Thursday, August 20, 2015

Recognizing the Signs of Depression and How To Overcome

Mood disorders rank among the top 10 causes of worldwide disability, and Major Depression takes the first spot on the list. Furthermore, depression is the leading cause of diminished productivity and absenteeism in the workplace. Listed below are the classic signs of depression according as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR). Signs of depression vary greatly and it is crucial to seek help from your doctor or mental health provider if you have been experiencing any of the symptoms described below. 

An individual is diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) after they experience five or more of the following symptoms almost every day for the same two-week period, and at least one of the symptoms must be depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure:

   Lack of energy and fatigue
   Difficulty sleeping or excessive sleeping
   A dramatic change in appetite resulting in a 5% change in weight (gain or loss) in a month
   Feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, and guilt
   Inability to concentrate, think clearly, or make decisions
   Agitation, restlessness, and irritability
   Inactivity and withdrawal from typical pleasurable activities
   Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
   Thoughts of death or suicide

Depressive symptoms may vary extremely from one individual to another. While one depressed person may experience feelings of irritation, anger, and discouragement, another may feel hopeless, sadness, and helplessness. Furthermore, depressive symptoms may seem to change an individual’s personality. For example, a patient might start to lose his or her temper about matters that would normally not concern him or her. 

Moreover, individuals with severe depression may experience psychotic symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations. Delusions are strongly held false beliefs that lead an individual to misinterpret relationships and events.

Delusions vary greatly in their themes and may include:
   Persecutory: believing someone is following you or spying on you
   Somatic: believing a body part has been injured or altered
   Referential: believing a movie or song lyrics contain special messages only for you
   Erotomaniac: believing that another individual, usually one of higher status, is in love with you
   Grandiose: Believing that you have special powers, talents, or that you are famous
   Religious: False believes regarding spiritual or religious content

Hallucinations are experiences involving the sensation of something that appears to be real to the patient although these sensations are not caused by real things in the environment. Hallucinations may be extremely convincing as well as disturbing to the patient.

Different themes related to hallucinations may include:
   The sensory realm: sound, sight, smell, taste, and touch.
   Auditory: (the most common form) involving hearing voices of individuals who are not actually present.

Thankfully, there are numerous treatments to relieve individuals of depression. Treatments may include cognitive based therapy, psychodynamic therapy, interpersonal therapy, group and family therapy, medications, non-pharmacological treatment, and much more. The type of treatment depends on what works best with the individual.

Thousands of individuals have overcome depression and now lead happy and healthy lives. Capitol Care’s many behavioral and mental health programs are designed to treat depression and have proven to be highly effective. Do not face this difficult problem on your own.

Disability and suffering is not limited to the individual diagnosed with Depression. Family and friends of individuals suffering from major depression often experience anger, guilt, frustration, and financial hardship.

To learn more, or if you or a loved one are seeking help for any mental health illness, contact Capitol Care at our Alabama department of mental health. We are confident that our treatments will continue to give hope and relief to individuals and families affected by major depression.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Core Driver Behind Anxiety and How To Overcome

While most individuals do not enjoy experiencing feelings of anxiety, anxiety has a purpose. Feelings of anxiety begin to occur when faced with a challenge. When faced with a challenge, we will estimate our skills and ability to successfully complete the challenge in comparison to the difficulty of the challenge. The higher our perceived discrepancy between our estimated abilities and difficulty of the challenge, the more likely we will experience anxiety. In theory, anxiety’s purpose is to prepare us to avoid or prevent dangerous situations where our skills do not match up to the difficulty of the challenge. So how do we overcome these feelings and physiological responses that are built within our system? By changing our perception of our skills and abilities and the difficulty of the task at hand. In many situations individuals may experience high levels of anxiety because their perceptions are inaccurate. These inaccurate perceptions must be corrected in order for anxiety to subside.

However, this does not mean all anxiety is bad. Anxiety researchers have found that a small to moderate amount of anxiety may lead individuals to improve their performance at tasks. Anxiety begins to negatively impact an individual when he or she begins to experience a high amount of anxiety. Researchers illustrate the positive and negative relationship between anxiety and performance by using the “Inverted U” curve. Imagine a graph with the shape of a mountain. Anxiety is on the X-axis and performance is on the Y-axis. As anxiety increases along the X-axis, performance increases along the Y-axis, up to a certain point (the top of the mountain) at which anxiety continues to increase along the X-axis and our performance drops along the Y-axis.

Therefore, low to moderate levels of anxiety, over a short period of time are beneficial by keeping us alert and tasked-focused, as well as motivating us to rise to the challenge at hand. However, beyond a certain point, too much anxiety begins to negatively impact our performance. Our ability to concentrate diminishes as our attention begins to shift away from an outward focus on the task, and towards an inward focus on ourselves. Furthermore, we may become vulnerable to biases in our thinking, causing us to incorrectly judge our ability to perform in the situation. For example, we may think to ourselves, “I am doing terribly,” or “I will never get this answer right.” Finally, when anxiety overstays its welcome, exhaustion arises. Human beings are not intended to perform well under these circumstances.

Thankfully for us there are many methods utilized to overcome anxiety.

The treatment for anxiety disorders is derived from research in biological, social, and psychological factors that contribute to anxiety disorders. This research base has led to the development of countless treatments. Capitol Care’s many behavioral and mental health programs are designed to treat anxiety and have proven to be highly effective.

To learn more, or if you or a loved one are seeking help for any mental health illness, contact Capitol Care at their Alabama department of mental health. Do not face this difficult problem on your own. We are confident that our treatment of anxiety disorders will continue to give hope and relief to individuals and families affected by anxiety disorders.