Posted by: mentalhealthcoach | February 12, 2010

Teenage Depression

Teenage depression is much like depression for adults. The difference lies in the surrounding influences, factors and triggers. Teens have a lot to deal with, not to say that adults don’t have stress or crises but the teenage years are trademarked by a search for oneself, being surrounded by peers and making important and often stressful decisions.

Stress at school, not being accepted by their peers, having to choose a college or university, extra curricular activities and pressure to perform can all lead to teenage depression. Sometimes it starts during childhood and progresses during the teenage years.

Teenage depression is best solved by love, support and therapy. Don’t tell a teen to suck it up or pull together. Depression just doesn’t allow that. They experience the same symptoms as adults and those depression symptoms are just as debilitating.

Depression can be overcome, by a healthy diet, exercise and a step by step positive attitude. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a good option as well especially when supported by family members and friends. Its very important that teenage depression is treated very seriously, since left unchecked it will continue to get worse as teens get older and become adults. They longer the depression develops the harder it can be to take care of it.

Medication is also an option, but it should be used last. There are many side effects involved, and a dependency is often developed, taking weeks or months to get over safely. Besides that, the effect is limited, making people feel more numb than happy, while often still remaining sad and down in mood. Medication is usually only helpful with severe depression where it can bring the mood up a little so therapy is more useful. It is rarely if ever a solution and is more about making money than it actually is about helping people.

Feel free to leave a comment, I’d love to know your thoughts,

Take care,

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Posted by: mentalhealthcoach | February 9, 2010

Symptoms of Depression

People with depression experience a lot of different symptoms. These depression symptoms are often different from person to the next. They can also very in range on intensity. With depression symptoms it’s important to differentiate between sadness and depression. Everyone gets sad once in a while, or has a bad day where nothing seems to go your way. With depression, it’s different.

Depression symptoms stay for weeks, even months a time and influence every aspect of someone’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Not everyone experiences the same depression symptoms, each case of depression being different from another. The common factors are always the same though, which are: feeling deep sadness, hopeless and loss of pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable.

Depression symptoms can be divided into a couple of groups, There are physical depression symptoms, symptoms of manic depression and mental and emotional symptoms.

Click here for a list of depression symptoms in an easy to read an understand list.

Take care,

Posted by: mentalhealthcoach | February 7, 2010

Online Depression Screening Tests

Today I’m showing some depression screening tests.  I know, taking tests suck. Especially when you might be depressed. Look at is this way, with these “pop quizzes” you can’t be wrong! They can give you clarity and insight and although there are many different kinds out there, the most accurate ones are based on psychological principles and measure certain aspects of larger concepts. Clinical depression is actually difficult to measure because of all different underlying triggers and factors.

Online depression screening tests are designed to give people an idea on whether or not they might have depression or a similar mood disorder.

Below are the links to assorted online depression screening tests. The actual causes of depression are not easy to distinguish.

If you’re not sure whether or not you have depression, take a few of the online depression tests below. One test by itself may be accurate, but when different online depression tests point to the same results you can be more confident about your decision. These tests are not full proof so don’t jump to any conclusions. Like most online tests, depression screening tests on the internet are there to point you in the right direction.

Also check whether or not you have some, most or all of the depression symptoms.

Online Depression Test – Abridged on Discovery Health:

http://discoveryhealth.queendom.com/depression_abridged_access.html

Online Depression Test on About.depression.com:

http://depression.about.com/cs/diagnosis/l/bldepscreenquiz.htm

Online Depression Test on Healthcentral.com:

http://www.healthcentral.com/depression/bipolar-disorder-153804-40.html

Dr. Goldberg’s online depression test:

http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/interactive/interactivetests/goldberg.php

These depression screening tests are only indicators. For a sure and definitive result, consult a mental health professional. Feel free to leave a comment on this post or any other one on this blog. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Take care,

Posted by: mentalhealthcoach | February 4, 2010

Depression and Exercise

Studies have repeatedly shown that exercise can be beneficial for those suffering from mild to moderate depression. It may seem like too much effort but it really can help, often providing instant relief with as little as 15 – 20 min of activity.

Some studies have even shown that exercise can improve your mood for up to 12 hours. Depression manifests itself in physical and mental factors and as such physical solutions can be helpful for beating depression.

