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anxiety

Anxiety Disorder

Women’s Strengths Aid in Addiction Recovery

Addiction Recovery – Women’s Strengths Aid

When we think about addiction, it’s all too common that we focus on the negative aspects of the story: the toll that it takes on Treatment for Womenfamily and friends, as well as the addict themselves. This is especially true when it comes to women who are addicts, because narratives about women are more likely to center on how their families are impacted by addiction. The other side of the story is a much more positive one: women tend to have particular strengths that mean they often move through the recovery process more easily than men.

According to academic evidence, women recover from addiction at higher rates than men. One of the primary reasons for this is a simple matter of biology: women progress more rapidly through the various stages of addiction. They hit “rock bottom” sooner than men, and as a result, they get into recovery programs sooner than men. That means women, as a group, experience less of the physical devastation wrought by addiction, and this helps to make the recovery process less physically demanding.

womens-eyeAnother important difference is also related to biological factors. Women are more than twice as likely as men to develop mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, partly because women go through a wide variety of hormonal changes throughout their lives. Mental health issues often underlie addiction, and getting treatment helps female addicts address their addiction.

Finally, there are the social strengths of women. Girls and women are encouraged much more so than boys and men to express emotion, to develop expressive relationships, and to allow themselves the luxury of accepting help when they’re in need. All of these factors together are enormously important in the recovery process, which means that women tend to have more tools for coping with recovery in general.

Melissa Hilton

Bipolar II Rant from a Bipolar I

Ranting on Bipolar II

For starters – this is a pure opinion piece.  I am going to rant a bit about Bipolar II.

I read a lot of bipolar “stuff” – articles, study results, chat boards, Facebook pages – a lot.  Recently, once again, I have become irritated by the use of “Bipolar II”.

I recognize that Bipolar II is a DSM diagnosis that indicates that a person has cyclical periods of depression alternating with Bipolarity in Hellhypomania.  I know that is true – and that the diagnosis must fit some people. Bipolar I, on the other hand, is defined as cyclical periods of depression, alternating with manic episodes.  If you are a rapid cycler or have mixed state disorder – you are usually classified as Bipolar I.

My current irritation is with a story – not a celebrity this time – but an apparently real person from a news story.  The article reports that this particular woman had been diagnosed with Bipolar II when she was 20 and now 38, she is stable on a myriad of pharmaceuticals.  Fine.

The article goes on to say that she “experiences the manic phase” but mostly struggles with the severe depression, adding that she also has PTSD, anxiety and has been unemployed most of her life.  Let me repeat, she has manic phases, PTSD, and anxiety. She has always been unemployed (due to her psychiatric condition).  Doesn’t sound very stable to me…and doesn’t sound much like Bipolar II.

I have a problem with the fact that so many stories I read are about people who claim to have Bipolar II, and are careful to clarify that they don’t have Bipolar I.  Naturally, this would be a kinder, gentler form of Bipolar disorder.  A Bipolar disorder where we never bother anyone, get lots of stuff done in an organized fashion but sometimes get depressed.  A Bipolar disorder that makes us “better”.  Better than Bipolar I’s craziness – and even better than regular people.

I don’t live in that world, and I am not truly convinced that it exists.  I have known lots of people with Bipolar disorder – in fact, I used to go to a group just for people with Bipolar disorder.  Every single person there was initially told they were Bipolar II – and then once they got used to that… the real news came out.

Many of us were “high functioning”, many of us had “good jobs”, many of us were “organized”… except when we weren’t.  We didn’t come to the bipolar group because things were going great.  We had all had periods of depression, periods of extreme productivity and periods of crazy when we told the truth.

Bipolar RantIn my experience, people with Bipolar disorder don’t seek help.  They are driven to it – or dragged.  People are driven to help when they are depressed, and they are dragged to help when they are manic.  If they arrive when depressed, they don’t report the mania that gets them a Bipolar II diagnosis.  If they arrive when they are manic – they won’t listen to anything about “crazy manic depression” so they are told about how much better Bipolar II is.  They will take the diagnosis and take the meds.  Either way, the first diagnosis is probably going to be Bipolar II.

I could claim to be Bipolar II.  I could even get a couple of doctors to agree with me.  Most of the time, I am “high functioning” – except when I am not.  Bipolar I won’t ever lose the stigma if Bipolar II continues to be presented as “better” and people continue to be dishonest.

