1. How My Personal War Affects My Son

    October 1, 2013

    by Matthew L (personal story)

    During my last hospitalization the ex wife and I came to the decision that my son would not come to visit me while I was on the psych ward. At the time he was three and we did not think that a visit on the psych ward was appropriate for him. Normally the ward is a rather calm and boring place to be but there is times when the floor goes off so we did not want to take the chance plus I was going through withdrawal off of Effexor, Wellbutrin, Remeron and Lithium which had my brain going every which way but the right way. Not exactly the image I wanted to be presented to my son.


    Every couple of days I would call my son to see how he was doing and what he was up too. These phone calls were essential for the father son relationship but at the same time they took their toll. Mentally I was in an awful place so I needed to psych myself up for the phone call so he wouldn’t have any reason to be worried. My son was told the reason I was in the hospital was because my medications were not working right so the doctors were trying to find the right ones which is basically the reason I was there simplified.


    During every phone call my three year old would ask when I was going to be coming home and if I was better which tore my heart out but I always managed to answer him that Daddy was working very hard and would be home soon. After the calls mentally I was a wreck as I felt I was a terrible parent causing stress on someone so young and a couple of times it put me right over the edge. Thankfully every time this happened a good nurse would be on and helped me to work through it.


    When it came time for me to go home and my son started his routine visits again every time he saw me he would ask if I was okay which is a brutal question to answer for a parent as it makes you realize that you are not the only one being affected by mental illness. Since my ex wife became pregnant I promised my child to be the best father possible and always be there for him and my personal demons are preventing this from happening to the full extent.


    There have been occasions when I have compared whether or not my son would be better off if I was dead and there is a lot of reason on how it could be viewed as positive but I also know that the odds of a child committing suicide because his or her parent did is sky high. The part that always stops this train of thought is that even though at times I am not on top of my game at least I am still there trying and the hope that with time I can be the parent I want to be so I continue to fight.


    My son is what stops me from ending this hell that I live in, my son is the reason I have been trying so damn hard to win this war and my sons laughter is what fuels me for the battles ahead. I don’t really care what happens to me but I care what happens to him and that is all I need to keep going.

    Image Credit: Daniel Horacio Agostini – www.flickr.com/photos/dhammza/100817327

  2. How to Beat Depression… with Diet

    August 24, 2013

    beat depression

    Depression is a common problem though its severity and symptoms do vary. Unlike occasional sadness that we all feel from time to time, depression is a chronic issue that claims around 850,000 lives each year. There are different types of depression including:

    Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – A disorder that only affects people at certain times of he year, most notably around the winter months with a kind of ‘cabin fever,’ where you may find yourself feeling more sad than normal.


    Postpartum Depression – A type of depression that occurs within women that have recently given birth. This form of depression can be a result of powerful emotions that can lead to psychotic episodes.


    Bipolar Disorder – This affects 3 out of every 100 adults and can occur when the chemicals in your brain are not balanced.


    How to spot the signs of depression?


    There are ways to spot if you or a loved one are depressed, here are a few of the telltale signs:


    • Constantly feeling sad, irritable or tense
    • Lack of interest in the usual hobbies
    • A lack of energy
    • Changes in appetite, with either weight loss or gain
    • A change in sleeping patterns
    • A lack of concentration
    • Feelings of worthlessness
    • Thoughts of suicide and death


    If you experience any of these thoughts for an extended period of time then it is important that you  talk to clinical psychologist or psychotherapist, if left untreated depression gets much worse. Remember that depression is not always just a state of mind, often there are other factors too including hormone or chemical imbalances. I know that there is a social stigma surrounding depression and that it may feel easier to bottle up your feelings but this will not help in the long run.


    Could your diet help?


    Although depression is not always caused by one issue your diet can help you to take a step in the right direction. A lack of certain vitamins, nutrients and fatty acids can contribute to depression so it is important that you try to eat a healthy balanced diet, while avoiding any unnatural and processed food choices.

