Resources

Depression

Depression is a serious medical illness that involves the brain. It’s more than just a feeling of being “down in the dumps” or “blue” for a few days. If you are one of the more than 20 million people in the United States who have depression, the feelings do not go away. They persist and interfere with your everyday life. Symptoms can include

  • Suicidal Feelings / Ideas
  • Loss of interest
  • Feelings of guilt / Shame
  • Isolation
  • Loss of Concentration
  • Decrease / Increase of appetite
  • Psychomotor restriction
  • Sexual inactivity or obsessive activity

Depression is a disorder of the brain. There are a variety of causes, including genetic, environmental, psychological, and biochemical factors. Depression usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30, and is much more common in women. Women can also get postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. Some people experience seasonal affective disorder in the winter. Depression is one part of bipolar disorder.

There are effective treatments for depression, including antidepressants and therapy. Most people do best by using both.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness. People who have it go through unusual mood changes. They go from very happy, “up,” and active to very sad and hopeless, “down,” and inactive, and then back again. They often have normal moods in between. The up feeling is called mania. The down feeling is depression.

The causes of bipolar disorder aren’t always clear. It runs in families. Abnormal brain structure and function may also play a role.

Bipolar disorder often starts in a person’s late teen or early adult years. But children and adults can have bipolar disorder too. The illness usually lasts a lifetime.

If you experience these types of symptoms, tell your health care provider. A medical checkup can rule out other illnesses that might cause your mood changes.

If not treated, bipolar disorder can lead to damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, family relationship discord, and even suicide. However, there are effective treatments to control symptoms: medicine and talk therapy. A combination usually works best.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe, lifelong brain disorder. People who have it may hear voices, see things that aren’t there or believe that others are reading or controlling their minds. In men, symptoms usually start in the late teens and early 20s. They include hallucinations, or seeing things, and delusions such as hearing voices. For women, they start in the mid-20s to early 30s. Other symptoms include:

  • Unusual thoughts or perceptions / Paranoia
  • Disorders of movement, face, eyes, limbs
  • Difficulty speaking and expressing emotions
  • Problems with attention, memory and organization, verbal obsessions
  • Hearing voices or being controlled by an external force

No one is sure what causes schizophrenia, but your genetic makeup and brain chemistry probably play a role. Medicines can relieve many of the symptoms, but it can take several trials before you find the right drug. You can reduce relapses by staying on your medicine for as long as your doctor recommends. With treatment, many people improve enough to lead satisfying lives.

Anxiety

Fear and anxiety are part of life. You may feel anxious before you take a test or walk down a dark street. This kind of anxiety is useful – it can make you more alert or careful. It usually ends soon after you are out of the situation that caused it. But for millions of people in the United States, the anxiety does not go away, and gets worse over time. They may have chest pains or nightmares. They may even be afraid to leave home. These people have anxiety disorders. Types include

  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Phobias
  • Generalized anxiety disorder

Treatment can involve medicines, therapy or both.

Substance Abuse / Drug & Alcohol Treatment

For most adults, moderate alcohol use is probably not harmful. However, about 18 million adult Americans are alcoholics or have alcohol problems. Alcoholism is a disease with four main features:

  • Craving – a strong need to drink
  • Loss of control – not being able to stop drinking once you’ve started
  • Physical dependence – withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, or shakiness when you don’t drink
  • Tolerance – the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to feel the same effect

Alcoholism carries many serious dangers. Heavy drinking can increase the risk of certain cancers. It can cause damage to the liver, brain, and other organs. Drinking during pregnancy can harm your baby. Alcoholism also increases the risk of death from car crashes, injuries, homicide, and suicide.
If you want to stop drinking, there is help. Start by talking to your health care provider. Medicines, counseling, and support groups may help you to stop drinking.

Drug abuse is a serious public health problem that affects almost every community and family in some way. Drug abuse in children and teenagers may pose a greater hazard than in older people. This is because their brains are not yet fully developed. As a result, the brains of young people may be more susceptible to drug abuse and addiction than adult brains.

  • Abused drugs include:
  • Amphetamines
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Club drugs
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Inhalants
  • Marijuana
  • Prescription drugs

There are different types of treatment for drug abuse. But the best is to prevent drug abuse in the first place.

Anger/Aggression

Anger management is a process of learning to recognize signs that you’re becoming angry, and taking action to calm down and deal with the situation in a positive way. Anger management doesn’t try to keep you from feeling anger or encourage you to hold it in. Anger is a normal, healthy emotion when you know how to express it appropriately. Anger management is about learning how to do this.

You may learn anger management skills on your own, using books or other resources. But for many people, taking an anger management class or seeing a mental health counselor is the most effective approach.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious behavior problems. They include:

Anorexia nervosa, in which you become too thin, but you don’t eat enough because you think you are fat
Bulimia nervosa, involving periods of overeating followed by purging, sometimes through self-induced vomiting or using laxatives
Binge-eating, which is out-of-control eating

Women are more likely than men to have eating disorders. They usually start in the teenage years and often occur along with depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse.
Eating disorders can cause heart and kidney problems and even death. Getting help early is important. Treatment involves monitoring, mental health therapy, nutritional counseling and sometimes medicines.

Depression and Bipolar Alliance

The Depression and Bipolar Alliance is a nationwide organization, reaching out to those with depression and bipolar disorder. Visit these websites to find out more:

http://psychcentral.com/
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/mentalhealth.html
http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=home

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