What are some Mental Health Problems?

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Mental illness is a term used to describe a wide range of "disorders", the origin of which are considered to be related to the mind or brain in some way. It is easier to understand the term mental illness when you bear in mind our basic biology. In some ways it is an artificial concept to separate the brain from the body, just as it would be to suggest that the liver or any other organ is separate from the body.

The brain is part of the central nervous system which extends through our bodies and includes the spinal cord. Thus, the brain plays a role with everything we do from walking, sleeping, worrying, hearing and crying to falling in love.

If there is some change in the structure or chemistry of the brain, then our feelings, thoughts and behaviour can be affected. When an illness is having an impact on our thoughts, feelings or behaviour it is considered to be a "mental" illness.

Looking at mental illness this way sheds light on how disorders as different as schizophrenia, anorexia and attention deficit disorder come under the term "mental illness". Some disorders begin with a problem in the nervous system. Some result from external stress that in some way has an impact on the nervous system.

MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT a character fault, weakness or something inherently "wrong" with a person. It is an illness like any other and a person has a right to expect appropriate medical or other treatment, care and support through their illness.

According to traditional schools of medicine, a mental illness may include any of several mental health conditions characterized by one’s inability to display normal cognitive, emotional or behavioral functioning. This may result from biochemical, psychological, social, emotional, or genetic.

A blow to the head for example, may result in physical damage and mental illness in some. A traumatic social event occurring during one’s childhood may manifest later in life as chronic anxiety or depression.

There are many reasons for mental disorders, and most are not well understood. Scientists have to the best of their ability, tried to combine their knowledge to offer an explanation or plausible causes for mental disorders like bipolar. What they routinely decide is that bipolar is caused by many causes, not simply one cause.

How is your Mental Health?

Your mental health is a state of coping, feeling good and being in control of your life. You probably know it well, but may not enjoy it often enough. If you start to feel frayed around the edges, swamped with work and responsibilities, or emotionally flat and uninterested in the world around you, your mental health is suffering.

We are complex beings, with a variety of emotional, physical and spiritual capacities and needs. Because of the pressures and stresses of life it is often difficult to maintain our balance by nurturing those capacities and needs. As a result, we may neglect important parts of ourselves, sometimes our feelings, sometimes our bodies, sometimes our minds.

All of us, whether we have been diagnosed with a mental illness such as depression or anxiety or if we experience stress and the blues occasionally, need to be aware and take responsibility for our mental health.

Various factors either contribute to or challenge our ability to look after our "whole person". These factors include our degree of self-discipline, how aware we are of our feelings and thoughts, how well we know ourselves. Factors outside ourselves include the nature of our home and work environment, our financial situation, the current state of our relationships with important people in our lives - friends, partners, families and work colleagues.

The quality of our mental health varies depending on our experience and circumstances. Periods of emotional or financial stress can take their toll on mental health. Working your way, mindfully, through life's difficulties can help us to grow in our emotional life and self-esteem, so that we are even better prepared for future challenges.

If the tension gets too much for us to cope with, however, it can cause us to "break down" emotionally or mentally, that is, not be able to carry on our lives in health. At these times, we may need to ask for help or support while we adjust. Many people live with disability, including physical illness or mental illness, and cope in a healthy way. The challenge for all of us is to search out new ways to cope.

TRY THIS QUIZ ABOUT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH!

How many of the following do you experience in your life at the moment?
• The ability to love and be loved;
• A feeling of security and belonging;
• Spontaneity and a range of emotional responses;
• The ability to trust;
• The ability to take responsibility for our own feelings and behaviour;
• The ability to accept criticism;
• A rich fantasy world enabling creativity to flourish;
• A degree of self knowledge to enable the repair of the self, following harm;
• The ability to learn from experience;
• The ability to express thoughts and feelings;
• The ability to risk enchantment and a sense of awe;
• A feeling of comfort with your sexuality;
• A sense of humour to help savour the joy of living and to compensate pain and loss.

The essence of mental health is hard to define as it involves so many aspects of ourselves and differs for all of us. However, healthy people generally have some of the above.

Although happiness is desirable, our mental health does not depend on it. We do need inner resources to act as a ballast and protection against the rigours of life. The way we sense the world around us changes depending upon our state of mind. In the same way as we are learning to look after our physical health and the environment we need to look after our inner self. Here are some ideas:

Talk

Talking to friends, family or a counsellor about your thoughts and feelings can help sort out problems. It can also help relieve stress and anxiety if you are experiencing them.

Eat, Sleep and Exercise

When anxious or under stress, we often neglect ourselves. We don't eat nutritious food, don't exercise, and don't sleep properly. Often just the effort of eating properly and taking a small amount of exercise daily will trigger a chain of healing effects.

Relax

Most of us need to learn how to relax. There are a number of techniques, and you may choose which one most suits your personality and lifestyle. There are plenty of books, tapes and courses available on relaxation.

Seek Help

Sometimes a problem is hard to solve alone or with the help of friends and family. At these times it can be important to get professional help or advice. There are many people you can turn to - your family doctor, community groups, psychiatrists, nurses, occupational therapists, a member of your local church, psychologists, social workers or counsellors.

Think and Feel

We are bombarded daily with many demands and sometimes we don't take time to think. Some pause for reflection each day helps us to get to know ourselves, to gain some perspective on life and to develop a positive outlook. It is also important to acknowledge our feelings and not be afraid of them. By acknowledging our feelings we gain a greater insight into ourselves, we need this in order to maintain physical and mental health.

Read A Book

In recent years many books on personal growth have made best-seller lists. These books challenge and educate us to learn more about ourselves and to review how we look at the world and how we relate to others.

For some people reading these books can be a life altering experience leading to more fulfilling relationships and richer lives. It can be exciting to begin to really understand yourself and thus be in a position to take responsibility for your own mental health. Look in the extensive personal growth section in your favourite book store or library.

Signs & Symptoms of Mental Health Problems:

WHAT COULD ANOREXIA, SCHIZOPHRENIA, PANIC ATTACKS AND ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER POSSIBLY HAVE IN COMMON?

They have vastly different symptoms, different causes, different treatments and very different impacts on a person's body and mind. What they share is that they are all called a "mental illness".

Q.WHY? WHAT IS A MENTAL ILLNESS?

Mental illness is a term used to describe a wide range of "disorders", the origin of which are considered to be related to the mind or brain in some way. It is easier to understand the term mental illness when you bear in mind our basic biology.

In some ways it is an artificial concept to separate the brain from the body, just as it would be to suggest that the liver or any other organ is separate from the body.

The brain is part of the central nervous system which extends through our bodies and includes the spinal cord. Thus, the brain plays a role with everything we do from walking, sleeping, worrying, hearing and crying to falling in love.

If there is some change in the structure or chemistry of the brain, then our feelings, thoughts and behaviour can be affected. When an illness is having an impact on our thoughts, feelings or behaviour it is considered to be a "mental" illness.

Looking at mental illness this way sheds light on how disorders as different as schizophrenia, anorexia and attention deficit disorder come under the term "mental illness". Some disorders begin with a problem in the nervous system. Some result from external stress that in some way has an impact on the nervous system.

MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT a character fault, weakness or something inherently "wrong" with a person. It is an illness like any other and a person has a right to expect appropriate medical or other treatment, care and support through their illness.

Q. HAS THIS BEEN "PASSED DOWN" FROM MY PARENTS OR GRANDPARENTS?

Most mental illnesses are NOT considered to have a genetic component. However, some mental illnesses may be inherited. This means that something may be passed on within the genes and thus is part of a person's genetic make up.

However, a person may inherit a gene but not experience the symptoms, or they may not inherit that particular gene, even though a parent or grandparent may carry the gene. Some mental illnesses may be caused by a biological change that is not genetic and thus cannot be inherited.

Q. CAN DRUGS OR STRESS TRIGGER A MENTAL ILLNESS?

Drugs and stress can create a set of circumstances that make a person vulnerable to mental illness. A person's environment, their school, their relationships and/or family life, trauma, abuse and other stressful life experiences are thought to contribute to, or trigger, a mental illness such as anorexia or anxiety.

Mental illness can also begin through thought patterns that have been learnt e.g. by copying the way others think in a particular self defeating way, or by getting into a pattern which is reinforced in some way - by gaining attention for example.

Environmental factors such as excessive stress or substance abuse can also alter the brain's chemistry leading to a mental illness. Personality also influences the way a person reacts to life's events - this is part of each person's unique nature.

Each of us has a different combination of personality traits, coping skills, family history, education, perception of our selves and our environment. It is a complex interplay between ourselves, our experience and perception of the world, including how we respond, which influences how we cope with things that happen around us and within us.

Q. HOW WILL HAVING A MENTAL ILLNESS IMPACT ON MY LIFE?

A mental illness may have an impact on a person's behaviour, their thought processes, their feelings and moods. It follows then that a mental illness affects, to a greater or lesser extent, a person's ability to relate to others, to socialise, to work or to study.

The effect on your life will differ greatly whether you have schizophrenia (and even depending on the kind of schizophrenia you have- some people only ever have one episode) or something like anxiety and panic attacks.

Q. IS THERE A CURE?

Although it is considered there is no cure for some mental illnesses, such as Alzheimer's Disease and chronic schizophrenia, almost all mental illnesses can be treated or at least lessened in their severity by either medication to redress the chemical imbalance or some form of therapy.

Therapy can assist a person to gain insight and better manage their emotions, thinking and behaviour. Other forms of help include assisting a person to learn or relearn work, social and interpersonal skills.

Q. WHAT IS PSYCHOSIS AND A PSYCHOTIC EPISODE?

Psychosis is a mild to severe disturbance in a person's feelings, behaviour, perception and thinking. A person experiencing a psychotic episode loses touch with reality. Their ability to make sense of both the world around them and their internal world of feelings, thoughts and perceptions is severely altered.

Psychotic episodes are always a part of schizophrenia and may also be experienced by a person with bipolar disorder. A person with bipolar disorder may be depressed or elated out of proportion to current events in their life and act on these in potentially dangerous ways. People in psychosis may experience:

Delusions - such as paranoid delusions e.g. feeling scared that everybody is plotting against them, or of being followed or wanted by the police etc, or grandiose delusions - e.g. thinking you are someone famous, or psychic. Hallucinations - Seeing, hearing or feeling things that are very real to the person but other people would not agree were there - such as hearing voices.

