Changing The Way Society Understands Mental Health

From NAMIBlog by Theo Bennett:

It’s no secret that mental health is routinely treated differently than physical health, but sometimes it’s difficult to understand how or why this affects us. This disparity can take many shapes and forms, ranging from negative societal perceptions to discrimination in health coverage for mental health. Consequently, this unequal treatment of mental and physical illnesses leads to unequal results.

If we don’t recognize mental illnesses as physical health issues, then we will never get people the treatment that they need. One of the few certainties that I have learned from living with a father with bipolar disorder is that mental health is just as important as physical health. In fact, mental health is physical health; the two are inseparable. It baffles me that many people continue to make a distinction between the two.

In an effort to better understand the subtlety of mental illness, I have sought out opportunities that have changed both my life and my perception of mental illness. I went from reading articles online in my free time to doing hands-on research about the physiological development of mental illness at Dr. Renee Reijo-Pera’s Stem Cell Institute and the Center for Mental Health Research and Recovery at Montana State University.

While our current generation of medication and treatment can be frustrating at times, I have seen how learning more about the underlying biochemical pathways holds great promises for the future. My journey has also become an adventure all across the nation advocating for a more humanistic perspective of mental health. The ability to speak up and share what I’ve discovered with people and the chance to connect with others in similar experiences have been some of the most fulfilling experiences in my life…

– Read More at: http://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/April-2015/Changing-The-Way-Society-Understands-Mental-Health#sthash.mM6spo7N.dpuf

Also come see Theo Bennett speak at the 2015 NAMI National Convention in San Francisco during the Opening Session on Tuesday, July 7.

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Study: Child & Family Focused CBT Improves Symptoms of Pediatric Bipolar Disorder

From Psychiatric News Alert. A form of cognitive behavior therapy that involves the child with the family may be efficacious in reducing acute mood symptoms and improving long-term psychosocial functioning among children with bipolar disorder, according to a report appearing online in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Previous studies have found that family-based psychosocial treatments are effective adjuncts to pharmacotherapy among adults and adolescents with bipolar disorder (BD).

Amy E. West, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois-Chicago, and colleagues, randomly assigned 69 youth, aged 7 to 13 with bipolar I, II, or not otherwise specified (NOS) disorder (according to DSM-IV-TR) to either child and family focused CBT (CCF-CBT) or standard psychotherapy. CFF-CBT integrates principles of family-focused therapy with those of CBT and actively engages parents and children.

Both treatments consisted of 12 weekly sessions followed by six monthly booster sessions delivered over nine months. Independent evaluators assessed participants at baseline, week 4, week 8, week 12 (post-treatment), and week 39 (six-month follow-up).

They found that the CFF-CBT participants attended more sessions, were less likely to drop out, and reported greater satisfaction with treatment than controls. CFF-CBT demonstrated efficacy compared with standard psychotherapy in reducing parent-reported mania at post-treatment and depression symptoms at post-treatment and follow-up. Global functioning did not differ at post-treatment but was higher among CFF-CBT participants at follow-up.

For more on bipolar disorder in adolescents, see the Psychiatric News article “Link Found Between Glutamate, Adolescent Bipolar Disorder.

The Difference Between Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia

There are numerous mental illnesses that the medical field recognizes today, ranging from anxiety issues to depression and beyond. Two of the most serious problems are schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They’re also two of the most confusing issues, largely due to the fact that they share a number of similar symptoms. Because of this, it’s often difficult for even professional psychiatrists to make an accurate diagnosis between the two. 

However, there are a few things that can help. First, it’s worth understanding the differences and similarities. For starters, schizophrenia is classified as a psychotic disorder that leads to delusions, hallucinations, and more. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder, though it may manifest in ways that often seem similar to schizophrenia. 