The benefits of exercise include but are not limited too:

  • Increased self-esteem
  • More energy
  • Sleep improvement
  • Reducing stress
  • Warding off anxiety and depression feelings.
  • Increase in sense of mastery.

Besides that you still have the physical health benefits such as:

  • It strengthens your heart.
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve strength and muscle tone
  • Stronger bones
  • Reducing body fat
  • Fit and health appearance

Below are some tips to use for exercises with depression.

Set simple goals for yourself – unless you really want to, there’s no need to run a marathon! It could be as simple as walking around the block. Just make the commitment to go out and do it. Trust me, I know how hard it is, it takes a lot of commitment just to get out of bed! But once you’re out, you’ve already done the hardest part! Just try your best to get over that first hurdle.

Take it easy – no need to stress or be critical, as long as you go out and do something its good. Promise yourself to improve each time but don’t criticize yourself if you didn’t get as far as you wanted. It’s supposed to fun and mood elevating remember J.

Do what you know and like – or do what you used to enjoy a lot, it can bring back fun memories and you already know what its like.

Bring a friend – the more the merrier right? Bring someone along to help stay motivated and for support. Sharing with someone is great more often than not!

Mix it up! – Variety is key, change it up, keep your body guessing. That has the best physical and mental effects. Switch relaxing exercises such as yoga and Pilates with more intense exercises such as jogging or a fitness.

Believe me when I say that exercise has lifted my mood more than once. It served as a distraction and made me feel physically better. Which also led to a better mood. Once you get past that first step, you’ll find that you can exercise when you have depression and that it will even make you feel better!

Enjoy and take care!

Posted by: mentalhealthcoach | February 3, 2010

Suicide Prevention Part 2

3 Suicide Prevention Tips

Spotting the warning signs is the first step to preventing suicide. You have to take some kind of action, the more serious a person is, the quicker you must take action. Below are 3 tips you can use and 2 hotlines you can call.

1. Speak up if you’re worried
If you spot the warning signs, you’ll want to talk to the person. I know, that might cause some apprehension for you. You could have questions running through your head such as: What if I’m wrong? What if they get angry? What if I put the idea in their head? There is only one question you should really be thinking about it though: What if I’m right? It’s better to find out before than regret after.

The best way to do it is, is to ask the person. You’ll be showing that you care and hopefully be able to open a dialogue, which can lead to a better outcome. It’s even possible that a person will be relieved because they didn’t know how to bring it up themselves. Here are a few questions you can ask:

• Have you ever thought that you’d be better off dead or that if you died, it wouldn’t matter?
• Have you thought about harming yourself?
• Are you thinking about suicide?
• What’s your opinion on suicide?

Just remember to show that you care and want to help. Don’t be too confronting and pushy, its all about love and support. However, if the risk is high, it may be necessary to respond more actively.

2. Respond quickly in a crisis
Those who are seriously thinking about or are starting to commit to suicide usually have a plan, a schedule, a means and the intention to do so. The higher the risk, the more immediate the response should be. The following basic questions and table will help you decide how high the risk might be:

• Do you have a suicide plan?
• Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)?
• Do you know when you would do it?
• Do you intend to commit suicide?

Level of Suicide Risk
Low — Some suicidal thoughts. No suicide plan. Says he or she won’t commit suicide.
Moderate — Suicidal thoughts. Vague plan that isn’t very lethal. Says he or she won’t commit suicide.
High — Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she won’t commit suicide.
Severe — Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she will commit suicide.

Source: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/suicide_prevention.htm

3. Offer loving help and support
Show the person you care, that you love them and that you are there for them. Tell them they are not alone. It’s important to realize that no matter what you do, you can’t make a suicidal person better. You can only give them the help, love and perception they need to choose to live on. I know this is really hard, but don’t feel responsible for the outcome. He or she needs to make a personal commitment, one that you can’t make for them. Make sure you also receive support. Being there for a suicidal person can take its toll. You also need to be able to talk about it, especially to better help your loved one.

When offering love and support, make sure you listen without judgment. It’s about listening and understanding, not lecturing. Remind yourself that they may see the world differently than you. It’s your job to understand the how and why and how you can help with that. Give them hope, remind them of the options they have. That you’re there for them, that there are people out there who know how to help them. Don’t tell them to suck it up or that their feelings aren’t real.