Q. IF I HAVE A MENTAL ILLNESS WILL I EXPERIENCE PSYCHOSIS?

No. Not all mental illnesses have delusions or hallucinations as symptoms. For example, anxiety disorders, the most frequently diagnosed of the mental illnesses, are non-psychotic.

Q. DOES MY RELATIVE (FRIEND OR SPOUSE) HAVE A MENTAL ILLNESS?

Certain difficult behaviours can occur due to changes or stressful events in a person's life. Behaviour such as being irritable, rebellious, shy, argumentative, thoughtless, moody, over sensitive, over emotional, withdrawn or lazy are not necessarily indicative of a mental illness.

We all experience some or all of these behaviours as we move through major life events, irrespective of whether these are considered positive or negative experiences such as:- the break up of a relationship, moving to a new home, exam time, loss of someone close, wedding, family crisis, birth of a baby, physical illness or any event that increases our stress levels.

Someone experiencing these symptoms may get through the crisis by talking with friends, their partner or perhaps through taking time out. However, if a person seems to be taking a longer time to get over a crisis then it may be important for them to seek help.

Behaviours that may indicate something more serious is going on:
• Total withdrawal from friends, colleagues and family.
• Afraid to leave the home, refusing to go to school.
• Saying or writing things which do not make sense.
• Significant changes in eating and/or sleeping patterns.
• Extreme changes in mood - from excited to depressed.
• A loss of mood variation - becoming flat and unemotional.
• Deteriorating performance at work or school.
• Hearing voices that no one else can hear.
• Believe their thoughts are being interfered with.
• Believe they are being influenced, harmed or contacted by television, radio, spacemen, the devil etc.
• Spend extravagant/unrealistic amounts of money or talk of unrealistic business, investment ideas.
• Being paranoid - believe people are plotting against them and are really fearful of this.
• Believe they have special powers or think they are famous people or religious or political figures.

These behaviours indicate that something more serious may be happening and the person needs to see a G.P. and/or a mental health professional for an assessment. Drug use can also contribute to certain symptoms - or drugs may be being used by the person to ease the symptoms he or she is experiencing. These issues are complicated and best sorted out with the help of a professional.

Types of Mental Health Problems

What is ADD?
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), the generic term for all types of the "official" clinical diagnosis called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

We can get a feeling of the effects of ADD on our society, particularly the schooling system, by looking at America where there are fairly accurate records kept and so data is available.

In The USA it affects between 4 percent and 6 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Attention Deficit Disorder Association. An estimated 2 million children in the United States, or some 3 to 5 percent of children suffer from ADHD with many analysists believing the number to be on the high end of this range.
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What is Addiction?
Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease. Brain imaging shows that addiction severely alters brain areas critical to decision-making, learning and memory, and behavior control, which may help to explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of addiction.

There are so many people in the world today that are faced with dealing with an addiction of some kind. There are many different kinds of addictions and it does not have to be something that you would expect. An addiction is something that someone must have and cannot control their want to have it on their own. Many who have addictions must seek help to cope with it and to fight off the pressures of dealing with it.
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What is Agoraphobia?
Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterised by an uneasiness, fear or dread about leaving familiar surroundings. This may include a reluctance to travel, particularly on public transport, or to be in crowded places. It is associated with severe physical symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. It is a condition related to anxiety, depression, panic and other phobias.

The word agoraphobia is derived from the Greek “agora” which means “market place” and “phobia” meaning “fear of”. It was first considered to be simply a fear of being in a public place (e.g. the market place). However the fear and dread about leaving home (or other O.K. place) is considered not to be associated with fear of the public place in itself, nor of lots of people, but actually the learnt fear from a previous experience of a panic attack in such a location.

First, a person may have a panic attack (for any number of reasons, including stress). Then a real fear develops that it may happen again, and situations are avoided which remind a person of the previous panic attacks. Panic attacks are frightening and embarrassing, so it is a natural reaction to do things to avoid what is perceived to have caused the panic attack.

A fear can be developed for almost anywhere. It can be open public places such as shopping centres, railway stations, airports or closed places like churches, theatres, buses, trains, aircraft or quiet places such as empty streets or a store at closing time. The situation can become very generalised from a fear of one place to the point where a person cannot leave home at all.

The onset of agoraphobia can be sudden and unexpected or it can take months or years for the condition to develop - from a mild phobic anxiety to a feeling of dread of many public situations. The fear of leaving the house may literally extend even to collecting the milk, mail or newspaper from the front step or gate.

There may be many factors playing a part in the development of agoraphobia - such as loss, separation or the death of a family member or close friend. Sudden life changes may bring emotional stress. Long-term emotional stress, which builds up gradually, often without its seriousness being recognised, can trigger panic attacks, which can gradually develop into agoraphobia.

Once a person develops agoraphobia, it is further reinforced by feelings of hopelessness, anger, frustration and guilt about the agoraphobia itself.

While the symptoms of agoraphobia may fluctuate, they may include:

• Feelings of depression

• Abuse of tranquillising drugs and alcohol for relief of symptoms

• Fear of loss of control

• Other phobias

• Loss of self-esteem and self- confidence

• Frustration and anger with oneself

• Anxiety and panic attacks

• Confusion

The physical symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks may include:

• Feeling of light-headedness

• Feeling of being detached or distant from surroundings or even from one’s own body

• Buzzing in the ears, blurred vision, a dry mouth, tingling in the face and arms

• Difficulty in breathing - perhaps breathlessness without apparent cause

• Sudden feeling of extreme panic

• Heart palpitations

• Indigestion

• Dizziness

• Severe backache without apparent cause

• Headaches and other muscle aches and pains

• Weakness of the legs

• Sweating

• Nausea

• Hands which shake

• Fear of fainting

• Fear of heart attack.

The word agoraphobia is derived from the Greek “agora” which means “market place” and “phobia” meaning “fear of”. It was first considered to be simply a fear of being in a public place (e.g. the market place). However the fear and dread about leaving home (or other O.K. place) is considered not to be associated with fear of the public place in itself, nor of lots of people, but actually the learnt fear from a previous experience of a panic attack in such a location.

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Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer's Disease is the term used to describe a dementing disorder marked by certain brain changes, regardless of the age of onset. Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative problem characterized by memory loss as well as loss in thinking skills. It is actually part of a constellation of memory and brain problems called dementia.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive and degenerative problem under the umbrella of diseases called dementia. It is characterized by disorientation and impaired memory. It is apparently caused by an attack in the brain, affecting one’s memory, thinking skills and judgment. Most patients will experience a change in language ability, in the way they use their mental processes and of course their behavior.
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What is Anger management?
Anger is an emotion experienced by kids and adults alike. When something or someone interferes with an individual in a negative manner, it can cause them to become angry. Anger is a normal response to such a situation. However anger can be classed as a mild or intense irritation. Depending on the individual, the circumstance and their emotions, anger may cause a person to become enraged or even furious. People who become angry behave in different ways.

Some lash out or become extremely defensive. Other people tend to keep their anger to themselves, bottling up their negative emotions and hurt. While some people become reckless and even abusive. Anger can be a terribly harmful emotion if it isn't controlled.

Anger is a feeling that has to be recognized outright. Anger could be a start of something deeper, like rage or violent actions and reactions. You’ve got to control your anger, because it has the ability to control you.

According to psychologists who specialize in anger management, there are some people that are more angry than others. They usually become angry more easily and more intensely than the average person. There are also some people that do not show their anger in loud spectacular ways but are chronically irritable and grumpy. These people usually withdraw socially and/or become physically ill.
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What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a natural reaction that everyone experiences - part of our fight or flight response - which helps us to be alert for potentially dangerous or fearful situations such as crossing a busy road or approaching a big black spider in the bathtub! However for some people anxiety prevents them from living their life in the way that they would like.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

You may worry constantly about being harmed, about financial disaster, your health, work and/or personal relationships. General anxiety disorder is marked by unrealistic and excessive worry, accompanied by constant and often unnecessary concern about anything or everything. People with Generalised Anxiety Disorder are excessively worried about two or more life situations most of the time. This may be extreme concern about their health and perhaps their finances, despite both being in reasonable condition.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder is one of the anxiety disorders. A person with GAD is in a state of constant anxiety over many aspects of their life – relationships, work, health, family and/or finances. Just about anything that a person can think about – they worry about. The concerns are ongoing, extreme and unrealistic. The person feels worried and anxious most of the time.

Symptoms associated with generalised anxiety disorder include:
• Mind becomes alert
• Heart rate increases, blood pressure rises
• Sweating increases
• Muscles tense
• Mouth gets dry, increased thirst
• Breathing rate increases
• Immune response decreases
• Feelings of fear and apprehension
• Restlessness
• Feeling sick or nauseous
• Trembling and shaking
• Butterflies in the stomach
• Startling easily
• Frequent urination
• Irritability
• Sleeping difficulties
• Feeling out of control
• Feeling as if you are going ”crazy’

It is difficult coping with constant anxiety – some people smoke, drink or use other recreational or non-prescription drugs – however these drugs only exacerbate the problem. Cigarettes, coffee and other stimulants decrease the anxiety for short periods, but the stimulant nature of these drugs actually puts more strain on the nervous system as it increases the alert mode.

Alcohol and other depressants are other short-term fixes – anxiety often couples with depression – so alcohol only leads a person to increased anxiety when they are not drinking, and depression when they are.

Problem anxiety can take various forms - panic attacks that occur out of the blue; incredible fear about situations or objects that are not actually dangerous or usually scary; uncontrollable concerns and worry about almost everything; or compulsive repetition of a ritual due to an idea that it will reduce anxiety i.e. washing hands repeatedly to get rid of germs.
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What is Asperger Syndrome?
Asperger Syndrome is a relatively mild form of autism that effects people in different ways than regular autism. Because it usually does not affect language, many people with Asperger Syndrome go undiagnosed.

Aspergers syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects a child's ability to socialize and communicate effectively with others. Children with Aspergers syndrome typically exhibit social awkwardness and an all-absorbing interest in specific topics.

Aspergers is also described as an autism spectrum disorder, in that it shares many of the same characteristics of more “classical” autism. Although they are both on the same continuum there are definite differences between children with Aspergers Syndrome and Autism. You can see this in their social interactions, language and development over time.