The source of most confusion comes from the overlapping symptoms. For example, things like mania, depression, suicidal thoughts, social issues, and more are all common in both types of mental illness. The biggest difference lies in hallucinations. While those with bipolar disorder can experience hallucinations, they’re far more common among schizophrenics. And even when they do occur in those with a bipolar disorder, the patient will usually be far more alert and expressive when explaining those hallucinations. 

Many who begin to experience mental illness likely won’t even realize that they are suffering from the symptoms of one of these diseases – at the very least, they won’t be able to identify the specific issue they’re dealing with. Today, most psychiatrists will rely on counseling and on scans of brain activity in order to understand the exact problem. Since schizophrenic patients will show a loss of gray matter in their brain and those with bipolar disorder won’t show that loss, this is the primary method of distinguishing between the two when no other methods are working. 

No matter the problem, there are solutions. Modern medicine has led to numerous treatments that can help patients overcome bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. But the first step is simply figuring out which of the two one is suffering from. To find out more, contact us today.

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Understanding Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder

A diagnosis of rapid cycling bipolar disorder is made when a person experiences four separate episodes of bipolar signs and symptoms, such as major depression mania, hypomania, or mixed symptoms within one year.

For one in every five people with bipolar disorder, they must deal with these even more complicated aspects of their condition. This subtype of the condition in which the patient cycles through ups and downs at a much faster pace.

Rapid cycling disorder complicates the strategy for treating bipolar, but with the right diagnosis and ongoing treatment, most people are able to manage their illness. Patient’s report that it’s really hard to gain self-awareness with this illness, but once you are at that point, you can feel it coming and you try to do something about it. This type of bipolar disorder is more common in women and in those whose first episodes were in childhood or adolescence.

Signs of rapid cycling bipolar disorder are:

  • Rapid talking: Even if the patient doesn’t notice it herself, people will tell the patient to slow down.
  • Catastrophic thinking: When simple frustrations during the day such as bad traffic or a flat tire, cause the patient to believe nothing will ever go right.
  • Apathy: The patient is generally energetic and engaged in their life. Now she lacks the motivation to get going, knowing she is at risk of an episode.
  • Distrusting medication: Patient begins to think her medication isn’t working and considers not taking it. The family needs to suggest that she call her doctor or therapist instead.

Because rapid cycling disorder can also include periods of depression, people have their own individual bipolar signs that could signal an episode. Some will experience classic signs of mania, others will have classic signs of depression, and yet another group goes through the dangerous mixed state of being depressed yet full of manic energy.

What to do if your relative has Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder:

  • Stay in treatment: Treating bipolar disorder is complicated for everyone involved. The patient may need to try several medications under doctor’s supervision.
  • Try cognitive behavioral behavior: Cognitive behavioral therapy assists the patient to learn how to identify and alter their thought patterns that signal or trigger their moods.
  • Keep a routine: Commitment to a healthy routine provides a sound foundation for most days. A therapist can assist in developing structure.

REF: Everyday Health

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Four Mental Illness Recovery Patterns Identified in Study

A two-year study of patients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, or affective psychosis reveals four recovery trajectories and the factors that affect those outcomes. Generally speaking, those four trajectories are:

  • Stable with a high level of recovery
  • Stable with a lower level of recovery
  • Fluctuating high-level recovery
  • Fluctuating low-level recovery

Of the factors that affect recovery, having access to good-quality mental health care—defined as including satisfying relationships with clinicians, responsiveness to needs, satisfaction with psychiatric medications, receipt of services at needed levels, support in managing deficits in resources and strains, and care for general medical conditions—may facilitate or improve recovery trajectories.

These results are promising, because all too often, serious mental illness is seen as incurable, permanent, and progressively deteriorating. The reality is that as many as 60% to 70% of patients can achieve a measurable level of recovery. Carla Green Ph.D., M.P.H., and colleagues of the Center for Health Research at Kaiser Permanente Northwest, in Portland, Ore., reported the findings in their report, “Recovery From Serious Mental Illness: Trajectories, Characteristics, and the Role of Mental Health Care” in the December Psychiatric Services.

