Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Happy Friday everyone. It is another Friday and that means it is time for my educational blogging feature. Today’s topic is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I got the following information from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml

What is Borderline Personality Disorder?

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness marked by unstable moods, behavior, and relationships. In 1980, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Third Edition (DSM-III) listed BPD as a diagnosable illness for the first time. Most psychiatrists and other mental health professionals use the DSM to diagnose mental illnesses.

Because some people with severe BPD have brief psychotic episodes, experts originally thought of this illness as atypical, or borderline, versions of other mental disorders. While mental health experts now generally agree that the name “borderline personality disorder” is misleading, a more accurate term does not exist yet.

Most people who have BPD suffer from:

  • Problems with regulating emotions and thoughts
  • Impulsive and reckless behavior
  • Unstable relationships with other people.

People with this disorder also have high rates of co-occurring disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders, along with self-harm, suicidal behaviors, and completed suicides.

Causes

Research on the possible causes and risk factors for BPD is still at a very early stage. However, scientists generally agree that genetic and environmental factors are likely to be involved.

Studies on twins with BPD suggest that the illness is strongly inherited. Another study shows that a person can inherit his or her temperament and specific personality traits, particularly impulsiveness and aggression. Scientists are studying genes that help regulate emotions and impulse control for possible links to the disorder.

Social or cultural factors may increase the risk for BPD. For example, being part of a community or culture in which unstable family relationships are common may increase a person’s risk for the disorder. Impulsiveness, poor judgment in lifestyle choices, and other consequences of BPD may lead individuals to risky situations. Adults with borderline personality disorder are considerably more likely to be the victim of violence, including rape and other crimes.

Signs & Symptoms

According to the DSM, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR), to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a person must show an enduring pattern of behavior that includes at least five of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme reactions—including panic, depression, rage, or frantic actions—to abandonment, whether real or perceived
  • A pattern of intense and stormy relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often veering from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self, which can result in sudden changes in feelings, opinions, values, or plans and goals for the future (such as school or career choices)
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
  • Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior, such as cutting
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness and/or boredom
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Having stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality.

Seemingly mundane events may trigger symptoms. For example, people with BPD may feel angry and distressed over minor separations—such as vacations, business trips, or sudden changes of plans—from people to whom they feel close. Studies show that people with this disorder may see anger in an emotionally neutral face and have a stronger reaction to words with negative meanings than people who do not have the disorder.

Suicide and Self-harm

Self-injurious behavior includes suicide and suicide attempts, as well as self-harming behaviors, described below. As many as 80 percent of people with BPD have suicidal behaviors, and about 4 to 9 percent commit suicide.

Suicide is one of the most tragic outcomes of any mental illness. Some treatments can help reduce suicidal behaviors in people with BPD. For example, one study showed that dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) reduced suicide attempts in women by half compared with other types of psychotherapy, or talk therapy. DBT also reduced use of emergency room and inpatient services and retained more participants in therapy, compared to other approaches to treatment.

Unlike suicide attempts, self-harming behaviors do not stem from a desire to die. However, some self-harming behaviors may be life threatening. Self-harming behaviors linked with BPD include cutting, burning, hitting, head banging, hair pulling, and other harmful acts. People with BPD may self-harm to help regulate their emotions, to punish themselves, or to express their pain. They do not always see these behaviors as harmful.

Who Is At Risk?

According to data from a subsample of participants in a national survey on mental disorders, about 1.6 percent of adults in the United States have BPD in a given year.  BPD usually begins during adolescence or early adulthood. Some studies suggest that early symptoms of the illness may occur during childhood.

Diagnosis

Unfortunately, BPD is often underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

A mental health professional experienced in diagnosing and treating mental disorders—such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, or psychiatric nurse—can detect BPD based on a thorough interview and a discussion about symptoms. A careful and thorough medical exam can help rule out other possible causes of symptoms.

The mental health professional may ask about symptoms and personal and family medical histories, including any history of mental illnesses. This information can help the mental health professional decide on the best treatment. In some cases, co-occurring mental illnesses may have symptoms that overlap with BPD, making it difficult to distinguish borderline personality disorder from other mental illnesses. For example, a person may describe feelings of depression but may not bring other symptoms to the mental health professional’s attention.

