  Every year in the United States, more than 36,000 individuals die by suicide while hundreds of thousands more attempt it.  More often than not, these occurrences are due to chemical imbalances in the brain.  Here are some tips for dealing with suicidal thoughts:

KNOW that help is always there.  Seek the help of a counselor or call a suicide help-line.  Death is not the answer and will not solve your problems.  There is hope for you.

ALWAYS take your medication.  Individuals who are prescribed antipsychotic medications should under no circumstances stop their medication unless otherwise directed by a physician.



Mental Illness Awareness Month #4

Bullying and Mental Health

Children that experience bullying may experience serious emotional and mental disabilities.  Bullying may interfere with social development, and self-esteem.  Children who have been bullied are also at increased risk for problems with anxiety and depression.

What can I do as a parent?  Help your child to understand what bullying is and teach them how to safely stand up for themselves and others.

Always communicate.  Check with your children often.  Listen to them.  Know who their friends are, ask questions about school, understand, and listen to their concerns.

Child Abuse and Mental Illness

Child abuse is becoming an epidemic, and studies show that it can change how the brain functions.  These changes appear to be significant enough to cause psychological and emotional problems that extend into adulthood.

Prevent Abuse.  If you suspect a child is being abused, immediately report your suspicions to the proper authorities.  Do not remain silent; a child’s well-being may be in your hands.

Be An Advocate.  Let children know that it is okay to go to you or another adult if they are having problems or are worried about something.  Ensure them that what is going on is not their fault.  Encourage them to speak out if they themselves or anyone they know is being mistreated.


Mental Health Awareness Month #3

Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that stress can in fact contribute to mental illnesses.  Job related stress can affect you emotionally and mentally.  Luckily, there are steps that you can take to limit stress.

Get enough sleep. Not only can stress and worry cause a lack of sleep but, it can also leave you vulnerable to even more stress.  When you are well-rested, it is much easier to keep an emotional balance, which is key to dealing with job and workplace related stress.

Prioritize and organize.  Leave early in the morning.  5-10 minutes can make the difference between frantically hurrying to your desk and having time to slowly ease into your day.  Running late will only increase your stress levels.  Break projects and tasks into small steps.  If a project seems to be overwhelming, make a step-by-step plan.  Focus on one small task at a time, rather than taking on everything at once.

Does your mental health affect your relationships?

All mental health professionals will tell you the answer is a ABSOLUTELY!

Your mental state contributes immensely  to your ability to form close bonds with others.  Many people with mental health problems lack the skills needed to create or sustain vital relationships, whether it be with a spouse, family members or friends.

Try not to be concerned about the small things. People with mental illness (particularly depression) often focus on their faults.  Seek to look at the big picture, including the things that you are doing well.

Express yourself.  Express your feelings; I cannot stress this enough!  Keeping your feelings inside (Whether good or bad) if never a great idea.  Talk it out, release your thoughts, worries, and concerns.  Holding your emotions will eventually cause bad feelings to accumulate and further damage your mental state.  This can be done in a respectfully way.


Mental Health Awareness Month, #2

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems today.  While medications can be effective in helping you feel better, there are other things that you can do to ease depression.

Do not sleep too often.  Staying in bed or taking naps throughout the day will only worsen depression and make it much harder to cope with.  Try your hardest to wake up at the same time each morning and go to sleep at the same time every night.  This may be difficult, but it will become easier once you get into a routine.

Eat well.  A healthy and balanced diet will not only help the way you feel, but will also improve your thought patterns.  Eat regularly and aim to eat 3 balanced meals each day.  Quality food is vital in order for your mind and body to work properly.

Be kind to yourself.  Treat yourself to things that are calming and improve your mood.  Scented candles, bubble baths, and tranquil environment can help you feel better.  Find relaxing activities that help you unwind.  Listening to music or reading are a few examples.  Allowing yourself even just 15 minutes of downtime can make all the difference.

Practice self-acceptance.  Do not let others define you.  Accept yourself for who you are; not who others would like you to be.  There is not a single person in this world that is perfect, everyone possesses good qualities as well as bad qualities.  Many different qualities, including personality, background, and character make us who we are.  Everyone in this world has something to offer, and everyone is entitled to respect.