Drug Addiction Riding Behind Mental Illness?

Drug addiction, despite being seen by many as some sort of failing of the mind, is not listed as a mental health disorder. Substance abuse has escaped that category despite the fact that comparatively less troublesome ailments or sicknesses like social anxiety disorder and (in some circles) insomnia are listed as possible or acknowledged mental health conditions. The facts known about drug addiction show that it is a biological and physiological condition, with the body craving the effects that these narcotics have on the brain. The divide between mental disorder and drug addiction is a very thin, blurry line, but there is a line. However, recent research is starting to reveal information that is making this line seem even thinner and more blurred than it already is. It would appear that drug addiction and mental conditions, such as social anxiety disorder and depression, are not as distinct form one another as initially thought.

In layman’s terms, when one person shows signs of being a drug addict, there’s usually some sort of mental health condition riding the coattails, though not everyone who’s crazy is a junkie, and not every drug addict is insane. The psychological problems tend to vary from patient to patient, though things like social anxiety disorder are common in teenage addicts, along with depression, performance anxiety, and a few behavioral disorders. Schizophrenia, bipolar and unipolar depression, and other personality disorders are also commonly observed to tag along with addictions, though not always with narcotics and other illegal drugs. Nicotine and alcohol addicts also tend to have a host of mental health problems riding in their wake as well.

Some recent studies are showing that damage to certain regions of the brain may be responsible for making people more likely to develop addictions, with the amygdala taking center stage in the study’s findings. This does not take away anything from the natural addictive abilities of substances such as alcohol, opioids, and nicotine, but it does serve to explain why some people appear more likely to become addicts than others on a psychological level. The studies also discovered that addictions for people with damaged amygdala are not only more prone to addiction, they are also less likely to discern from one substance to another in their abuse. Findings showed that it didn’t seem to matter what the substance was or what the effects it had on the mind and body were, so long as they had the potential to be habit-forming and the subjects were exposed to it regularly.

Obviously, since mental health problems such as social anxiety disorder and dissociative identity disorder can make someone more likely to become an addict, there are things that need consideration. A number of drug addicts can and do claim that external factors forced them into their substance abuse, with several of these reasons being highly similar to things that trigger mental illness. With psychological conditions now leading to substance abuse, is there now reason to believe that those who are genetically predisposed towards mental illness are, logically, also more likely to become addicts?

Conquering the Stigma of a Mental Health Disorder

Having a family member that is suffering a mental health disorder can be taxing at times. Depending on the severity of the disorder, many families have been broken up because of this. Some of them can be blamed on the lack of love or patience a family member can bestow. Some just cannot handle the pressure and others just cannot take the shame.

But if the people around a person with a mental health disorder feels awkward, then what about what the actual person with the disorder feels? Many or most of these people are too afraid or ashamed to share their disorder with other people because they fear being ridiculed or judged.

Even as seeing a psychiatrist or taking mental health disorder medicines are commonplace nowadays, many people still distrust a person with a mental health problem; they feel that they are too unstable and unpredictable. Fearing what they do not know, this ignorance causes more depression and damage to a person with a mental health disorder.

Getting Over the Fear

What mental health disorder patients want is for them to be considered as normal people. Only that they need more compassion, understanding and kindness. Treat a mental health disorder afflicted person the same way as you would anyone, this would make him or her feel more normal.

As they feel more accepted and happy, they increase the chance of becoming normal. Also, be prepared; learn about the disorder that has afflicted your family or friend. Know the symptoms so you can be prepared as well.

For the patient, learn and try to accept your condition, do not be afraid of what people will say, open up your condition to them. If they can’t take it then they’re not worth it. Remember that there are many people with mental health disorder; some are not just as obvious. Hold your head up high and live with dignity.

Guard Your Mental Health

I am a firm believer that the mental health of a person is just as important as their physical health. I guess I believe this so strongly because I have seen the affects of someone not caring about the state of their mental health. By mental health I am not referring to the serious mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, or any of the other very serious issues people often face.

By mental health I’m simply referring to the state of our minds and the ways that our thinking affects our lives. I’m talking about caring for our minds in the same ways that we care for our physical bodies. One of the biggest ways to promote mental health is to take rest. Just like our physical bodies need sleep in order to be restored with energy, so our minds need time to just relax and reflect upon life and regain perspective. You can rest your mind in a variety of ways, it is simply important that you take the time to rest. For one person, guarding their mental health may mean setting aside time each day to meditate or reflect upon the good things in life. For another, mental health might be best maintained by reading a good book, writing in a journal, or listening to soothing music. And still another person may need to get outside and exercise in order to refresh their health mentally.