Women with BPD are more likely to have co-occurring disorders such as major depression, anxiety disorders, or eating disorders. In men, BPD is more likely to co-occur with disorders such as substance abuse or antisocial personality disorder. According to the NIMH-funded National Comorbidity Survey Replication—the largest national study to date of mental disorders in U.S. adults—about 85 percent of people with BPD also meet the diagnostic criteria for another mental illness. Other illnesses that often occur with BPD include diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic back pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. These conditions are associated with obesity, which is a common side effect of the medications prescribed to treat BPD and other mental disorders.

No single test can diagnose BPD. Scientists funded by NIMH are looking for ways to improve diagnosis of this disorder. One study found that adults with BPD showed excessive emotional reactions when looking at words with unpleasant meanings, compared with healthy people. People with more severe BPD showed a more intense emotional response than people who had less severe BPD.

Treatments

BPD is often viewed as difficult to treat. However, recent research shows that BPD can be treated effectively, and that many people with this illness improve over time.

BPD can be treated with psychotherapy, or “talk” therapy. In some cases, a mental health professional may also recommend medications to treat specific symptoms. When a person is under more than one professional’s care, it is essential for the professionals to coordinate with one another on the treatment plan.

The treatments described below are just some of the options that may be available to a person with BPD. However, the research on treatments is still in very early stages. More studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of these treatments, who may benefit the most, and how best to deliver treatments.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is usually the first treatment for people with BPD. Current research suggests psychotherapy can relieve some symptoms, but further studies are needed to better understand how well psychotherapy works.

It is important that people in therapy get along with and trust their therapist. The very nature of BPD can make it difficult for people with this disorder to maintain this type of bond with their therapist.

Types of psychotherapy used to treat BPD include the following: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT can help people with BPD identify and change core beliefs and/or behaviors that underlie inaccurate perceptions of themselves and others and problems interacting with others. CBT may help reduce a range of mood and anxiety symptoms and reduce the number of suicidal or self-harming behaviors.

  1. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). This type of therapy focuses on the concept of mindfulness, or being aware of and attentive to the current situation. DBT teaches skills to control intense emotions, reduces self-destructive behaviors, and improves relationships. This therapy differs from CBT in that it seeks a balance between changing and accepting beliefs and behaviors.
  2. Schema-focused therapy. This type of therapy combines elements of CBT with other forms of psychotherapy that focus on reframing schemas, or the ways people view themselves. This approach is based on the idea that BPD stems from a dysfunctional self-image—possibly brought on by negative childhood experiences—that affects how people react to their environment, interact with others, and cope with problems or stress.

Therapy can be provided one-on-one between the therapist and the patient or in a group setting. Therapist-led group sessions may help teach people with BPD how to interact with others and how to express themselves effectively.

One type of group therapy, Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem Solving (STEPPS), is designed as a relatively brief treatment consisting of 20 two-hour sessions led by an experienced social worker. Scientists funded by NIMH reported that STEPPS, when used with other types of treatment (medications or individual psychotherapy), can help reduce symptoms and problem behaviors of BPD, relieve symptoms of depression, and improve quality of life. The effectiveness of this type of therapy has not been extensively studied.

Families of people with BPD may also benefit from therapy. The challenges of dealing with an ill relative on a daily basis can be very stressful, and family members may unknowingly act in ways that worsen their relative’s symptoms.

Some therapies, such as DBT-family skills training (DBT-FST), include family members in treatment sessions. These types of programs help families develop skills to better understand and support a relative with BPD. Other therapies, such as Family Connections, focus on the needs of family members. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of family therapy in BPD. Studies with other mental disorders suggest that including family members can help in a person’s treatment.

Other types of therapy not listed in this booklet may be helpful for some people with BPD. Therapists often adapt psychotherapy to better meet a person’s needs. Therapists may switch from one type of therapy to another, mix techniques from different therapies, or use a combination therapy. For more information see the NIMH website section on psychotherapy.

Some symptoms of BPD may come and go, but the core symptoms of highly changeable moods, intense anger, and impulsiveness tend to be more persistent. People whose symptoms improve may continue to face issues related to co-occurring disorders, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. However, encouraging research suggests that relapse, or the recurrence of full-blown symptoms after remission, is rare. In one study, 6 percent of people with BPD had a relapse after remission.

Medications

No medications have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat BPD. Only a few studies show that medications are necessary or effective for people with this illness. However, many people with BPD are treated with medications in addition to psychotherapy. While medications do not cure BPD, some medications may be helpful in managing specific symptoms. For some people, medications can help reduce symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or aggression. Often, people are treated with several medications at the same time, but there is little evidence that this practice is necessary or effective.

