May is Mental Health Month

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

 

May is Mental Health Month and has provided an opportunity to raise awareness about mental health issues for more than 50 years.

Mental Health America launched Mental Health Week, which eventually became May is Mental Health Month, in 1949. Each May, Americans recognize Mental Health Month with events and activities in communities across the country. The theme for Mental Health Month this year is “Get Connected” to emphasize the important role of social relationships in protecting and improving mental health and building resiliency. Many organizations, including NAMI, engage in efforts to promote Mental Health Month.

There are now designated times in May for groups to raise awareness and advocate for improvements in research, prevention and treatment on specific mental health issues. The first week in May, for example, has been designated as Children’s Mental Health Week. But the specific times are not as important as educating about all mental illnesses any time of the year.

Mental Health Ministries is featuring several downloadable resources that may be helpful in your planning. Many of our free print resources are available in Spanish. In addition, these resources are available on the NAMI FaithNet Web site, www.nami.org/faithnet in the resources section.

I believe that anyone and everyone who has mental health issues should be vocal about them and share their stories with others. It’s important to raise awareness for this sometimes silent illness. We need to educate everyone that mental illness is not something to be ashamed of and hide away from others as if you are contagious.

People with mental illness need love and support. Support is so important in healing and maintaining a healthy balance. No one should suffer alone.

I have a mental illness, it’s called Bipolar Disorder. Along with it I also have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I am being treated by a psychiatrist and a therapist. I’ve shared this information with family, friends, and my church family. I have a great support system.

I want others to have what I have. Be open with those you can trust. It’s important to maintain a healthy support system. If you have a down day you’ll need someone to talk to and give you a much needed boost of confidence. A positive influence is so important during your down times. Even if you need someone to listen or sit quietly with you.

Mental Health America is using May’s Mental Health Month to promote Pathways to Wellness.

Don’t let another day go by without sharing your story with another person. It could be your best friend, a family member, someone at your church, or even me. I’ll listen.

Sharing is the first step to healthy mental health.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Update on Latest Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

I’ve become medication resistant. What that means is I can take medication for only so long before it loses its effectiveness and I have to take stronger doses until eventually the medication stops working and my psychiatrist has to try a different medication. I’ve run through all the medications there are for treating Bipolar Disorder. I was on almost twenty different kinds of medications at one point. It was ridiculous.

Then, my psychiatrist told me it was time to try ECT treatments. Electroconvulsive Therapy. Yikes! I didn’t realize I had run out of options, but I had. It was time.

So, I checked into the hospital in March and spent over two weeks there getting the first set of treatments. I had an ECT treatment three times a week. Then after two weeks, I was released from the hospital and had to have the treatments twice a week. Then eventually I was dropped to once a week and then once every two weeks. May first was my last ECT treatment.

I am no longer depressed. I have a great outlook on life. I’m very positive and upbeat. I did have some night terror issues with under the anesthesia. I didn’t like the lingering effects of that. Also, I have an increased anxiety and panic attacks. Not sure exactly why, but my psychiatrist is treating me for them and we are anticipating that they’ll dissipate now that I am no longer having ECT treatments.

For a lot of people who get ECT treatments, they have memory loss issues. For me, that didn’t happen. I’m so happy about that. Before the treatments started I was freaking out that I’d forget my children or grandchildren. Thank God none of that occurred.

I had amazing results with the ECT treatments. I became mentally healthy much quicker than most people. My doctors were amazed. (I always was an over achiever!)

I’m also grateful for the treatments because my psychiatrist has been able to take me off a number of medications. I’m down to one Bipolar medication and my anxiety and panic attack medication. The rest are vitamins and supplements. Oh, and something for my thyroid. It’s so much easier to fill my medication tray for the week.

Would I do it again? Yes, probably. Especially knowing the results.

If you have questions about ECT treatments I’d be happy to answer what I can and direct you to the right resources.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

It’s that Time of Year

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

This is the time of year that we become reflective and think about all the reasons why we have become thankful.

I know I do it.  I see it all over the Internet on Facebook and Twitter.  People posting why they are thankful.  The Internet by-ways are practically flooded and clogged with people cramming in a couple of day’s worth of “I’m thankful….” That they think will cover them the rest of the year.

Why?

What have they been doing the rest of the year?

Oh, right.  They’ve been busy living.

Well, let’s see them living with a chronic illness or mental illness and try not to think every day how thankful they are.

I can’t do it? Can you?

I can’t go a single solitary day without being thankful I am alive.  That I have a reason for living.  That I have the best support team in the world: my husband, my therapist, my psychiatrist, and my doctor.  I am thankful for each person in my life that cares enough to speak up when I’m not taking care of myself the way I should.

I am thankful for a merciful and patient God who watches over me and loves me despite how broken I think I am at times.

I’m thankful for a well rounded and complete Wellness Recovery Action Plan that my husband and I use as our daily “bible” to keep us on track and nip any Bipolar issues in the bud before they blow up into uncontrollable episodes.

I love my family and am thankful I can talk to them about my illnesses and they understand or at least are sympathetic.  I’m thankful for friends who understand my moods and can adapt to any circumstance.

I’m thankful I have such a positive and productive outlet such as writing to help me process and heal in good times and bad.

So, being thankful the whole year, I wonder what we can teach those who only “practice” a few days rather than “live” thankfulness the entire year? Life is precious. Living is the most important part of life.  Don’t just “exist” for the sake of getting by.

How thankful are you?

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Mental Illness and Dementia Link

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

– Is there cause for concern?