Do not promise not to tell. You may need to talk to a mental health professional or someone else. They may want to keep it secret, but that secret is not as valuable as their life. That doesn’t mean you need to tell the whole neighborhood though. You’ll also want to seek out professional help. You can always call the hotlines at the bottom of this post. Another option is your local mental health facility.

Finally, you need to develop a Plan for Life. This is a plan containing the steps they have to promise to take during a crisis. It should contain the phone numbers of their doctor, family members and friend and anyone else deemed important and capable to help.

Suicide hotlines to call for help:
If you or someone you care about is suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the National Hopeline Network at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

These toll-free crisis hotlines offer 24-hour suicide prevention and support. Your call is free and confidential.

take care,

Posted by: mentalhealthcoach | January 31, 2010

Suicide Prevention Part 1

Common Misconceptions & Recognizing the Warning Signs

It is estimated by the WHO (World Health Organization) that 1 million people commit suicide each year. Many of these cases are linked to depression. It can be difficult to understand why people would take their own lives, but the see no other option. It’s our responsibility to show them that there is. The best way to do that, is by understanding suicide and recognizing the signs. Then you provide and find help as best as you can.

Below is a list of common misconceptions about suicide. Hopefully this well shed some light and help you understand.

Common Misconceptions about Suicide

FALSE: People who talk about suicide won’t really do it. 
Almost everyone who commits or attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats. Statements like “you’ll be sorry when I’m dead,” “I can’t see any way out,” — no matter how casually or jokingly said may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

FALSE: Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy. 
Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They must be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.

FALSE: If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop him/her. 
Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.

FALSE: People who commit suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help . 
Studies of suicide victims have shown that more then half had sought medical help within six month before their deaths.

FALSE: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea. 
You don’t give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true –bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.

Source: SAVE – Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

Below is a list of Warning Signs to watch out for:

Talking about suicide

Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm. Includes statements such as “I wish I hadn’t been born,” “If I see you again…,” “I want out,” and “I’d be better off dead.”

Seeking out lethal means

Looking for ways to commit suicide. Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

Preoccupation with death

Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.

No hope for the future

Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped (“There’s no way out”). Belief that things will never get better or change.

Self-loathing, self-hatred

Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden (“Everyone would be better off without me”).

Getting affairs in order

Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.

Saying goodbye

Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.

Withdrawing from others

Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.

Self-destructive behavior

Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a “death wish”.

Sudden sense of calm

A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to commit suicide.

Keep an eye out for these signs. In my the next post I’ll give 3 tips to take action. Recognizing the threat is not enough, preventing suicide is the first step of many in overcoming depression.

Take care,

Posted by: mentalhealthcoach | January 30, 2010

Antidepressant Withdrawal

Many people with depression, who have tried to stop taking antidepressants have encountered withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include: crying spells, extreme restlessness, dizziness, fatigue, and aches and pains. Others are:

  • Anxiety, agitation
  • Depression, mood swings
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Irritability and aggression
  • Insomnia, nightmares
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness, loss of coordination
  • Stomach cramping and pain
  • Electric shock sensations
  • Tremor, muscle spasms

Together these are known as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome is especially common with Paxil and Zoloft.

Experiencing anxiety and depression is another possible side effect. Often the experienced depression will be worse than it was to start off with. That’s why it’s unfortunate that some people stop with their medication only to start again after which they stop again and so on.

To avoid antidepressant discontinuation syndrome it’s best not to stop cold turkey. Instead lower the dose you take every 1.5 or 2 weeks. This process may take a few months and should always be monitored by your doctor.

The next post will be about suicide prevention and how to spot the warning signs.

Posted by: mentalhealthcoach | January 26, 2010

Depression Medication, What You Need To Know about Antidepressants Part 3

Questions to Ask Yourself and your Doctor About Antidepressants

Make sure you make a well-informed decision before taking antidepressants. Ask yourself, a mental health professional and your doctor the following questions:

  • Is my depression severe enough to justify drug treatment?
  • Is medication the best option for treating my depression?
  • Am I willing to tolerate unwanted side effects?
  • What non-drug treatments might help my depression?
  • Do I have the time and motivation to pursue other treatments such as therapy and exercise?
  • What self-help strategies might reduce my depression?
  • If I decide to take medication, should I pursue therapy as well?
  • Are there any medical conditions that could be causing my depression?
  • What are the side effects and risks of the antidepressant you are recommending?
  • Are there any foods or other substances I will need to avoid?
  • How will this drug interact with other prescriptions I’m taking?
  • How long will I have to take this medication?
  • Will withdrawing from the drug be difficult?
  • Will my depression return when I stop taking medication?