Medications can cause different side effects in different people. People who have BPD should talk with their prescribing doctor about what to expect from a particular medication.

Other Treatments

Omega-3 fatty acids. One study done on 30 women with BPD showed that omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce symptoms of aggression and depression. The treatment seemed to be as well tolerated as commonly prescribed mood stabilizers and had few side effects. Fewer women who took omega-3 fatty acids dropped out of the study, compared to women who took a placebo (sugar pill).

With proper treatment, many people experience fewer or less severe symptoms. However, many factors affect the amount of time it takes for symptoms to improve, so it is important for people with BPD to be patient and to receive appropriate support during treatment.

Living With

Some people with BPD experience severe symptoms and require intensive, often inpatient, care. Others may use some outpatient treatments but never need hospitalization or emergency care. Some people who develop this disorder may improve without any treatment.
How can I help a friend or relative who has BPD?
If you know someone who has BPD, it affects you too. The first and most important thing you can do is help your friend or relative get the right diagnosis and treatment. You may need to make an appointment and go with your friend or relative to see the doctor. Encourage him or her to stay in treatment or to seek different treatment if symptoms do not appear to improve with the current treatment.
To help a friend or relative you can:
Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement—change can be difficult and frightening to people with BPD, but it is possible for them to get better over time
  • Learn about mental disorders, including BPD, so you can understand what your friend or relative is experiencing
  • With permission from your friend or relative, talk with his or her therapist to learn about therapies that may involve family members, such as DBT-FST.

Never ignore comments about someone’s intent or plan to harm himself or herself or someone else. Report such comments to the person’s therapist or doctor. In urgent or potentially life-threatening situations, you may need to call the police.

How can I help myself if I have BPD?

Taking that first step to help yourself may be hard. It is important to realize that, although it may take some time, you can get better with treatment.

To help yourself:

  • Talk to your doctor about treatment options and stick with treatment
  • Try to maintain a stable schedule of meals and sleep times
  • Engage in mild activity or exercise to help reduce stress
  • Set realistic goals for yourself
  • Break up large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can, as you can
  • Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or family member
  • Tell others about events or situations that may trigger symptoms
  • Expect your symptoms to improve gradually, not immediately
  • Identify and seek out comforting situations, places, and people
  • Continue to educate yourself about this disorder.

Thank you for reading this long post. Again the above information is from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml Have an awesome weekend. Happy Friday. Peace out!!

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Writing 101: Find Your Inspiration; Day Nineteen: Feature A Guest

Good Morning!!! Today’s assignment is to feature a guest. I interviewed a fellow blogger I met in a Facebook group around the same time we both started our blogs. Here is the interview:

1)     What is your name?

Susan Zarit

2)     Why did you start blogging?

To show the positive side of having mental illness

3)     How did you come up with you blog title?

I feel like having bipolar has made me brave. Many times it has forced me to be brave, so Bravely Bipolar just seemed to fit. http://bravelybipolar.com/

4)     Does that mean you have Bipolar Disorder?

Having BD means that I view this world differently and I definitely live it differently.

5)     Do you have any other mental health diagnosis?

Anxiety Disorder, Borderline Personality Traits

6)     How did you cope when you first got diagnosed with a mental illness?

I felt relief. At least I could finally get help because I knew what was going on with me

7)     How does your family handle you having a mental illness?

That’s tricky. They’ve learned to cope with it. They are very supportive, but suppose they’ve grown tired of the constant ups and downs. I can’t blame them. I’m exhausted. They love me as best they can and we manage to get through it one day at a time.

8)     How do you advocate for yourself and others who have a mental illness?

I work a lot with Congress and local legislators. I educate every chance I get in schools, police depts., hospitals…anywhere

9)     What is one thing you wish people knew about struggling with a mental illness?

We, who live with mental illness, are just like everyone else. We deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Remember: the brain is an organ just like the heart or lungs. So treat our illnesses like you would someone with heart disease or lung cancer, etc.

10)   Final Question: If there are benefits to having a mental illness, what are they?

Having mental illness has opened just as many doors as it has closed. It has given me empathy for my fellow man than I ever thought possible. I have the courage to stand up for myself and my convictions. I am definitely stronger, kinder, more courageous, more determined and I think an all around better person for having it. That’s not to say that I don’t have days that are just horrible. I do, but I’ve learned to cope. Some days I cope better than others. I’m only human, but I’ve learned so much from having these illnesses and I wouldn’t want to give up those experiences.