Learn yourself. Know the things that stress you out and know how to relax and refresh yourself as well. The state of your mind is much too important to be ignored, so do whatever it takes to keep your mind at rest and at peace. I guarentee that ignoring problems will only numb your mind for a little while at best. As the stresses of life have increased in the past few years, I have learned that one of the main things I need in order to guard my mental health is time alone. No matter what my schedule looks like each day, I always block out at least twenty minutes just to be alone. During that time I do a variety of things that help renew my perspective and keep me on track. Somedays I go for a brisk walk and other days I sit in a coffeeshop with a latte and a newspaper. The important thing is not so much what I do, but simply that I take time to be alone and recharge my mental health.

Take time starting today to guard the state of your mental health. Take time to enjoy the small things in life and to remember all there is to be grateful for.

Diagnosing Mental Health

Commonly referred to as an individual’s emotional or psychological well-being, mental health is a term that has no one official definition according to the World Health Organization. Most experts believe that mental health is measured by an individual’s ability to remain capable and competent, handling normal levels of stress, maintaining happy and healthy relationships and his/her ability to lead an independent life. Another sign of mental health is being able to quickly recover from difficult situations, which may include both physical and emotional.

While individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental illness often require a greater need for mental health promotion, even those who have not been diagnosed still need a certain amount of the same. The truth is that everyone has mental health needs, including those who have no illness. Mental health promotion may be given in the way of encouragement, love, support, understanding, etc.

If an individual believes that he/she is suffering from a mental health illness, a psychiatrist should be consulted for a professional evaluation. In some cases, a regular discussion with a professional may be enough for individuals to overcome their issues and return to a positive mental health status. For others, medication may be required or even hospitalization in extreme cases. With the proper treatment, many individuals who suffer from some type of mental health illness can often live a happy and healthy lifestyle. The first part of overcoming any type of illness is to recognize the problem early, whether that recognition comes directly from the sufferer or from those closest to him/her.

It is important to realize the difference between a positive mental health status and one that may be indicative of an illness. Every life has stressful situations, tears that must be shed and boundaries that must be overcome. However, the best way to measure mental health is by assessing an individual’s ability to handle these situations appropriately. There is no one universal symptom or sign of a mental health illness, but is best described as an individual’s inability to operate or deal with everyday situations in a healthy and productive manner.

The information in this article is to be used for informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of, or in conjunction with, professional medical advice. Anyone with questions regarding mental health must consult their physician for further information, a diagnosis and/or treatment regimen if one is deemed necessary.

Mental Health: Knowing When To Get Help

Some people can get so depressed or problematic that they even reach a point where they question their own sanity. Many people actually wonder if they have really “gone over the edge.”

How about you? Try to answer these questions:

Do you have feelings of sadness or irritability? Has there been a loss of interest in pleasurable activities that you once enjoyed? Have you noticed any weight loss or change in your appetite? Have you noticed changes in your sleeping pattern? Are you feeling guilty? Are you experiencing difficulty in concentrating, remembering things or making decisions? Have you had thoughts of suicide or death? If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, consider consulting your family physician as your mental health maybe at risk.

Mental health, as defined by the Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health, “refers to the successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and the ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity.” On the other end of the flow is mental illness, a term that refers to all “mental disorders.”

Mental disorders are health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior associated with distress or impaired functioning. This notion of a continuum sees mental health on one end as “successful mental functioning” compared to mental illness on the other end as “impaired functioning.”

Mental health is how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Like physical health, mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Everyone feels worried, anxious, sad or stressed sometimes. But with a mental illness, these feelings do not go away and are severe enough to interfere with daily life. It can make it hard to meet and keep friends, hold a job, or enjoy life.

Mental illnesses are quite common and affect about one in five families in the U.S. These disorders such as depression, phobias, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and many others are real diseases that one cannot get away from. Fortunately, they are often treatable. Medicines and therapy can improve the life of most people with mental illnesses. But, it is more cost-effective to have a physician prescribe mood stabilizers instead of seeing a psychiatrist. However, follow doctor’s instructions on counseling and referrals to mental health professionals.

