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Mental Health

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What is Mental Health: Key Concepts in Mental Health

Definition

Mental health is defined as a state or condition on which an individual feels a
sense of well-being. This gives him or her the capacity to live life in
fulfillment of what he or she wants to achieve in accordance to the available
resources. This condition also provides an individual the capacity to be
resilient to the stresses he meets and to respond to these challenges without
having to compromise his well- being. This also makes him productive and
fruitful for himself and his community.

Mental wellness could also be defined as the lack of mental problems or
disorders. People who do not present diagnosable behaviors that could qualify
as a mental disorder are seen as mentally healthy. For example, someone who has
an obsession on things may not necessarily have a mental disorder like
obsession. Thus he is said to have mental wellness. But when this obsession is
combined with unrelenting compulsion to do the object of obsession, the person
may already be diagnosed with a mental disorder called Obsessive-compulsive
Disorder or OCD.

It could also be seen as a positive element in an individual's personality
which makes it possible to enhance mental wellness regardless of a diagnosable
mental disorder. This definition covers a person's capacity to "live life to
the fullest", to respond well to his environment through the conscious or
unconscious use of coping mechanisms and to be able to balance emotional as
well as psychological well-being in relation to constant flow of experiences.

Mental Health Across Culture

The World Health Organization believes that there is no single definition for
mental health due to differences in culture. What could be mentally healthy (or
acceptable behavior) in one culture may present something too eccentric in
another. For example, cannibalistic behavior in some tribes living in remote
areas is highly regarded as a religious practice however, in the majority of
urbanized world this could be seen as barbaric or insane.

Disruption in Mental Health

Abnormalities in mental health could lead to a number of problems with various
representations. Some people with mental illnesses have aggressive behaviors
while others are withdrawn and lack social interest. Each type of disorder has
its own signs and symptoms therefore; diagnosis as well as treatment vary
depending on the nature of the mental heath problem.

There are several factors that disrupt mental health including: environment or
upbringing, biological make-up of a person, pre-programmed instructions in the
genes, medical disorders, traumatic experiences such as loss and abuse and
substance abuse. While one factor could be dominant than the other, all of
these are contributors to the development of the majority of mental health
disorders. In some cases, a single factor may be sufficient to trigger the
disorder but the majority of disorders require an accumulation of experience
that constantly challenge the well-being of a person.

What preserves mental health?

The preservation of mental health is highly dependent on the capacity of the
person to a) blend in his environment and handle its stresses, b) achieve a
good internal balance in his personality that is sufficient to give a stable
character and c) create a good perspective that would limit the damages of
negative experiences. For some people a good support system such as a
sympathetic family or a strong social group may work well to safeguard mental
health.

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. Another 2 million have Bipolar Disorders

f. Nearly 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

Tips on Taking Care of Mental Health

Mental health issues affect nearly 15% of the population. This data can be
alarming, considering that 2/3 of those diagnosed with mental disorder remains
untreated. While mental disorders are sometimes caused by chemical imbalance in
the brain, some of these are caused by the experiences that we need to deal
with, such as death of a loved one or some other tragic or traumatic
experience. Hence, the goal is to maintain a good or positive mental health,
where one is able to take control of his life and able to cope with any and all
situations that come his way. Here are some tips on taking care of mental health.

Always stay happy. This may sound vague, but there are many ways to stay happy.
Remain positive and optimistic. Look at the bright side of life always.

So how do we stay happy? First, we must learn to balance our time. After a busy
day or week, take time to relax. Do something pleasurable with your friends or
family. It can be a hobby, sport or a simple activity. Aside from balancing our
time, we must also manage time well. To minimize stress, make a schedule of the
things you will do, and stick to it.

Be tolerant of others. All of us are different in many ways, so we must learn
to accept each other's ideas and opinion, even if it differs from our own.
Learn to accept the weaknesses and shortcomings of others. Once we learn to
accept, there is a lesser chance of conflict, which can be stressful and
frustrating.

Spend time with your family and friends. Find time to talk to someone, even if
you don't make sense at all! What is important is the act of sharing your
experiences, worries or problems with somebody. You must also learn to listen
to their worries for them to feel better. In effect, not only have you helped
yourself but you've helped your friend too.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle. You know the basics. Eat healthy food always.
Exercise regularly. Sleep well. Avoid drugs and alcohol. Quit smoking. Avoid
doing strenuous activities. Take time to rest.

Sadly, though, depression and other mental disorders affect children and the
young. Parents have an important role in the child's mental health. Parents
must learn to communicate with their kids and at the same time listen to them.
In their dealings, let the kid feel appreciated always. Acknowledge their
strengths instead of focusing on their weaknesses.

Their coping abilities must also be developed. If they commit mistakes, explain
so they will learn from them. Allow them to develop a sense of responsibility by
letting them solve problems as well as make decisions. Teach them the importance
of discipline and self-worth. Discipline them without making them feel unloved
or unworthy.

Lastly, accept them for who they are. With acceptance comes love, respect, and
everything else.

The key to taking care of mental health is being happy and in control of our
lives. Once we know how to take control, we are able to cope with any and all
situations that come our way. Being happy is not just a one-time event -- it is
a lifestyle. Stay positive always. Learn to find joy in the simple miracles of
life. And be grateful for each wonderful day.

Mental Health Tests as Important Assessment Tools

Central to mental health assessment is the use of reliable and validated
assessment tools. Among them are the mental health tests.

In order to accurately conduct diagnosis, prognosis and assessment of symptoms,
mental health professionals have developed various types of tests that are apt
to the needs of each mental health issue. Obviously, only the subjects within
the concern of a specific issue are covered in the tests. Here are some of the
basic categories of mental health tests:

Neuropsychological Tests

If a neuropsychological cause is suspected in an individual, the clinician
would use a paper-and-pencil test to determine any deficit in sensorimotor and
cognitive capacities. These may include a tendency to disregard one or several
items in a visual field or attention problem. Among the most common
neuropsychological tests is the Bender-Gestalt Test which aims to asses the
person's sensorimotor skills by making them reproduce nine drawings.

A person who may have a diagnosable mental illness may be able to reproduce
different figures, change the positioning of the figures drawn or change the
parts of some of the figures copied. After this activity, they would be asked
to remember the image. Most people with mental disorders usually have memory
deficits. While this test may not sufficiently identify the specific type of
brain damage among people assessed, it is a reliable tool to conclude that a
person may or may not have brain damage.

Intelligence Tests

While the use of intelligence tests is usually more productive in educational
and industrial settings, it is however useful in determining whether a person
is mentally healthy or not. In the clinical setting, these tests are used to
have an insight on the person's intellectual capacities, strengths and
weaknesses especially when mental damages are suspected. These tests normally
were designed to measure basic intelligence, abstract reasoning, verbal fluency
and spatial memory. Results from intelligence tests are used in identifying to
which bracket of intelligence a person belongs. People with relatively low
scores on IQ tests have some forms of mental disability while those scoring way
beyond the average individual may have lower susceptibility to the development
of mental disorders. However, this should not be taken as a generalization.

Symptom Questionnaires

The most prevalent type of test these days, symptom questionnaires is used by
clinicians and laymen alike. In their original forms, symptom questionnaires
are used to directly asses whether a person manifests or feels symptoms of a
specific disorder. However, such questionnaires could also cover a wide variety
of symptoms from different mental disorders.

Personality Inventories

These are questionnaires that are helpful in assessing people's typical manner
of behavior, thinking and feeling. These provide the fundamental information on
assessing a person's well-being (a very important aspect in mental health), ways
of coping, self concept, perception, attitudes, beliefs and vulnerabilities.

Versions of these personality tests are normally seen on online resources. In
fact, many people get their mental health assessments from these resources.
While these may be helpful as self-help tests, many of the mental health tests
on websites are not validated and may have low reliability. These are powerful
tools however many are not tested for their validity and reliability. If these
two important concepts of psychological testing are not met, the purpose of the
test may be defeated.

In case you are using online tests, please be aware that it should be
PhD-certified or PhD-approved. Any other types of certifications confirming
that someone expert in the field of psychological testing has given his
approval of the tests are helpful.

Benefits of Mental Health Support Groups

Unlike physical disorders, mental illnesses are often not recognizable and
difficult to identify. This makes these disorders a lot harder to understand
leading the sufferers to believe that they are alone in their suffering and
that help is unavailable. Top these with their own conviction that there is no
way to heal them and that the disorder is too embarrassing.

These beliefs are true to most mental health patients making it hard for them
to seek treatment or comfort, to say the least.

In response to changing these views, mental health support groups were created
to help patients know that there other people experiencing the same disorders
that they experience which lead them to seek treatment. These also make them
feel that there is hope to their suffering and could motivate them to stick to
their treatment. For some, its their groups that provide the support system
they lack.

What is a Mental Health Support Group?

A support group is a gathering of people with a common goal or interest.
Translated into mental health, it is a group of people who have similar
sufferings and provide moral and emotional support to people like them.
Usually, these support groups focus and specialize on a specific condition. For
example, it is rare to find a depression support group that also covers
schizophrenia. This need to specialize is driven by the fact that a psychiatric
or mental disorder is a very complicated issue thus requiring a specific
direction.

Support groups could be used in conjunction with formal and professional
treatment and are often confused with group psychotherapy sessions. Group
therapy is different in support group in such a way that the former requires a
formal and pedagogical setting. This forms a group of people with similar
disorders and subjected under the guidance of qualified mental health
professional.

A support group could be formed by anyone who has a need to establish this type
of group or who have a particular interest on the services that could be
gathered from this group. It could be a patient of a specific mental disorder,
a family member of someone who has a mental illness- virtually anybody. More
organized support groups, however, are formed by mental health providers,
non-profit organizations or mental clinics. Oftentimes, this type is controlled
by a facilitator or a moderator who is knowledgeable enough in the field as to
qualify him to manage the group.

Members of a support group are usually patients of mental illnesses. Someone
suffering from unipolar or bipolar disorder is normally found on support groups
focusing on these specific disorders or on a broader disorder like that of
depression.

The most popular format of support groups is through internet which is broader
in scope both in audience and varieties of topics. However, a customized but
very limited type of support group is the person-to-person format or through
telephone. Lack of more personalized support is the common disadvantage of
joining online support groups.

A mental health support group could augment the professional treatment you
receive but the services you get from this group should never be treated as
substitute to your medical and psychological treatments. This group could open
you up to reality and may even give you new hope, but remember that treatment
for a mental illness is not all about will power.

Perspectives on Mental Health Recovery

If you have a chronic disease like heart attack or diabetes, you will have to
live life with it. You will learn to adjust after each attack and would know
the signs that there is an acute attack budding. The same is true with recovery
from a mental illness. You cannot expect that during treatment, you will be a
renewed man. Symptoms would still be apparent and you would experience things
that are sometimes hopeless and debilitating but still you have to adjust
through them. And with each adjustment, you would feel that you are starting to
move forward, leaving your mental illness behind.

Mental health recovery is all about improvement from a bad case to something
better. It is a continuous process and definitely not a linear one. You would
move from square one to square two but you should always be ready to move one
step back. You would learn newer ways to control the symptoms of your mental
illness and would have insights on how to cope with them. There would be a lot
of disappointments and errors the results from these errors are oftentimes
rewarding.

Mental health recovery is a lifelong process as much as mental illness took
years to develop sometimes even decades. A person could struggle through years
of being controlled solely by a mental disorder and will have to face a
lifelong effort to get out of it. You may achieve a life beyond the chains of
your previous mental illness symptoms but you would still have to bout with
intermittent attacks of symptoms.

One crucial factor to all kinds of illnesses is early intervention. Someone who
presents symptoms of schizophrenia during earlier stages have a better chance of
easier recovery with early intervention than someone who has aggravated case.
Likewise, any signs of relapse that are recognized and treated early could
define the barrier between going through the same disorder again or completely
shutting all doors towards total recovery.

However, recovery from a mental disorder is just one of the many parts of the
process. A person suffering from mental illness should also work to restore his
mental health or sense of well-being.

Many individuals who have histories of mental illness often resort to a life
that is withdrawn from the public due to social stigma and discrimination
associated with the mental disorder. This leads to impaired sense of self-worth
thus invaliding the whole idea of recovery.

For most people, the hardest stage of the recovery process is not the beginning
but the end. In this stage, a person has to reclaim everything that he has lost
during the entire period he had the mental illness plus every lost opportunity
that he would have taken prior to the onset of symptoms.

Sadly, reclaiming these bits of life is far harder than all the aspects of
recovery combined. Going back to "what could have been" takes a very long time
as well as mending the damages caused by the mental illness due to very limited
opportunities opened to people who have suffered a mental disorder.

But this shouldn't be. You may not be able to go back to your previous job or
do the things that you used to do but you could redirect your life to something
different but equally rewarding. This has happened before to other people, it
will happen to you.

The Budding Disorders: Mental Health of Children

We would like to think that we have built our environments in such a way that
they minimize the factors that could result to psychological and behavioral
disturbances among individuals. Thus, optimizing our mental health. But
statistics tell us that the majority of our population's mental health is
largely subjected to negative environments.

Complications brought about by negative environment

For many children, symptoms of psychological disorders are linked to the
negative stressors in the environment. In the United States alone, one in every
five children suffers severe physical abuse and one in every group of five lives
below the poverty line. Additionally, psychosocial structures in cities where
there is poor housing expose children to violence that could detriment their
mental health. (You can imagine how many children in other countries which have
far lower economic status and far fewer programs for child protection are
subjected to negative stressors.)

Both of the above stressors are considered as traumatic experiences to children
that could resurface as psychological disorders during adulthood.

A negative or a positive environment during childhood explains why there are
adults who are more likely than not to develop psychological disorders and
there are those who are not affected by these at all.

For example, children who repeatedly experienced sexual trauma or sexual abuse
are most likely to develop dissociative disorders such as multiple personality
disorder. The rate of victimization within intimate relationships only
reinforces the dissociative response. Also, repetitive exposure to violence or
to the activities of a dysfunctional environment could also contribute to the
development of severe dissociative disorders. These mental illnesses root from
the child's effort to deny the violence, abuse, or trauma they experience as
coping mechanism so as to protect his mental wellness. However, failure to
completely get over these experiences would result to the impairment of his
psychological wellness and even his social and emotional well-being.

Parental deprivations

Some researchers assumed that the large difference in number of psychological
disorders being treated these days as compared to prevalence in the past
century is largely contributed by dysfunctional family structures and parental
deprivations. Indifference and neglect by familial figures, maternal-social
deprivations, isolation and separation from parents are viewed as the root
causes of psychological disorders such as depressions, mental retardation,
psychomotor impairments and the manifestations of autistic-like behaviors among
children.

Pathogenic Parent-Child Relationship

The traumatic interpersonal relationship between a parent or a parent-figure
and a child is viewed as a negative environment for the child's growth and
development. This relationship only means that their relationship is structured
in the manner that it damages a child's psychological well-being. These give
stress to certain beliefs that are psychologically unfavorable to the child
such as irrational beliefs on self-blame, irrational explanations on traumatic
experiences, maladaptive behaviors, unconscious guilt, shame and doubt about
oneself. These beliefs are very powerful and could lead the child to over
generalize negative incidents.

Children experience all sorts of negative environments including war and
violence, daily stress, economic problems and accelerating negative effects of
technological changes. But among these, the most aggravated is the disabling
relationship he has with his immediate environment- his parents, his family and
his direct interaction to his society. Above everything else, there is a need to
modify these negative environments in order to develop children with better
mental health and in the future, adults who can readily adapt to the stressors
from their environments.

Causes of Mental Health Disorders

It is amazing how a lump of gray matter could manipulate all the systems in our
body in the most systematic way possible with all the intricacies and complex
functioning. But what's queer about this stuff (the organ we call brain) is
that it could malfunction in a way that it could result to single or multiple
representations of mental health problems all in an individual.

Clinical research and laboratory observations consistently arrive at a
conclusion that mental health disorders are products of the accumulation and
interaction of several contributing factors. It would have been easier to
identify each disorder if there is only one cause to all meal health disorders
but that simply isn't the truth. In reality, all mental disorders could root
from several causes such as an environment that is conducive to the development
of a mental disorder or individual genetic make-up that programs the brain (or
the faulty components of the brain) to develop into something non-normal.

Saying that it's all about the pathological make-up of the brain that causes
the mental health disorders is simplistic, to say the least. Looking at the
strange development of these disorders would reveal that there are actually at
least 3 contributing factors that may be seen as potential causes, all of which
have varying degrees. This means that a particular culprit could be more
dominant than the other.

First with the physical causes. This bracket of causes is biological in nature.
Each individual has a distinct and unique biological make-up that dictates the
direction of his health, may it be physical or mental. Some people are born
with inherent tendency to develop a specific mental disorder in comparison with
other people while others are less prone to risks. This cause also covers the
genetic make-up of an individual, the biological make-up and the events in life
that affects the physical body (such as a trauma on the head or substance abuse).

Second are the environmental or social causes. Nature VS Nurture has been a
great debate in the scientific community but research confirms that a person
experience a spilt-half of both. Nature of course are the physical attributes
of an individual while Nurture reflects more on the social structures and
physical, emotional and mental environments to which an individual was exposed
to. This factor tells us more on how an individual grew up, the interaction of
influences that affected all facets of his growth and the mechanisms he used to
cope with a specific environment.

It is observable that some mental disorders are caused primarily by the
consequences of experience brought about by the environment. For example,
people (especially children) living in a stressful, chaotic and unstable
environment are more likely to develop mental illnesses than those individuals
living in peaceful environment. This consequence is due to the fact that there
are certain social and environmental components that may become risk factors to
the development of mental health problems.

Third is the psychological factor. This particular factor tells us more on the
psychological state of a person, his coping mechanisms to certain life events
that could otherwise end up with psychological disorders, his perception on his
own self and his environment and thought patterns that affect his mental health.
For example, someone who has gone beyond the limit of his stress coping capacity
is likely to break down mentally as a result of the psyche's automatic "lock
down" to protect itself.

For the majority of people lacking mental health, it is often the case of
triggering the mental health to break down through series factors that have
eventually contributed to the cause of mental health disorder.

Mental Health Courts: Separate Justice System

Patients of mental health require special attention and treatments and on
normal circumstances, the prison cell will not give the proper, not even the
sufficient treatment. It has been observed that those people who are suffering
from certain mental disorders become worse while they are in correctional
facilities. They get intimidated by the other inmates, they get abused even and
the worst part is, they do not get the right treatment for their disorders.
There is simply no possible way for them to get treated inside such facilities.
Therefore, their psychological disorders become aggravated.

In the past recent years, it has been observed that offenders with mental
illnesses are fastly falling into the jurisdiction of criminal justice system.
Added to this are the shocking percentages of people with mental illnesses that
are mixed into normal groups of people in correctional facilities. This is due
to the lack of mental health facilities or their feeling of intimidation and
reluctance to avail the services of such facilities which make them unable to
connect to the community support systems that they are entitled to. In the end,
people with mental disorders find themselves committing both minor and severe
crimes, thus incarceration without receiving the services they require. This
brought on the need for a judicial system that would specifically advance the
services needed by criminal offenders with mental disorders.

Because of the need to improve the criminal justice system in the country,
government officials, policy makers, the Council of State Governments and
mental health professionals convened to come up with a solution that will
answer the specific needs of criminal offenders with psychological disorders.

Mental health courts are the links between mental health and criminal law. This
body combined the specialties of almost all types of people working in both
fields to come up with favorable programs that work for the advantage mentally
ill offenders. These courts commission court personnel such as judges,
prosecutors and attorneys who have expertise and sufficient knowledge on mental
health. Up to date, there are about 27 courts around the United States that are
promoting treatment methods that are supported by the courts in exchange for
incarceration.

These courts are adhering to therapeutic methods for people with mental health
needs and they work on two approaches. One is to help prevent the rate of
mental illnesses from rising to lessen the frequency of criminal offenses in
support of public protection and two, distinguish that the need for criminal
sanctions is highly unnecessary when it is proven that the cause of the
criminal act is a psychological disorder. With these approaches in mind, there
are two goals enveloping this type of courts, namely: a) to lessen the
exacerbation of criminal behaviors due to mental health illnesses magnified by
insufficient number of services extended to people who need them and b) to find
the alternative solution to imprisonment that would restrain the recurrence of
the criminal act while providing treatment options for the offenders.

These courts believe that their services could augment the provisions of mental
health facilities and may also extend the services of the criminal justice
system. This way, such courts are able to give the alternative solutions that
help lessen the number of offenses of individuals who are not mentally well.

It cannot be denied though that this program is still at its infancy period-
having too little resource and having systems that are still developing. In
fact, it was noted on the research conducted by the Bazelon Center Review that
each court system has no specific model to which these courts could follow
their structures. Also, they are allowed to create their own systems, rules and
procedures that will work for the best interests of the facilities.

However, it cannot be discounted that mental health courts are playing the
crucial role of separating offenders with mental health needs from normal
people to whom criminal justice system applies well.

Overview of Mental Health Counseling

Mental health counseling or clinical counseling is a practice in psychology
that helps relieve psychological disorders or distress by promoting personal
development. It also practices psychotherapy, consultation, forensic
investigation specifically forensic testimony, formulation, implementation and
evaluation of plans and programs for treatment of psychological dysfunction and
research. Because of the nature of this field, it is usually monitored as a
mental health profession.

Mental health counseling has its roots from the later part of 19th century. And
as the field of psychology grew, branches began to develop, among them is
counseling psychology and clinical counseling- both are useful in mental health
assessment and counseling.

While closely associated with clinical psychology, there are still marked
differences between the two practices.

For one, counseling psychology is used by psychotherapist and counselors to
help patients with milder psychopathological concerns. On the other hand,
clinical counseling deals with more severe and advance forms of psychological
disorders such as schizophrenia and psychosomatic disorders. Examples of
disorders that could be treated by counseling psychology are the stress-related
disorders. In essence, these are just minor mental health illness that requires
very little (if there is any) medical interventions.

This method tries to address minor psychological concerns and make use of
counseling techniques. This is possible since patients subjected under this
method are still in control of their mind. For example, people who are
distressed due to problematic circumstances could seek the professionals who
could render counseling psychology.

Counseling psychology focuses more on the personal problems of the person that
hamper his mental health. It helps him resolve problems by using non-directive
methods, therefore a counseling psychologist would only open options that will
help resolve the problem without being suggestive or authoritative. Also,
counseling psychology is more focused on rational thinking instead of
unconscious functioning.

Second difference is that counseling psychology adheres to humanistic or
person-centered approach. Third, it has a different view on the developmental
problems associated with mental disorders.

On the other hand, clinical psychology deals more on severe psychological
disorders such as clinical manic depression like unipolar and bipolar
disorders, sexual dysfunctions such as exhibitionism, fetishism and sadism,
phobias, traumas and substance-abuse or dependency.

Because of a more comprehensive and intensive nature of this field, clinical
counseling makes use of psychological assessment tools that further confirm the
symptoms of disorders among people with disrupted mental health. Mental health
assessment is a medium for evaluating symptoms that a person presents. This
gives insights to mental health professionals that will guide them in the
preparation, administration and evaluation of treatment methods that are apt to
the mental health needs of a patient. The process of assessment requires the use
of interviews, physical examinations and clinical observations. Also, assessment
tools such as intelligence, symptoms questionnaires, personality and
neuropsychological tests are widely used. All these contribute significantly to
the diagnostic impressions that will be formulated after all data are collected
and studied.

Despite of these differences, counseling psychology and clinical counseling are
proven to be very effective as mental health counseling methods. Both advocates
the use of talk treatment that could either help resolve the problem for the
mental health patient or open up indications that may be pointed out as causes
of the development of the disorder. In effect, both types of counseling make
mental health therapy and recovery feasible.

An Overview of the Mental Health Assessment

Mental health assessment is conceived only through a series of tedious
processes that will help identify all necessary details of the mental wellness
of the person leading to a conclusive judgment. It is a common knowledge among
practitioners of mental health care providers that a mental health assessment
could only be conceived if all information relating to the disorder could be
gathered. Diagnosis may take a few minutes but arriving at a conclusion is
possible only after a certain period of case study.

Fleshing out the details is necessary to arrive at an accurate result- may it
be diagnosis or prognosis. But this could only be achieved by paying attention
to small details that could uncover underlying symptoms, when developments of
symptoms are well-recorded and when the mental state of the patient is strictly
monitored. A psychiatric assessment is built on careful attention to details
associated with the person including medical history, upbringing and
environment, experiences such as childhood traumas along with others. If not
done properly, the doctor may fail to see crucial details that could affect the
result of the evaluation.

Apart from what has been listed above, a psychiatric assessment could also
include evaluation on presented behavior, manner of thinking, mood, capacity to
reason out and to express oneself and memory. Routine medical assessment such as
blood test, urine test, and other laboratory tests are also included.

Preparation

Health assessment such as this requires prior groundwork. Symptoms of a
disorder must be clearly recorded in a diary or journal. This helps keep track
of the symptoms that may be a sign of improvement or of worsening the case.
This would give the psychiatrist or the doctor a clearer picture of the mental
health illness. If the patient is a child, the parent should see to it that the
preparation of the journal is carefully supervised or that the parent should
also make a separate journal to keep a detailed history of observations.

If already diagnosed and given medications for the control of symptoms,
alterations of behavior or symptoms should also be recorded.

Interview

Nearly all psychiatric assessment require interview. Mental health illnesses
normally lack in the presentation of observable symptoms. This is why talk is
highly valuable in psychoanalytical and behavioral assessment of a patient.

A series of interviews gives the doctor a better look at the information that a
patient could present. This offers the chance to gather information, clarify
ambiguous details and to refute any established impressions.

There are three types of questions used during a psychiatric interview:

a) close questions 
b) open questions 
c) choice questions

Interviews are not only valuable because they clearly open opportunities for
gathering information; it is also the opportunity for the patient to tell his
or her story. Talk is beneficial as it allows usually terrifying thoughts to be
voiced out.

Physical Examination

Neurological and cardiovascular examinations are the most commonly used
physical examination for the assessment of mental health. The choice of
examination is influenced mainly by factors such as the age of the person,
concurrent disorders, planned medical treatment, concurrent medications and
substance use or dependency.

Summary of the Findings

Plain examination and evaluation of a patient would not give reliable
information for managing his or her mental health. A conclusive summary of all
findings and accompanying recommendations for treatments and therapies would
help prepare the person for recovery.

Tips on Online Researching for Mental Health Articles

Researching on a very broad topic is work enough. Consolidating your research
later is another story.

It is common to encounter a bulk of scattered and non-linear resources when
researching through mental health articles, both online and off line. But the
truth is, even when these articles came from different authors with different
ideas and issues in mind, the researcher should still be able to crop out the
best ideas and consolidate them to make a decent and productive research. Here
are some advices:

a. Choose a single idea and expound it

It is usually the case of scattered ideas for a personal research. The
researcher would pick a random idea on mental health. This is a common practice
but not really a good one. Picking an idea that popped out from nowhere
indicates the lack of sufficient direction in your research. If you are using
the keyword "mental health", it is best to skim through the topics first then
take note of those which interested you most. Then research for the articles
having the particular keyword on their titles.

b. Research for online sites that are niched to article directories.

Usually, some have free services while others require membership fees. However,
you must not get stuck on using these directories alone. It is also best to make
use of the large sources from individual websites. Psychological websites and
websites advocating mental health normally have huge inventories of
psychological articles that could support your research. There are also
websites dedicated to individual disorders under the umbrella of mental illness.

c. Validate your research

Wikipedia or any academic websites are good places to start your research with.
But research must not start and end on a single website. Try other websites and
click on the links and suggested sources on each webpages that are relevant to
your research. Take note of any recommendations on each web page. Searching
through various resources would give you a comprehensive perspective for your
research. Also, websites vary in their approach on hosting information.

d. Try experimenting on keywords and keyphrases

You can start with a simple keyphrase such as "mental health disorders" for
your initial research. But as you advance in your study you will find that this
topic is written in various articles adopting issues on different mental heath
disorders. Take note of the general topic surrounding these articles. If you
are looking for a specific idea such as changes in personality, you could look
up personality disorders. This will then branch out to sub-categories that
would direct your focus of research.

Additionally, you will find, as you skim or read, on mental wellness articles
pieces of ideas that would either broaden or narrow your research.

e. Digest each information one at a time

It is impossible to arrive at a decent research if you are tackling all
information at once. Get sufficient sense of the topic on the articles then
outline the ideas that interest you most.

f. Don't get lost

When researching for online articles, it is easy to get lost through the mass
of available articles by clicking irrelevant links and suggested resources.
This could be prevented by organizing your ideas first after some research and
consciously tying all research to a single common thought.

There is no discounting the fact that online research is tricky since it only
takes some efforts to put up a professional-looking website that hosts mental
health articles. But following the above advices could lighten the load of your
research.

Mental Health America: A Review of Mental Health in America

A leading mental health organization, Mental Health America, has continuously
researched on current issues regarding mental wellness. Alongside them, there
are other studies that are constantly conducted in conjunction to separate
researches by other mental health organizations. Among their studies are the
top American stressors and the capacity of Americans to deal with them. In this
article, we would try to review this particular study and would provide
concurrent details from other sources.

Most mental health organizations recognize that the accelerating changes in
technology on top of unhealthy lifestyle, negative environmental stressors, and
dysfunctional family contribute substantially to the well being of an
individual. Americans, in particular, find it difficult to cope with a very
busy society. Also, coping mechanisms are unhealthy such as smoking,
drug-dependence and other harmful measures.

What are the major stressors in America?

Stress due to financial problems is the leading stressor that bothers most
Americans. Almost 50% of our population is bombarded with financial issues that
include mortgage payments, monthly bills and deficiencies on bank payments. On
the other hand, 34% of all Americans are affected by health issues. A third
major stressor is unemployment and underemployment affecting 32% of the
American population.

What does statistics say?

In every four American adults there is one that has a diagnosable mental
disorder. This translates to 26% of the total population or 57.7 million
Americans who are 18 years old and above. However, serious mental illness
occurs in one out of 17 individuals. While this is a significantly lower figure
as compared with the general number of people with mental disorders, we still
cannot negate the fact that mental disorders are the leading sickness in
America, not cancer or obesity-related diseases and disorders.

Perhaps among the highest, if not the highest, rate of mental disability is
depression or major depressive disorder which affects nearly 15% of the adults'
general population. For ages 18 years old and above, depression occurs in close
to 7% of the entire population. Mood disorder, on the other hand, affects 9.5%
of the total American population with the age of 18 and above. 40 million
Americans are susceptible to developing anxiety disorders while there are 15
million Americans suffering from social phobia. Approximately, there are 6.8
million or 3% of the American population is experiencing diagnosable
generalized anxiety disorder or (GAD) and 3.5% have representations of
Post-Traumatic Disorder. 1% has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, 6 million adults
have panic disorder and Schizophrenia makes 2.4 of the American adult population
suffer from its symptoms. (Note: The age of the sample size for all figures are
18 years old and above unless stipulated.)

Who is the most stressed American?

The most stressed Americans are the parents while people who feel lesser stress
are those who are college students. Their stressors come from interpersonal
relationships, financial obligations and career or employments issues. While
some mentally ill people may not be aware of some of their problems due to the
nature of their disorders, it is still viewed that they are among the people
who feel high levels of stress which come from social stigma, personal
problems, unemployment and health.

What are the coping strategies?

More than 80% of all stressed Americans find using mass media such as tv and
music as a good way to cope to stress. Second to this is through seeking
support from family members and ranking third is through meditation and/or
prayer.

Let's face it. Regardless of the fact that our government, NGOs and mental
health organizations are working closely to make America a bit better place by
improving their services, mental health illness still affect our population
significantly.

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.

Exercise and Mental Health: Are There Connections?

We all know that exercise promotes healthier body and better sense of
well-being. It boosts confidence for people who need newer self image while it
prevents the aggravation of physical illnesses for some. While nearly all of
the research on exercise is focused on demonstrating positive effects on the
physical body, there is a growing mass of research that seeks to prove that
exercise is good for mental health as well.

A study conducted by the researchers from the Duke University along with other
similar studies proved that exercise could help treat depression for 60% of all
the participants. This result is similar with the total number of participants
who are using medications for their treatment from depression.

However, you don't have to be a sufferer of a mental illness before you benefit
from exercise. You can boost your sense of well-being while walking on the
treadmill or by combining yoga and meditation. In a way, exercise could be used
as a potential medium for preventing the development of psychological and
emotional conditions.

There are three dimensions at which we could look at when examining the
benefits of exercise in the mental wellness of a person. Among the less well
known is the biological aspect.

One theory suggests that physical workout or exercise could stimulate a part of
the brain to release endorphins. Activities that are more likely to trigger the
release of endorphins are swimming, cross-country skiing, running, bicycling,
aerobics and sports like soccer, football and basketball.

Endorphins are comparable to opiates in a way that they resemble morphine.
Endorphins could work in two ways- as a pain reliever (which is produced in
response to the stresses brought about by physical work or stress) and as an
enhancer of well-being. There are, however, no definite data that could support
this claim.

On the other hand, exercise is also found to trigger the release of hormones
norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. All these are known to help improve
mood and is actually the main effect of Prozac, a known antidepressant.

Increase in these hormones could be best observed in a condition known as
"runner's high". This feeling during after an acute exercise is directly linked
to the increased number of the said hormones. However, there are still no
conclusive studies proving that improvements on mood could be facilitated for a
longer period of time.

Another is the physiological aspect. Nearly all of the feelings we associate
with mental wellness come from our personal evaluation of the way our body
feels. Say for instance, if you perceive a stomach pain as a form of stress
then you will feel stressed (and sometimes even depression) every time your
stomach aches. Likewise, exercise could render feelings such as muscle
relaxation and easier breathing which we associate with "feeling better". While
this correlation is yet to have a better scientific grounding, we still could
not deny the fact that muscle tension and increased blood flow go together with
physical fitness.

No one knows yet how exactly exercise affects mental health. But it is common
among patients to view exercise as a good medium to elevate their moods. In
fact, according to a survey conducted by the Charity Mind nearly two-thirds of
all people who said that they use exercise to relieve symptoms of stress and
depression believe that exercise actually works for them. The scientific
community is yet to understand how this happens though and for now, it remains
a truth that people benefit from exercise for mental health.

3 Major Focuses of Recovery for Optimized Mental Health

Focus on the Individual

The focus of recovery should be on the person or the individual and not the
process of treatment. There is a constant shift in the manners by which people
suffering from psychological disorders are being treated. During the past
centuries, due partly to the drive to establish more reliable and effective
treatment methods, most mental health professionals fail to focus on the
process occurring in a patient, the changes he is undergoing throughout the
treatment and the improvements that are associated with the treatment. Instead,
the common point for most practitioners is the process of treatment itself-
whether or not one treatment is more effective than the other or whether or not
a specific therapy could actually work for all patients.

It is a good thing that mental illnesses are viewed now from the sufferer's
perspectives rather than the technicalities of the treatment or therapy.
Individuals have various presentations of a mental disorder. Thus needing
individualized forms of recovery treatments that are curtailed to the person's
preferences, unique characteristics such as resiliency, strengths and
weaknesses, cultural background and experiences.

Focus on the Community

It should be grounded on peer support -- External support is invaluable in the
process of recovery. Knowing that there are other people who, like the patient,
also struggle to achieve the state of well being they want to achieve. It helps
for them to know that there are people who cares for them, who wants to see
them gain back their life and who shares the same sufferings as they do.

There should exist a mental health support group that would guide and enlighten
the patients with the reality of the psychological disorder. This also provides
the mutual support that is needed in gaining skills and knowledge on the
disorder which is a contributory factor towards improvement.

Focus on Issues Surrounding Mental Wellness

It should be well-directed -- A direction set by both the mental health
providers and the patient should be prepared during the initial stage of
recovery. The patient determines the pace of healing while the mental health
professional facilitate the direction.

It should be non-linear -- This perspective adheres to the belief that a
recovery process is both an end and a process. It is not the usual step-by-step
process that has varying levels. In mental health recovery, it is possible that
a person who has already overcome the symptoms of a mental disorder could still
be troubled by the relapse of the same symptoms. It is, in fact, a
trial-and-error process with the promise of development and usual setbacks.

It should be holistic -- The concept of holism should be fully integrated into
the process of recovery. Recovery from a mental disorder does not only cover
specific and separate issues like biological or psychosocial aspects of the
disorder. Instead, it affects a person in an extensive manner. Thus recovery
should also focus on the micro as well as macro issues surrounding the disorder.

Lastly, the process of recovery should be empowered by hope matched by the
motivation and willingness to break free from the mental illness. This could
only be achieved when all individual factors -- the perspective of the
individual and the direction he is taking, the support of external groups such
as the family and peers and the right frame of mind.

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.

Mental Health: Not Just the Absence of Mental Disorders

Most people think that mental health only applies to those people who have
diagnosable mental disorders. The truth is ALL of us should be concerned about
our mental health. It is our basis of being healthy. It is the holistic
approach to health. In fact, many people adhere to the belief that mental
health is the core of healthiness. Health starts and ends with mental health.
It encompasses everything and it is everybody's business.

For virtually all people, mental health is often neglected until something
apparently becomes wrong. Until then, we will have to wait for signs that it is
vital to our existence, to our well being, to our relationships with other
people, to our perceptions, to our fulfillment and even to our own happiness.

Even though we have achieved great medical advancements, there still seems to
be lacks in our general knowledge on mental health. We have developed quick
fixes to our physical ailments but we are left far behind with our solutions to
mental illnesses. If we have anything, there still remain some loopholes and
what we know is inconclusive. We haven't developed universal treatments for
psychological disorders and even assessments and diagnosis of such ailments are
flawed.

In the past, the general concept for being healthy is the "absence of disease".
If so, then someone who doesn't have diagnosable heart attack but experience
irrational fear on something like chicken or heights is a healthy person. In
fact, no.

While blood pressure, cholesterol level, and body temperature are easy to asses
these are still seen as singular components of our health. Disruptions in these
mechanisms mean that a person could be physically ill. However, the health of a
person is not only associated to how well his body functions but also to how
well are his psychological, emotional and social dispositions. Manifestations
of mental illness are much harder to asses since most symptoms occur discreetly
during the developmental stages of the disorders and internal states are
dependent on the subjective nature of the disorder. For example, someone who
usually feels "blue" may or may not be diagnosed with depression.

We also have to take into account the social aspect of mental health. People
who have sickness have more obvious manifestations that they are ill, therefore
the society and immediate environment could easily identify whether or not a
person is sick. For mental health, however, ignorance could lead to wrong
perceptions. For example, a teenager who became drug-dependent and later
committed suicide is viewed as irresponsible and desperate when in fact he may
be suffering from a psychological disorder.

A simplistic definition to mental health could be "successful mental
functioning". But what are the parameters of this definition? What could
possibly tell us that someone is struggling through mental illness?

a) Someone who is distressed for a prolonged period without apparent, logical
reason. b) Someone who has disruptions in thinking c) Someone who has altered
behaviors and moods d) Someone who relies on substances such as drugs, alcohol
and cigarettes may have issues on their mental health e) Someone who has
impaired social functions

These are just representations of how a person with mental health may behave.
However, these are not conclusive bases.

As we may yet to understand, mental health is directly correlated with physical
ailment or health. Both may be one and the same but are very different in nature.

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.

The Psychopathic Personality

Are the psychopath, sociopath, and someone with the Antisocial Personality
Disorder one and the same? The DSM says "yes". The psychopath has antisocial
traits for sure but they are coupled with and enhanced by callousness,
ruthlessness, extreme lack of empathy, deficient impulse control,
deceitfulness, and sadism.

The psychopath refuses to conform to social norms and obey the law. He often
inflicts pain and damage on his victims. But does that make this pattern of
conduct a mental illness? The psychopath has no conscience or empathy. But is
this necessarily pathological? Like narcissists, psychopaths lack empathy and
regard other people as mere instruments of gratification or as objects to be
manipulated.

Most people accept that others have rights and obligations. The psychopath
rejects this. As far as he is concerned, only might is right. People have no
rights and he, the psychopath, has no obligations that derive from the "social
contract". The psychopath holds himself to be above conventional morality and
the law. The psychopath cannot delay gratification. He wants everything and
wants it now. His whims, urges, catering to his needs, and the satisfaction of
his drives take precedence over the needs, preferences, and emotions of even
his nearest and dearest.

Consequently, psychopaths feel no remorse when they hurt or defraud others.
They don't possess even the most rudimentary conscience. They rationalize their
behavior and intellectualize it. Psychopaths fall prey to their own primitive
defense mechanisms. The psychopath firmly believes that the world is a hostile,
merciless place, prone to the survival of the fittest and that people are either
"all good" or "all evil". Psychopaths are abusively exploitative and incapable
of true love or intimacy.

Psychopaths are irresponsible and unreliable. They do not honor contracts,
undertakings, and obligations. They are unstable and unpredictable and rarely
hold a job for long, repay their debts, or maintain long-term intimate
relationships.

The Most Common Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviors

* When people are obsessed at avoiding being dirty or contaminated, they
frequently wash their hands and feet, clean and bathe their bodies. They do not
feel comfortable about bodily waste and urinating because these procedures are
often disgusting to look at or experience. They also feel extremely and
unreasonably anxious about contracting dreadful illnesses in almost any setting.

* Some people always want to live in extremely neat surroundings. While they're
not that obsessed about getting sick from dirt, they do care very much about
their appearances. They always want to look and feel clean. They are
perfectionists when it comes to ordering and aligning objects. They can spend
hours just to obtain the precise positioning of their things.

* Some people become obsessed about saving things for future use are incapable
of throwing any object, even a piece of candy wrapper, in fear of throwing
something that could prove useful or necessary in the future. These people are
uncaring about the neatness of their surroundings or the order of their
possessions. All they care to do is stash everything they can. People suffering
from this particular OCD may also be meticulous about that object goes where.

* A person may develop OCD symptoms on certain habits or actions for no reason
at all. When this happens, they become obsessed at performing these tasks over
and over. It could be something as silly as repeating questions several times
or counting money repeatedly before handing it over.

With proper therapy, affected individuals will learn to cope with OCD symptoms
and accept that the disorder is there to stay until an effective cure is
created. As a last note, you must keep in mind that an individual can develop
OCD symptoms about anything. Hence, lists of OCD symptoms will only give you at
best an idea of general areas that individuals may have OCD tendencies about.

Taking Control of Mental Illness

We are told that mental illnesses occur because of our genes, our upbringing,
our personality, our temperament, our lifestyle and we can do nothing about
them. Stress or no stress, we are told, if we have all these factors loaded in
our personal history, we are prone to have a mental illness. Some psychiatrists
adhere to this belief strongly. This belief is then put across as the "gospel
truth" of science. Naturally, this brings up a sense of low self-esteem and
helplessness in the person who is suffering with the illness. We are then made
to believe that medications are man-made answers to mental illness, which is a
curse of nature.

The whole area of mental illness is about losing a sense of freedom. When we
find ourselves bound to emotional issues of our life, that we cannot rid
ourselves of, we lose our freedom of thinking. This creates stress in our mind
and our body bears the brunt of it. This loss of freedom brings up a sense of
fear or a sense of helplessness. Both such feelings bring up a sense of
insecurity. People lose confidence in their own worth. Self-esteem becomes low.
With lack of confidence and low self-esteem, comes poor decision-making. A
person suffers with all these conditions when suffering with a mental illness.
When a mentally ill person goes to seek help -- confidence, self-esteem and
sense of freedom are already lost. Instead of helping the person become
independent, there is a tendency to make the person dependent on medication.

Medication plays its role in controlling the condition or state of illness. It
does nothing to improve the quality of life permanently. To improve their
quality of life, the person needs to take responsibility for their own well
being. We live in a free society. The freedom to suffer is also one kind of
freedom. We also have the freedom to look for answers to minimize our suffering

Symptoms of Post-traumatic stress disorder

During World War Two, a strange phenomenon called "Battle Fatigue" affected
many veterans after they returned home from combat zones in Europe and the
Pacific. Today, we know this condition to be "post-traumatic stress disorder".
Back then, returning veterans didn't talk about it, because discussing these
worrisome symptoms suggested weakness or cowardice.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a medical disorder that can occur to
anyone after experiencing an extremely stressful situation. Soldiers aren't the
only ones to suffer from this condition. Natural disaster survivors, as well as
those who have experienced and survived attacks and accidents, also suffer from
posttraumatic stress disorder. Twice as many women are affected than men.

A victim may experience one of many symptoms: A flashback or nightmare, a
feeling of detachment, loss of interest in activities or a lack of positive
emotion, avoidance of anything (activities, people or situations) associated
with the trauma, difficulty sleeping, irritability and exaggerated responses to
being startled.

Many people exhibit roller coaster feelings or emotions after a traumatic
experience, but for most, such symptoms normally fade after a few weeks.
Nevertheless, recognizing the early signs and symptoms of post traumatic stress
disorder is important, as it can incur long-lasting consequences for those who
suffer from it. Physiological changes that occur in victims have a brutal
affect on both neurobiological functions such as memory, as well as
fear-response reactions. Sleeping habits and the ability to deal with any
stress can be disrupted. Physical complaints can range from headaches, to
immune system disruption, debilitating pain, and in some cases, asthma.

Depression and a sense of growing anxiety can lead to phobias, panic attacks
and behavioral changes. If you feel that someone you know is suffering from
post-traumatic stress disorder, it's extremely important that he or she get
help. It will not go away by itself.

Dual Diagnosis

A person who suffers from alcohol abuse / alcoholism, drug abuse / drug
addiction and an emotional/psychiatric problem is said to have a dual
diagnosis. To recover fully, the person will require addiction treatment and
psychiatric treatment for both problems.