I would like to thank my friend Susan over at: http://bravelybipolar.com/ for agreeing to this interview. Over the last year and half plus, she has become a valuable friend to me. I can only hope that I am as good as friend to her and everyone else as she is to me. I hope that you have learned a little something about a fellow blogger. Have a wonderful day. Peace Out!!!

Daily Prompt: Let’s Go Crazy

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Let’s Go Crazy.” Sometimes, we act on impulse: it could be something as small as ordering that special dessert on the menu, maybe asking out that cute boy or girl, or as large quitting your job and selling everything you own to become a shepherd in New Zealand. What’s the most crazy, outrageously impulsive thing you’ve ever done? If you’ve never succumbed to temptation, dream a little. If you gave yourself permission to go a little crazy, what would you do?

This (past) daily prompt angers me. It angers me because the prompt is named “Let”s Go Crazy” and is extremely disheartening and discriminating for those who struggle with mental illness. It adds to the stigma that goes with having a mental illness. I understand what the prompt “is asking” but it’s not funny and maybe I am taking it too seriously but it’s demoralizing to those of us who struggle with a mental illness.

No one really wants to “go crazy.” Life is difficult enough without having a mental health diagnoses. It is not an easy thing to go through day to day living and if you have a mental illness on top of that, it is a constant struggle. A struggle that many people do not over come due to the fact that their symptoms are so unbearable that they choose to die by suicide. Unforantenly, it is the only way that some who struggle with mental illness can get any relief from their symptoms.

Living with a mental illness is a constant struggle and choosing to live in recovery is not easy either. Imagine dealing with a sadness that does not go away or having to relive a traumatic experience everyday even when the trauma ended decades ago or worse yet hearing or seeing things that no one else is able to see or hear. Most people can not and/or will not try to comprehend what people like myself and many others experience everyday and a daily prompt’s title saying “Lets Go Crazy” just dehumanizes what those of us who struggle with mental illness go through on the daily basis. It adds to the stigma of dealing with a mental illness.

Not only does stigma effect those who are diagnosed with a mental illness, it effects their friends and family as well. There are great deal of people out there in the world including here on WordPress trying to eliminate the stigma that goes with having a mental health diagnosis. I know it wasn’t the intention of WordPress to stigmatize or discriminate against any particular population they serve but hope that the fine folks who work for WordPress will think about how certain words and/or phrase can affect certain populations.

Before I end this particular entry, I know I may be taking this “title” too seriously and that WordPress wasn’t trying to discriminate but just wanted to share with you the world on how I felt about it. I started blogging to help end the stigma that goes with having a mental illness. Now that I have been on my soapbox, I am going to end this entry for now. Have a wonderful day and peace out!!!

You Are Not a Burden, and 4 Other Things I Wish I’d Known About Mental Illness

Here is an awesome blog about mental illness from a blog I just started following a few days ago. I encourage you to read it.

Let's Queer Things Up!

The image features an androgynous person, trapped inside a pill bottle, looking at a map that says Illustration by Jessica Krcmarik.

This might as well be part two, because quite a while back, I wrote a pretty exhaustive list of things that newly-diagnosed folks with bipolar might want to know. This might just be an ongoing series where readers have the privilege of learning from my mistakes, because I’ve made more than a few along the way. Lucky you!

While I’m writing from the perspective of someone who grapples with bipolar and generalized anxiety, I feel like much of this could be applied to other mental health struggles as well. I hope this is helpful to anyone who needs it.

Lastly, a content warning: There is some discussion about sexual assault and consent, so if that could be traumatizing for you, feel free to skip over #2.

So let’s chat! Here are some things I wish I’d known about having a mental illness:

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Mental Health Awarness Month: Schizophrenia

May is mental health awareness month. When I started this blog in late May of last year (2014) it was in response to how I as an advocate, am going do my part to help stomp out the stigma of mental illness. In fact, it still is the goal of this blog to educate other’s on mental illness in hopes that it will reach enough people to make a dent in the stigma that mental illness brings.  I’ve realized over the last year that I haven’t done much educating on mental illness with the exception of me blogging about my personal experience with a mental illness and how those with a mental illness are productive members of society.