High Functioning Autism is very much like Aspergers Syndrome except that the professionals seem to apply that diagnosis to children who were non-verbal when they were younger.
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What is Autism?
There are many links between autism and the brain. Most people with autism have larger brains and they are “wired” differently than a typical brain. Differences occur in many parts of the brain, so it cannot be targeted to one specific brain malfunction overall, but rather a brain malfunction.

Autistic children also show signs of an immune deficiency. Evidence in this study is not yet strong, but research is still being done. Many autistic individuals have other health problems related to immune deficiencies.

Overall, these things all seem to point to genetics. Although autism is not the parents’ fault, it is most likely that autism was found elsewhere on your family tree, and it is not uncommon for parents to raise more than one autistic child.

Autism may also be linked to vaccinations, although this is still being highly studied. The benefits of vaccinations greatly outweigh the risks of them causing autism, so you should not deprive your child simply because you are fearful. Talk to you doctor if you have concerns about vaccinations.
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What is Bipolar disorder - Manic Depression?

Bipolar disorder, which used to be called manic depression, is a disorder of mood, characterised by extreme mood swings. The mood swings are episodic - in between episodes the person is usually completely well. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness, but is also described as a neurobiological brain disorder. A person fluctuates between high mood “mania” and low mood “depression”.

For those who have bipolar manic depression, you will notice that you have highs and lows. You will go from a very high and exciting time to a low and depress time. You will also find that you will be reckless and listless. You will find that there are extreme feelings that you are going to go through when you get the disorder.

You will find that there are two parts of the disorder that you will go through. You will go through the manic times or high times and then you will go through the low times.

For those who don't know, they are both very extreme. Basically, you will find your entire life in trouble. Your entire life will begin to fall apart. You may lose control of everything from work or school to the relationships that you have with other people.

When it comes to bipolar disorder it is something that can be controlled, but not cured. Maybe in the future scientist will find a way to cure the body of such mental disease, but a cure if very far off. With the help of prescriptions and therapy most people are able to get over their symptoms of bipolar disorder. Some do require electric shock therapy.

However, as we have progressed, the past has left electric shock therapy as a final solution. It is very rarely used, and it is usually used when a person with bipolar disorder is placed in a mental hospital. It is something that helps control how others act, but it is an extreme way of treating the disorder.
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What are Childhood Mental Disorders?
Childhood is often associated with happiness and trouble-free fun, so when a child is diagnosed with a mental illness, the parents often feel like they’ve done something wrong, like it’s their fault.

This isn’t always the case though, as the causes of mental illness are complex and never involve only one factor. Most disorders are not specific to childhood or adolescence, however the symptoms usually develop during this period

A simple phobia only becomes a problem when it interferes with the child’s daily life, for example, when a child is too afraid to go outside at all for fear of being attacked by a dog, whether there is a dog around or not.

Parents should be alert to the signs of severe anxiety so they can intervene early to prevent complications. Early treatment can prevent future difficulties, such as, loss of friendships, failure to reach social and academic potential, and feelings of low self-esteem.
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What is Dementia?
Dementia can occur as a result of mini strokes or blood clots in the brain – known as Vascular dementia. Other dementias include Pick’s disease, Lewy Body disease and frontal lobe dementia. Dementia can also occur from excessive intake of alcohol over many years, thyroid disease, brain tumours or AIDS.

Some dementias have a cause that can be treated, so it is important to see a doctor regarding the symptoms. For most dementias, including Alzheimer’s Disease, however, there is no known cure. Five percent of people over 65 have dementia and almost 50% of those over 85 have some form of dementia. Alzheimer’s affects more females than males.
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What is Depression?
Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad, but these feelings are usually fleeting and pass within a couple of days. When a person has a depressive disorder, it interferes with daily life, normal functioning, and causes pain for both the person with the disorder and those who care about him or her. Depression is a common but serious illness, and most who experience it need treatment to get better.

Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the vast majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Intensive research into the illness has resulted in the development of medications, psychotherapies, and other methods to treat people with this disabling disorder.
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What is Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID/MPD)?
Dissociation is a mental process where there is a lack of connection between, thoughts, feelings, actions or sense of identity. This disconnection is termed splitting and exists at a sub-conscious level.

The process of dissociation exists on a continuum. Mild dissociation experiences are common such as daydreaming or “highway hypnosis”, where a person drives from ‘A’ to ‘B’ but does not remember the details of the journey.
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What is Dual Diagnosis Mental Problems?
Dual diagnosis commonly refers to co-occurring mental illness, drug addiction and/or alcoholism in various combinations.

Two common examples are that of major depression with marijuana addiction, and alcohol addiction with panic disorder.

Often the two disorders are treated separately or people may only be referred to one specialist, either in the mental health service or the addiction recovery service.

Considering the large numbers of people affected by dual diagnosis it may be more effective to treat people using a more integrative approach i.e. whereby people can receive treatment for both disorders at the same time.
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What are eating disorders?
Anorexia nervosa, an aversion to eating that typically affects women 14 to 25 but can begin as young as 8, has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. Along with bulimia nervosa, a related condition of binge eating and purging, anorexia is on the rise.

Of the 5 million to 8 million women in the United States who currently suffer from an eating disorder, 50 percent will fully recover without fear of recurrence. That's the good news, says psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair, director of education at the Harvard Eating Disorder Center. Thirty percent, however, will have only a partial recovery, meaning they are still at risk; 20 percent will always struggle with it, and five 5 percent of those, or 50,000 young women, will die. Eating disorders are on the rise for boys, too, but statistics are not yet available.
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What is the grieving process?
Grief may be painful and at times seem bottomless. The purpose of the information here is to help you identify some of the stages of grieving that are commonly experienced by people who are bereaved.

The aim is to assist those grieving to feel less isolated in their feelings. These intense emotions and mood changes are a normal part of grieving. Grief is a reaction to loss. Grieving is a very personal experience and there isn’t a right or wrong way.

It is determined by culture, the relationship to the person lost and the way the person died. Working through grief is a very personal and painful experience. Some stages of grief are commonly experienced although not everyone will go through all these stages.
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What is Impulse Control Disorder?
When someone has an Impulse Control Disorder (ICD) or Trichotillomania it means that they experience irresistible urges to carry out a particular behaviour which will result in feelings of relief or pleasure.

Afterwards they may experience a period of guilt or remorse. Common behaviours include abusing drugs or alcohol, gambling, stealing, excessive anger and setting things alight.

When these behaviours become part of day to day life despite the consequences, they also become known as addictions.
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How to Improve Your Memory
The brain is obviously one of the most important organs of our bodies. We use it all the time, but how often do we actually think about the wellness of our brain? Staying fit seems to be a growing concern in these modern times. People want to age gracefully by keeping a healthy diet, exercising regularly and staying away from stress.

People may not know it, but these practices, which are mostly done for physique, can actually help your brain age with grace. We will cover some techniques here on how to use memorizing tools as well as nutritional advantages you can use to boost your memory.
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What is Mind Body and Soul balance?
It’s impossible to separate the mind from the body, or the body from the soul. Their interconnectivity is the basis for our life’s meaning and existence. It is because of this connection, that we are able to heal ourselves in the beginning.

Wellness comes through concentrated effort, discipline, and devotion, to our body, mind and soul. The wellness of our spirit or soul affects all other parts of our person, as evidenced in the presence of panic attacks, mental breakdowns, and the inability to cope. The need to attend to our wellness needs should be added to our daily “to do” list, so that we schedule in enough time for our selves!

We must remember over the course of our daily routine, to make time to maintain mental fitness, as we strive to maintain physical fitness. The nice thing about the whole process is that, as we go about accomplishing these tasks, quite often the opportunities for preservation and care are interchangeable. We can help to quite our mind as we take our twenty minute walk. Or we have the opportunity to build muscle strength as we meditate.
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What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) ?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an Anxiety Disorder that is mainly characterised by intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and behaviours (compulsions). Individuals with OCD are besieged by patterns of unwanted, repetitive thoughts and repetitious behaviours that are distressing and difficult to ignore or overcome completely.

OCD is the fourth most commonly occurring psychiatric disorder after substance abuse, major depression and phobias. OCD can affect anyone regardless of class, culture, sex, status or level of intelligence. On average OCD affects 2-3% of the Australian population (Robins et al, 1984). That means that about 450, 000 Australians will suffer from OCD during some stage of their lives.

If you are experiencing OCD, you may have constant and unwanted thoughts which often result in the performance of elaborate rituals in an attempt to control or banish those persistent thoughts. You will feel you have no control over your actions. You may be so embarrassed about your obsessive behaviour that you have kept it a secret, even from your family. Some people may be obsessed with order and cleanliness. One ritual associated with this can be washing hands hundreds of times a day.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an Anxiety Disorder that is mainly characterised by intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and behaviours (compulsions). Individuals with OCD are besieged by patterns of unwanted, repetitive thoughts and repetitious behaviours that are distressing and difficult to ignore or overcome completely.

OCD is the fourth most commonly occurring psychiatric disorder after substance abuse, major depression and phobias. OCD can affect anyone regardless of class, culture, sex, status or level of intelligence. On average OCD affects 2-3% of the Australian population (Robins et al., 1984). That means that about 450, 000 Australians will suffer from OCD during some stage of their lives.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can affect people in many different ways. Not all people experience the same symptoms or the same degree of intensity of symptoms, although all people who suffer from OCD experience obsessions and/or compulsions.

Obsessions are intrusive, unwanted and often disturbing thoughts that the person cannot control. Persistent fears of contamination, that they are to blame for something or an overwhelming need to do things perfectly, are common. Time after time, the individual will experience a distressing and anxiety- provoking thought, such as, “Have I left the iron on?”, “ have I injured somebody else?” or “ Do I have something physically wrong with me?”

Compulsions are repetitive, distressing and purposeful physical behaviours that may relate to the obsessive thoughts. Examples of compulsive behaviours include the need of the individual to repeatedly wash their hands due to the fear of contamination, the constant need to check that things have been done, like whether doors or windows have been locked, or even avoidance of certain objects and situations (holes in the road, cracks or lines in pavement).

All of these compulsive behaviours are a way for the person to try to reduce their feelings of anxiety. This repetitive behaviour can interfere with a person’s life to the extent that the individual cannot leave home or function at school or at work, because of the many hours spent performing these rituals.

