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Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger’s – A parent’s journey to being grateful

As the parent of a child with Asperger’s, I have gone through a series of emotional stages, and though I never thought I would be grateful, I am.

Aspergers SyndromeWhen I first realized my kid had Asperger’s, I was relieved.  I was relieved because there was suddenly an explanation.  I had thought that there was something “wrong” with him, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.

Finding out that he has Asperger’s let me know that he is “different” but not “bad.”  He isn’t just a kid who chooses not to behave.  He isn’t a kid with a mom who doesn’t make him behave.  He has Asperger’s.

Then, I was sad.  I was sad for all the times that I didn’t understand.  I was sad for the fact that others have taught him he is a “bad” kid.  I was sad for all the times I got frustrated and lost my temper.

I was also angry.  I was angry because even the health care “professionals” did not see.  They focused on his “bad” behavior.  They focused on what I wasn’t doing to make him better. They did not truly understand that he is “different” and they certainly did not see how great he is.

Today (several years later) I am in acceptance. I accept that my child (now 10) is different.  I accept that he will have difficulties.  I accept that his school will call about once a week to describe some heinous event.

I am also grateful.  I am grateful that I know.  I am grateful that I can appreciate the terrific kid that he is and mostly know how to help him through. I do still get frustrated and lose my temper but at least I know what I am doing wrong.  I no longer have to feel like I am doing everything wrong – or that I just don’t know what to do at all.

Autism Spectrum DisorderI am grateful that at least right now, he is fortunate enough to have a teacher that gets Autism Spectrum Disorder.  A principal that gets it – and both of these wonderful ladies see how lovable he is, how smart he is, and even though they may get frustrated and angry, they still get it.   I am grateful that I have enough information to know that there are just some things that we cannot do, and that really we shouldn’t bother.

I was thinking about this because I heard about a convention that I could go to.  The convention organizers have a “kid camp.”   The children are put on a bus and taken to some activity – a museum, a park, a walking tour…and even though he is 10 and even though he is “high-functioning” – he could not do this.  He could not be calm and collected and manage.

He has difficulty with scheduling, he has difficulty with noise, he has difficulty with crowds, he has difficulty with spontaneous activities, he has difficulty with new food… I would not even consider sending him to “kid camp” or any other activity that I could not be at.

This is not because I won’t “allow” it.  It is because the well-meaning organizers will not be able to predict and compensate for his Aspergers Children“different-ness”.  He would not have a good time; I would not have a good time – it would not be best for him.  I cannot go to that convention, but that is OK.

Not every kid who has Asperger’s has the same “different-ness”, and not every parent feels the same way. But I am grateful that I have gone through the relief, the anger and the sadness, to be accepting of my life and his life.

I am thankful that I can compensate for his differences and see how terrific he is.

Children with Asperger’s Syndrome have different different-nesses!

Melissa Lind

Teenager Depression and Moodiness

Don`t confuse moodiness with depression

These days, we recognize more and more that the pressures put on our children do indeed bring on depression. There was a time that if a teenager — or an adult for that matter — suffered from depression, it was kept silent, and only certain members of the family were aware of the problem (if they were aware at all).

Today, that is no longer the case. There has been so much research done in the area of depression that it is now an “open” topic. Thankfully, teenagers are more aware that they are not alone with their feelings or problems and that help is available.

Depressed Young Girl with HangoverTeenagers are often moody. That is a natural part of being a teenager, and it is caused by the chemical changes in the brain as they go through puberty. However, moodiness should not be confused with depression — and vice versa.

The symptoms of depression in teenagers include:

•    Irritability anger or hostility
•    Tearfulness
•    Crying
•    Withdrawal from friends, family, and usual activities
•    Sadness or hopelessness
•    Changes in sleeping patterns
•    Changes in appetite
•    Agitation
•    Restlessness
•    Lack of motivation
•    Fatigue
•    Difficulty focusing
•    Difficulty making decisions
•    Thoughts of suicide and increased thoughts of death in general

Teenager Depression SpecialistAside from these general symptoms of depression, one must be aware that teenagers express their feelings in ways that are different than most adults. For example, your child may start experiencing problems at school, run away from home, start experimenting with and abusing drugs or alcohol, develop an eating disorder, become addicted to the Internet, injure themselves on purpose, become violent, have a general reckless behavior, or attempt suicide.

Treatment for a depressed teen starts at home, where the parents need to discover whether the child is depressed or not or whether something else may be causing the problem.

It is important that your teen understands that he or she is loved and accepted and that you are there for them. An appointment with a family doctor is needed, and he or she will most likely point you to a specialist that is qualified to deal with teenagers depression.

A specialist is best-qualified to deal with teenager depression

Mental Health and Grief

Grief and Mental Health – When the Two Merge

Grief is something that we all experience at one time, or another.  The stages of grief – sometimes explained as 3, 5 or 7 different stages – are pretty well known and include shock, denial, anger, sadness, acceptance in some order.  Most people will struggle but eventually come to some resolution with no prediction as to how long that will take.

Resolution of deep sorrow can be made much more difficult when a pre-existing mental illness is imposed.  A severe loss can trigger a relapse of virtually any mental illness, even when the illness was well treated, and the patient was stable.  Patients may relapse into severe depression, bipolar episodes, panic attacks or a return of obsessive compulsive behavior.  If the patient was not well stabilized, the whole apple-cart can be upset.

Depressed and Suicidal GirlEven the most mentally healthy person can become unstable if unable to resolve the feelings caused by painGrief has been known to result in clinical depression, lasting for a long period which can lead to extreme difficulties and even death in the case of suicide.  The problem comes in a case where one becomes “stuck” at a certain point – usually during the agitation period.