With that being said, I decided that today’s educational topic will be Schizophrenia. Please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional and am unable to diagnosis people if you think you have Schizophrenia or another mental health diagnosis please seek out professional help from a doctor or mental health professional. The information I am about to share on Schizophrenia, with you is info I got from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website at https://nami.org/.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. It is a complex, long-term medical illness, affecting about 1% of Americans. Although schizophrenia can occur at any age, the average age of onset tends to be in the late teens to the early 20s for men, and the late 20s to early 30s for women. It is uncommon for schizophrenia to be diagnosed in a person younger than 12 or older than 40. It is possible to live well with schizophrenia.

Symptoms

It can be difficult to diagnose schizophrenia in teens. This is because the first signs can include a change of friends, a drop in grades, sleep problems, and irritability—common and nonspecific adolescent behavior. Other factors include isolating oneself and withdrawing from others, an increase in unusual thoughts and suspicions, and a family history of psychosis. In young people who develop schizophrenia, this stage of the disorder is called the “prodromal” period.

With any condition, it’s essential to get a comprehensive medical evaluation in order to obtain the best diagnosis. For a diagnosis of schizophrenia, some of the following symptoms are present in the context of reduced functioning for a least 6 months:

Hallucinations. These include a person hearing voices, seeing things, or smelling things others can’t perceive. The hallucination is very real to the person experiencing it, and it may be very confusing for a loved one to witness. The voices in the hallucination can be critical or threatening. Voices may involve people that are known or unknown to the person hearing them.

Delusions. These are false beliefs that don’t change even when the person who holds them is presented with new ideas or facts. People who have delusions often also have problems concentrating, confused thinking, or the sense that their thoughts are blocked.

Negative symptoms are ones that diminish a person’s abilities. Negative symptoms often include being emotionally flat or speaking in a dull, disconnected way. People with the negative symptoms may be unable to start or follow through with activities, show little interest in life, or sustain relationships. Negative symptoms are sometimes confused with clinical depression.

Cognitive issues/disorganized thinking. People with the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia often struggle to remember things, organize their thoughts or complete tasks. Commonly, people with schizophrenia have anosognosia or “lack of insight.” This means the person is unaware that he has the illness, which can make treating or working with him much more challenging.

Causes

Research suggests that schizophrenia may have several possible causes:

  • Genetics. Schizophrenia isn’t caused by just one genetic variation, but a complex interplay of genetics and environmental influences. While schizophrenia occurs in 1% of the general population, having a history of family psychosis greatly increases the risk. Schizophrenia occurs at roughly 10% of people who have a first-degree relative with the disorder, such as a parent or sibling. The highest risk occurs when an identical twin is diagnosed with schizophrenia. The unaffected twin has a roughly 50% chance of developing the disorder.
  • Environment. Exposure to viruses or malnutrition before birth, particularly in the first and second trimesters has been shown to increase the risk of schizophrenia. Inflammation or autoimmune diseases can also lead to increased immune system
  • Brain chemistry. Problems with certain brain chemicals, including neurotransmitters called dopamine and glutamate, may contribute to schizophrenia. Neurotransmitters allow brain cells to communicate with each other. Networks of neurons are likely involved as well.
  • Substance use. Some studies have suggested that taking mind-altering drugs during teen years and young adulthood can increase the risk of schizophrenia. A growing body of evidence indicates that smoking marijuana increases the risk of psychotic incidents and the risk of ongoing psychotic experiences. The younger and more frequent the use, the greater the risk. Another study has found that smoking marijuana led to earlier onset of schizophrenia and often preceded the manifestation of the illness.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing schizophrenia is not easy. Sometimes using drugs, such as methamphetamines or LSD, can cause a person to have schizophrenia-like symptoms. The difficulty of diagnosing this illness is compounded by the fact that many people who are diagnosed do not believe they have it. Lack of awareness is a common symptom of people diagnosed with schizophrenia and greatly complicates treatment.

While there is no single physical or lab test that can diagnosis schizophrenia, a health care provider who evaluates the symptoms and the course of a person’s illness over six months can help ensure a correct diagnosis. The health care provider must rule out other factors such as brain tumors, possible medical conditions and other psychiatric diagnoses, such as bipolar disorder.

To be diagnosed with schizophrenia, a person must have two or more of the following symptoms occurring persistently in the context of reduced functioning:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized speech
  • Disorganized or catatonic behavior
  • Negative symptoms

Delusions or hallucinations alone can often be enough to lead to a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Identifying it as early as possible greatly improves a person’s chances of managing the illness, reducing psychotic episodes, and recovering. People who receive good care during their first psychotic episode are admitted to the hospital less often, and may require less time to control symptoms than those who don’t receive immediate help. The literature on the role of medicines early in treatment is evolving, but we do know that psychotherapy is essential.