People who are emotionally and mentally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships. They can keep problems in perspective. It’s important to remember that people who have good emotional health sometimes have emotional problems or mental illness. Mental illness often has a physical cause, such as a chemical imbalance in the brain. Stress and problems with family, work, or school can sometimes trigger mental illness or make it worse. If you feel that you or someone you care about is at risk, ask for help, it may not be easy at first, but there are ways and steps that may save your own or someone else’s life.

Expressive Therapies in Mental Health

Many people who are diagnosed with mental issues show an extreme liking for or talent in the creative arts. It only makes sense that some of the alternative treatments incorporate this natural tendency. Below I cover three such alternative treatments. Often each is combined with more traditional methods, but not always.
Art Therapy: Drawing, painting, and sculpting help many people to reconcile inner conflicts, release deeply repressed emotions, and foster self-awareness, as well as personal growth. Some mental health providers use art therapy as both a diagnostic tool and as a way to help treat disorders such as depression, abuse-related trauma, and schizophrenia. You may be able to find a therapist in your area who has received special training and certification in art therapy.
Dance/Movement Therapy: Some people find that their spirits soar when they let their feet fly. Others-particularly those who prefer more structure or who feel they have “two left feet”-gain the same sense of release and inner peace from the Eastern martial arts, such as Aikido and Tai Chi. Those who are recovering from physical, sexual, or emotional abuse may find these techniques especially helpful for gaining a sense of ease with their own bodies. The underlying premise to dance/movement therapy is that it can help a person integrate the emotional, physical, and cognitive facets of “self.”
Music/Sound Therapy: It is no coincidence that many people turn on soothing music to relax or snazzy tunes to help feel upbeat. Research suggests that music stimulates the body’s natural “feel good” chemicals (opiates and endorphins). This stimulation results in improved blood flow, blood pressure, pulse rate, breathing, and posture changes. Music or sound therapy has been used to treat disorders such as stress, grief, depression, schizophrenia, and autism in children, and to diagnose mental health needs.

Understanding Single Parent Psychology and Mental Health

Extramarital pregnancy, divorce, and abandonment of one parent are some reasons why there are single parents. What most people don’t know is, these occurrences are life-changing as they can be traumatic for the single parent and the child, making them often misunderstood. That makes the study of a single parent’s psychology and mental health important.

Studies have reported that there are more child and adolescent problems for households with single parents rather than those with the “normal” set-up. While most single parents may disagree, it is understandable why the statistics say so.

For one, a single parent has limited time in his hands. Managing a household with another person is difficult in itself. What more if you have to do it alone. That’s why it is important for a single parent to make a daily or weekly schedule of his activities. That way, he can find time to do all the things that need to be done, including some time off for leisure and relaxation.

Also, a parent may have financial problems, as he is the only one earning for the family. He must learn to save his money by learning to set aside a portion of it as it comes. Also, he must learn to make a few sure investments.

Of course, if one becomes a single parent because of a divorce or death of the spouse, there are more problems that he needs to face. It is normal for him to feel sad or depressed, so allow him to have some time to grieve. Friends can help in the moving on process. This is also devastating for the child, so the parent must learn to show his support to the child instead of focusing on his grief alone. Parent and child can help each other to shorten grieving time.

Lastly, the single parent may feel alone and rejected. So he must learn to nurture himself. Eat and sleep well. Exercise on a regular basis, or engage in a sport that you like. Join a church group or association in your community.

To minimize incidence of child problems like school dropouts, early pregnancy and juvenile behavior, a single parent must learn to communicate well with his child. Spend more quality time with him. Engage in an activity that you both can enjoy. Regularly monitor his progress in school.

What resources are available for the single parent? He may join a group or organization of single parents like him. In this venue, members can share and discuss their common problems and experiences such as coping with divorce and raising kids. Educational activities like lectures by professionals and training seminars as well as other recreational activities are organized to help the single parent cope with his situation.

There are also websites which support single parents. Many parent resources can be found in the internet like chat rooms, forums, newsletters, articles and other forms of literature that they can share.

Knowing single parent psychology and mental health will make us understand single parents and their children better. Being a single parent is a challenging job. With limited time and finances, he has to cope with the challenge of raising a child as well. But with tolerance and understanding from people around him, the job will not be as difficult as it is already.

Hobbies for the Elderly to Maintain Mental Health

Elderly people respond to mental health differently than younger people. They are prone to developing more psychological disorders and can cope less effectively to triggering factors of mental impairments.