I have Bipolar Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Depression, Panic Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, and a slew of other medical issues not related to psychology. However, I have become concerned about developing Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia as I grow older. I’m already middle age and have had some cognitive issues such as loss of memory.

I know, memory loss comes with getting older, right? But, when is it just “getting older” and not something more serious? Especially considering the number of mental health issues others or I may have.

So, I decided to talk to my psychiatrist about the concerns I had by giving him a list of my questions and asking him to consider them before responding. He’s a wonderful psychiatrist and has experience treating patients with Dementia and Alzheimer’s as well.  I’ve been seeing him since 2008 after my first psychiatric hospitalization.

My fear was that I’d end up with Dementia either because I had Bipolar Disorder or because of the assortment of medications I was going to be on for the rest of my life that are used to control and stabilize my mental health issues.

Here is the list of questions I asked my doctor. I told him I would be writing an article on the topic.

1. Is this a healthy or normal fear for a person with mental illness?

2. Do you know the “odds” of a person with mental illness ending up with dementia and when does it usually set in?

3. What can a person with mental illness do to help prevent dementia from occurring? Or is there anything?

4. Have you had any personal experience with a mental ill person having dementia? What can you tell me about it?

5. Do you know the percentage of people with dementia who were also mentally ill?

6. Can dementia be medicinally invoked?

7. What types of medications, if there are any, are more apt to cause dementia in mentally ill patients?

8. Are there medications for dementia that can help ease the symptoms?

9. Are there medications that can prolong the onset of dementia?

10. Have I not asked questions on any other topics that you’d like me to bring up in the article?

His response to me was the following:

“These fears and questions you have are fairly common. There does seem to be a relationship between developing dementia and having mental illness but it also appears that staying in treatment reduces this. As far as my personal experience what I have seen is people who are older and suffering from severe depression appearing demented. In the best case scenario I have seen the person appear to regain normal functioning once the depression subsides. In the worst-case scenario I have seen the dementia appear to take hold but in those few cases the depression did not get better either. I really don’t think there is much evidence that medications cause dementia in patients.“

Sometimes if it seems that cognitive issues are becoming prominent will prescribe Alzheimer’s medications and I think we have done with this with you (Namenda). It sounds like this will be a very interesting piece and I will be curious to see if your research digs up any other issues I haven’t addressed here.” [1]

So, as you can see, more research is needed. Imagine my surprise when I used Google to search for “Mental Illness, Dementia, Link” and the pages of responses I received. I did not realize that there was that much information out there about a subject I thought was an abject fear floating around in my head.

From what I’ve read, here’s what I can tell you. There is a link between Depression and Dementia. It has been proven through several studies from as early as the 1970s. One of the studies used participants from the Framingham Heart Study. [2]  It concluded “Those who were depressed when first examined almost doubled their risk for dementia and also increased their risk for Alzheimer’s disease.” [3]

So, that got me wondering. Is there anything a person can do to help slow down the progression of Dementia or halt it altogether?

“If depression is indeed a risk factor for dementia, treating depression should help stave off dementia, but no studies have shown this effect” [4]

Another study identified in the PsychNet Journal, tested twins for more than 10 years. They determined a “History of depression and other psychiatric illness as risk factors for Alzheimer disease in a twin sample.” [5]

I must tell you, that every study I’ve read has found a link between mental illness and Dementia, but none of them have found the reason or cause.

In an article about Dementia, I discovered the following: Dementia can be caused by one medical condition or by multiple medical problems. Some types of dementia can be cured partially or completely with treatment. The degree of reversibility often depends on how quickly the underlying cause is detected and treated. Other types of dementia are irreversible and cannot be cured (e.g., dementia due to Alzheimer’s Disease. [6]

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Treatment of the underlying causes of dementia can also slow or sometimes stop its progress.”[7] Particularly, the specific drugs:

Cholinesterase inhibitors. These drugs — donepezil (Aricept), rivastigmine (Exelon) and galantamine hydrobromide (Razadyne) — are Alzheimer’s drugs that work by boosting levels of a chemical messenger involved in memory and judgment. Side effects can include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Although primarily used as Alzheimer’s drugs, they’re also used to treat vascular, Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementias.

Memantine (Namenda). This drug for Alzheimer’s disease works by regulating the activity of glutamate, another chemical messenger involved in all brain function, including learning and memory. Its most common side effect is dizziness. Some research has shown that combining memantine with a cholinesterase inhibitor may have even better results. Although primarily used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, it may help improve symptoms in other dementias.

But, are all the memory lapses we may have a sign of impending Dementia?

Hardly.

Check out this article I read in the AARP e-magazine, 6 Types of Normal Memory Lapses. According to the author, many memory lapses and “brain freeze” are just a normal part of growing older and gives memory tips to help you with each kind of memory lapse.

“Studies have shown that people who exercise, stay mentally active, socialize regularly and eat a healthy diet can minimize memory loss.” [8]

So, don’t freak out like I did and get all paranoid and full of fear about impending aging brain diseases. We all have enough to deal with as it is.

Don’t worry. Be Happy.

And, don’t forget to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. It’s for your own good.

 


[1] Dr. Kenneth Pages, M.D.  General Psychiatry, Tampa, FL

 [4] said lead author Jane Saczynski, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School

[5] Wetherell, Julie Loebach; Gatz, Margaret; Johansson, Boo; Pedersen, Nancy L.

Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders, Vol 13(1), Mar 1999, 47-52. doi: 10.1097/00002093-199903000-00007

 [8] Mary A. Fischer | from: AARP | August 1, 2012

Image credit: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS