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 Some people with mental illnesses have aggressive behaviors while others are withdrawn and lack social interest.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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