The exact causes of OCD are not fully understood. There are, however, a number of possible theories which suggest that it could be genetic, a result of the interaction between behaviour and environment, beliefs and attitudes, or even chemical changes in the brain, usually related to the brain chemical serotonin.
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What is panic disorder?
Panic disorder is an illness where a person experiences panic attacks in situations where most people would not be afraid. Panic disorder is a dysfunction of the normal panic/anxiety reaction that would occur if you were in actual danger.

Panic attacks occur when the body gives off the same distress signals, as when a person is faced with a life-threatening or dangerous event, yet no such trigger is present. This means that a person may be sleeping, relaxing or just going about their daily business, when they suddenly feel some or all of the symptoms of a panic attack.

These include: chest pain, trembling legs, the person feeling they are going crazy or that they are about to have a heart attack.
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What is a personality disorder?
Personality traits are patterns of perceiving, thinking about, relating and interacting with people. These traits contribute to how a person is perceived by others in all types of interaction, whether it is social, at work or in personal relationships. Everybody has a personality trait.

A Personality Disorder is when these personality traits are inflexible, maladaptive, and cause significant impairment to a persons functioning (eg in relationships, at work etc). Personality Disorders cause significant distress to the person and affect their cognition (thinking), and emotion (eg. sadness, elation, anger). This pattern of maladaptive personality traits are stable and long lasting, they apply to a wide range of social and personal situations and cannot be explained by the differences in beliefs and behaviours found in different cultures.

Personality Disorders can often be traced back to early adulthood or adolescence and are often diagnosed in early adulthood. They tend to become less obvious through middle age, mainly because people are able to function well by having acquired good coping mechanisms.
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What is Post Natal Depression ?
Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad, but these feelings are usually fleeting and pass within a couple of days. When a person has a depressive disorder, it interferes with daily life, normal functioning, and causes pain for both the person with the disorder and those who care about him or her. Post Natal Depression is a common but serious illness, and most who experience it need treatment to get better.

Most women feel 'blue' and weepy a few days or so after they have a baby. This is due to all the changes in their bodies and lives and it goes away before long. All women, after they have babies, have some bad days when they feel really down - due to tiredness, being constantly on call, not being able to keep their homes as well as they did, losing their old lifestyle and so on. This is normal. Women need extra help and support when they are caring for a new baby - this is the time to accept offers of help and ask for what you need.
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What is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ?
If you have experienced a major trauma like war, torture, abuse in childhood, car accidents, fires or violence you may continue to feel terror long after the event is over. You may experience nightmares or flashbacks for many years after the event.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was introduced into the American Psychiatric Association’s official manual in 1980. PTSD is a label for the range of symptoms that may be experienced days, weeks, months or even years after being exposed to a traumatic event or series of events. These traumatic events range from experience of war, child abuse, domestic violence, rape, robbery, assault or car accidents.

If you have experienced a major trauma like war, torture, abuse in childhood, car accidents, fires or violence you may continue to feel terror long after the event is over. You may experience nightmares or flashbacks for many years after the event.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was introduced into the American Psychiatric Association’s official manual in 1980. PTSD is a label for the range of symptoms that may be experienced days, weeks, months or even years after being exposed to a traumatic event or series of events. These traumatic events range from experience of war, child abuse, domestic violence, rape, robbery, assault or car accidents.

Sometimes PTSD arises from witnessing the trauma of another person, particularly a friend or relative. The events usually involve threat to the person’s life or physical integrity. The immediate feelings are helplessness, horror and/or intense fear. PTSD is unique amongst mental disorders because the person has to have been exposed to a previous event that is considered traumatic in order to be diagnosed with PTSD.

The symptoms that commonly occur in people suffering from PTSD have been divided into three categories: Intrusions, Hyper-alertness and Avoidance.\

Intrusions: Re-experiencing the events as flashbacks or nightmares that occur suddenly, without conscious control. These are very distressing, disrupting sleep and normal activities of life.

Hyper-alertness: A state of hyper-vigilance or increased sensitivity to things such as a phone ringing or the sudden appearance of a person which leads to a physical reaction (e.g. jumping with fear; feeling nauseous) which is out of proportion to the stimulus. The person is edgy, agitated and appears to be on the lookout for a perceived danger.

Avoidance: The person tends to avoid anything (e.g. certain places, going out at night, being alone) that may result in a memory of, or a feeling from, the original traumatic experience. This symptom particularly impacts upon interpersonal relationships. The person may report feeling emotionally numb; unable to experience their usual feelings for people and things, and will often act very impersonally to people with whom they are closest.

Often the person finds it difficult to trust others or to feel safe and secure anywhere. As this continues the person becomes detached from friends, colleagues and family, thus adding to his/her isolation. The person may experience physical signs such as rapid breathing, sweating and becoming agitated. Poor sleep patterns (due to insomnia and nightmares) affect concentration and memory, and thus can lead to a deterioration of work and study performance.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is rarely diagnosed on its own. It is often accompanied by depression, anxiety, panic attacks, social phobia, agoraphobia or other psychiatric illnesses. Many people recovering from the after-effects of trauma abuse alcohol, nicotine and other drugs, thus complicating the situation further. Substance abuse is addressed within PTSD treatment.
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What is psychosis?
Psychosis is a term used to describe a range of conditions that affect the mind. These conditions lead to a loss of touch with reality and /or distorted perceptions of reality. When someone becomes ill in this way and loses contact with reality, it is called a psychotic episode.

Psychosis is most likely to occur in young adults. It is quite common - 3 out of every 100 young people will experience a psychotic episode, making psychosis more common than diabetes in young people.
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What Is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a major psychiatric condition characterised by changes in the way a person thinks, perceives, behaves and/or the way they emotionally respond to themselves, other people and the world around them.

It has a devastating effect on the person and their family. Schizophrenia is not one illness with a set of symptoms that all people diagnosed with schizophrenia share. People may have a different set of symptoms and still get the same diagnosis of schizophrenia (see subtypes below).

It is a psychotic disorder that usually requires medication for varying amounts of time. Some people have one episode and never experience one again. For others it is a life long (chronic) condition for which medication is necessary and periods of hospital care are required.

After recovering from an acute episode of psychosis there can be difficulty getting back to normal activities including relationships, school, work and enjoying life. Support from family and friends, treatment and professional help are really important.


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What is Social Phobia?

Is a fear that others will judge everything you do in a negative way. You may cope either by trying to do everything perfectly, limiting the amount you do (like writing, eating, speaking) in front of others or you may withdraw gradually from contact with others.

Social Phobia, also know as Social Anxiety Disorder, is the third most common psychiatric condition after depression and alcoholism. Its central feature is a persistent fear of scrutiny from others. It includes a fear of social situations and interactions with other people that automatically bring on feelings of self-consciousness, judgement and negative evaluation.

A specific social phobia may be a fear of public speaking; a generalised social phobia occurs when a person is anxious, nervous and uncomfortable in almost all social situations.

What are the symptoms?

People with this disorder experience significant emotional distress in the following situations:
• Being introduced to other people
• Being teased or criticised
< • Being the centre of attention
• Being watched while doing something
• Meeting people in authority
• Most social encounters
• Making small talk at parties
• Speaking in a group

The physical symptoms that occur include:
• Intense fear
< • Racing heart
• Blushing
• Dry mouth and throat
• Trembling
• Muscle twitches

Franz Kafka once said, “But if I am in an unfamiliar place with a number of strange people...then the whole room presses on my chest. My whole personality seems to get under their skins and everything gets hopeless.”

Specific Phobia

Phobias usually involve fear about particular objects or situations. They cause major disruptions in your daily living. You may go to great lengths to avoid confronting the particular object or situation. Having a fear is not so unusual, but when it interferes with getting on with responsibilities in your life, then it can become a problem. For example, having a fear of flying is not a problem until you find yourself planning a holiday overseas or find you need to travel for your job.
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Wht is stress management?
Stress can be defined as a state we experience when there is a mismatch between perceived demands and our perceived ability to cope.

Everyone whether men, women or child suffers from stress at one or other point in their lives. We feel stress when we are dealing with our family problems.

We feel stress when we are facing financial or health problems. We feel stress when we got stuck in traffic. Children feel stress in our school age and employees feel stress due to increasing workload.

The Dictionary meaning of stress is any affair requiring mental or physical energy. It is a condition which causes perturbation of both mental and physical health of Individual.

It is a demand of circumstances on mind when mind tries to adjust with continual changes in life. Stress is not synonymous to negative conditions.


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How to prevent suicide?
Why would people kill themselves?

Recent studies have shown the correlation between suicide and serotonin deficiency in the brain. Moreover, the presence of significant stress has far-reaching consequences especially if such stressor, such as legal entanglements, results in profound hopelessness and depression. Frequently, when there is no immediate resolution to the problem, suicide becomes an attractive escape.

It then becomes obvious that suicide is not only a medical disorder but a psychosocial issue. It is more than just a manifestation of emotional distress. It is a complication of an unresolved state of affairs.

There is no question that suicide is devastating to everyone. I have seen loved ones grapple with the pain of the loss and shame associated with the manner of death. Pain and grief among relatives persist for months despite efforts to feel better though counseling and medication.
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What Causes Anxiety & Mental Health Problems?

An absolute cause for anxiety disorders is not known. Some ideas that researchers have include:

a) An imbalance of certain brain chemicals/hormones. Neurotransmitters could be at the source of anxiety disorders. Certain chemicals control the fight or fight response in times of a real emergency.

A change in the balance of these chemicals could lead to someone always being in a state of readiness for an emergency even when none exists. Some researchers think people can inherit a predisposition to chemical imbalances.

b) Certain personality traits, such as being sensitive and emotional can make people more vulnerable to anxiety. Being a sensitive person often leads the caring, empathic person to over-concern and worry about lots of things beyond their control and/or responsibility.

c) Anxiety may onset particularly during periods of high-level stress; in some cases the body may not be able to stop the physiological response after the stress has gone. Having to deal with a lot of stress all at once, or in seemingly endless succession, can stretch the mind and body’s ability to cope, and make a person vulnerable to developing an anxiety disorder.

Risk Factors:

Long term problems with continuing anxiety disorders

If anxiety levels remain high over an extended period of time then it can have a detrimental effect on the body.