People can describe symptoms in a variety of ways. How a person describes symptoms often depends on the cultural lens she is looking through. African Americans and Latinos are more likely to be misdiagnosed, probably due to differing cultural or religious beliefs or language barriers. Any person who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia should try to work with a health care professional that understands his or her cultural background and shares the same expectations for treatment.

Treatment

There is no cure for schizophrenia, but it can be treated and managed in several ways.

With medication, psychosocial rehabilitation, and family support, the symptoms of schizophrenia can be reduced. People with schizophrenia should get treatment as soon as the illness starts showing, because early detection can reduce the severity of their symptoms.

Recovery while living with schizophrenia is often seen over time, and involves a variety of factors including self-learning, peer support, school and work and finding the right supports and treatment.

Medication

Typically, a health care provider will prescribe antipsychotics to relieve symptoms of psychosis, such as delusions and hallucinations. Due to lack of awareness of having an illness and the serious side effects of medication used to treat schizophrenia, people who have been prescribed them are often hesitant to take them.

First Generation (typical) Antipsychotics

These medications can cause serious movement problems that can be short (dystonia) or long term (called tardive dyskinesia), and also muscle stiffness. Other side effects can also occur.

Second Generation (atypical) Antipsychotics

These medications are called atypical because they are less likely to block dopamine and cause movement disorders. They do, however, increase the risk of weight gain and diabetes. Changes in nutrition and exercise, and possibly medication intervention, can help address these side effects.

One unique second generation antipsychotic medication is called clozapine. It is the only FDA approved antipsychotic medication for the treatment of refractory schizophrenia and has been the only one indicated to reduce thoughts of suicide. However, it does have multiple medical risks in addition to these benefits. Read a more complete discussion of these risk and benefits.

Psychotherapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for some people with affective disorders. With more serious conditions, including those with psychosis, additional cognitive therapy is added to basic CBT (CBTp). CBTp helps people develop coping strategies for persistent symptoms that do not respond to medicine.

Supportive psychotherapy is used to help a person process his experience and to support him in coping while living with schizophrenia. It is not designed to uncover childhood experiences or activate traumatic experiences, but is rather focused on the here and now.

Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET) works to promote cognitive functioning and confidence in one’s cognitive ability. CET involves a combination of computer based brain training and group sessions. This is an active area of research in the field at this time.

Psychosocial Treatments

People who engage in therapeutic interventions often see improvement, and experience greater mental stability. Psychosocial treatments enable people to compensate for or eliminate the barriers caused by their schizophrenia and learn to live successfully. If a person participates in psychosocial rehabilitation, she is more likely to continue taking their medication and less likely to relapse. Some of the more common psychosocial treatments include:

  • Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) provides comprehensive treatment for people with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia. Unlike other community-based programs that connect people with mental health or other services, ACT provides highly individualized services directly to people with mental illness. Professionals work with people with schizophrenia and help them meet the challenges of daily life. ACT professionals also address problems proactively, prevent crises, and ensure medications are taken.
  • Peer support groups like NAMI Peer-to-Peer encourage people’s involvement in their recovery by helping them work on social skills with others. The Illness Management Recovery (IMR) model is an evidence-based approach that emphasizes setting goals and acquiring skills to meet those goals.

Complementary Health Approaches

Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish oil, have shown some promise for treating and managing schizophrenia. Some researchers believe that omega-3 may help treat mental illness because of its ability to help replenish neurons and connections in affected areas of the brain.

Additional Concerns

Physical Health. People with schizophrenia are subject to many medical risks, including diabetes and cardiovascular problems, and also smoking and lung disease. For this reason, coordinated and active attention to medical risks is essential.

Substance Abuse. About 25% of people with schizophrenia also abuse substances such as drugs or alcohol. Substance abuse can make the treatments for schizophrenia less effective, make people less likely to follow their treatment plans, and even worsen their symptoms.

Helping Yourself

If you have schizophrenia, the condition can exert control over your thoughts, interfere with functioning and if not treated, lead to a crisis. Here are some ways to help manage your illness.