    Here are a few food options that could help to improve your mood:


    An omelet

    Eggs contain important B vitamins that have been shown to help lessen the severity of depression. Vitamins B-6 and B-12 are particularly important as they can improve neural function, meaning your moods can be improved.

    Eggs also contain protein so can help keep you full for longer and can stabilize blood sugar levels meaning you wont experience those sugar highs and lows associated with high sugar foods.


    Nuts and seeds

    Both nuts and seeds contain magnesium that can naturally increase your production of serotonin, a chemical that helps you to feel good. They are the perfect alternative to traditional snacks as long as you stick to the unsalted and unsweetened versions.


    Cold water fish

    Cold water fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel are full of omega-3 fatty acids that can help increase the amount of grey matter in your brain. These fatty acids are an essential material for our brain. Those with severe depression have been noted as having less grey matter than others. Again fish is a good source of protein, so the usual benefits of protein can be experienced. It is unlikely that you can enough enough fish to get sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, you will likely need to take supplements as well. In case of depression you need supplements with high EPA-to-DHA ratio.


    Ancient grains

    Grains such as quinoa and barley are less likely to be processed and refined with sugar so will not be digested as quickly as those refined with wheat flour and sugar. This will stop any blood sugar spikes and subsequent drop that can result in fatigue, food cravings and mood swings.


    Green tea

    In most green tea varieties you will find the amino acid L-theanine that has been shown in EEG tests to stimulate alpha brain waves, which can help to improve your focus and have a calming effect on your body.


    In conclusion


    Depression is a serious condition and if you suffer from it then you should speak to a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist. A healthy diet can help, but it can only supplement psychotherapy.


    Author Bio: Jac Jenkins is a stay at home Mom passionate about health and fitness. She writes about diets such as the Fasting Diet at her own blog.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/abstrato/418493178

  3. Extra Tools to Help Effectively Manage Bipolar Disorder

    August 3, 2013

    bipolar disorder

    by Tricia Chilcott

    Bipolar disorder is a serious psychiatric disease. I know because I live with it. Every day. I know from firsthand experience how much it sucks. I understand the major negative impact it can have on all areas of your life, including things like personal relationships, job performance, and your finances. If you’ve been recently diagnosed, or are having medication management problems, the debilitating effects can throw you into a deep depression which you feel like you’ll never get out of. I’ve been there myself, and I can assure you, the right combination of meds is out there, don’t despair!

    But besides medications, what else can you do to effectively manage your disorder? There are a multitude of tools that you can add to your arsenal to help combat this illness. These are things that have been proven to help by numerous research studies. One of those tools you can use is seeing a therapist regularly, even if you don’t think you need one. A therapist can help you identify what you triggers are, and teach you effective, and healthy coping skills to deal with those events.

    Another thing that can help is practicing good sleep hygiene. I don’t think I can emphasize this one enough. Just a personal example, but I have a 3 day window for poor sleep habits before they trigger an episode in me. I know if I got more than 3 days without sleep, I’ll start cycling into a manic episode, and I contact my doctor. On the flip side, if I go a week or more being unable to get out of bed and sleeping 18 hours a day, it’s time to call my doctor as well. Healthy sleep habits is one of the most effective tools a person can use in stabilizing their disorder. This means going to bed at a reasonable hour, and getting up in the morning at the same time every day. I know some of you are shaking your head at this because insomnia can seem impossible to overcome without medications, but just trying these things can’t hurt,, and I get it where you’re coming from. I take a sleeping pill to get me to sleep every night. But doing what you can to try and establish healthy sleeping habits can potentially have positive effects. This includes things like turning off the TV and computer at least an hour before bed, not drinking caffeine after 6 PM, and not exercising right before bed. Also, keep your bedroom as tranquil as possible and keep electronics out of it. Use your bedroom for sleeping only.

    Of course, exercising regularly can help keep your disorder in check, there are numerous studies that have empirically proven the benefits of exercise in regards to mental illnesses such as major depression and bipolar disorder. In addition to keeping your body healthy, it is recommended that people with bipolar disorder abstain from drinking alcohol, as this tends to exacerbate their symptoms. As much as I hate getting out, I force myself to zumba twice a week, and although I dread going every time, I leave feeling reinvigorated and glad I went. So even if you don’t feel like getting up and moving around, do it anyway! I promise it’ll make you feel better.