Physical problems can arise because there is a decrease in immune response to illness and infection, increased chance of heart trouble due to increased blood pressure and intestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.

Without treatment, anxiety can become quite severe and the following symptoms may become more troublesome:
• Fatigue
• Jumping at sudden noises
• Muscle aches and pains from persistent tension
• Trouble concentrating
• Urinating frequently
• Excessive thirst
• Insomnia
• Depression
• Losing interest in activities usually enjoyed – socialising for instance
• Digestion and stomach problems
• Feeling overwhelmed
• Feeling demoralised
Ongoing difficulties with relationships.

When to seek Medical Advice:

O.K. SO YOU THINK YOU (OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW) MAY BE HAVING A MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEM - WHERE TO NOW?

You may recognise that you are feeling depressed, constantly anxious, be experiencing compulsions or having obsessive thoughts, experiencing delusions or hallucinations or any of a wide range of things that lead you to wonder why you can't "hold it together".

You may be finding life a bit too much to cope with or generally feeling overwhelmed by your responsibilities. It can often take a while to realise that you need help but once you do, you need to know where help is available.

This fact sheet tells you where you can go, what you can do and has a list of some of the organisations that may be helpful in the pursuit of mental health care and information.

YOUR LOCAL GP

One of your first options is to explain your symptoms and concerns to your local/family doctor. They are able to refer you to a psychiatrist, psychologist or counsellor depending on your needs. A GP is also able to prescribe medication if they are familiar with the particular illness.

It is usually appropriate to see a mental health professional for a more thorough assessment and they in turn are able to make medication and /or therapy recommendations depending on the type and course of your mental health problem.

For the most common mental illnesses - Depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder amongst others, some form of therapy e.g.Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy or general counselling is a useful adjunct to medication.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTRES

Alternatively you can go to your local Community Health Centre (CHC) -listed in the White Pages. Most CHCs have a mental health professional - a social worker, psychologist or counsellor who you would be able to talk to about your symptoms and concerns.

They may treat you within their team or refer you elsewhere for further assessment or treatment as appropriate.

CRISIS/MOBILE TEAMS

What do you do if the person experiencing signs of a mental illness refuses to seek help and/or is behaving in a disturbed way preventing you from being able to communicate to them the importance of seeing a doctor?

If they are acting in a way that is potentially dangerously towards themselves (inflicting self harm or is suicidal) or others, you can call the Crisis Team at your local CHC. These teams are often available 24 hours.

Keep the 'after hours' phone number handy. Talk to the mental health worker about the situation and tell them all the details eg. that the person (this may be yourself) is talking about or acting out suicidal behaviour, talking in a paranoid way, experiencing hallucinations, delusions etc it may be that you recognise symptoms that have led to a breakdown before.

The crisis team is a mobile unit that is able to come out and make an assessment in situ. It is helpful if they have a bit of history of the person or situation, so as soon as you think a person (or yourself) may be beginning to experience symptoms of a mental illness, call the team and keep them updated regarding the person's progress.

They will be able to tell you under what circumstances they will be able to come out. This is particularly important if the person is reluctant to seek help once the illness (depression, psychosis, mania, panic attacks etc.) develops further.

ADMISSION TO HOSPITAL

If a person is considered ill enough to require hospitalisation then they can admit themselves voluntarily or they may be taken by relatives, friends or the Crisis Team (and sometimes by the police or ambulance) to a hospital and admitted as an involuntary or voluntary patient. Within 12 hours of admission to hospital an assessment must be made by a doctor - usually a psychiatrist.

Admission and status of admission etc. is conducted in accordance with the NSW Mental Health Act, 1990 and a particular procedure is followed. To find out more about the Mental Health Act and the procedure, patient rights etc. you can contact the relevant hospital, the Mental Health Advocacy Service or the Mental Health Information Service.

Treatment/Therapy:

HAVE YOU BEEN RECOMENDED TO SEE A PSYCHOLOGIST, PSYCHIATRIST OR GP?

FOR COUNSELLING, TREATMENT, PSYCHOTHERAPY?

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN?

FIRST RECOGNISING THAT WE NEED HELP.

We are often faced with a crisis that we manage ourselves quite well or with the help of our family or friends. However, at times we are unable to manage the events that cause a mental health crisis, we may decide to find outside help.

It may not even be a crisis but a feeling that things could be better, or a loss of interest in things we used to enjoy, or just generally feeling overwhelmed with our responsibilities and finding it difficult to cope with life. To help us decide whether we could benefit from seeking professional help we can ask ourselves the following questions:

• What is distressing me now?
• Are my usual ways of dealing with this issue/crisis working?
• What resources have I used?
• What resources do I think I need?
• What help is easy to ask for?
• What help is difficult to ask for?

If answering these questions is not easy or makes you feel quite negative or even panicky, you could probably benefit from seeking help.
(Source: ‘With a Little Help, Choosing And Assessing Mental Health Therapists’ Dr Deborah Saltman, CHOICE Books, 1996)

BUT WHAT TYPE OF HELP AND FROM WHOM?

Understandably there is often confusion as to what particular professions do and how they differ from each other. Following is a brief explanation of each of the professions involved in the mental health field.

MEDICAL THERAPISTS

General practitioners

Some 80% of the Australian population visit general practitioners. GPs are often the first point of contact and the first line of treatment for anxiety and depression. General practitioners can have a key role in managing mental illnesses. They can provide diagnosis to indicate whether there is a medically definable mental disorder, and can give formal referrals to psychiatrists, if necessary.

GPs can provide medical treatment such as antidepressants for conditions affecting mental health if required. Doctors may also prescribe drugs for symptoms associated with the problem, e.g. sleeplessness or loss of appetite. GPs can also provide non-directive counselling and support.
Professional Association - The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)

Psychiatrists

A psychiatrist is a specialist medical doctor who diagnoses and treats mental illness and mental disorders. They offer a comprehensive assessment of psychological functioning and focus on interactions between medical conditions and psychosocial disorders. Like GPs, psychiatrists can prescribe, administer and monitor medication.

They may also offer psychotherapy. A referral letter by a GP is necessary to claim Medicare rebate. Clients do not pay out of pocket to access psychiatrists through Community Health Centres although they may be required to pay psychiatrists in the private sector who do not bulk-bill.
Professional Association - The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP).

NON-MEDICAL THERAPISTS

Psychologists
A psychologist specialises in the assessment and treatment of psychological disorders. The approaches used are client focused and include behaviourist approaches/cognitive therapies with some other techniques such as hypnosis, rapid eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy.

Psychologists cannot prescribe medication, however they can refer clients to a psychiatrist if they feel they could benefit from medication.
Professional Association - Australian Psychological Society (APS).

Social Workers
Social workers provide individual, couple or family counselling. Some facilitate or help organise self-help support groups. They consider the client’s total situation - their living situation and their environment generally. The process is very much in the context of the client’s relationships and resources, including financial resources, employment, housing and health. Social workers use a range of approaches such as cognitive behavioural strategies, relaxation techniques and relationship counselling techniques.
Professional Association - The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW).

Alternative Therapies
Alternative therapies are often sought in conjunction with the process of therapy. Alternative therapy is a term that loosely covers therapies other than traditional western medicine. They may include homeopathy, western herbal medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine. Alternative practices may include yoga, tai chi, meditation, reiki, reflexology, shiatsu, aromatherapy, kinesiology and Feldenkrais.
Professional Association - Currently there is no recognised registration board or boards for alternative practitioners. However, The Australian Traditional Medicine Society Ltd publishes a code of ethics.

WHAT TYPES OF THERAPIES ARE USED?

Just as there is a myriad of professionals in mental health there is diverse range of therapies. Outlined below is just a sample of some of the therapies available.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a widely used type of client-centred talking therapy. It is practised in Australia by a range of health professionals to help people with the problems of daily living. The aim of CBT is to help clients identify and correct negative thinking, and it relies on problem-solving strategies as its main technique.

Some of the techniques used include:
• Training the person to self monitor behaviours they want to change
• Helping the person identify thoughts that occur automatically
• Questioning a person’s basic irrational assumptions; and
• Helping a person to try out new ways of behaving and coping between sessions

CBT is commonly used for depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy means ‘healing of the soul’. The psychotherapist allows the client to talk and explore issues in a non-judgemental and therefore safe environment. David Jansen from the Jansen Newman Institute explains “psychotherapy is a process of healing the inner self, developing inner strengths, capabilities, resources and potential. Psychotherapy seeks to help people who have greater inner resources for determining their own destiny. Change comes from within.”

Counselling
Counselling, as opposed to psychotherapy, involves the counsellor taking a more directive, guided and advice-giving role than psychotherapy. “Roughly speaking counselling involves a person providing external influence on a client’s life. Change comes from outside input.” (David Jansen, Jansen Newman Institute, 1998). Some forms of counselling include: financial, business, weight loss, career, personal, couple and many more.

Medications
Medications can help to reduce mood fluctuations, psychosis, panic attacks and convulsions, and are quite effective as a treatment for mental health problems. Whilst not every medication is suitable for every person, there is usually a period of about 2 months where the effectiveness of the medication is assessed. Medications on their own probably won’t cure a mental illness, however when used in conjunction with other therapies, are very good at regulating the illness.

Hypnotherapy
Hypnosis can be used in different ways in mental health care. It can help clients remember events that have been well hidden from the conscious state. Sometimes these memories are concealed for a reason. A therapist must be well trained in counselling and psychotherapeutic techniques to help a client work through such memories. Hypnosis is also used in changing behaviours. Suggesti
on is used when a person is in a hypnotic state to change their behavioural patterns.

A hypnotic state is really a state of raised awareness and increased focus on a particular area. The hypnotherapist assists the person to achieve a state of relaxation, which allows the focused hypnotic state to occur. Not everyone who is hypnotised appears to be asleep; some people achieve the state with their eyes open. A hypnotic state cannot be achieved unless a client wants it to happen.

Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Therapy
Traditional psychoanalysts stay close to Freud’s theories of personality and change but this is still an evolving theory. Some more modern approaches are frequently called psychodynamic. “Psychodynamic theory is a collection of theories about unconscious processing and personality development. There are, therefore, a broad range of practitioners claiming to be psychodynamic.” (David Jansen, 1998: Jansen Newman Institute).