Take your meds!

Melissa Lind

Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Intermittent Explosive Disorder – More Than Just Anger

Intermittent Explosive Disorder (also called IED, that is appropriate as it can go off unexpectedly and cause significant damage)

Intermittent Hulk Explosive DisorderProbably everyone knows that teenage boy (or girl) who punched a hole through the wall.  Perhaps for some, this became a regular pattern of behavior during adolescence but most of those teenagers outgrew it.  In fact, at least one-quarter of teenage boys has done something dumb like punching a wall.

One boy I knew in high school even broke his hand by punching the roof of his car, and some boys were routinely doing stupid stuff.  Despite that, all of it was teenage angst and changes that can be attributed to the massive amounts of testosterone flowing through the male adolescent body – none of them had intermittent explosive disorder.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder is worse than punching a hole through a wall.

It typically is first identified in the early teens – but can be seen much earlier in some cases.    In order to be actually characterized as intermittent explosive disorder, an individual must have had three episodes of explosive behavior that is severely out of proportion to the stressor.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder HulkinsectThey must have broken or smashed something that is monetarily valuable (more than a few dollars), physically attacked or made explicit threats to attack someone with the intent of causing harm.  If these three episodes occur within the space of 12 months, the disorder is considered to be more severe.

Here is the catch.

How do you distinguish between IED, average – though extreme teenage behavior and other psychiatric conditions?  It turns out that IED is probably a diagnosis of “if nothing else fits” as other psychiatric disorders certainly overlap with similar symptoms – and you have to rule out the adolescent hormone issue.

Bipolar disorder may cause outbursts of extreme anger and agitation, Borderline personality disorder may cause outbreaks, ADHD patients can exhibit a severe lack of self-control, and drug abuse is always a potential cause.  Even though those diseases may cause IED-like events, a sustained behavior pattern is something to address.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder WarningA recent study reported by the National Institutes of Health shows that IED can actually affect up to 4 percent of adults and lead to an estimated 43 attacks over a lifespan.  The disorder may also increase that chance of depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders.  People with IED have an obvious increased risk of legal trouble, financial difficulties, and divorce – that’s a no-brainer.

So the biggest problem for mental health professionals, like many other disorders, is to untangle all of the information leading in and out with a mix of behaviors and a mix of causes.  What came first – the chicken or the egg?  What came first – the drug abuse or the anger?  Which illness is more important – bipolar disorder or the IED?

One of the biggest clues may be in examining (or better, paying attention to) behavior that occurs before puberty.  In other words: What came first – the behavior or puberty?  Clearly if the behavior started before puberty, there was and is an issue.  If the behavior begins during adolescence – you have to wait (and hope) to see if the behavior goes away once the hormones are settled.

IED is not a simple diagnosis.

It requires a careful examination of an entire psychiatric and behavioral history – and the “ruling out” of a lot of other disorders that may be to blame.  Unfortunately, in the end – unless an underlying cause can be found, there is no medicationAnger management and cognitive behavioral therapy are likely the only answer – minimization of harm, not very satisfactory if it was your car window that got smashed in a fit of rage.

Melissa Lind

Holistic Treatment for Anxiety

Alternative medicine based on evidence?

The scientific community has criticized alternative medicine as being based on misleading statements, quackery, pseudoscience, ant science, fraud, or poor scientific methodology.Critics have said; “there is really no such thing as alternative medicine, just medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t”.

Or “Can there be any reasonable alternative to medicine based on evidence?” (Retrieved from Wikipedia)

Well, in my humble opinion, as long as there are alternative medicine out there, and it has helped a lot of people – among others a holistic non-chemical treatment for anxiety, why not try?

Melissa OilIf you aren’t keen on the idea of taking prescription drugs that may be addictive for your anxiety, there are other options. Holistic treatment may be what you prefer. Comprehensive treatment is essentially a natural non-chemical treatment for the condition.

Holistic treatment for anxiety starts with eating well. Make sure that you are getting plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods in your diet. Getting enough exercise, and fresh air is also a vital part of holistic anxiety treatment. You need to get outside in the fresh air and walk or do other physical activities that you enjoy at least five times a week, for approximately 30 minutes.

Together, eating right and exercising will help your brain naturally to produce the chemicals that create feelings of calmness and happiness. This alone will take you far in your treatment for anxiety, but you should note that it may take a couple of weeks or so to start feeling the real effects from eating right and exercising.
There are also many useful herbs that will help to put the brain chemistry back in order.