    One thing that has proven helpful to many bipolar patients is keeping a mood journal. This is a very useful tool that you use to track your mood everyday, and to also add in what activities you did that day that might have impacted your mood. You can also add how much sleep you got the night before, if you napped or not during the day, if you worked out, and how your eating habits were. There are several apps that you can download to help you keep track of these, or you can find an example online and print it off. This is also a very helpful thing to show your doctor when you meet with them.

    The last suggestion I have is for you to adopt a routine and stick to it. Have a list of things you need to accomplish each day, and work towards accomplishing them. Not only does this give you a sense of purpose, but it also helps you build your self esteem as you are able to cross off activities you’ve accomplished each day. These don’t have to be huge projects your taking on, they can be as simple as taking a short walk outside, watering your garden, doing the dishes, getting one load of laundry done, or even showering and getting dressed for the day.

    These might seem like mundane activities, and unlikely to help you manage your disorder better to boot. I can assure you that by making these small changes to your life, you will feel more in control of your disorder, and happier and healthier overall. I know this for a fact because many of the things I’ve touched on are things I do myself to manage my disorder. It’s true I’m on an effective drug cocktail, but medications can only take you so far. At some point, you have to start putting more effort in as well. I promise if you do, you’ll be amazed at the benefits you will reap from it. I hope you’ve found this an informative read, good luck in managing your disorder, and God bless!

    Image Credit: Giulia Bartra

  4. Just what is bipolar disorder exactly?

    June 17, 2013

    living with bipolar disorder

    by: Tricia Chilcott

    What is bipolar disorder?

    What is bipolar disorder? Who gets it? What are the symptoms? What about medications? These
    are all important questions about bipolar disorder, and I’m going to try and answer them here.
    According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder is ‘ a brain disorder that
    causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day
    tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They are different from the normal ups and
    downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in
    damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide’.

    Living with bipolar disorder

    I know from experience just how much havoc being bipolar can create in your life. Since I was
    diagnosed 8 years ago, I’ve had 4 hospital stays, with the first one lasting 6 weeks, and the most
    recent stay lasting 3 weeks. This has been a huge burden on my family, and problematic in my
    marriage as well. I made the decision to go off my meds back in December, and by February I
    had crashed hard, thus landing me back in the hospital. It was not a pretty sight in the slightest.
    Thanks to a good doctor and a wonderful husband, I’m back on my meds and doing fantastically.
    But what about medications for bipolar? There are a number of medications avaialble, and
    literally hundreds of ways they can be mixed together to try and find the perfect cocktail.
    Medications include mood stabilizers such as lithium, anticonvulsants such as Lamictal, atypical
    antipsychotics such as Abilify, and antidepressants such as Zoloft. One issue with medication
    management is that many people with bipolar disorder have comorbid conditions, making
    them need additional medications as well. For example, in addition to being bipolar, I also have
    ADHD, PTSD, and anxiety, so my cocktail consists of Concerta, Welbutrin, Abilify, Klonopin,
    Ambien, and Xanax. My psychiatrist is trying to convince me that I need Trileptal as well, but
    it’s a battle he’s not winning.

    Who gets bipolar disorder?

    So who gets bipolar disorder? It is estimated that approximately 2% of the general population
    has bipolar disorder whether diagnosed or not. According to the DSM-IV, there are actually
    4 variations of bipolar disorder, which include Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Bipolar-NOS, and
    cyclothymia. What do all of these mean? People with Bipolar I not only have the severe downs,
    but they have severe ups as well, or they have what’s called a mixed state, which includes
    features of both depressive and manic symptoms. People with Bipolar II don’t have the manic
    highs, instead they swing from very depressed to hypomanic. Bipolar-NOS are people who have
    symptoms, but don’t fall into either of the above two categories. And then cyclothemia is a mild
    form of bipolar disorder, one in which the person experiences highs and lows, but not the very
    low depressive states, and not the high manic states. You may also have genetic predisposition to bipolar disorder. It’s been recently discovered that that bipolar disorder, ADHD, and schizophrenia may all be linked to the same set of genes.