There is a saying;   “depression is anger turned inward.”  The existence of anger over an extended period can cause depression.

Anger allows us to have a heightened response to a threatening situation.  Anger fuels energy, giving us a false sense of power, but over time, the brain and the body run out of that same energy.  This can result in fatigue, emotional lability, and symptoms of depression.  In some cases, depression caused by grief may be resolved with grief counseling.

In other cases, however, depression may have become severe enough that medication may be warranted.  Clinical depression is characterized by:

•    Fatigue and decreased energy
•    Cloudy thinking
•    Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
•    Insomnia or excessive sleeping
•    Irritability
•    Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
•    Body pain or digestive problems
•    Persistent sad or empty feelings
•    Thoughts of suicide

How different is this from grief – not much.  The only difference would be in how long it lasts.  Depression carries a high risk of suicide and if symptoms last longer than what would be considered “normal” – for any reason – you should seek treatmentMental Health ChaosDepression that is severe enough to interfere with normal activities for longer than four to six weeks should be treated – even if life circumstances explained it.  Counseling may work – or you may need medication for a short period.

If you have some known mental disorder, stay in contact with your mental health professional.  Most – and I did not say “all”, but most mental health patients find it difficult to self-assess, some find it difficult to be openly honest.  The only way to ensure that an episode of grief is resolved without severe consequences of going “off track” is to allow someone else to help assess your mental state.

Whether you are or are not a mental health patient, know that grief can cause mental illness and can worsen an existing illness – even if only for a short time.  It is not something to be dismissed or ignored as the risks are high.

Melissa Lind

Depression is Anger Turned Inward

Depression – When to Seek Help

Some level of depression is perfectly normal and does not require treatment

Sad and Depressed GirlWe all feel a little down or a little “blue” from time to time. We all have life events that will make us feel very sad as well, such as the loss of a loved one, the breakup of a relationship, financial difficulties, etc.

In most cases, however, these down periods are temporary. At what point, however, should you seek help for your depression? While people feel depression in different ways, and to different extents, there are specific warning signs that one should look for when determining whether or not they actually need treatment or not.

First, if your depression has lasted for more than a period of two weeks, you most likely need to seek treatment. Make an appointment with your medical doctor for a checkup, and discuss your feelings with him. He will most likely perform a physical exam to determine if there is a physical cause for those feelings, and he will also ask about your life events and current stressors.

Other than seeking help if the sadness lasts for more than two weeks, another sign that help is needed — immediately — is if you are having suicidal thoughts, or if you have already attempted suicide.
Do not wait to seek treatment. Contact your doctor, or call a suicide hotline for immediate help!

Feeling HopelessEven if depression is temporary, all of the other symptoms of depression are normal — except for the two discussed above. You may have a change in sleeping and eating patterns, you may feel like everything is hopeless. You may have the fatigue and the aches and the pains.

But again, if those symptoms do not go away within two weeks, or you feel suicidal, treatment is needed.

In many cases, a medical doctor can treat you for the depression, depending on the cause and the severity of your mental state. The important thing is to seek the help and to be as honest with your doctor as possible — whether your doctor is a therapist or not, he (or she) must still keep all conversations with you in confidence.

When should one seek help in cases of depression?

When is Depression Treatment Necessary?

We may wonder when depression treatment is needed

Depression and LonelinessThere is a variety of forms for depression treatment, and they can be used in a wide range of circumstances. All of us, from time to time, have periods where we are “low” emotionally. In some cases, these “blue periods” may be sufficiently intense to make us wonder whether or not we should avail ourselves to medical interventions.

There is no clear answer to the query. All of us have unique emotional compositions, and depression strikes different people in different ways. However, there are a few solid indicators we can reference in order to determine if our sense of sadness is a normal part of our healthy emotional range or an incident of depression warranting medical advice.

The first consideration is the severity of primary symptoms. If one is feeling a bit glum, that is a far cry from experiencing the sense of utter hopelessness often associated with cases of clinical depression. A mild twinge of the “blues” is significantly different in severity to having lost one`s zest for life and the ability to appreciate previously enjoyed activities. If symptoms are out of the ordinary, depression treatment may be required. Stated in clear terms: bad moods are normal. Depression is not.

Another factor to evaluate is the presence of additional symptoms. Rarely does depression only influence one`s moods. Those suffer from a diagnosable case of this mental illness, usually experiencing other symptoms. If feeling down is accompanied by changes in appetite or sleeping habits, a heightened sense of anxiety, or other commonly experienced depression symptoms, depression treatment may be justified.

One can easily search for a list of the many possible symptoms associated with depressive disorders online. If you are trying to fix your health or that of another, such information will not serve as a replacement for a professional opinion, but can provide you with valuable background information.

Finally, we should consider not only at symptoms and their severity, but also at their longevity. Many people will experience intense periods of situational depression that tend to dissipate over the course of a few weeks. Life`s challenges can be difficult, and shameful feelings in response to them are perfectly normal. However, if those feelings don`t begin to wane in a few weeks, one may want to consider depression treatment options.

The decision to seek professional help can be difficult. If you have any doubt in whether or not you or someone you know is experiencing actual depression, as opposed to a simple “bad mood,” you should act by caution and explore the possibility of treatment before simply assuming the situation will pass “on its own.”

Deciding whether or not seek medical guidance should be informed but must be cautious. Depression is an extremely serious medical disorder and should not be taken lightly. If any warning signs occur, it is perfectly reasonable to make an appointment to investigate depression treatment.