Dual diagnosis is a common diagnosis. Thirty-seven percent of people with
alcohol abuse and fifty-three percent of people with drug abuse also have at
least one serious mental illness. Of all people diagnosed as mentally ill, 29
percent suffer from alcohol abuse or drug abuse.

The following psychiatric problems can occur in Dual Diagnosis Anxiety
disorders, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias and other
psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and personality disorders. Bipolar
disorder and depression are often present.

Often the psychiatric problem develops first. In an attempt to feel calmer,
peppier, or more cheerful, a person with emotional symptoms may drink or use
drugs; doctors call this "self-medication." Frequent self-medication may
eventually lead to physical or psychological dependency on alcohol or drugs. If
it does, the person then suffers from not just one problem, but two. In a
perfect world, both problems should be treated simultaneously. For any
substance abuse problem, however, the first step in treatment must be detox --
a period of time during which the body is allowed to cleanse itself of alcohol
or drugs. Ideally, detox should take place under medical supervision. It can
take a few days to a week or more, depending on what substances the person
abused and for how long.

Until recently, alcoholics and drug addicts dreaded detox because it meant a
painful and sometimes life-threatening "cold turkey" withdrawal. Now, doctors
are able to provide those people with a drug addiction or alcohol addiction
carefully chosen medications while in detox, which can substantially ease
withdrawal symptoms. Detox done under medical supervision, is safer for the
dually diagnosed.

Do I Need Mental Health Help? With extreme emotional issues, we often have no
problem deciding whether we need to see a counselor or not; however, with a
slight discomfort, a few bad days, we can't always make that decision. Ask
yourself the following questions and truthfully answer yes or no.

* Do you get honest satisfaction from simple pleasures? 
* Do you have respect for yourself? 
* Can you laugh at your own errors? 
* Do you feel capable of dealing with situations as they come your way? 
* Can you accept displays of your own emotions -- fear, anger, jealousy, guilt, 
  worry? 
* Do you have personal relationships that are satisfying and lasting? 
* Do you trust others and assume that others will trust you? 
* Do you respect people who differ from you? 
* Do you refuse to be pushed around and refuse satisfaction from it? 
* Can you feel you are a part of a group? 
* Are you able to love somebody? 
* Do you accept as much responsibility as comes your way? 
* Do you make your own decisions? 
* Do you deal with your problems as they arise? 
* Do you shape your environment whenever possible and adjust to it whenever 
  necessary?

Count up the number of no answers. If you don't have any, you are exceptional.
A couple of no answers is normal and is absolutely nothing to be concerned
about. If, however, you answered no to more than five questions, there is a
good chance you could benefit from some type of counseling to help get you back
on track.

The fact you are able to take this test is a good indicator that, with the
proper counseling, you will be fine. Just don't let it go until more answers
turn to no. You deserve enjoying the best mental health possible. Don't neglect
it.

Culturally Based Healing Arts

Traditional Oriental medicine (such as acupuncture, shiatsu, and reiki), Indian
systems of health care (such as Ayurveda and yoga), and Native American healing
practices (such as the Sweat Lodge and Talking Circles) all incorporate the
beliefs that:

* Wellness is a state of balance between the spiritual, physical, and
  mental/emotional "selves." 

* An imbalance of forces within the body is the cause of illness.

* Herbal/natural remedies, combined with sound nutrition, exercise, and
  meditation/prayer, will correct this imbalance.

Acupuncture: The Chinese practice of inserting needles into the body at
specific points manipulates the body's flow of energy to balance the endocrine
system. This manipulation regulates functions such as heart rate, body
temperature, and respiration, as well as sleep patterns and emotional changes.
Acupuncture has been used in clinics to assist people with substance abuse
disorders through detoxification; to relieve stress and anxiety; to treat
attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder in children; to reduce symptoms of
depression; and to help people with physical ailments.

Ayurveda: Ayurvedic medicine is described as "knowledge of how to live." It
incorporates an individualized regimen--such as diet, meditation, herbal
preparations, or other techniques--to treat a variety of conditions, including
depression, to facilitate lifestyle changes, and to teach people how to release
stress and tension through yoga or transcendental meditation.

Native American traditional practices: Ceremonial dances, chants, and cleansing
rituals are part of Indian Health Service programs to heal depression, stress,
trauma (including those related to physical and sexual abuse), and substance
abuse.

Cuentos: Based on folktales, this form of therapy originated in Puerto Rico.
The stories used contain healing themes and models of behavior such as
self-transformation and endurance through adversity. Cuentos is used primarily
to help Hispanic children recover from depression and other mental health
problems related to leaving one's homeland and living in a foreign culture.

Zoloft

Zoloft (Sertraline) is used to treat major depression, anxiety, post-traumatic
stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, premenstrual dysphoric
disorder, bipolar disorder, and panic disorder. Zoloft is one of the few
antidepressants that doesn't pass through the mother's breast milk, and so it
is safe for breastfeeding mothers to take. However, it can cause fetal defects
if taken during the third trimester of pregnancy, so it is not safe for
pregnant women to take. Talk with your doctor about a possible substitute
during this period.

Zoloft has similar side effects to most SSRI antidepressants, including
insomnia, dry mouth, constipation, dizziness, and lack of libido. It may also
cause weight gain. Possible serious side effects include mania and thoughts of
suicide, especially in adolescents or in senior citizens. Sometimes Zoloft's
side effects may prove to be too serious or inconvenient for you to continue
taking Zoloft. In this case, ask a doctor to help you come off of Zoloft, as
suddenly stopping Zoloft may cause severe SSRI withdrawal symptoms. Zoloft has
been implicated in a number of suicides, and is not recommended for adolescents
due to the high risk of suicides for this age group. If you plan to take Zoloft,
you will need to have a loved one or doctor monitor you when you first begin to
take Zoloft to watch for suicidal thoughts or feelings.

Zoloft, an SSRI antidepressant, is proven to correct major clinical depression.
Like all SSRI antidepressants, it carries with it a risk of side effects and
withdrawal syndrome, but with the aid of a competent doctor you should be able
to avoid major complications associated with the drug. Zoloft is not
recommended to adolescents due to the increased risk of suicide, seemingly
greater than other SSRI antidepressants. No reason for this has been found yet,
so avoidance is the best thing.

Choosing a Therapist Step-By-Step

Therapy is a collaborative process, so finding the right match is critical.
After you find someone, keep in mind that therapy is work and sometimes can be
painful. However, it also can be rewarding and life changing.

What are the steps for choosing a therapist?

1. See your primary care physician to rule out a medical cause of your problems.
Many physical disorders can mimic psychological ones. 

2. After you know your problems are not caused by a medical condition, find out
what the mental health coverage is under your insurance policy or through 
Medicaid/Medicare. 

3. Get two or three referrals before making an appointment. Specify age, sex,
race, or religious background if those characteristics are important to you. 

4. Call to find out about appointment availability, location, and fees. Find out
if they take your insurance or if they charge by income. 

5. Make sure the therapist has experience helping people whose problems are
similar to yours. Don't be afraid to ask about experience. 

6. If you are satisfied with the answers, make an appointment. 

7. During your first visit, describe those feelings and problems that led you to
seek help. Find out how the therapist reacts and what options you are given for
treatment. Do you feel comfortable with your choices? 

8. Be sure the psychotherapist does not take a "cookie cutter" approach to your
treatment -- different psychotherapies and medications are tailored to meet
specific needs. You are an individual and your therapist must show that
perspective. 

9. After your initial visit, take some time to explore how you felt about the
therapist. Is there a connection? Do you feel comfortable? 

10. If everything meets your approval, schedule your next appointment. If not,
go back to the list you gathered in Step 3 and start over again.




Bipolar II Disorder

Bipolar II is related to Bipolar I, but it differs in one major aspect. While
Bipolar I has extreme manic and depressive states, Bipolar II has the deep
depression, but never goes into full-blown mania. The highs of this type of
bipolar disorder aren't quite as high, but they are high enough to make the
individual notice the downswings more. This form of bipolar disorder can be
just as trying on the individual as Bipolar I.

The highs of bipolar two are called a hypomanic manic episode. Hypomania is
essentially a very revved up state of great productivity and quickness. When
hypomanic, you talk fast, walk fast, think fast, pretty much do everything else
fast. You become upbeat, enthusiastic, relentlessly optimistic and confident.

Major depressive episode is essentially just a fancy word for depression. When
you have a major depressive episode, you're severely depressed. The symptoms
are the same as they are for clinical depression. These symptoms are:

- Decreased interest in life. 
- Feelings of sadness, tension, or irritability.
- Loss of energy. 
- Change in appetite. 
- Change in sleeping patterns.
- Feeling restless. 
- Feeling slowed down. 
- Decreased ability to make decisions. 
- Lack of concentration. 
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
- Feelings of hopelessness. 
- Thoughts of suicide or death.

The major depressive episode is the downside of Bipolar II in more ways than
one. Not only is it the mood downswing, it's the cost of having such great
productive ups. Although you can get a lot accomplished when in the up phase of
Bipolar II and you can also feel wonderful, you pay a high price for these
benefits. You pay with a major depressive episode. Coming down off of a
glorious, ecstatic high into a place of hopelessness can be devastating.

Bipolar Depression Versus Clinical Depression

An estimated ten percent of all Americans suffer from some form of depression
during their lives. This figure varies but is pretty much the same worldwide.
There are a few areas of the world that depression seems to have missed, but
not many. Depression in general affects the way we behave from our sleeping
patterns up to the way we think and live life.

The difference between depression and bipolar depression is in the severity and
frequency. Depression alone is often brought about by life circumstances, while
bipolar depression is chemically- induced and the flip side of mania. The
depression and mania come in cycles, regardless of the circumstances in a
person's life.

While those suffering clinical depression are at risk of using drugs or alcohol
to alleviate their symptoms, the risk is greater in those with bipolar
depression. A person who knows the highs of mania may try to recreate the
feeling when they are depressed or "stable". Drugs often help create that high
for a short time. This puts the person at risk of adding drug addiction to the
bipolar disorder.

Treatment of the two types of depression also varies. Those suffering from
clinical depression are prescribed anti-depressants alone. Those with bipolar
depression, however, are often given a mood stabilizer first, and an
antidepressant as a second choice if needed. Both medications adjust the brain
chemicals to alleviate the depression, but the mood stabilizer also helps the
person keep from going too far in the other direction and becoming manic.

To the person suffering depression, it feels the same regardless of what causes
the mood. The important part knowing the difference plays is mainly in treatment
options. A person suffering bipolar depression is at risk of becoming manic if
only the depression is treated. This in itself creates additional problems. .

Aspergers Syndrome

Aspergers Syndrome is a milder form of autistic disorder. Both conditions are
part of a larger group of neurological disorders known in the US as Pervasive
Developmental Disorders, or PDD for short. The 2 most common symptoms are
eccentric behavior and self-imposed social isolation. Sometimes speech is
affected as well as gait and motor skills. Your child may also be exclusively
focused on a particular area of interest, such as cars or astronomy. The social
isolation comes from the child wanting to know everything about his or her area
of interest and little else. Conversations are usually focused only on that
area as well.

Experts believe that Aspergers and autism have underlying biological causes,
but are not clear yet on what those causes are. They do know that there are
certain brain structure abnormalities, but do not know why they occur.

There is no definitive test for Aspergers, but there are certain patterns,
including:

* Significant impairment in social interaction, as demonstrated by:

  - impaired nonverbal communication 
  - failure to develop age-appropriate peer relationships 
  - lack of shared enjoyment of activities/surroundings with others
  - unable to reciprocate socially and/or emotionally

* Repeated patterns of behavior or interest, such as:

  - abnormal intensity of interest in one or two specific areas 
  - rigid rituals that serve no functional purpose 
  - repetitive mannerisms, such as hand or finger flapping 
  - persistently preoccupied with parts of objects

* No significant delay in language

* No significant delay in cognitive development or learning of age-appropriate
self-care skills

If your child meets one or more of the above criteria, then your doctor may
suspect Aspergers. There aren't any treatments for Aspergers that will make it
"go away." However, by using a combination of approaches that address the three
core symptoms of the disorder (poor communication skills, obsessive or
repetitive routines and physical clumsiness); you can help your child live a
fairly normal life.

Agoraphobia

The fear of traveling is the common definition of agoraphobia. This can be a
serious condition in which a person isn't able to leave the home at all or it
can be a mild disorder in which a person can't travel more than a few hours
away from home. When a person attempts to go beyond what is considered their
"safe" boundaries then they go into an agoraphobia panic attack.

Starting by taking baby steps is the best way a person can slow their
agoraphobia panic attacks. In order to finally master their fears the
individual must set specific goals to overcome their panic attacks. Family and
friends are the best people to help a person through this process.

To the sufferers themselves an agoraphobia panic attack is very frustrating.
This is because an agoraphobic attack is often less rational than the typical
panic attacks. A fear of public places, especially those where there is a large
gathering of people such as a grocery store can develop from a social anxiety.
An individual who suffers from general panic disorders can become embarrassed
of their disorder, which can then cause a fear of traveling and suffering a
panic attack in public.

The only way for a person to overcome these attacks is to push their limits,
which makes treatment of agoraphobia panic attack difficult. Before getting
better many agoraphobics tend to get worse for this reason. Since all an
individual has to do is stay within their "safe" zone they tend to ignore their
agoraphobic problem. However, while the problem can be easy to ignore it is a
stifling symptom that comes from a chronic panic disorder.

Little by little, agoraphobia can be overcome. It takes time and a lot of
patience. This is one time the person with this disorder must learn to turn to
someone trusted to help them through.

Adult Attention Deficit Disorder

Adult attention deficit disorder, or adult ADD, can be a very frustrating
condition to have. Almost all of the initial research and focus for the
attention deficit disorders was focused on children and adolescents, but adults
are just as likely to have the condition as youths. The disorder normally makes
itself apparent during childhood, with difficulties at school being one of the
most common hallmarks of the condition, which helps to explain why so much
focus has been on children with the disease. But children with attention
deficit disorder grow up to be adults with attention deficit disorder.

If you are an adult and you are having trouble focusing at work, difficulty
listening to people in everyday conversations, find yourself interrupting
people a lot, losing things frequently, are easily distracted from tasks, are
easily frustrated or find yourself feeling over stimulated often, you may have
adult attention deficit disorder.

Treatment for the disorder mirrors the treatments used for children with the
condition. The first step you need to take if you suspect you may have an adult
attention deficit condition is to see a doctor. There are other disorders that
can mimic an adult attention deficit condition, such as anxiety,
obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, or bipolar disorder, and it is
important that these be ruled out before trying treatments.

Most health professionals will agree that there are also a number of
non-medication based steps you can take to alleviate some of your symptoms.
Getting regular vigorous exercise has been shown to help a lot of people with
ADD. Also a diet high in lean protein is recommended. Keeping lists, writing
notes, breaking large tasks down into smaller parts and taking other similar
steps to counter your disorder will certainly help as well. Medication is also
another option. Talk with your doctor and decide together what method is best
for you.

Addiction and Personality Disorder

Substance abuse and dependence (alcoholism, drug addiction) is only one form of
recurrent and self-defeating pattern of misconduct. People are addicted to all
kinds of things: gambling, shopping, the Internet, reckless and
life-endangering pursuits. Adrenaline junkies abound.