Let’s first take a look at how an old person lives-

Retiring could be one of the most enjoyable but dreaded years in the life of a person. Anybody who no longer has definite roles to take apart from being an older member of the society begins to question their own importance, sometimes even existence. Since a retired person no longer holds a job, he is free to use his time on any activity he chooses. The problem though is that he cannot establish a certain activity that would make life for him enjoyable for the rest of his life. He also feels that he is no longer important since his children who used to depend on him have already taken up their own lives, sometimes living him without company.

On most cases, people who are old are alone. They sulk into life without purpose, without direction, without the sense of worth. Slowly, they will have experiences that would negatively affect their mental health. They then become depressed, lonely and more prone to developing psychological disorders. Since the society give too little importance to the elderly people, it tends to disregard them. Until they become debilitated enough due to sickness, disorders and old age that the society begins to notice them. But then, by that time, it is already too late.

The usual life of the elderly is marked by the lack of support that will introduce them to activities that will revitalize their lives. They can no longer put up with their old activities since their bodies, by nature, are deteriorated enough to hinder them from moving and performing like they did before. However, old age should not always be like this. Old people should try to look for newer activities in their lives that would make the rest of their days enjoyable and worthwhile.

They say “you cannot teach old dog new tricks”. This is a myth. An old person who is willing to learn will learn by all means regardless if his body or his mind limits him. Here are some of the hobbies that an elderly could do to increase his mental health:

Keeping your brain active will make you feel healthy

For some people, the mere fact that they are thinking and can still conceptualize thoughts drive them to be crazy about life. It is never too late to learn to write and for people who used to enjoy writing during their younger years, it is never too late to bring back their attitude towards literature.

Reading could also be a fun activity that would easily let the time pass. Old people who enjoy reading are apparently happier than those who sat idly on their couches throughout the day.

The music of your life

Your fingers may not have the same dexterity they had when you were younger but this doesn’t mean that you can no longer enjoy music. You can learn to play music instruments. The piano, for example, requires too little energy output but the internal satisfaction it provides is high. Also, listening to music could make you think of familiar thoughts that would drive you through the memory lane. This would allow you to meditate on your life. For most people, knowing the fact that they have lived their life well make them satisfied and at peace with themselves. Internal peace is central to achieving the right balance in life.

Pick up your old hobbies

Did you enjoy gardening as a kid or collecting things as a teenager? You can bring back those old hobbies. After all, you already have enough investments in the past that it would no longer be hard for you to start again.

It is often the case of losing the zest for life when one gets old. But through regaining your appetite for life through hobbies for elderly, you might find again that life is worth living for.

Mental Health Statistics: How Common Mental Disorders Are

At any time of the year, there is one person in every group of five people who has a diagnosable mental disorder. This means that 1/5 of all families in the United States have family members who are experiencing developing or aggravated symptoms of mental impairment. This translates to approximately 20% of the American society.

Mental health or the lack of it is experienced by all types of people in America- from children to elderly, from Native Americans to Hispanics, from physically healthy individuals to those who have chronic diseases.

General statistics

a. Nearly 9% of the American general population suffers from all forms of phobias.

b. 5% have major depression

c. Nearly 4 million individuals suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

d. 2 million Americans have Schizophrenia

e. MAnother 2 million have Bipolar Disorders

f. MNearly 2.5 million have Panic Disorders

Statistics on the Prevalence of Mental Disorders in Children

- It is estimated that around 7 to 12 million children have symptoms of psychological disorders.

a. ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – 5% to 10% of the children population is diagnosable with ADHD. It is the most prevalent clinical disorder among children. Half of all children with this psychiatric disorder do not receive diagnosis.

b. Manic Depression – 30% of all children aged 6 to 12 ld who have manic depression are likely to develop Bipolar Disorder, a type of disorder that has symptoms of mania or a sense of “high” on activity plus periods of depression.

c. Conduct Disorder – 10% of all American children have conduct disorder.

d. Depression – In every group of 33 children there is one who has symptoms of clinical depression

e. Learning Disorders – Almost 20% of all American children have learning disability. Half of them have diagnosable ADHD.

f. Suicide – Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among children.