“Few demographic or diagnostic factors differentiated clusters at baseline. Consistent predictors of trajectories included psychiatric symptoms, physical health, resources and strains, and use of psychiatric medications.” 

The most consistent predictors of recovery were psychiatric symptoms and changes in those symptoms. Those in turn are dependent on good-quality care, which includes satisfaction with their clinicians and with the medications they are taking. “Providing such care has the potential to change recovery trajectories over time.”

Catherine Zeta-Jones Talks about Her Bipolar Disorder

A-list stars typically don’t get very candid in interviews, particularly when they are talking about bipolar disorder. However Catherine stated that bipolar is something that she has been dealing with for many years. Her soon to be ex-husband Michael’s diagnosis of cancer was a classic trigger which caused her lack of sleep, worry, and stress which brought on her voluntary hospitalization.

Catherine says that the reason she is so open about her illness is that she hopes to bring greater awareness to bipolar and the people who suffer with it every day. Hopefully this information will help end the stigma around mental illness.

Catherine’s movies include:

  • Legend of Zorro
  • Traffic
  • Chicago
  • The Terminal
  • Oceans 12
  • No Reservations
  • Side Effects
  • Red 2
  • Playing for Keeps
  • Rock of Ages
  • Broken City
  • High Fidelity
  • Lay the Favorite

and many more

Mental Illness Awareness Week 2013

It’s Time to Make a Difference

During much of the past year, Americans have engaged in a dialogue about mental illness, sparked by the tragedies in Aurora, Colo. and Newtown, Conn. Most people living with mental illness are not violent, but when violence does occur, the spotlight falls on holes in the mental health care system.

This year, the spotlight has had special intensity, including proposals by the President of the United States, congressional hearings and interest among state and local elected officials. During Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is Oct. 6-12, 2013, every community should pause to consider whether a true awakening has occurred, including greater investment in mental health care.

It’s time to make a difference.

Mental illness does not discriminate. It can strike anyone at any time. Fortunately recovery is possible. Treatment works, but only if a person can get it.

One in four American adults experience a mental health problem in any given year. One in five young people ages 13 to 18 also experience mental illness. In fact, one-half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14—three-quarters by age 24.

Unfortunately, there are long delays−sometimes decades−between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help. Less than one-third of adults and less than one-half of children with a diagnosed illness receive treatment.

Local NAMI affiliates stand ready to help in their areas. For residents in the Los Angeles South Bay, NAMI South Bay offers resources, classes, support groups and helpful information, beginning with the information available on this site. For affiliates in other areas, the national organization keeps an updated and interactive page you can find by CLICKING HERE or clicking on NAMI’s Affiliates-by-State map:

Key issues that affect access to mental health care include expansion of state Medicaid coverage for uninsured persons, mental health insurance parity and state spending on direct services. Spending money can involve difficult choices, but when it comes to mental health care, lack of coverage or cuts too often results in simply shifting costs to hospital emergency rooms, schools, police, courts, jails and broken families

When it comes to mental health care, we need to focus on “sooner” rather than simply “later.” As part of this year’s dialogue on mental illness, the challenge has been made not to fix the mental health care system but to build it anew—with much greater emphasis on early screening, diagnosis and treatment. This includes the need for effective school-based and school-linked mental health services. It also includes family education and support who too often are overwhelmed as caregivers.

During MIAW,  these are issues to talk about. Even more fundamentally, everyone should take care to know the nature of mental illness and the symptoms of different conditions such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Information about specific diagnoses and treatment options is available at www.nami.org.

No one should have to confront mental illness alone. Know where to find help in case it’s ever needed. Most people start with their primary care doctor. Many start by confiding in a close family member of friend.

Don’t be afraid to speak up. The U.S. Surgeon General has reported that stigma is a major barrier to people seeking help when they need it.  That’s why MIAW is so important.  The more people know, the better they can help themselves or their loved ones to get the support they need.