The connection between chronic anxiety, pathological narcissism, depression,
obsessive-compulsive traits and alcoholism and drug abuse is well established
and common in clinical practice. But not all narcissists, compulsives,
depressives, and anxious people turn to the bottle or the needle.

Frequent claims of finding a gene complex responsible for alcoholism have been
consistently cast in doubt. In 1993, Berman and Noble suggested that addictive
and reckless behaviors are mere emergent phenomena and may be linked to other,
more fundamental traits, such as novelty seeking or risk taking. Psychopaths
(patients with Antisocial Personality Disorder) have both qualities in ample
quantities. We would expect them, therefore, to heavily abuse alcohol and
drugs. Indeed, as Lewis and Bucholz convincingly demonstrated in 1991, they do.
Still, only a negligible minority of alcoholics and drug addicts are psychopaths.

What has been determined is that most addicts are narcisstic in personality.
Addictions serve his purpose. They place him above the laws and pressures of
the mundane and away from the humiliating and sobering demands of reality. They
render him the center of attention -- but also place him in "splendid isolation"
from the maddening and inferior crowd.

Such compulsory and wild pursuits provide a psychological exoskeleton. They are
a substitute to quotidian existence. They afford the narcissist with an agenda,
with timetables, goals, and faux achievements. The narcissist -- the adrenaline
junkie -- feels that he is in control, alert, excited, and vital. He does not
regard his condition as dependence. The narcissist firmly believes that he is
in charge of his addiction that he can quit at will and on short notice.

Abilify

More than two million people within the United States suffer from
schizophrenia, a chemical imbalance within the brain. Schizophrenia has a
variety of symptoms that have a direct effect on the ability to relate with
others, make decisions, manage emotions, and have clear trains of thought. If
you are one of the many people in the nation suffering from schizophrenia, you
should talk to your physician about Abilify.

Abilify can help in reducing a number of symptoms experienced by
schizophrenics. For example, taking Abilify can help you regain interest again
in things you once loved. It can also clear your mind leaving you less you
confused and free from disturbing or uncomfortable thoughts and could prevent
hallucinations.

When taking Abilify, you could start feeling better in as little as one to two
weeks. However, no two people are the same, and every person reacts differently
to medications, therefore, it is important to keep taking the medicine even if
you do not start to feel better right away. What is great about Abilify, is
that you can treat schizophrenia without having to cater your day around the
medication. As a once daily medication, you only have to remember one dose and
the rest of the day is yours. Abilify comes in two different forms -- tablet
and oral solution. Tablets come in doses of 5, 10, 15, 20, and 30 milligrams.
The oral solution comes in doses of 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 milliliters.

As with any type of medication, Abilify does come with some possible side
effects. Some common side effects of the schizophrenia medication include
tremors, constipation, restlessness, lightheadedness, and sleepiness. Those
taking Abilify may also experience vomiting, nausea, insomnia, anxiety, and
headaches. In studies, some patients showed some instances of weight gain while
taking Abilify.

Early Sign of Autism

The first signs of autism occur during early infancy and the disorder is
usually diagnosed by the age of three. The autistic symptoms vary from one
patient to another, from mild to severe forms.

The first warning sign is an abnormal response to different stimuli such as
light or sound. Noises may appear painful to the child, smells are
overwhelmingly strong and touches are painful. Loud noises and very bright
lights trigger what is termed "meltdown".

Autistic children are indifferent to their surroundings and are satisfied with
playing and being alone. They show no real interest in toys and are usually
uninterested in interacting with others.

Patients with high functioning autism manage to develop some communication
skills In some instances, words or phrases are used repetitively (echolalia)
and their patterns of speech often lack expression or intonation.

Resisting changes in their routine or repeating an action over and over again
is a part of their daily behavior. In severe distress situations these children
often engage in self-injurious actions like biting or scratching themselves or
banging their heads.

Warning signs in small children include rejection of touch, frequent behavioral
outbursts, inexplicable attachment to some object and disinterest in others.
Autistic children cannot maintain actual eye contact, they do not fear danger
and they show an under sensitivity towards pain.

In spite of all the efforts of parents and teachers, autistic children do not
respond to normal teaching methods and verbal clues. They may give the
impression of being deaf in spite of their normally developed hearing sense.

Signs and symptoms of autism increase in severity during teenage years but seem
to decrease during adulthood.

Recent strides in treatment have made it possible for many autistic children to
improve the quality of their lives dramatically.

Dysthymic Depression

Dysthymic Disorder is a low-grade and yet chronic depression characterized by
feelings of sadness or depression associated with lack of interest to do things
and including some physical symptoms such as lack of energy, sleep, and
concentration.

This is a type of clinical depression that is supposed to be "milder" than
Major Depressive Disorder because the symptoms don't necessarily happen
everyday. Unlike patients who suffer from MDD, Dysthymic patients are not
bed-bound, still able to work, and do not appear to be sick. But most of these
individuals complain that they haven't felt "normal" or "happy" for a long time.

Moreover, Dysthymic Disorder shows itself by lack of drive and motivation.
Hence, relatives and friends tend to misinterpret the person's mood. Some
patients endure the stigma of being considered "lazy" or not "motivated enough"
to do worthwhile goals.

As time passes by, patients with this disorder have difficulty functioning. But
because they still appear normal, the illness is not recognized and patients
don't get treated early. A lot of times, they are not referred to a
psychiatrist.

Patients experience considerable emotional turmoil. In fact, some dysthymic
patients eventually develop a more serious depression called Major Depressive
Disorder. When "double depression" (dysthymic disorder and major depression
occurring together) happens, patients are so depressed that they become a
threat to themselves and become functionally impaired. At this time,
psychiatric hospitalization becomes necessary.

So Dysthymic Disorder is a serious health problem that should be recognized and
treated promptly. It is an illness that somehow hides its existence from
everyone including clinicians and patients themselves.

Dysthymic disorder can be treated by antidepressants and psychotherapy. Most
patients respond to treatment although some still suffer despite adequate
treatment. Also, there are some individuals who only respond minimally. As
such, this illness can be more challenging to treat than others.

Dying to Be Thin

Bulimia, also called bulimia nervosa, is a psychological eating disorder which
mainly hits girls between the ages of 15 to 25. Studies indicate that by their
first year of college, 4.5 to 18 percent of women and 0.4 percent of men have a
history of bulimia.

Bulimia is characterized by episodes of binge eating followed by purging. The
desire for food and candy is very strong and at the same time the person try to
reduce weight. This causes a strong conflict between the desire to eat and the
desire to reduce weight.

To cope with the conflict they use inappropriate methods of weight control
including vomiting, fasting, enemas, excessive use of laxatives and diuretics,
or compulsive exercising. A period of binge eating produces strong feelings of
guilt.

For a person with bulimia, self-confidence is strongly dependent on the shape
and weight of the body. There are similarities between anorexia and bulimia
regarding the fear of becoming fat and the desire to reduce weight. It's not
unusual that anorexia often turns into bulimia. Just about half of those with
anorexia will have bulimia nervosa. The conditions overlap.

Studies have shown that disorders in family relations can be one of the factors
that contributes to bulimia. Difficult periods of time or changes like puberty,
death in the family or other family crisis can cause bulimia nervosa. The
teenager feels she can't control her world, but can control her weight.
Considering many of those with bulimia are perfectionists, they carry the
weight control to the extreme.

Bulimia nervosa can cause severe medical complications. There is a risk for
damages that will become permanent. These can include damages to the heart,
lungs and other major organs. It is yet unknown if bulimia can damage the brain
in any way. If untreated, bulimia can lead to death.

What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety disorder symptoms can vary. Some individuals may only suffer
from a specific fear such as eating or drinking, speaking, or writing if others
are around or watching. Some people have a fear or going to the bathroom in a
public restroom. Other people are fearful in all social situations and are
never comfortable.

The normal daily activities that most people take for granted are so horrifying
and worrisome it can be physically debilitating. This illness can cause people
to miss work or school if they fear they will have to get up and be seen or
noticed. Many persons with social phobia may have problems with relationships
and can find it very difficult to meet and keep friends. Even when the person
has friends they may not be able to enjoy going out with them or being with
them in large crowds of other people who might be less known. Five of the most
common symptoms are:

* Blushing often in social situations. 
* Profuse sweating when anxious. 
* Trembling when approached or spoke to. 
* Nausea as anxiety increases and possibly vomiting. 
* Extreme difficulty talking.

This disorder affects approximately 5.3 million American adults with men and
women being affected equally. Social phobia usually starts to develop in
childhood or the early teens. There is belief that social anxiety disorder can
also be hereditary so if a family member has it you are at a higher risk of
developing it.

Because of the nature and the severity of the anxiety people with this disorder
have a higher risk of self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to try to relax and
calm down. This only leads to worse problems and possibly addiction. To treat
this disease one needs to see a doctor and seek psychotherapy and/or
medications.

Men and Depression

Men and women suffer depression almost equally. Men, however, are taught that
any need for help shows weakness. They are, however, at greater risk for
depression-related illnesses and suicide because they hide what is going on
from everyone, often even denying it to themselves.

Most men hide their depression by trying to cover their feelings. They most
often do this with drugs, alcohol, sex, or work. Depression shows in men not as
helpless or hopeless, but as angry, frustrated, and other aggressive feelings.
Men are less likely to seek treatment than women and they are less likely to
admit that they have a problem.

Depression and men is a silent battle that barely makes a rumble until the
battle is over. The drugs and the smiles and the carrying on and acting hide
many of the typical signs of depression from others. It's hard to pick up on
the signs of depression if you are close to the person, and it's even harder if
they are trying to cover the feelings up.

If you notice that a loved one is showing any of the typical depression signs
like oversleeping or not sleeping, tension, or uncontrollable anger (in the
case of men) you should address the topic and let the person know that you care
about them and that you are ready to listen when they are ready to talk. It's
important not to push the issue and just let things run their course with men.

If you are a man who is depressed, there are a few things you can do to help
yourself:

* Talk about how you feel 
* Stay active (Find an activity that you enjoy) 
* Give yourself a break to do something you enjoy 
* Find a way to relax at the end of a busy day 
* Try to eat properly.

Loving Someone With OCD

Have you seen a person who consumes a considerable amount of time in ensuring
that she or he has really turned off the light? Or has spent hours in just
securing the door lock before bedtime? Or perhaps, your loved one, who
perpetually cooks the pizza in a microwave oven, making sure that it's really
well done? These could be signs that a person is suffering from OCD.

Latest advancement in medical research asserts that the problem lies in the
sufferer's impaired amygdala, the human brain's center for basic emotions,
including fear. Generally, the patient is aware of her or his behavior's
irrationality. The sufferer may or may not be aware that something is amiss, or
that the irrationality is a disease in itself. The amygdala of the person
suffering with OCD is believed to be misbehaving.

The question now is, what if this person is your girlfriend, wife, boyfriend or
husband. This somewhat odd behavior surely sets the stage for strains in a
relationship. Is it worth it? Does OCD and relationships really work?

Like the amygdala itself, the relationship of non-sufferer with a person
suffering from OCD, is always on the verge of misfiring. The non-sufferer feels
perpetually uncomfortable or awkward trying to understand a peculiar behavior on
display.

The OCD sufferer may feel a great degree of desperation, knowing that their
loved ones really have a hard time understanding them.

From this perspective, both the OCD and non-OCD persons suffer. Multiply a
singular instance of this friction between those involved. The pressure is
immense, with both the parties. But, taken from a different perspective, living
with person suffering from OCD can be blessing. A stable relationship with an
OCD may be an opportunity to reflect on the things we consider important,
things that we cherish. This relationship, will not only challenge our
traditional concept of loving relationship, but will challenge us to understand
the meaning of a committed relationship.

Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder

Giving unconditional love for bipolar disorder patients is a tough job. If you
do not understand what is happening to your loved one, then you will have
difficulty relating to them.

Do not think of the illness as humiliation. If you will feel ashamed of your
loved one because he is inflicted with such illness, then you are not helping
him restore his good health, instead you are letting him do worse than expected.

Trust is essential to individuals with Bipolar disorder. They need you to trust
them, not entrust them to other people or institutions such as the psychiatrists
or an asylum. To build up trust, an open and honest communication is needed.
Keep the communication line open. An open and honest communication is vital.
Encourage your loved one to talk about what he thinks and feels. Let him
suggest ways on how you are supposed to relate to him.

Do not suppress what you feel. However, there are positive ways to let your
loved know how you feel. It is recommended that you avoid nagging, preaching or
lecturing an individual with Bipolar disorder. Such negative actions will drive
him to detach. If you are concerned about him, let him see how concerned you
are in a gentle and encouraging manner.

Let him do things his way. Along with trust and communication, let the person
experience what he can do for himself. Let him solve problems if he can find
solutions. Let him live the way he is supposed to live. By that, he will feel
that he is important and has a good reason why he lives.

Be there. Although you allow him to do his own way, it does not mean that you
will not be there when he needs you to. Let him do things his way but make sure
that you are around to give assistance when needed.

Most importantly, apart from assistance, you need to offer your love,
understanding and support.

Histrionic Personality Disorder

Histrionics resemble narcissists -- both seek attention compulsively and are
markedly dysphoric and uncomfortable when not at the center of attention. They
have to be the life of the party. If they fail in achieving this pivotal role,
they act out or create hysterical scenes.

The histrionic is preoccupied with physical appearance, sexual conquests, her
health, and her body. The typical histrionic spends huge dollops of money and
expends inordinate amounts of time on grooming. Histrionics fish for
compliments and are upset when confronted with criticism or proof that they are
not as glamorous or alluring as they think they are.

Histrionics sexualize everyone and every situation. They constantly act
flirtatious, provocative, and seductive, even when such behavior is not
warranted by circumstances or, worse still, is highly inappropriate. Such
conduct is often ill received. People usually find this unabashed directness
and undisguised hunger for approval annoying, or outright repulsive.
Consequently, histrionics are sometimes subject to social censure and ostracism.

The histrionics' intensity and unpredictability are exhausting. The
histrionic's nearest and dearest are often embarrassed by her unbridled display
of emotions: hugging casual acquaintances, uncontrollable sobbing in public, or
having temper tantrums. The histrionic's behavior is so off-color that she is
typically accused of being a fake.

Concerned only with the latest conquest, the histrionic uses her physical
appearance and attire as a kind of conscious bait. It is ironic that
histrionics often mistake the depth, durability, and intimacy of their
relationships and are devastated by their inevitable premature termination.

Histrionics are the quintessential drama queens. They are theatrical, their
emotions exaggerated to the point of a caricature, their gestures sweeping,
disproportional, and inappropriate. The histrionic is easily suggestible and
responds instantly and fully to the slightest change in circumstances and to
the most meaningless communication or behavior by others.

Herbs That Help With Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common of all mental health disorders.
Fortunately, anxiety disorder is highly treatable, and with professional help,
it can often be completely overcome. Many times, successful treatment depends
only upon individual or group therapy and learned relaxation techniques. In
some cases, however, anti-anxiety prescription medication is also recommended.
Medications can carry a risk of alarming side effects and can be highly
addictive, spurring many people to seek safer, more natural alternatives.

There are many natural herbs for anxiety, which have been proven to effectively
ease many of the symptoms of with a very low risk of side effects. Just as with
prescription medications, everyone reacts differently to natural medications,
and it can take time to find the right combination and dosage for your body.

Passionflower -- an ingredient that is often used in natural medicine,
alleviates hyperactivity, anxiety, insomnia, nervous tension -- and is even
sometimes used to treat Parkinson's Disease. Passion flower soothes and calms
and can lower high blood pressure.