    You are in excellent company

    So what does this all mean for the bipolar patient? It can mean a lot of time spent with a doctor
    figuring out medications. It can mean a lot of frustration as medications are sorted out and
    therapy is started. But it also means you are in excellent company! You may feel alone in this battle, but many others have fought it and won. I’m sure you’ve heard of Abraham Lincoln, as well as Winston Churchill, and even Charles Dickens. Or perhaps you’ve heard of a lovely lady named Marilyn Monroe? Kurt Cobain? Or if you’re more current than that, how about Catherine Zeta-Jones? These creative geniuses all have or had bipolar disorder. Many bipolar patients are creative geniuses in their own right, but it comes with that hefty price tag of the extreme mood swings.

    Don’t give up!

    One thing many people living with bipolar disorder pride themselves on is having the ability
    to walk that fine line between insanity and brilliance. We may stumble and fall off that tight rope occasionally, but there is hope for us, and we are not alone in our fight with this. There is support available, there is treatment that works, and recovery is possible. I am living proof of
    this, as are many other successful bipolar people I know. So don’t give up! Don’t give in! The night is always darkest before the dawn, and when you’re in the pits of despair and want to give up, that is the darkest hour. But I promise you, the dawn will come, perhaps when you least expect it. You’ll find a medication that works, a treatment plan that is right for you, and you will see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I was in the pit of despair for a long time, but I pulled myself out of it with the help of medications and therapy. I know for a fact this can happen for others suffering from this disease as well. Keep the faith, and hold on tight to the knowledge that there is the right treatment plan for you, and you too can lead a productive life as well. Good luck, and God bless!

    Image Credit: Spencer Williams

  5. 5 Most Common Mental Illnesses Seen In High School Kids

    April 25, 2013


    by Cindy Peters, School Psychologist

    Struggling with a mental illness at any age can be emotionally devastating and overwhelming for some. High school students have difficult enough time fitting in, maintaining their grades and planning for their futures let alone struggling with a mental illness during the process. Understanding the five most common mental illnesses seen in high school kids can help to better relate and empathize with individuals who may be facing a challenge during some of the toughest years of their lives.


    Depression is a common mental disorder and illness that not only affects high school students, but children, adults and the elderly alike. Depression causes overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, sadness and in severe instances, thoughts or actions related to suicide. Depression can be brought on by stress, interference with home life and other relationships in a high school teen’s life. Avoiding family and friends, withdrawing from everyday activities, an increase in sleep and the inability to focus are also signs of depression. Overcoming depression is possible with psychotherapy, becoming self-aware and in some cases, even medication.


    Anxiety is another common mental illness that can become overbearing depending on the severity of the disorder and the patient’s surroundings. Anxiety causes individuals to avoid situations and people, especially when being around them triggers sweating, nausea and full-blown panic attacks. Teens struggling with anxiety may ultimately begin slacking in class, avoiding friends and even skipping school altogether. Anxiety can make it increasingly challenge to feel safe and without worry, even in a classroom environment. Recognizing triggers and causes of anxiety in an individual is a key factor in recovering and determining the right methods of treatment. According to psychologists, anxiety and depression are two most common mental health issues causing people seek psychotherapy.

    Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

    Obsessive compulsive disorder, also known as OCD, is a mental illness that can feel suffocating to teens and any individual suffering with it. OCD can cause mental blocks that trigger patients to feel the need to count obsessively, move objects without reason and worry and fear unnecessarily. Repeated cleaning and washing while handling intrusive thoughts are all part of OCD, which can wreak havoc on anyone’s life. Various forms of psychotherapy, medication and self-reflection treatments are available when overcoming OCD depending on the symptoms the patient is dealing with and the severity of the compulsions.