Hospital Admission
Sometimes a short stay in hospital is recommended if you feel you may attempt suicide or if the illness has affected your ability to function day to day. Admission into hospital can be both voluntary and involuntary. Hospitalisation may provide you with a chance to become used to medication and/or start talking about the pain you are experiencing.

Eclectic Approach
Many professionals use an eclectic or mixed compilation of different therapies depending on the needs of their clients. For example a therapist may primarily use psychotherapy techniques but may draw on cognitive behavioural therapy techniques, relaxation and hypnotherapy as part of therapy as well.

SOCIAL SUPPORT

Support from family and friends is crucial as it reduces isolation. Support makes you better able to deal with the symptoms. Community support and the reduction of stigma and myths surrounding mental illness is also greatly needed. Other forms of support which can be crucial to recovery include supported accommodation programs, such as Disability Housing through the Department of Housing; support in gaining employment and in receiving income when you are ill ie. ‘sickness allowance’ or ‘Disability Support Pension’; and training through TAFE or universities.

CHOOSING A THERAPIST

Feeling comfortable and confident with your therapist is important. If you feel you can’t really talk to your therapist, that they don’t really listen to you or that you are experiencing no change or improvement over time, then it is worth talking to them about this and if you are still not satisfied trying someone else.

When you first go to a therapist it is worth asking them questions about how they can help you etc Think about what you want to get out of your therapy too. Some sample questions could be:-
1. What can you do for me?
2. What methods do you use?
3. How long do you expect it to take?

Self Care strategies for Living with Mental Health Problems

What can I do for myself?

To help relieve mild anxiety and assist in the long term management of feelings of anxiety:

• Talk to a friend, a relative or your partner or a counsellor about your feelings.

• Eat a balanced diet – especially more vegetables and less fast food.

• Exercise – Regular (including light exercise like walking) can help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. Exercise can keep you grounded

• Relaxation – this is different for everybody – you may watch TV or read a book, go for a walk, see a movie or have a bath. Others find slow breathing or progressive muscle relaxation beneficial.

How to be a good helper to someone with an anxiety disorder

• Listen when the person talks of his/her feelings: don’t judge

• Offer support, not pity.

• Accept your own limits, and communicate this. Encourage him/her to find professional help

• Take care of yourself; maintain a life of your own

• Seek emotional support for yourself from other sources

• You cannot “fix” a person. You can listen - that is good enough.

Caring for someone with a mental illness
For the person experiencing it, being diagnosed with a mental illness is a frightening and confusing period. It can also be a difficult period for that person’s family, relatives and friends. A Carer is someone who helps his/her relative/friend with a mental illness on their journey to recovery.

This information sheet aims to outline some of the issues affecting a carer, and discusses how they can better help their loved one. It also gives suggestions on where to go for further help and assistance.

Learning how mental illness is affecting their relative, and understanding what they are going through, is perhaps one of the most important aspects of a carer’s role.
Very often, the behaviour of someone with a mental illness is misunderstood. One such misconception is that ‘ people with a mental illness are lazy and weak, and if they tried hard enough they could ‘snap’ out of it’.
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HOW DOES MENTAL ILLNESS AFFECT A PERSON?

Learning how mental illness is affecting their relative, and understanding what they are going through, is perhaps one of the most important aspects of a carer’s role.

Very often, the behaviour of someone with a mental illness is misunderstood. One such misconception is that ‘people with a mental illness are lazy and weak, and if they tried hard enough they could ‘snap’ out of it’.

Fear about the onset of the next episode, confusion about the illogical, at times irrational nature of their inner world may be some of the feelings experienced by someone with a mental illness.

They may also experience anger and bitterness due to the manner in which the mental illness is affecting every aspect of their life. They may be hypersensitive to criticism and feel as if others, including their carer and mental health professional, do not understand them or what they are going through.

They may feel rejection from friends and relatives and consequently isolate themselves. They may experience an overwhelming sense of despair, loss of interest, lack of energy or motivation.

Angry outbursts may be demonstrated by somebody with a mental illness. This can be due to delusions or hallucinations, inner frustration and conflict, or an inability to manage anger.

It is important for the carer to understand that they can seek assistance in terms of respite or other residential care.You may also like to advise your relative’s case manager or doctor of the difficulties you are experiencing.

HOW TO HELP YOUR RELATIVE

Realistic expectations – It is normal to feel the loss of what your loved one was able to do before the onset of mental illness. He or she may also be experiencing similar feelings of loss and sadness. Many carers envisage that ‘recovery’ for their relative is being able to function as they were before the onset of the illness.

This can be true for some, however, for others having this attitude or expectation may mean that they fail to see the small signs of progress that their relative is making. Such an expectation may carry over to the person with the mental illness who may also feel that they are not progressing.

Expectations of employment, or schooling may simply be inappropriate at certain periods, while a possibility at other times. Some realistic signs of progress could simply be when your relative starts eating with the family, or having daily showers.

Positive outlook – One of the most important ways a carer can help is by instilling hope of a more positive future for their loved one. Often the person experiencing the mental illness may not be able to foresee ‘better days’.

Helping them have a more positive outlook in life can also show him/her your support and may further assist those who feel that they are ‘burdening’ the family as a result of mental illness.

Communication – Conversation and communication can at times become challenging when carers feel that their relative is not ‘hearing’ what they have said.

At times this could be because s/he is preoccupied with other thoughts or because the relationship between the carer and relative has deteriorated to the extent where communication has become difficult. Some hints for improved communication are:
• Face the other person and maintain eye contact
• Present one thought at a time.
• Don’t rush. Speak in a calm manner.
• Listen to the other person’s thoughts and feelings
• Acknowledge the other person’s feelings
• Repeat in different words to convey your meaning
• Time out – if you are not able to get your message across to your care recipient at one time, come back to the issue when both you and him/her are more receptive and patient. Don’t go on arguing, no matter how logical you feel your argument is.

Problem solving – it is often tempting to make decisions for your care recipient rather than to encourage them to come to a decision for themselves.

Encouraging them to use problem-solving techniques will help empower them and give them some sense of control over their life. Eg Relative: “I am not sure whether to attend the support group today”. Instead of saying, “Its good for you, you should go”, you could say “What did you think of the session last time? ... and / or “ How did you feel after the last meeting”.

In this example, helping your loved one see the benefit of attending a support group is better achieved by them thinking through it themselves rather than you ‘telling’ them.

Learn to reduce stress – Encourage your relative to practice stress reduction strategies. Excessive stress may make someone with a mental illness more vulnerable to relapse.

Good stress reduction strategies may even help reduce some symptoms of mental illness eg. anxiety, depression, lack of motivation etc. Some simple ways to reduce stress are:
• Walking
• Relaxation, meditation
• Adequate rest, sleep
• Talking with a friend
• Listening to music

Be empathic and sensitive - A person who is experiencing an acute episode of a mental illness may feel very unwell, just as we do when we are experiencing an episode of physical illness.

Avoid making comparisons to friends, colleagues’ and relatives’ success at work, school or relationships. Such comparisons may belittle your care recipient, where s/he may feel far behind others in terms of success, achievements etc.

Also remember that those who haven’t experienced a mental illness cannot fully understand what it is like for those that have.

Encourage compliance in taking medication – There could be times when your care relative refuses to take medication.

This may be due to the side effects they are experiencing or because they feel that the medication is not positively benefiting them. Simply saying to them to take their medication because “its good for you”, often will not convince him/her.

In fact they may feel that you do not understand their feelings. Keep in mind that he or she has reasons they believe why they should stop taking their medication. Some things you can do to encourage compliance with medication are:

• When your relative is looking and feeling better, suggest that the medication may have played a role in them feeling better.

• If he/she is refusing to take their medication because of side effects, ask them to write down all the things they are experiencing and encourage them to make an appointment with their doctor to discuss the side effects. Also encourage them to ask the doctor what sort of things will help alleviate the side effects.

• If your relative feels that the medication is not helping him/her, then encourage them to ask their doctor how long it takes before the medication takes effect. Also bring up the issue of regular intake of medication. Help him/her understand that regular intake of medication is important, as it is for any other medical condition eg. Uncle Fred taking daily medication for diabetes.

• Bring up the topic of medication when your relative is more receptive, and more open to discussion – even the time of the day may make a difference eg. Some people with a mental illness may be more anxious or experience more symptoms at night, so daytime may be a better option for discussing medication.

(If your relative suggests that they do not need to take medication because there is ‘nothing wrong with them’, discuss this with his/her doctor, and options such as community treatment orders and community counselling orders).

Learn: A more informed carer is better resourced to help their loved one.

• Find out information about the particular mental illness your relative is experiencing; about treatment options and the types of services available in your area.

• Carer workshops may be offered in your area health service. Such workshops may assist you understand the issues involved in caring for someone with a mental illness.

• Attend support groups and meet other people in similar circumstances to you, find out what helps them cope and care better

NEEDS OF OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS

Caring for someone with a mental illness can affect the dynamics of a family. Often, the caring role drains the majority of the caregiver’s time, energy and patience.

Grief may be involved, as in the loss of the loved one’s former personality, achievements and contributions; as well as the loss in family lifestyle. This grief can lead to unconscious hostility and anger. Other family members may also start contributing towards caring, and neglect their own needs:

Children – Children often do not fully comprehend what their relative is undergoing. They can often gauge the stress that the family is experiencing, but not actually ask what the matter is. They may withdraw, or pretend that the change in family dynamics does not exist.

Alternatively, they may start contributing greatly towards the household. They may show signs of ‘growing up too quickly’. Other children may demonstrate anger and irritability, and choose to spend more time away from the home and the family.

Relationships – Personal relationships of wife/husband/partner are also greatly affected by mental illness. This is especially true if the carer’s partner is the person with the mental illness. The needs of the relationship change.

The carer may also experience loneliness in terms of the lack of attention from his/her spouse and the dramatic increase in responsibilities.

Caring for a child with mental health problems can also create friction in the carer’s relationship with his/her partner. There are issues of lack of attention to the needs of the partner. At times there can be issues of blame between partners in terms of responsibility for their child’s mental illness.

Attending to the needs of other family members:

• Allocate time that you will spend with another family member and seek assistance or respite, if needed, to attend to your relative with mental illness.

• Organise family outings where everyone can participate eg picnics, bushwalking, family cricket matches.

• Encourage family members to see other positive qualities in your relative, not just his/her mental illness.