Lemon balm -- a general restorative for the nervous system, can reduce blood
pressure and also calm the digestive system.

Lavender -- an excellent anxiety treatment and one of the best natural panic
attack treatments. Lavender is a general tonic for the nervous system and a
natural relaxant.

Valerian -- a popular natural ingredient that can be used as a sedative and a
painkiller. It is often effectively employed as a treatment for anxiety and for
insomnia, as well.

You may find that with psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation
exercises or support groups, or some combination of all of them, you do not
need any medication. But if you do decide to explore the option of medication,
natural treatments for anxiety can provide you with safe, effective results,
without the risk of side effects that prescription medications pose. Natural
medications are becoming increasingly popular as awareness of them grows, and
you might find that they are the right treatment for you as well.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized anxiety disorder affects approximately three percent of the
population. There are no real triggers for generalized anxiety disorder.
Sometimes it can affect a person without them knowing. The feeling of worry and
anxiety will start to creep into the person's head and they are unable to stop,
despite all indications the worry is unnecessary.

People who experience generalized anxiety disorder usually expect the worse
case scenario. It prevents them from relaxing and can cause insomnia, fatigue,
headaches, irritability and trembling. This anxiety disorder affects nearly
four million people each year and often hits people in their childhood or
adolescence but can first appear in adulthood. It affects women more than men.

Generalized anxiety disorder is just one of six different anxiety disorders and
can be categorized in the following groups: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic
Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive
Anxiety Disorder and Phobia Related Anxiety Disorder GAD along with the other 5
disorders is treatable and should be looked at by a professional therapist as
soon as possible. There are two main types of recommended therapy, cognitive
and behavioral therapy. Cognitive therapy is focused on changing one's mental
state by helping the brain relearn its thinking process. It can help with long
term treatment because changing the way a person thinks can affect their out
come tremendously.

Behavioral therapy is a more in your face type of treatment. It involves
confronting a person's fears. The purpose to this is to help a person talk
about their problems until they become desensitized from the fear or anxiety by
describing in detail how they feel.

Whichever method a person chooses, treatment for generalized anxiety disorder
will help the person live a fuller, more enjoyable life. A life free on
unnecessary worry and fear is possible with time and effort.

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.

Remembering the Terror

A form of anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is sometimes
formed after someone has experienced a very terrifying ordeal, usually where
serious physical damage could or did occur to the person involved.

Events that can trigger PTSD to occur include violent attacks on people e.g.
muggings, rape, human caused or natural disasters, and military combat. Once
someone has PTSD they often find it to be hugely disabling.

In terms of PTSD symptoms, those affected tend to re-experience the worst parts
of their horrible past in the form of memory flashbacks and nightmares/
frightening thoughts. Other symptoms of PTSD are numbness to emotions,
depression, poor sleeping ability, anxiety, and outbursts of anger and general
irritability. Powerful emotions of guilt are also common. If symptoms like
these endure for over one month PTSD can then be diagnosed.

PTSD can affect any age, from children right through to the elderly. Symptoms
are likely to show themselves within three months of a particular traumatic
event. Once apparent this illnesses duration and severity are variable, lasting
from just six months to many years.

Other problems can sometime become associated with PTSD, e.g. alcoholism,
substance abuse, co-occurring depression and other types of anxiety disorder.

Gastrointestinal complaints, dizziness, problems with the patient's immune
system, headaches or chest pains, amongst numerous other possible bodily
ailments are not unusual. What is important is that quick, effective diagnosis
and treatment of these conditions occurs, so as to provide the best chance of
treatment success.

Individuals more open to developing PTSD are those that have suffered abuse
when a child or people who've undergone highly traumatic experiences. Today's
society is becoming increasingly terror-filled.

Research has made treatment of this disorder more available. It is possible
that in the near future, a standardized treatment model will be produced that
can end the suffering of many who suffer PTSD.

Rapid Cycling in Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder by itself is a condition in which its sufferers cycle between
two poles of mental instability; mania and depression. Rapid cycling occurs
when the sufferer shifts quickly between the two states with little to no
warning.

Because it is one of the most serious forms of bipolar disorder the prognosis
for anyone afflicted with rapid cycling bipolar disorder is not always good.
The mental health and brain function of people with this condition is highly
compromised because of the rate at which they go from mania to depression and
back again. Treating this condition is also difficult.

In order to make a rapid cycling diagnosis the patient will have to meet the
standards set forth in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental
Disorders IV-TR which states that the patient must have at least four episodes
of depression and mania/hypomania in a one year period.

Some people with rapid cycling bipolar disorder are asymptomatic, meaning they
have periods when they exhibit neither of the cycles associated with this
disorder. This does not diminish their need to effectively deal with their
condition because when the mania and depression do hit it can be severe enough
to be life threatening.

The more troubling side of this disorder is those who have little to no time
between normalcy and a depressive or manic episode. Without proper mental
health help people who suffer from this extreme can be a danger to themselves
and others.

It is also possible that those who suffer from rapid cycling bipolar disorder
will also partake in risky behavior. Drug and alcohol abuse is not out of the
question particularly for those who like to self medicate. This can actually
make the symptoms much worse and cause the cycling between the two extremes to
happen at an even faster pace.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

One thing that is coming up more than ever is the condition called Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some were aware of it before this became the
common name and remember it as shell shock. It starts with events that are so
traumatic for those suffering, that they can't deal with it all at once, and
shouldn't be expected too. In wars, many soldiers experience horrors that were
extremely beyond anything they could ever prepare for. This has been a strongly
noticed issue on the rise since the many soldiers returned home from the Vietnam
War.

Many have experienced post traumatic stress disorder from acts of violence
around crime scenes, devastating losses, repeated abuses beyond imagination,
and yet many more situations. The key factor often being the result is severely
traumatizing to them.

Whatever the cause, untreated, those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stand
to deal with many side effects including sleep trouble, anxiety, depression,
flashbacks, and even blackouts when these occur. While they came back, the
issues of their trauma are still buried deep in their mind in full force. One
of the more extreme side effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is another
disorder called Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), in which studies indicate
all cases have PTSD as well. Split personalities seem to be one of the ways the
human mind can deal with the trauma hidden back in.

One thing that will definitely be necessary when treating Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder is unraveling the layers of emotional feelings, fears and other things
that may have long been hidden and attempted forgotten. Learning to deal with
these feelings and fears is the most important thing. Being able to find
someone they can open up to about them and get the word out of their head will
indeed bring long-term progress .

Panic Attacks

Almost two percent of adult Americans, or three million people, will have panic
disorder at some time in their lives. Panic disorder is a serious health problem
and is very different from other types of anxiety. Panic attacks are sudden,
appear to be unprovoked, and are often disabling. If you have panic disorder,
you may feel suddenly terrified for no reason. During a panic attack, you also
have scary physical feelings like a fast heartbeat, trouble breathing, or
dizziness. Some people believe they are having a heart attack.

Panic attacks can happen at any time and any place without warning. Many people
with panic disorder develop intense anxiety between episodes. It is not unusual
for a person with panic disorder to develop phobias about places or situations
where panic attacks have occurred, such as in supermarkets or other everyday
situations.

Panic attacks often begin when people are young adults, around 18 to 24 years
old. Sometimes they start when a person is under a lot of stress, for example
after the death of a loved one or after having a baby. Anyone can have panic
disorder, but more women than men have the illness. It sometimes runs in
families.

Speaking to a specially trained doctor or counselor who can teach you ways to
cope with your panic attacks helps many people with panic disorder. Therapy
will help you feel less afraid and anxious. Thanks to research, there are a
variety of treatments available, including several effective medications, and
also specific forms of psychotherapy. Often, a combination of psychotherapy and
medications produces good results.

It is extremely important for a person suffering from panic disorder to
understand that help is available. Tragically, many people with panic disorder
do not seek or receive treatment. The physical toll this takes adds to the
problem.

No Need to Hide

The stigma often associated with manic depression and other mental disorders is
very real. Many people with bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses are
afraid to share their condition with other people for fear of ridicule or
judgment.

The stigma is so real in fact many will avoid telling friends or family of
their mental condition. Many people with bipolar disorder face stigma and
discomfort from well-meaning friends and family members that don't really
understand bipolar disorder.

It is common for patients with bipolar disorder to feel misunderstood.
Unfortunately even many health care providers carry with them a biased attitude
toward bipolar patients. Many have a difficult time focusing on the real reason
a person is in their office. Instead they focus on the mental health issue.

Here are some small steps patients and family members can take to help overcome
the stigma associated with mental illness.

* Always accept your condition for what it is. 
* Never attempt to hide your condition for fear that others will be un-accepting 
  or misunderstand you. 
* Educate friends and family. Direct them to a number of sites that help explain
  bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. Great reference sites include the
  National Alliance on Mental Illness. 
* Confidently explain that one if five people suffers from some form of menta
* One out of every five of your friends, acquaintances or associates likely 
  suffers from some form of mental illness.

- Use support groups to help bolster your self-confidence and promote your inner
peace and well-being.

- Remember to always hold your head high with dignity and respect. Never accept
less than the utmost respect when consulting with friends, family or your doctor.

Sleep and Mood

Drugs, stressful situations, and even excessive noise can affect daily body
rhythms and moods. An irregular living schedule can aggravate mood disorders.
The old-fashioned sanitarium rest cure was effective with the "nervous" because
it put the patient on a regular schedule of sleep, activity, and meals. Below
are some kinds of sleep disturbances that can make mood disorder worse.

Insomnia

A person suffering from insomnia has difficulty initiating or maintaining
normal sleep, which can result in non-restorative sleep and impairment of
daytime functioning. Insomnia includes sleeping too little, difficulty falling
asleep, awakening frequently during the night, or waking up early and being
unable to get back to sleep. It is characteristic of many mental and physical
disorders. Those with depression, for example, may experience overwhelming
feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt, all of which can
interrupt sleep. Hypomanics, on the other hand, can be so aroused that getting
quality sleep is virtually impossible without medication.

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

This is the most common circadian-rhythm sleep disorder that results in
insomnia and daytime sleepiness, or somnolence. A short circuit between a
person's biological clock and the 24-hour day causes this sleep disorder. It is
commonly found in those with mild or major depression. In addition, certain
medications used to treat bipolar disorder may disrupt the sleep-wake cycle.

REM Sleep Abnormalities

REM sleep abnormalities have been implicated by doctors in a variety of
psychiatric disorders, including depression, posttraumatic stress disorder,
some forms of schizophrenia, and other disorders in which psychosis occurs.

Irregular Sleep-Wake Schedule

This sleep disorder is yet another problem that many with Bipolar II experience
and in large part results from a lack of lifestyle scheduling. Bipolar drug
abusers and/or alcoholics who stay awake all night searching for similar
addicts and engaging in drug-seeking behavior, which results in sleeping the
next day, usually experience the reverse sleep-wake cycle.

Seroquel

Seroquel is a prescription medication categorized as psychotropic medication.
It is used as a treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar mania.

Seroquel is not for everyone. If you have or have a history of liver problems,
heart related problems, high triglycerides or cholesterol, Alzheimer's disease,
epilepsy, seizures, or hypothyroidism, Seroquel may not be right for you.
Furthermore, those who are currently pregnant, breastfeeding, or may become
pregnant while taking Seroquel, should not take the medication because the
effects on an unborn baby or if the medication will pass to the baby through
the breast milk.

Seroquel, a tablet oral medication, is usually prescribed in doses taken three
to four times daily. It can be taken with meals or without and should always
include a full glass of water with each dose.

While taking Seroquel, there are three things you most need to be aware of.
This medication has the possibility of causing drowsiness or dizziness in the
patient, which could result in dangerous outcomes. You should avoid alcohol
consumption; alcohol can increase the likelihood of some side effects such as
dizziness or drowsiness. While taking Seroquel, avoid exercising and activity
in extremely hot weather. Seroquel could cause dangerous dehydration and should
be closely watched during hot summer days.

Some common side effects of Seroquel include constipation, agitation, weight
gain, and dry mouth. Instances of any breathing difficulties, tongue swelling,
hives, face swelling, lip swelling, and throat closing could all be signs of an
allergic reaction and should be immediately reported to a doctor or emergency
room. Furthermore, if the patient notices any type of uncontrolled body
movements, specifically within the legs, arms, jaw, cheeks, tongue, and mouth,
a doctor should be seen right away.

Seroquel has been shown to be very effective on the disorders it is used for
and the side effects are rare.

Seasonal Affective Disorder or "SAD" is a common type of depression that
affects some people during the change of seasons when there is less or no
sunlight. This is a condition that's really not understood by doctors, but it's
thought to be related to the amounts of melatonin and serotonin in your body.
It's believed that a chemical imbalance occurs which is caused by a lack of
sunlight. This is most common in the months of September through April. There
are some things that can be helpful to individuals that suffer from this
condition. Below are a few things that you can do.

Exercise has been proven to work for many people. Really get out there and
working up a sweat. Make certain to stretch your entire body very well before
and after you exercise. This will reduce soreness and also reduce your risk of
injury.

Increase the light. Whether it's outside for physical activity or turning
lights on inside the house, get yourself into the light. Sitting next to a
bright lamp, especially a full-spectrum light bulb, will help trigger chemicals
in your body to lift your mood. Open the blinds and let light into the house
(unless it's dreary outside). Sit in the sunshine streaming through the window.

As a final resort you may want to try antidepressant medication. There is
nothing wrong with needing a little help from time to time. Talk with your
doctor and you will realize you
are not alone in this.

Although this type of depression can be difficult to deal with, it can be
manageable with the proper care and activities. Find a new hobby, take a class
or volunteer. Anything that makes you feel happy will help lift you out of the
dreary mood and get you back on track. The sun will shine again.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a brain illness that affects one percent of the people all
over the world. The persons can be young or older, women or men, it doesn't
matter. It's diagnosis can be more difficult than it might seem because the
symptoms of schizophrenia can be similar at times to other major brain
disorders such as bipolar disorder or even major depression.

Schizophrenia is characterized by a disruption in cognition and emotion,
affecting the most fundamental human attributes: language, thought, perception,
affect, and sense of self. The entire sense of self is changed when a person is
schizophrenic.

Schizophrenia symptoms are divided into three categories: positive symptoms,
disorganized symptoms, and negative symptoms.

The most common symptom is delusions -- patients think that they are somebody
other than themselves, often someone famous. Hallucinations follow close behind
in frequency. These can be hearing things nobody else does, seeing things that
aren't there, or even smelling and feeling something that nobody else does.

Disorganized thinking and disorganized speech are also present in people with
schizophrenia. Other disorganized symptoms are: difficulty understanding, poor
concentration, poor memory, difficulty expressing thoughts, difficulty
integrating thoughts, feelings and behavior.

Catatonic behavior is a characterized by stupor/inactivity. The person with
this can stand still for a long period of time, staring at something, and
nothing will disturb him or cause him to change position.

Negative symptoms include: lack of emotion, the inability to enjoy activities
as much as before, low energy (the person sits around and sleeps much more than
normal) lack of interest in life and low motivation.

Schizophrenia is one of the more serious mental disorders. It can, with proper
treatment, be controlled. The main thing is to make sure medication is not
discontinued. This so often happens in schizophrenic patients who do not have
anyone keeping track of things like medication.