Statistics on the Prevalence of Mental Disorders in Young People

a. General Data – Nearly 75% of all young people who suffer from mental disorders do not get the help they need. Like in the general population, 1 in every 5 adolescent have a diagnosable psychological disorder which include minor depression, drug-dependence, Attention Deficit Disorder, Anorexia Bulimia, Hypochondriasis, Gender Identity Disorders and Eating Disorders, and more aggravated disorders.

b. Anorexia Nervosa – This disorder is more common among females than males affecting an average of 150 individuals in any given time. Thus, 1% of all female young people population is affected by anorexia nervosa and 10% of all affected individuals die due to suicide, cardiac arrest and starvation.

c. Bulimia Nervosa – One to three out of 100 people show signs and symptoms of bulimia nervosa.

d. Anxiety Disorder – 10% of the young adult population have anxiety disorders.

e. Depression – One in every eighth individuals have clinical depression. One in every five young people have emotional problems and 30% of all adolescents who were diagnosed for emotional problems are depressed.

f. Juvenile Delinquency – More than 150, 000 American teenagers are under the criminal justice system. The majority of them have more than two mental disorders. 57% of all juvenile delinquents have reported of prior hospitalization associated with their mental problems.

g. Schizophrenia – In every 1000 adolescents, there are three people who are suffering from Schizophrenia.

h. Serious Emotional Disturbances – 10% of all young adults have severe disturbances in their emotional states.

i. Suicide – For ages 15 to 24, this is the leading cause of death. There are at least 500, 000 individuals who take their own lives yearly.

Statistics on the Prevalence of Mental Disorders in Adults

a. Depression – Depression is the leading psychiatric disorder among elderly affecting 5% of the entire elderly population.

b. 6.5 million Adult people have severe mental disorders.

c. In every group of 100,000 people, there are at least 240 of them suffering from a type of mental illness

d. 6000 adult Americans commit suicide each year

e. Approximately 1 million old Americans suffer from organic mental disorders

f. An estimated 15% of the adult population experience dementia

g. 1 million adult Americans have severe Alzheimer’s disease

What Effects Does Nutrition Have On Mental Health

It has been an enduring belief that nutrition plays a significant role in the state of mental health of an individual. But is this true or not?

Recent as well as previous researches have proven that nutrition (or the lack of it) does have effects on how a person’s brain functions, his moods and his behaviors.

Say for example, a person who has skipped a meal is observably weak, out of focus and irritable. This case worsens when extended to a certain period of time when the person becomes severely moody and indifferent to the demands of his environment thus showing decreased speed in reaction time.

These behaviors occur due to the lack of nutrition supply to the brain. The brain requires high energy and nutrient supply. It comprises, in fact, 20% to 30% of all the energy consumption of the body during rest periods. Thus, any change in diet or nutrition level of the body directly reflects in the mental functioning.

Chronic energy deprivation, such as the case of malnourished people, results to the eventual shutting down of the body by decreasing its activities and redirecting all its energy sources towards the systems that require higher energy supply. This results to altered levels of activities, changes in hormonal levels, lessened immune system efficiency and transport of nutrients and oxygen to certain body parts, all of which could directly or indirectly influence mental health. People with extremely low nutrition are more likely to become sad, depressed and emotional as compared with those who have adequate nutrition.

Newborn babies and fetuses are also susceptible to brain damage if they are subjected to lack of necessary nutrition. The type and degree of damage is dependent on the severity of malnutrition. Also, malnutrition among babies has proven to produce low level of intelligence, cognitive defects as well as functional abnormalities.

Protein, carbohydrates, lipids and vitamins all have individual effects on the brain. Lack of supply of these necessary nutrients result to alterations in the activities of the neurotransmitters, a chemical component in the brain that transmit one nerve impulse from one nerve cell to another. Malfunctioning of the transmitters could influence a person’s mood, thinking and even sleep patterns. Additionally, deficient levels of nutrition may result to nerve cell damage that could disrupt cognitive and mental functions.

Neurotransmitters are partly made of amino acids, the building block of protein. Trytophan for example, makes up the neurotransmitter serotonin. If the required amino acid is lacking, the functions of the neurotransmitter could not be executed affecting the normal functioning of the brain. In case of deficient protein consumption and failure to supply the necessary amino acid to make serotonin, the body would experience low mood and perhaps, aggression. On the other hand, diseases that could cause the build up of certain amino acids could lead to brain damage thus affecting the mental health of an individual.

Mood regulation could also be associated with the sufficient intake of dietary fats. Some studies have yielded inconclusive results on the correlation between serotonin level and intake of omega-3 fatty acids, a certain type of fat found only in white fish to stress and symptoms of bipolar disorder (a mood disorder having the representations of both mania and depression).

Directly or indirectly, nutrition has an effect on mental health. Changes in the nutritional intake of a person could lead to alterations in the mental health and vice versa.