• If children are involved, pay attention to whether they are keeping in touch with their friends and continue to do things that other kids their age are doing eg. Bike riding, going to movies etc.

• In your personal relationship as a wife/husband/partner, try to do some of the enjoyable things that you had done before your caring role began e.g. going out to dinner, going for walks with your partner.

LOOKING AFTER YOU

Most carers, once they adopt their caring role, fail to address their own needs. This may be by giving up paid work, stopping socialising with friends, neglecting their own health, and even simple things like not allowing themselves time to read a book or go for a walk.

Carers sometimes persist with their caring role to the point of exhaustion, frustration and breakdown. Sometimes, they unconsciously start doing too much for their relative, to the point where he/she fails to take on board their own responsibilities.

Along with the caring role, often there are issues of guilt and blame. Sometimes carers feel directly responsible for their loved one’s mental illness and ill health, or they feel that their relative is suffering because of shortcomings in their caring.

They may think that taking ‘more’ or ‘better’ care of their loved one will help them recover from their mental illness.

As can be imagined, some carers take on a huge responsibility. This often leads to their own mental and physical ill health. Neglecting one’s own needs and health can lead to a tired, exhausted, frustrated and emotionally drained carer.

Being in such a position can adversely affect the decision making process of a carer and, in turn, their caring capacity. It may even adversely affect the relationship between the carer and their relative.

A carer who cares for him/herself is able to better care for their loved one.

How to care for you

• Devote at least 15 minutes a day to yourself, and do what you enjoy doing eg. going for walks, talking to friend, reading a book, sitting down with a cup of tea, watching your favourite TV show etc.
• Plan for longer breaks. Use respite services if available
• Attend support groups for carers/relatives
• Avoid extra pressures or unnecessary tasks – some tasks can be done at another time
• Try to get out of the house at least once a day.
• Eat regular healthy meals.
• Exercise regularly.

WHAT SORT OF QUESTIONS SHOULD I BE ASKING?

Caring for someone with a mental illness is a new experience for most people. Often it is a role they never expected or imagined they would need to take.

It is often an area that is new to them, and they are unsure of the types of things they need to know and the types of questions they need to be asking.

Mental Health Professional/ Team – The Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Case-manager or GP can provide information to you in terms of what your relative is experiencing. Sometimes because of confidentiality, mental health professionals will not be able to discuss some of the issues affecting your relative. However, you can still let him/her know of your concerns.

In your capacity as a carer, you may have information and insight that could assist the health professional better care for your relative.

Some useful questions to ask mental health professionals:
• What are the side effects of the medication?
• What other treatment options are available?
• How do I find out more about my care recipients mental illness?
• What do I do if there is a crisis?
• Are there support groups that will help my relative, or help me?
• What can I do if my relative refuses to take medication?
• Is there any place that can help my relative with accommodation?
• Is there anything or any place that can assist with the social needs of my relative?
• Is my relative able to work at the moment? If so, who can help him/her look for a job?
• What are the rights of my relative when s/he is in hospital?
• What are my rights as a carer?

Relative – In your role as a carer, it is often easy to forget to simply ask the person you are caring for if they are happy with the assistance you and others are providing. It is easy to start ‘telling’ the person what they ‘should’ be doing.

This approach or attitude may negatively affect your relationship. To prevent this just ask for their opinion.

It is often a good idea to bring up some of the following issues when the person is well and willing to talk.
• Are you happy with the mental health worker? Would you like a second opinion?
• Would you like to speak with someone else, if it is difficult for you to discuss things with me?
• When you are experiencing psychosis (or going through a difficult time), what can I do to help? .... or what do I say that will help?.....what are the things that I should not say?
• How else can I help you?

HOW TO HELP SOMEONE EXPERIENCING A PSYCHOTIC EPISODE

• Remove any immediate danger eg. sharp objects and ensure that your relative is in a safe environment.

• If the person is a danger to him/herself or to someone else, contact the nearest Mental Health Crisis Team.

• If there is no immediate danger, but you are concerned for the person, speak to their case manager. The case manager can assist you if you feel your relative is in need of more specialised hospital care, a second opinion, or a change in medication or doctor.

• If your relative is expressing to you ideas of paranoia, hallucinations or hearing voices, it is better not to flatly deny it, or enter into arguments about it. Such ideas or feelings are very real to the person experiencing them. You can communicate to them that you understand their viewpoint but that it differs from yours. eg “ You may believe that Fred next door is spying on you, but I believe that he is an avid gardener who enjoys spending time in the garden.”

• A delusion is not amenable to reason, so it needs no discussion.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR RELATIVE IS SUICIDAL

People with a mental illness sometimes think and talk about suicide. Such thoughts are not uncommon for someone experiencing an acute episode of a mental illness. It does not necessarily mean that they will harm themselves.

However it is important that your relative discusses his/her thoughts with their doctor as soon as possible.

Suicide threats, especially when someone has a plan of how they will carry it out, require urgent attention. Your relative may experience hallucinatory voices that suggest suicide. Take ALL suicide threats seriously.

You may also like to attend suicide prevention workshops and suicide awareness presentations to learn how to identify risk factors associated with suicide and learn the necessary actions that need to be taken.

If there is a crisis:
* Call your local mental health crisis team (always keep the phone number at a convenient location and find out if it is a 24 - hour service).
*If your relative is willing, you can take him/her to the Emergency Department at the nearest hospital.
*You can also call ‘000’ and request help from the emergency services.

You may also like to inform the health professional treating your relative or friend. They have a duty of care to provide advice and support.

Guided Meditation self help Videos to help you relax
Includes meditation clips for total beginners with Tonal healing qualities and visuals. Just watch and you will feel amazing afterward.

Meditation is simply a mental exercise that affects body processes. Just as physical exercise has certain psychological benefits, meditation has certain physical benefits. The purpose of meditation is to gain control over your attention so that you can choose what to focus on rather than being subject to the unpredictable ebb and flow of environmental circumstances.

Diet change strategies:

When You Crave A Good Feeling

Some moods trigger food cravings -- and vice versa. The challenge is to keep both in check.

Think of your body as an insanely complex, gooey car. Put in gas and oil (a balanced diet), and you're good to go. Put in nicotine, alcohol, caffeine, weird, manufactured fats, gummy, washed-out flour, and sugar, and it's like pouring sugar into the gas tank. You'll sputter, run on, stop and start, or stall.

Put Food In, See a Difference

Senior New York University clinical nutritionist Samantha Heller, MS, RD, would probably prefer an analogy to a chemistry set. "If you are chemically balanced," Heller contends, "your moods will be balanced."

A lot of factors can throw the body out of balance. "A lot of women are anemic," she says. "This leads to depression and fatigue. Older people are often deficient in the B vitamins. People who don't eat regularly often have big shifts in blood sugar." People also have chemical sensitivities to certain foods that can govern mood.

In a study of 200 people done in England for the mental health group known as Mind, subjects were told to cut down on mood "stressors" they consumed, while increasing the amount of mood "supporters." Stressors included sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and chocolate (more of that coming up). Supporters were water, vegetables, fruit, and oil-rich fish.

Eighty-eight percent of the people who tried this reported improved mental health. Specifically, 26% said they had fewer mood swings, 26% had fewer panic attacks and anxiety, and 24% said they experienced less depression.

How Moods Are Fed or Starved

One big set of chemicals that control mood are the neurotransmitters in the brain led by the pleasure "drug" serotonin. These substances determine whether you feel good and energetic or tired, irritable, and spacey. They run on sugar, preferably the form that comes from low glycemic carbohydrates (not doughnut sprinkles), according to Molly Kimball, RD, sports and lifestyle nutritionist at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation and Hospital in New Orleans.

The idea, she says, is to maintain a stable blood sugar level through the day, slowly feeding these substances into the brain. Low glycemic carbs include whole grain bread, beans, whole grain crackers, soy, apples, pears, peaches, and other fruits.

What Kimball calls "crappy carbs" -- commercial granola bars, animal crackers, graham crackers, potato chips, and of course, cakes and pies -- flood into the system too fast and cause your body to order up a big shot of insulin, which then tips the balance you've tried to maintain. "You can see it when you've had a white flour pancake and syrup for breakfast," Kimball says. "By mid-afternoon, you're ready for a nap." This sugar alert/insulin cycle can gradually become less efficient and lead to diabetes and other problems.

Comfort Foods Really Work

If you have let your neurotransmitters get off balance or if external forces have conspired to put you in a bad mood, don't fret, it happens. That's when your body will start to think "comfort food."

According to Joy Short, MS, RD, assistant professor and head of undergraduate nutrition and dietetics at St. Louis University, you should fulfill that craving -- but in moderation. "You might take time to think, 'Am I really hungry or just feel like eating because I am stressed,'" she says.

However, if you can't think of a healthier response, eat your comfort item and enjoy it! If you must eat a deep-fried Twinkie, eat one and lighten up on (but don't skip) the rest of the meals in the day, she says.

You could make comfort foods more nutritional, she says. Interestingly, both men and women choose ice cream as their preferred comfort food, but coming in second is chocolate for women and pizza for men. "If you want a cookie, make it oatmeal raisin or vanilla wafers. Buy low-fat ice cream. Make your hot chocolate with skim milk. And forget the chips, in favor of popcorn or pretzels," Short says. Or after Domino's arrives, throw some artichoke pieces, anchovies, or frozen veggies on top and heat.

What about that universal comfort food, chocolate? Much has been written about chocolate's rich complement of mood-altering chemicals, some of which trip the serotonin receptors and cause a "falling in love" feeling, according to millions of chocoholics.

Chocolate is also supposedly loaded with antioxidants that keep the brain and other organs from being bashed by rogue cells called free radicals. Kimball says chocolate can act almost as a cannabinoid -- the mood-altering chemical found in marijuana. But Heller and Short say the touchy-feely chemicals are not in sufficient strength to make a difference in the body.

Recommendations for Managing Moods

• Maintain a stable blood sugar, no big swings. This means frequent small meals and snacks, every four hours or so.
• Be sure to drink a lot of water and juice.
• Exercise 20 minutes a day for mood -- and an hour for fat-burning.
• Do not follow an extremely low-fat diet (quick weight loss is also bad for mood, Heller says). Fat is needed for anti-depression. Stick with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and fatty fish or flaxseeds, which are full of healthy omega-3 fats.
• Take in tryptophan, an amino acid that makes blood sugar accessible to the neurotransmitters. This means milk or turkey. Eat a carb alongside your tryptophan source for better absorption.
• Have breakfast.
• Spend time in the produce department when you shop (try to eat a lot of bright colors, which means fruits and veggies).
• Pass on food items that come wrapped in crackly cellophane.
• Limit coffee (even nutritionist Kimball drinks some).
• Don't eliminate any one food group, such as carbs.