Remember to not take this decision lightly and weigh all the pros and cons. Antidepressants aren’t the only way to overcome depression.

The next post will be about avoiding antidepressant withdrawal.

Take care,

Posted by: mentalhealthcoach | January 24, 2010

Depression Medication, What You Need To Know about Antidepressants Part 2

Effectiveness and Side Effects

Depression medication can indeed be lifesaving. Especially in cases of severe clinical depression they can provide the boost people need to take more advantage of other treatment options. The statistics show however, that antidepressants do not work for everyone.

In 2006 at large government study showed that only 50% of the people who participated became symptom free. Even after trying two different medications. Besides that, many of the ones who did, fell back into episodes of depression after a while. This is spite of continuing the medication.

With severe depression taking antidepressants can be beneficial, they should be tried with caution while also trying other forms of overcoming depression. This could be therapy, self help and exercise. These options help just as much or almost as much and they don’t have the side effects I’ll be discussing next.

Antidepressants can be divided into 3 groups. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), “atypical” antidepressants, and the older  tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Each type produces side effects, some bad enough to stop people from taking them.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs),

Common side effects include sexual problems, drowsiness, sleep difficulties, and nausea. While some side effects go away after the first few weeks of drug treatment, others stay and may possibly get worse.

This is because SSRIs effect more than just serotonin levels. They influence a variety of bodily functions, including pain, sleep, digestion and mental clarity.

For people over 65 they may also increase the risk for falling, bone loss and fractures. If stopped abruptly they can cause serious withdrawal symptoms.

Here is a list of common SSRI’s:

Atypical Antidepressants

The atypical antidepressants are newer and target other neurotransmitters besides serotonin. They side effects vary per drug but many of them include: nausea, fatigue, weight gain, sleepiness, nervousness, dry mouth, and blurred vision.

The common atypical antidepressants:

Tricyclic antidepressants and MAOIs

Tricyclic antidepressants and MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) are older classes of antidepressants. The side effects these cause are more severe than the newer antidepressants and are usually only used as a last resort.

In the next post, I’ll provide 2 lists of questions you should ask if you’re considering taking depression medication.

Take care,

Posted by: mentalhealthcoach | January 20, 2010

Depression Medication, What You Need To Know about Antidepressants Part 1

Serotonin, the Whole Story?

It’s hard to get around the commercials about depression medication and their benefits. But how effective are they really?

According to the chemical imbalance theory of depression, low levels of the brain chemical serotonin lead to depression. Depression medication works by bringing serotonin levels back to normal.

There’s only a slight problem, researchers don’t truly understand how antidepressants actually work. In fact, the causes for depression are often unclear due to the fact that depression is different for every person. That means that the genetic factors, the environmental factors and many others all interact together to cause depression. Low serotonin levels are not the only cause. Did you know that there even isn’t a way to measure serotonin levels in a living brain?

Other scientific studies have been done that shown lowering people’s serotonin levels doesn’t always lower mood or cause depression. Besides that, lowering serotonin levels doesn’t worsen depression symptoms for people who are already depressed.

Think about this: Antidepressants can raise serotonin levels in a few hours, but it takes weeks before the symptoms start being relieved. If it were as simple as low serotonin levels, than it wouldn’t take so long.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take antidepressants, this is not medical advice. I just want you to be aware that serotonin does not tell the whole story. It is just one of the many factors that effect and cause depression. There are other biological factors, such as inflammation, higher stress hormone levels and nutritional deficiencies. Then you also have the social and cultural factors.

I’m just telling you to keep in mind that, in order to overcome depression, antidepressants are a part of the story, not the whole thing. That means that to beat depression you also have to be doing more than taking pills. Create an active attitude in your search for depression relief.

The next post will discuss the effectiveness and side effects the most common antidepressants.

Take care,

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