One such herb is lemon balm. Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) is effective in the reduction of stress and helps you to relax. Lavender should also be used. Lavender is used to calm and to support the nervous system, and it will also help you to relax and sleep.Passionflower

Passion flower is another naturally calming herb. This herb literally “takes the edge off,” helps relieve stress and settles a nervous stomach, which is common for someone who suffers from anxiety.

If you are worried that a holistic treatment may not be as effective as chemical treatment, you have no cause to fear. Research has shown that in most cases, holistic treatment for anxiety is just as effective as chemical treatment for anxiety. In some instances, it is even more so.

Use of holistic treatment for anxiety does not mean that you shouldn’t seek the help of a trained therapist

What NOT to Say to a Bipolar Person

Stupid things said to people with bipolar disorder

Bipolar Disorder has become a bit more recognized lately, most likely due to the “coming out” of celebrities with outrageous behavior.  This has been good in raising awareness about bipolarity somewhat, but it has been bad because a lot of people think they know all about it.

In addition to not completely eradicating the stigma – it is also highly annoying when someone says something mean, wrong, funny, or even just plain stupid about bipolar disorder.  If you aren’t bipolar – don’t give advice to people who are.  Here are some of the things you should not do:

Don’t try to “join in”

Soo DepressedDon’t try to tell me you “know how I feel”.  Don’t relate your stories about how you were soooo depressed when your dog died.  Don’t try to tell me about how bad your insomnia is.  Don’t try to tell me about how you seriously almost destroyed a poster once or how embarrassed you were when…. Don’t.  Unless you are bipolar, you cannot understand the depression, the agitation, the anxiety.  I can understand that you want to show concern and make me feel “normal” but don’t.

Don’t tell me I should do better

Don’t tell me I can fix this.  Don’t tell me that I brought this on myself.  Don’t tell me to try harder.  Don’t tell me that it could be worse.  Don’t tell me that only religion can make me better.  I am doing the best I can; I didn’t want this disease, and frankly, I don’t want to hear it.

Don’t minimize

Don’t tell me to “snap out of it” or “get off my ass.”  Don’t give me platitudes like “this too shall pass” or “cheer up.”  Don’t tell me Not to Bipolar People“tomorrow will be better” or “everyone has a bad day sometimes.”  My disease, my experience is as bad as it is.  You can’t make it go away by acting cheerful or sympathetic.

Don’t try to shame me into being better

Don’t tell me that I am a real downer or that I am “dragging you down.”  Don’t tell me all about my bad behavior and how being around me is so painful – like “walking on eggshells.”  Don’t tell me about life not being fun…I already know.  If you don’t like it, it would be better if you just leave.

Don’t blame every disagreement on my disease

Don’t say anything about bipolar “shit” in the middle of an argument.  Just because I am angry doesn’t mean I am off my meds.  It doesn’t mean I am crazy.  Using my illness to win an argument is just plain wrong.  I have a right to be angry sometimes, and sometimes I am.

These are just a few things you should not do.  We have a lot of rules – some of which change just like us.

Happy Day!

Melissa Lind

Issues Related to Mental Health

Financial Impact of Depression and Grief

My name is Ella Moss, and I am writing because I recently finished a resource you might be interested in.
It is a financial guide looking at the costs of depression and grief.

There is a lot out there about the emotional costs of both, but though it would be interesting to look at another angel.

According to the London School of Economics, depression costs the economy £77 billion a year.

In the United States, the New York Times puts that cost at half a trillion dollars, but it is about individuals and their own finances too. Those with emotional disorders earn $16,000 less a year on average and can face severe financial difficulties.

Grief and DepresionWhen we consider issues that relate to mental health, we often (and rightly too) focus on the immediate emotional and physical aspects of the illness – for instance, how people can find their day to day health affected and how they cope with whatever mental condition they have.

Whilst it’s right to do so, sometimes the more practical considerations of such difficulties are forgotten.

Suffering from depression, anxiety or any form of condition that has an impact on your mental well-being can often mean that full time work is difficult.

Not only that, but you yourself may be in a position in which you’re caring for someone who suffers and need help and advice on where to turn.

If you’d like some helpful and sound ideas to help you, you can read this informative mental health guide:

About the Financial Impact of Depression and Grief.

Ella Moss