HERBS

Herbs and related supplements are one natural treatment alternative for mental health disorder patients. Some patients prefer to use natural treatment choices as stand alone treatment, whereas others use them in combination with medication and psychotherapy. Work with your health care practitioner to find out what is best for you.

The best place to get quality supplements is from a natural healthcare provider. There are dozens of supplements marketed on supermarket shelves today, but many of these do not receive standardization. It is important if you decide to use supplements that you get the best quality supplement possible.

Here is a listing of a few supplements that healthcare providers have used for many years to treat symptoms of bipolar and related disorders. Most herbs come from plants and can help relax or provide support with sleep disorders and depression in patients.

Black Cohosh – This may affect one’s hormones, which may be one cause for symptoms of some mental health disorders.

Damiana – Often used to help lessen depression, but may cause mania in people with bipolar disorder.

Ginseng – May help provide more energy to people who feel fatigue during depressive states.

Gotu Kola – May help address symptoms of anxiety.

St. John’s Wort – One of the most popular of herbal supplements supported with scientific research that may help lessen mild depression. Again, one should use with caution and can interact with other medications including antidepressants.

Vitamin & Nutrient Associations

If you suffer from mental health disorders, it is important you eat well to nourish your body. Deficiencies of vitamins and minerals can contribute to your symptoms. Deficiencies of vitamins and minerals in anyone can contribute to symptoms including anxiety, depression and poor health.

A good quality multivitamin is a good start, especially if you do not have a history of eating well. Even if you do eat well, not all people absorb the vitamins and nutrients from their foods completely, so a multivitamin may help correct any shortages.

Many therapists recommend patients with bipolar disorder take extra B vitamins because these vitamins may affect our moods. A deficiency in vitamin B of any type may result in symptoms of depression or anxiety.

B vitamins are also often recommended to people to help lessen fatigue. For most, B vitamins help energize the body. There are many forms of B vitamins, so your best bet is a complex tablet containing all the B vitamins. For your information, here is a breakdown of the B vitamins by category.

• B-1 – Also known as “Thiamin.” This may impact anxiety, irritability and improve blood circulation in the brain and body.

• B-6 – Also known as “Pyridoxine.” This B vitamin may help reduce irritability. Doctors sometimes recommend it to patients with premenstrual irritability and agitation. You can take too much however, so be sure you consult with your doctor.

• B-12 – This vitamin helps convert what you eat into fuel for your body. It is most helpful for reducing drowsiness.

• Folic Acid – Important for preserving the body’s systems and biochemical balance. Careful however, as this supplement may interact with some of the more commonly prescribed mood stabilizers including Depakene.

Other vitamins that may prove helpful may include vitamin E, which may combat the risk of seizures often associated with the use of traditional medication therapies.

Here are some other supplements and nutrients that may prove useful for combating the symptoms of mental health disorders.

SAMe (pronounced Sammy) – This supplement may affect levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, but carries with it a risk of mania.

Tyrosine – Often used in combination with B vitamins, this amino acid is a precursor to dopamine and norepinephrine, important neurotransmitters in the body. What this means is your body needs tyrosine to make norepinephrine and dopamine.

GABA – May help relieve some symptoms including anxiety, insomnia, racing thoughts and tension in patients with bipolar or related disorders.

Essential Fatty Acids – Essential fatty acids are important for our entire body to work properly. They nourish the brain and may help reduce symptoms of depression. You can get essential fatty acids by eating more fatty fishes and flax seed or by taking an Omega 3 supplement. Some healthcare providers recommend as much as 5,000 I.U. or more for patients with severe depression. Be sure you check in with your doctor. Most over-the-counter supplements contain only 1,000 I.U. per serving.

Lecithin – This substance may help stabilize mood swings. If you plan to use this supplement, you should do so while working with a natural health care provider.

Calcium – Calcium is a mineral our bodies need for proper neurotransmitter production. Look for a supplement with calcium and magnesium to heighten the effects. A lack in magnesium can often lead to insomnia and anxiety.

Zinc – This important and often ignored mineral is often lacking in many people’s diet. It can help combat colds and may help reduce some symptoms of depression or other mental disorders.

Remember, as with herbal supplementation you should embark on vitamin and nutritional therapy under a skilled practitioner’s guidance.

Even when we try to eat well, we're disadvantaged. The nutritional content of most food has been compromised over the years, not only by deficient soils and modern production, transportation, storage and processing methods, but also by the enormous amounts of chemical and artificial substances added to promote growth, storage life, taste and appearance.

It's for this reason that more and more medical authorities are advocating the use of vitamin and mineral supplements. However, finding them in the right combination can be both confusing and costly.

The nutrition products I am going to recommend you make use of knowledge gained from the botanical world's 6,000 year history. They incorporated health building nutritional herbs with the best modern technology to help our bodies cleanse and detoxify so that the cells - the tiniest living units - can be as fully nourished as possible.

This allows the cells to grow, repair and to perform their functions with the best possible efficiency so that we feel and look better and are more able to prevent and fight disease. Once the body begins to clear itself of toxins it can more efficiently absorb nutrition.

As Aloe Vera Juice is a refreshing and anti-bacterial drink, you might find that taking this daily, diluted in some filtered water will not only refresh you like ‘a shower inside you’ but also assists in dealing with any digestive issues you may also be experiencing.

You may find benefit from our information on detoxification as well as a bit about detoxing because of change of diet

It may be due to difficulties with your digestive system that is causing your body to be starved of key nutrients, vitamins or minerals. In this case you may find useful answers by reviewing our article on Nutrition For Your Cells. There is also more information here about why is nutrition such an issue nowadays?

It may be that your metabolism has slowed due to pressures that have been placed on your system through life in general or through specific “challenges” you have faced in the last few months or last few years. Review this by looking at our article about balancing your Metabolic Rate.

Further reading through our articles on health issues will give you a body of information that will help you decide what options you have to deal with the underlying causes of your problem through giving your body the nutrition products that will assist you body to heal from the inside out.

Most mental health disorders are complex and often misunderstood, that affects millions of people every year. It is important that patients understand their disorder is one that they can live with, and even learn to enjoy life with.

There are many misconceptions surrounding mental health disorders. There are times when a patient’s symptoms may become very serious. In cases like this it is critical a person seek professional care and guidance. A mental health disorder can manifest in many different ways. It can for example, manifest as a mild disorder with mild mood swings, or a major mood disorder with swings that are very extreme.

There are many approaches to treating a mental disorder. A patient should always work with a competent doctor or other healthcare provider they can rely and trust on in times of need. Also important to one’s health is his or her ability to build a supportive wellness team.

Your wellness team can help you during the tough times, offering support and helping you make critical decisions when you may not be up to it. The most important step a patient can take, the one that will ultimately lead to their success and fulfillment, is to take a proactive role in their recovery and in their care. To do this, you must first embrace and accept the fact that you have a mental health disorder.

Once you do this, life gets a lot easier. You can then help manage your disorder by working actively with each member of your wellness team as well as with members of your family and your healthcare team to create an action plan that allows you to live a happy, healthy life. Many people live with mental health disorders. Your job is to learn to not only live with, but also learn to enjoy life with bipolar disorder or any serious ailment.

Congratulations on taking a step in the right direction, one that will lead to your long-term recovery and happiness.

We wish you well in your search for solutions to this problem and your movement towards better health in all areas.

More Resources available about Mental Health :



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WHERE TO GO FOR HELP

• Your local GP
• Your local Community Health Centre (see listing in White Pages)
• Look under “Counselling” Services listed in the Yellow Pages e.g.s Unifam, Interrelate, Relationships Australia
• NSW Mental Health Information Service Ph. (02) 9816 5688 or 1800 674 200 (Outside Sydney Metro)

• Mental Health Information Service Phone (02) 9816 5688/ 1 800 674 200 (Outside Sydney metro)
• ARAFMI Phone (02) 9805 1883/ 1800 655 198
• The Schizophrenia Fellowship Phone (02) 9879 2600
• Community Health Centres See listing under 'Community Health Centres' in the White Pages
• Lifeline 24 hour, 7day telephone counselling service 13 11 14
• Telefriend -telephone counselling (02) 9419 8622

Web: www.mentalhealth.asn.au

• Mental Health Information Service 02 9816 5688 or toll free 1800 674 200 (Outside Sydney metro) - Telephone information and referral service.

• Association for Relatives and Friends of the Mentally Ill (ARAFMI): 24hr phone service and support groups for families and relatives of the mentally ill. • (02) 9805 1883/ 1800 655 198- 24 hours

• Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW: (02) 9879 2600 - for information/support/referral

• Sane Australia: 1800 688 382 - for information/referral

• Carers NSW: 1800 242 636 - Respite, support.

• LifeForce – Suicide Prevention Program 02 9874 2111 - Workshops on suicide risk assessment.

Reference:

• A Caregivers Guide to Living with Mental Illness - www.mentalwellness.com/helphope/hopeq1.htm

• ‘Help? It’s out There! Fact sheet from the Mental Health Information Service, 02 9816 5688

• A SANE Guide for Carers: A guide for family and friends of people with a mental illness. From Sane Australia, www.sane.org, 03 9682 5933

• Carer support: Looking after Yourself. From Carer Resource Centre, 1800 242 636

• NAMI- National Alliance for the mentally ill – Coping Tips for Siblings and Adult Children of Persons with a mental illness, http//www.nami.org/helpline/siblings.htm

• Woolis, R (1992). When Someone You Love Has a Mental Illness: A Handbook for Family, Friends and Caregivers.

Disclaimer
The information provided is to be used for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for seeking professional care in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders. Information may be reproduced with an acknowledgement to the Mental Health Association NSW. This, and other fact sheets are available for download from www.mentalhealth.asn.au. This fact sheet was last updated in Spring, 2002.



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When you were younger, it seemed as if the world had so much to offer. You’d think about all the possibilities open and you seem to be excited about the …

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