Creativity and Bipolar Disorder

Almost since the beginning of time, human beings have recognized the connection
between intelligence or creativity and mental illness. Consider the way these
individuals are portrayed in movies and books, for instance -- the mad
scientist working day and night in his laboratory, the hallucinating artist who
doesn't even take time out from his creative work to eat.

Researchers have noted that an unusually high number of creative geniuses
suffered from bipolar disorder. The reason Bipolar may bring about this
increase in creative abilities is linked to the nature of the disease. One
symptom of mania is an increase in creative, mental and physical energy. This
might explain why these people were able create such works of genius, and why
they were able to devote such concentrated periods of time to their work.

These creative geniuses included novelist Virginia Woolf, who brought us
numerous first rate novels. Poet Sylvia Plath also suffered from the mood
swings associated with Bipolar disorder. Musician and composer Ludwig van
Beethoven is also believed to have suffered from Bipolar Disorder. Perhaps best
known for her role as the Southern belle Scarlet O'Hara in Gone with the Wind,
actress Vivien Leigh was also plagued with Bipolar Disorder. Despite the
disease and the shock therapy she was given as the treatment in those days.

Painter Vincent Van Gogh is also said to have suffered from Bipolar disorder.
His most loved painting Starry Night was painted while Van Gogh was in a mental
asylum for treatment of his erratic moods.

While every person with bipolar disorder may not create lasting works of art or
literature, there is a higher percentage of artists and writers who are bipolar.
So does the emotional instability of bipolar disorder bring about genius? We may
one day know the answer for sure.

Conduct Disorder

Children and adolescents with conduct disorder are budding psychopaths.

They repeatedly and deliberately -- and often with great joy -violate the
rights of others and breach age-appropriate social norms and rules. Some of
them gleefully hurt and torture people or, more frequently, animals. Others
damage property. Yet others habitually deceive, lie, and steal. These behaviors
inevitably render them socially, occupationally, and academically dysfunctional.
They are poor performers at home, in school, and in the community. As such
adolescents grow up, and beyond the age of 18, the diagnosis automatically
changes from Conduct Disorder to the Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Children with Conduct Disorder are masters of denial. They tend to minimize
their problems and blame others for their misbehavior and failures. This
shifting of guilt justifies, as far as they are concerned, their invariably and
pervasively aggressive, bullying, intimidating, and menacing gestures and
tantrums.

Adolescents with Conduct Disorder are often embroiled in fights, both verbal
and physical. They frequently use weapons, purchased or improvised (for
example, broken glass) and they are cruel. Many underage muggers,
extortionists, purse-snatchers, rapists, robbers, shoplifters, burglars,
arsonists, vandals, and animal torturers are diagnosed with Conduct Disorder.

Conduct Disorder comes in many shapes and forms. Some adolescents are
"cerebral" rather than physical. These are likely to act as con-artists, lie
their way out of awkward situations, swindle everyone, their parents and
teachers included, and forge documents to erase debts or obtain material
benefits.

Conduct-disordered children and adolescents find it difficult to abide by any
rules and to honor agreements. They regard societal norms as onerous
impositions. They stay out late at night, run away from home, are truant from
school, or absent from work without good cause.

Some adolescents with Conduct Disorder have been also diagnosed with
Oppositional Defiant Disorder and at least one personality disorder

Combined-Type ADHD

In the category of hyperactivity/impulsivity, an individual must have six or
more of the following symptoms: often fidgets while sitting, often leaves seat
in structure setting, often runs around inappropriately (restlessness), often
has trouble playing quietly, often talks excessively, often blurts out answers
before question completed, often has difficulty waiting turn and often
interrupts or intrudes on others. Some of these symptoms must have present
before the age of seven, and they must have lasted for at least six months.

In the category of inattention, an individual must have six or more of the
following symptoms: often makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work and other
activities, often has difficulty keeping attention sustained in task or play
activities, often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly, often has
difficulty organizing tasks and activities, often avoids and dislikes tasks
that require sustained mental effort, often loses things that are necessary for
everyday life, often is easily distracted by extraneous stimuli and often is
forgetful in daily activities. Some of these symptoms must have been present
before the age of seven, and they must have lasted at least six months.

The combined type of ADHD is actually the most common among ADHD sufferers.
They are also the individuals most at risk for other negative problems in their
lives due to the nature of the disorder. First of all, children with Combined
Type ADHD have higher rates of conduct disorder. Parents who have a child with
this type must constantly be on the lookout for problems in other arenas of
their lives besides specific symptoms of ADHD. Just keep in mind that problems
in the emotional, psychological and social domains are a result of a response
to having ADHD, and not the disorder itself. The way your child acts can be
changed with time and work.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety disorder may be easily misdiagnosed or even be mistaken as a
form of shyness. Having said that, many sufferers of social anxiety are not
even aware that they are experiencing an anxiety disorder. Approximately seven
percent of the population suffers from social anxiety. Recent years have shown
progress in treating this type of disorder.

Social anxiety can be defined as fear of social occasions and situations and
the interaction with people due to feelings of negative evaluation, inadequacy,
embarrassment, humiliation and self-consciousness. This form of phobia provoked
by the social situations exceeds the ordinary shyness when it ultimately leads
to complete or excessive social avoidance and invariably causing substantial
social impairment. People with this disorder are often the world's loners.

The physical symptoms of social anxiety disorder are associated with two or
more of the signs that are caused by persistent fear or worry, negative feeling
of embarrassment and humiliation such as restlessness, feeling of fatigue,
trembling and sweaty palms, lack of focus, muscle tension or sleep disturbance.
There is a high possibility when you experience irritability, shortness of
breath and intense anxiety and worry that suggest that you are suffering from a
social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety symptoms closely resemble ordinary
shyness but they can be differentiated in terms of the intensity and extreme
experience of anxiety and tension.

In the early stages of the disorder, it is critical to receive the appropriate
medical intervention by drug-based medication or non-drug based methods or
combination of both. Alternative medicines have also recently grown in
popularity, of which therapy is often used widely for healing social anxiety.
There are no clear guidelines on the best course of treatment. It may take
several attempts and method or prescription changes to find the one that works
for you.

What is a Mood Disorder?

Mood disorder has become a bit of a generic term when discussing mental health.
In reality, the term mood disorder refers to one of two specific conditions:
depression or Bipolar Disorder.

Many people refer to feeling sad or disappointed as "being depressed". This is
a factually incorrect description. Depression is, in part, a chronic change in
one's mood, outlook, or behavior. Normal sadness and disappointment don't
linger on for weeks at a time.

Bipolar Disorder is a swing between feeling euphoric mania, and major
depression. Bipolar Disorder can have a severe impact on the lives of people
inflicted with it, as the euphoric mania stage sometimes results in excessive,
irresponsible behavior -- spending a great deal of money unwisely, for
instance, or inappropriately interjecting oneself into certain situations --
while the major depressive stage can leave a person almost completely
incapacitated, and sometimes leads to a suicide attempt.

Having anxiety is quite a different scenario than having Bipolar Disorder.
Anxiety is, generally speaking, feeling emotionally overwhelmed and/or
extremely fearful, be it most of the time, or only in certain situations. The
person with anxiety may feel as though they aren't in control, but an anxious
person typically isn't going to engage in public displays of irrational or
unreasonable behavior like someone with Bipolar Disorder may. Interestingly
enough, this fear of becoming mentally ill is typically an indication that one
is not mentally ill at all, as most people who are truly mentally ill consider
themselves to be normal and healthy, and may even react hostilely to anyone
suggesting otherwise.

While using the term mood disorder when one really means anxiety may just be a
case of semantics, it is important to differentiate between various emotional
and psychological conditions, if for no other reason than to ensure proper
treatment.

Types of Self-Injury

The most common form of self-injury is actually cutting yourself. There are
many reasons this may occur. One is the feeling of guilt over a certain event
that happened recently or even years back. Sometime stress is so intense then
the person's only resort is to divert it into physical pain. Another reason
could be for mere pleasure. The episode of mania causes the patient to have
excessive energy and forcing it out through self-injury is one way to prove it.

Another way to punish one self is by wearing inappropriate clothing for a
particular season or climate. One reason why a patient wears thick clothing
during warm weather is to conceal an object or possible even just themselves,
shielding them from the world.

In some cultures, piercing and tattooing are forms of spiritual conversion.
Other people on the other hand consider these acts as self-expression. While
these reasons are widely acceptable to many, piercing and tattooing can still
be considered as ways of injuring one's self. Sometimes, these self-mutilations
(others call it transformation) become so addictive and so uncontrollable that
they become two entirely different problems.

A patient with one or more painful experiences of abuse can reenact those times
if they remain unprocessed or untreated. There are two possible reasons why a
person does this. One is to let others know that they are still hurting, and
the other is to let him or her experience the pain all over again as a gesture
of guilt and unforgiveness.

These acts are clear manifestations of the intention to harm and can lead to
suicide. If you know someone who is depressed and does this, carefully approach
the patient and suggest that he or she should consult a psychiatrist. If in case
you are the one who is practicing these acts, recognize your condition and seek
psychological treatment immediately.

Two Herbs that Help with mental distress

We often here of how well plants, especially herbs, can help increase the
effectiveness of the body's immune system. Mental distress is often caused by
an imbalance in part of the brain. While no herbs can completely cure a mental
disorder, there are some that can help alleviate the most distressful symptoms.

Following are two herbs commonly used in India that have shown great promise in
relieving the distress caused by emotional disorders.

Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) Commonly known as Indian Pennywort is generally found
everywhere in India especially above 4000 ft. of height. This herb is most
extensively used in Indian. Good results have also been found in epilepsy
attacks. Its action as a non-sedative tranquilizer has made it a drug that can
be used in anxiety and hypertension. Whole plant part is used in preparing
medicines.

Ashwagandha (withania somnifera) commonly called winter cherry is one of the
herbs that produce wonderful results in problems caused by the nervous system,
circulatory system and joint related problems. Ashwagandha plays a major role
in suppressing anxiety and hypertension. It has proved very affective in
relieving stress and stress related problems. It has given wonderful results in
joint pains and arthritic conditions. It has also proven its worth in improving
body immunity and bodies overall strength to fight against disease. It has also
been found effective in treating weakness and mental fatigue of the body. Good
results in depression and other mental ailments have also been seen. Plant part
used is root. . As with all herbs, it is advisable to discuss taking these with
your doctor before doing so. There is no evidence of adverse side effects, but
a doctor's okay will help avoid any problems that individuals may have, such as
an allergy that may develop.

The Types of Depression

Depression can take many forms. Seasonal affective disorder, clinical
depression, and bipolar depression and postpartum depression are all commonly
diagnosed types of depression. Conditions such as substance abuse or an eating
disorder may be confused with depression, and can make any form of depression
rather hard to diagnose. Other conditions can worsen a case of depression.

The following are some very common forms of depression.

One of the major
types of depression is bipolar depression (also known as manic depressive
illness). Bipolar depression is commonly recognized as someone experiencing
being overly happy, then suddenly becoming horribly depressed.

One of the major types of depression that women are known to suffer from is
postpartum depression. This takes place right after giving birth to a baby.

A common subtype of depression is seasonal affective disorder. This form of
depression seems to be tied to the way people react to the amount of sunlight
that is available to them each day.

A very serious form of the many types of depression is psychotic depression.
Those that suffer from psychotic depression very often hallucinate. This is one
of the most dangerous types of depression and often there is a need for someone
else to jump in and help.

People that seem to be suffering constantly from a mild form of depression are
likely to be suffering from dysthymia.

Another of the many types of depression that are very commonly suffered by
women is atypical depression. Experiencing things like panic attacks,
overeating, and sleeping disturbances commonly mark this form of depression.

No matter which one of the many types of depression you might be suffering
from, knowing the difference between them is the best way to get the best
possible treatment. Discuss any signs of depression with your doctor and work
with him to find the treatment that is best suited for you.

When the Cure Harms

Zoloft is an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor); a prescription drug
that combats depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic
disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), as well as other various
problems. An SSRI works by allowing more serotonin to be released through the
brain. The more seratonin in the brain, the more chance it will be picked up
and carried.

Seratonin is a brain chemical associated with happiness. Between nerve endings
in the brain, there are synapses. All signals in the brain are transmitted
through chemicals being produced then absorbed by one nerve and another. When
these chemicals are released the next nerve either takes them in or the nerve
that released them will re-absorb them and the signal doesn't pass. When this
happens, depression occurs.

Some antidepressants work by blocking the reuptake of Seratonin by the
releasing nerve. That means that more Seratonin stays in the synapse in the
hopes that the new nerve that, in the case of Seratonin, will absorb it.

The problem with Zoloft is that it has been shown to cause a condition known as
akathisia. Akathisia is described as an overwhelming physical and mental
restlessness that often leads people to destructive behavior.

Pfizer, the manufacturer of Zoloft has been charged with purposefully
concealing information they had about the side effects of Zoloft including
akathisia. Pfizer has furthermore been charged with promoting the drug for
off-label use not approved of by the FDA. A few cases of homicide or violent
behavior have used Zoloft induced akathisia as a defense.

If you or a loved on has been affected by Zoloft, find a doctor to see if you
may have one of the serious side effects from the drug which includes
akathisia. If you can tie your health problem to Zoloft you may be able to
pursue your case in court to receive financial compensation

When Fear Paralyzes

General Anxiety Disorder affects roughly 4 to 5 million people of the American
population alone. The symptoms are many and vary from person to person. There
are however a few symptoms that are the same across the board for most people
and which generally characterize their lives and lifestyles. The sufferer will
live in a chronic and exaggerated state of worry and tension most of the time.
Extreme emotions may arise even if there is nothing happening to provoke these
feelings. Symptoms can also induce the sufferer to be always anticipating
disaster.

Although worry is a natural emotion and most of us experience it from time to
time in our daily lives, for the sufferer worry is chronic and most times
pathological. Many times the chronic worrier will let their worries overtake
their world and will sometimes let it go so far as to incapacitate them in
their daily lives.

It can bring on insomnia, panic attacks and depression. Intense anxiety and
fear are also quite common to these symptoms. Other more physical, symptoms
include headaches, diarrhea and nausea, lightheadedness, trembling or
twitching. A palpitating or pounding heart, shortness of breath and trouble
concentrating are also effects that can occur.

Irritability and mood swings, constant tension coupled with the inability to
relax are all General Anxiety Disorder symptoms, and are all contributing
features to other symptoms as well. This vicious cycle can sometimes take its
toll not only on the Disorder sufferer but also on the family of the sufferer.
The pressures of living with a person who suffers from GAD, the inability to
cope with the persistent and sometimes inconsequential worrying, the constant
depression and mood swings can all take their toll. Most families do not
survive too well if someone within the family suffers from this disorder.

When Anxiety Becomes a Personality Disorder

Very severe anxiety can sometimes lead doctors to diagnose people with
personality disorders. Symptoms of the two most prevalent ones are described in
this article.

Anxious (Avoidant) Personality Disorder is characterized by pervasive and
persistent emotions of insecurity, shyness, tension and apprehension. The
person believes they are undeserving, unlikable, and inept socially, and not
that important compared with other people. These feelings often mean the
affected individual avoids relationships unless certain that they are liked by
the other person.

Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder comes in two forms: 'impulsive type'
and 'borderline type', both have the following characteristics: a strong
inability to think and plan ahead in combination with no real self-control and
the occasional sudden outburst of extreme anger. This anger can itself lead to
other behaviors such as violence, particularly if these acts are challenged or
stopped by people in the vicinity.