    Substance Abuse

    Substance abuse is another disorder that can ultimately lead to an out of control lifestyle, especially for teens who are still in high school. Abusing substances is often a behavior that is picked up and learned from a parents or guardian. Becoming addicted to alcohol, drugs and even prescription pills can cause teens to depend on them to function with everyday activities and social situations. Substance abuse can be treated by enrolling in a rehabilitation center or by becoming self-aware that there is a problem that needs to be fixed to live healthier and happier.

    Bipolar Disorder

    Bipolar disorder is another mental illness that can wreak havoc on anyone’s life, especially teens who are trying to get through their years in high school. Bipolar disorder is an illness that causing an imbalance of chemicals in the brain of the patient. The individual suffering from bipolar disorder often experiences extreme mood swings referred to as “mania” and the “depressed” phases. Feeling extremely high and optimistic one day and devastatingly sad or hopeless the next may be signs of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is very serious mental illness and requires treatment and monitoring by a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist.

    Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sluys/6267948293

  6. Biploar, Depression, ADHD And Schizophrenia Share Common Genetic Issue

    April 18, 2013

    behavioral health treatment

    by Jared Friedman


    New study results are showing that bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and schizophrenia may all be linked to the same set of genes.

    The implications of this on the industry of mental health could be exceptionally helpful. Those suffering for one of these extreme disorders could benefit greatly from the better understanding of why each person has the symptoms or full-blown disorder that’s presenting in his or her life.

    Thousands Diagnosed

    33,332 individuals, who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, autism, or major depressive disorder, were compared with a control group of 27,888 individuals, who have not been diagnosed with any of these disorders. The volume of people examined makes this the largest study of its kind, on this subject matter, ever conducted.

    The study found that these five illnesses have common risk factors, mainly in flaws found on Chromosomes 2 and 10, and in two genes that are in charge of the flow of calcium in brain cells. While the genes and chromosomes themselves do not explain the occurrence of any of the listed disorders or the variation in symptoms that show up in different people as different disorders, the gene and chromosome identification serves as a piece of the puzzle that will help researchers and medical professionals better diagnose, treat, and develop new treatment options for those diagnosed with one of these illnesses.

    Genetic Study Research

    Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts and lead researcher is this genetic study, Dr. Jordan Smoller, states that: “This study, for the first time, shows that there are specific genetic variants that influence a range of childhood and adult-onset psychiatric disorders that we think of as clinically different. We also found that there was significant overlap in the genetic components of several disorders, especially schizophrenia with bipolar disorder and depression, and to a lesser extent autism with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.”

    It may be important to know that other recent study findings indicate that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that is usually diagnosed in children, can go on to be a lifelong disorder carrying into adulthood. The understanding of ADHD can prevent a person from always being adversely affected by the disorder’s symptoms.

    The Next Step

    The next step, in Dr. Smoller’s opinion, is to determine how the genetic and chromosomal variations happen. Without direct clinical application now, the study results just take the knowledge about the physical component of each disorder to a place of further examination with a high need for subsequent research. Further research results can then be used to more appropriately classify each disorder, to better predict those who are most at risk for each disorder, and to develop better overall treatment, including medications, for each disorder.

    The tricky part in all of this though is that someone can have the variations on the genes or chromosomes linked to bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, autism, or major depressive disorder and never show symptoms of any of these disorders. What does this mean? That a genetic or chromosomal abnormality does not automatically mean that one of these disorders is present in the individual.

    Chromosomal Indicators

    Dr. Smoller explains it as, “They [the genes and chromosomes] are not enough to predict any individual’s risk. And you might carry all of these variants and never develop a psychiatric disorder.” As of right now, the genetic and chromosomal indicators are just that, indicators, and tools that can be used to better understand what symptoms a person has been experiencing, but not as the be-all-end-all of bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, autism, or major depressive disorder diagnosis.

    With this study as a great next step in the understanding of symptoms and the listed disorders, further research and investigation will ideally lead to better overall diagnosis, treatment, and even prevention of suffering from bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, autism, or major depressive disorder.


    Author Bio: Jared Friedman is quality improvement manager for Sovereign Health Group a drug addiction center and mental health rehab center helping people with behavioral and addiction issues.