Impulsive type emotional instability manifests itself with a low level of being
able to control impulses. Violence and threatening behavior are frequent, and
more often than not are direct responses to others criticizing the person
affected.

Borderline type emotional instability can be characterized by strong doubts of
personal aims, image and sexual preferences, leading to upset and distress.
Debilitating feelings of emptiness can promote suicide, or at the very least
self-harming. People get involved in emotionally taut, constrained
relationships which frequently have crises, but which they try to remain in so
as to avoid being abandoned.

As yet the diagnosis of this mental condition is controversial since its causes
and treatments are not fully agreed upon. Certain sufferers benefit from being
emotionally open enough to discuss past difficult and upsetting experiences.
Through airing their problems they become able to better identify the risky
situations and so learn how to then deal with them.

What is Trichotillomania?

It is a compulsive hair-pulling disorder that can lead to permanent hair loss
on the head and can also affect eyebrows and eyelashes. This can be quite
painful for the sufferers who often believe it's 'just their fault'.

This condition may be a learned disorder; therefore suggesting it can be
unlearned. The skin itself, or skin in which hair grows may be conditioned over
a long period of time. This time can be over a person's entire lifetime causing
the person to not know its origins or can arise within as little time as a
year. This conditioning seems to cause the perception of pain to be changed
into pleasure. There has been notice of similar behavioral patterns within a
family, suggesting genetic origin.

Frequent hair pulling can traumatize the follicles on the head and can then
lead to permanent hair loss. This permanent hair loss can make it difficult for
recovered trichotillomaniacs to return to a normal life once cured, but new
treatments can help these patients regain a natural look once again.

Eyelash transplantation, where a new surgical procedure can create new living
and growing eyelashes by transplanting hair from the scalp into the upper
eyelids. Another new method of treatment is that of eyebrow transplantation.
This is a delicate single-follicle transplant procedure that recreates the
eyebrows by imitating the unique growth characteristics of the original hair
follicles. The last method just discovered to be highly effective is that of
Follicular-unit extraction which is a minimally invasive, micro-surgical hair
restoration procedure that uses tiny donor sites to transplant new follicles
into balding areas of the scalp.

All in all, there is now great new hope for the sufferers of this condition and
hopefully people will never have to endure this affliction again once
successfully treated.

Alternative Mental Health Care Solutions

A patient of psychological disorder would usually get his treatments through
medication and services of a mental health institution or facilities. However,
advocates of Complementary and Alternative Medicine believe that there are less
intensive, more holistic approaches that could be rendered to these patients in
conjunction to their medical treatments. While they do not have approved
therapeutic claim and there are no conclusive proofs that these alternatives
really work they have been practiced for years and have yielded significant
positive results in their own fields. Here are the suggested alternative
solutions to mental health care:

Slowing down

Daily stressors contribute to the development of several mental health
disorders. In fact, stress itself is considered as a threat to mental health.
It disrupts sleep, thinking and rest and it usually affects the way we function
everyday. Thus it is suggested to adopt several methods that will help lessen
and manage the negative stressors we are exposed to everyday.

Biofeedback -- This method is normally used in treating mental health disorders
such as phobias, panic and anxiety. This works by controlling the involuntary
muscle functioning such as skin temperature and heart rate and by controlling
muscle tension.

Massage therapy -- This method advances the belief the tapping, rubbing, and
brushing the skin and muscle groups could relieve pent up emotions and internal
tension. People suffering from severe cases of stress and post-traumatic
disorders are usually advised to take get massage therapy regularly.

Visualization -- Another method to lessen tension and stress is to redirect the
perception and the individual techniques on visualization. This works by
entering into a deep state of relaxation where the person could create relaxing
and "friendly" images that will contribute to his well-being and lessen the
occurrence of unwanted thoughts that are detrimental to one's mental health.

Traditional alternative approaches

Ayurdeva -- Imported from Indian Traditional Medicine, Ayurdeva is a holistic
approach to caring your mental health. This seeks balance on the body energies
rather than on the symptoms that affect the body. This system of traditional
treatments includes yoga, a widely practiced alternative solution in the
Western world these days. Yoga makes use of postures, exercises, stretches and
meditation to achieve the balance of body energies.

Native American approaches -- Cleansing rituals and chants are part of the
Indian Health Services Programs that are focused on treating people suffering
from depression, stress-related disorders and anxiety disorders.

Acupuncture -- Used in treating many other ailments in the body, acupuncture is
a traditional Chinese medical approach that could also be used as treatment to
mental disorders. This makes use of needles with various sizes that are
inserted to different pressure points in the body to be able to control its
flow of energy.

Diet and Nutrition

According to studies, diet and nutrition affects the manner by which our brains
work. If it is deprived with certain nutrients, the brain may fail to function
the way it should be.

Vitamin and nutrient intake -- According to some studies, there are specific
vitamins that our brain needs in order to produce other chemicals that are
crucial in maintaining our moods. Also, some vitamins are important in
preventing the development of neurological and degenerative disorders such as
Alzheimer's disease. Thus, proper intake of these vitamins and minerals plus
supplementation of essential nutrients are highly recommended to maintain
mental health.

Mental health care does not only need to include medical treatments, support of
other approaches is also needed to maximize the possibility of patient recovery.

Alternative Methods in Mental Health Care

What are alternative approaches to mental health care? An alternative approach
to mental health care is one that emphasizes the interrelationship between
mind, body, and spirit. Although some alternative approaches have a long
history, many remain controversial. The National Center for Complementary and
Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health was created in 1992
to help evaluate alternative methods of treatment and to integrate those that
are effective into mainstream health care practice. It is crucial, however, to
consult with your health care providers about the approaches you are using to
achieve mental wellness.

Diet and Nutrition -- Adjusting both diet and nutrition may help some people
with mental illnesses manage their symptoms and promote recovery. For example,
research suggests that eliminating milk and wheat products can reduce the
severity of symptoms for some people who have schizophrenia and some children
with autism. Similarly, some holistic/natural physicians use herbal treatments,
B-complex vitamins, riboflavin, magnesium, and thiamine to treat anxiety,
autism, depression, drug-induced psychoses, and hyperactivity.

Pastoral Counseling -- Some people prefer to seek help for mental health
problems from their pastor, rabbi, or priest, rather than from therapists who
are not affiliated with a religious community. Counselors working within
traditional faith communities increasingly are recognizing the need to
incorporate psychotherapy and/or medication, along with prayer and
spirituality, to effectively help some people with mental disorders.

Animal Assisted Therapies -- Working with an animal (or animals) under the
guidance of a health care professional may benefit some people with mental
illness by facilitating positive changes, such as increased empathy and
enhanced socialization skills. Animals can be used as part of group therapy
programs to encourage communication and increase the ability to focus.
Developing self-esteem and reducing loneliness and anxiety are just some
potential benefits of individual-animal therapy (Delta Society, 2002).

Alternative Therapies

Biofeedback: Learning to control muscle tension and "involuntary" body
functioning, such as heart rate and skin temperature, can be a path to
mastering one's fears. It is used in combination with, or as an alternative to,
medication to treat disorders such as anxiety, panic, and phobias. For example,
a person can learn to "retrain" his or her breathing habits in stressful
situations to induce relaxation and decrease hyperventilation. Some preliminary
research indicates it may offer an additional tool for treating schizophrenia
and depression.

Guided Imagery or Visualization: This process involves going into a state of
deep relaxation and creating a mental image of recovery and wellness.
Physicians, nurses, and mental health providers occasionally use this approach
to treat alcohol and drug addictions, depression, panic disorders, phobias, and
stress.

Massage therapy: The underlying principle of this approach is that rubbing,
kneading, brushing, and tapping a person's muscles can help release tension and
pent emotions. It has been used to treat trauma-related depression and stress. A
highly unregulated industry, certification for massage therapy varies widely
from State to State. Some States have strict guidelines, while others have none.

Telemedicine: Plugging into video and computer technology is a relatively new
innovation in health care. It allows both consumers and providers in remote or
rural areas to gain access to mental health or specialty expertise.
Telemedicine can enable consulting providers to speak to and observe patients
directly. It also can be used in education and training programs for generalist
clinicians. Telephone counseling: Active listening skills are a hallmark of
telephone counselors.

Electronic communications: Technologies such as the Internet, bulletin boards,
and electronic mail lists provide access directly to consumers and the public
on a wide range of information. On-line consumer groups can exchange
information, experiences, and views on mental health, treatment systems,
alternative medicine, and other related topics.

Mental Health Nursing: The Roles of Psychiatric Nurses

With the introduction of newer issues and recent needs, the concepts in mental
health nursing or psychiatric nursing expanded dramatically. From the need to
provide nursing care for mental health patients during the end of the 19th
century, nurses are nowadays commissioned to provide psychiatric-mental health
services on a variety of settings.

A psychiatric nurse works on different settings such as community mental health
programs, psychiatric hospitals and facilities, the academe and even in the
criminal justice system. There are only two levels of psychiatric nursing: the
basic and the advanced. Both of which have various responsibilities.

For the basic level, the psychiatric nurse will carry out the physician's
orders. These are registered nurses who are equipped with the knowledge on
developing, implementing and assessing nursing care plans; they also administer
medications and provide direct nursing care. They are usually found in
family-based settings, assisting the family members in dealing with a member's
mental disorder. However, they may also be found in education settings where
their primary role is to teach the public or other mental health care providers
about mental health and psychological disorders. They may also assist with
counseling and intervention.

On the other hand, registered nurses who also have a master's degree or a
doctoral degree in mental health nursing could qualify as Psychiatric Nurse
Practitioners. Having more advanced skills and knowledge on this field, they
could practice assessments, diagnoses and treatments for patients of mental
health. Depending on the state, they are also qualified to practice
psychotherapy and case management, and prescribe medications. Also, they may
choose to hold administrative positions in schools and hospitals and may also
conduct researches of their own.

These are the basic roles of psychiatric nurses. But due to the development of
further needs in the management of psychiatric disorders, the roles were
expanded to meet the demands.

For example, the problems presented through the need of nursing care facilities
in high security areas such as those similar in forensic nursing. The nurses
working in this setting need to meet the balance between protecting the public
from the potential harm caused by the patients and providing an environment
that will also aim to offer therapeutic interventions.

Another change in the roles of psychiatric nurses is the extension of
psychiatric services to prisons. This pose the challenge to psychiatric nurses
to give the same mental health care services to inmates regardless of the
boundaries set by the lack of facilities and trained people to do the work.

Lastly, the need to advance psychiatric custody to disordered individuals who
are under the criminal justice system. As we may know, not all correctional
institutions have dedicated units for inmates with psychiatric disorders. But
in the past years, psychiatric facilities are being integrated into the
criminal justice system. Because of the formation of the mental health courts,
newer responsibilities were added to psychiatric nursing.

Mental health nursing, like many other professions, have met fundamental
changes in the past recent years. This may be largely attributed to the
improvements of newer facilities therefore newer needs for professionals which
are mirrored in nursing professions. In many areas of psychiatric though, there
is no doubt that there are fewer changes. However, as seen in the mental
healthcare, these changes have prepared the way towards better systems and
better people working in the field.

What are Mental Health Jobs?

Now that you've finished your medical degree, it's time to find a job. In
hospitals or medical facilities, nothing can be more difficult and demanding as
mental health jobs. That is why we often see a great demand of these jobs when
we make job searches in the internet or in advertisements. Also, the increase
in mental patients in most facilities and institutions contribute to the
increase in demand for these jobs.

Contrary to what most people think, there are many aspects of mental health. In
the field of psychology alone, there are other areas of specialization such as
neuropsychology, geropsychology and health psychology. There is also what we
call school psychologists. These are the counselors in most schools and
universities. Another kind is called developmental psychology, which focuses on
a man's psychological development through life. There is also what you call
industrial psychology, which focuses on the mechanics of employees in the
workplace.

Mental health nurses are those who have graduated the regular nursing course.
During the course training, they need to specialize in mental health in order
to qualify as mental health nurses.

Doctors who specialize in mental health are commonly called psychiatrists. Each
state would impose qualifications before one can practice. For most countries,
they are those who graduated the regular physician's course, and a few years of
specialization in psychiatry. There is also a field called psychotherapy, which
deals more on counseling and therapy instead of the clinical aspect of
treatment.

Mental health jobs can also be found in medical schools where mental health
courses are offered.

Aside from those mentioned, there are other jobs in the mental health field.
Some of them are medical or hospital social workers, psychiatric technicians
and other hospital personnel. Some mental health centers hire other hospital
personnel such as dieticians, physical therapists, pharmacists, dentists,
laboratory staff, radiologists, speech pathologists, optometrists, and many
others.

As for the pay, the salary range for these jobs is quite wide. Depending on a
person's education and experience, one can earn twice as much as those who work
in the same position. And like jobs in other industries, companies prefer
applicants who are better qualified and trained. This can be seen in their
educational background and previous job experiences.

Aside from the skills necessary to carry out their jobs, an unwritten
qualification is added, and that is, their ability to care for the patients and
listen to their needs. Mental health patients have extra needs than ordinary
medical patients. That is why there is a need for mental health workers to be
more patient and understanding than workers in other medical fields.

Health care industries shall continue to expand in the coming years. This means
that more mental health jobs shall be available. If you want a job in the mental
health field, it is easy to find one. You just have to know where to find them.
Make a search for jobs wanted within your area. You can visit the website of
the medical facility or company that you wish to work in to see their job
opportunities. Or you may register in a job support website. These websites not
only provide you with a list of the jobs available, they also provide articles
on career advice, industry news and articles, and tips on job hunting and
interview.

World Mental Health Day

Celebrated during the 10th of October, World Mental Health Day is an international
educational campaign which aims to extend knowledge on mental health to unaware
people. For the first time in 1992, it was observed by the World Federation for
Mental Health as an annual activity.

Each celebration of this global event holds a theme that aims to focus the
concerns of the World Federation for Mental Health on specific problems.

The sad thing though is that there is too little attention being given in
helping people with mental health. We, Americans, are lucky because our
government, our health authorities and many other organizations are tying up to
mobilize the causes for assisting people with mental health. However, even our
current efforts are not enough. In many countries though, in fact in almost all
countries in the world, mental health is being given too little concern. This is
aggravated by lack of funds, by lack of facilities and by lack of nearly all the
resources required to advance the causes associated with mental health.

It's time for the world to listen. Through this observation, we could eliminate
the stigma and discrimination people with mental disorders feel. Through right
public information, people who don't suffer with such disorders would
understand their suffering counterparts and could help them improve their
lives. And through the supply of right information for the unaware public, they
could share their lives to those people with mental health disorders.

Enough for the clucking of tongues after a miserable event happened caused by,
say, a mentally ill individual. Enough with the daily pains people with mental
disorders experience because the public does not have sufficient knowledge on
the nature of their disorders. Enough with the unjust treatment to these
distressed individuals. They need help, not discrimination. Support not stigma.

We always hear it in the news. A father killed his family and killed himself
after. A teenage killed his peers and turned the gun against him and killed
himself afterwards. A mother killed her children and got sent to a mental
institution. Why do we always have to wait for something to happen before we
take action?

Why don't we listen to the painful sufferings of the mentally ill individuals
now and provide them the proper services they need and deserve? World Mental
Health Day sponsors promote the belief that the world would be a better
place if only we can understand and help people with psychological disorders.






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