  • Manage Stress. Stress can trigger psychosis and make the symptoms of schizophrenia worse, so keeping it under control is extremely important. Know your limits, both at home and at work or school. Don’t take on more than you can handle and take time to yourself if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  • Try to get plenty of sleep. When you’re on medication, you most likely need even more sleep than the standard eight hours. Many people with schizophrenia have trouble with sleep, but lifestyle changes such as getting regular exercise and avoiding caffeine can help.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs. It’s indisputable that substance abuse affects the benefits of medication and worsens symptoms. If you have a substance abuse problem, seek help.
  • Maintain connections. Having friends and family involved in your treatment plan can go a long way towards recovery. People living with schizophrenia often have a difficult time in social situations, so surrounding yourself with people who understand this can make the transition back into daily social life smoother. If you feel you can, consider joining a schizophrenia support group or getting involved with a local church, club, or other organization.

If you live with a mental health condition, learn more about managing your mental health and finding the support you need.

Helping a Family Member or Friend

Learning about psychosis and schizophrenia will help you understand what your friend or family member is experiencing and trying to cope with. Living with schizophrenia is challenging. Here are some ways you can show support:

  • Respond calmly. To your loved one, the hallucinations seem real, so it doesn’t help to say they are imaginary. Calmly explain that you see things differently. Being respectful without tolerating dangerous or inappropriate behavior.
  • Pay attention to triggers. You can help your family member or friend understand, and try to avoid, the situations that trigger his or her symptoms or cause a relapse or disrupt normal activities.
  • Help ensure medications are taken as prescribed. Many people question whether they still need the medication when they’re feeling better, or if they don’t like the side effects. Encourage your loved one to take his or her medication regularly to prevent symptoms from coming back or getting worse.
  • Understanding lack of awareness (anosognosia). Your family member or friend one may be unable to see that he or she has schizophrenia. Rather than trying to convince the person he or she has schizophrenia, you can show support by helping him or her be safe, get therapy, and take the prescribed medications.
  • Help avoid drugs or alcohol. These substances are known to worsen schizophrenia symptoms and trigger psychosis. If your loved one develops a substance use disorder, getting help is essential.

Related Conditions People with schizophrenia may have additional illnesses. These may include: Substance abuse Posttraumatic stress disorder Obsessive-compulsive disorder Major depression Successfully treating schizohprenia almost always improves these related illnesses. And successful treatment of substance abuse, PTSD or OCD usually improves the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Thank you for reading. I know today’s blog is quite long. I felt like it is necessary to give the above information to better educate myself as well as you the reader and/or follower. Please remember I am not qualified to diagnosis anyone of any physical or mental health condition. I hope to blog more about other diagnoses as well as various treatments for mental health conditions as time goes on. Well, I’m going to end this blog for now. Have a good day and Peace Out!!

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

It’s the end of the work week and I haven’t blogged in nearly a week. I have not only been busy with work but with life in general. I mentioned in my last two blogs that once mental health week was over with, that I would continue educating you on a particular mental health diagnosis. That is what I plan on doing this evening. I plan on educating you on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I have been diagnosed with a mild form of OCD. The information I am about to tell you I got off of the Natation Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website at nami.org.

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

     Obsessions are intrusive, irrational thoughts – unwanted ideas or impulses that repeatedly appear in a person’s mind. Again and again, the person experiences disturbing thoughts, such as “My hands must be contaminated; I need to wash them”; “I may have left the gas stove on; I need to go check it fast”; I am going to injure my child by accident; I need to be very careful or else something bad will happen.” On one level, he or she fears these thoughts might be true. Trying to avoid such thoughts creates great anxiety, distress and dysfunction.

     Compulsions are repetitive riturals such as hand washing, counting, checking, hoarding or arranging. An individual repeats these actions many times throughout the day and performing these actions releases anxiety, but only momentarily. People with OCD feel they mush perform these compulsive rituals or something bad will happen to them or their loved ones.

Most people at one time or another will experience obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder occurs when an individual experiences obsessions and compulsions for more than an hour each day, in a way that interferes with his or her life. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than 2 percent of the U.S population, or nearly one out of every 40 people, will be diagnosed with OCD at some point in their lives. The disorder is two or three times more common than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

OCD is often described as “a disease of doubt.” Individuals living with OCD experience “pathological doubt” because they are unable to distinguish between what is possible, what is probable and what is unlikely to happen.

Who gets OCD?

People from all walks of life can get OCD. It strikes people of all social and ethnic groups and both males and females. Symptoms typically begin in childhood, the teenage years or young adulthood. The sudden appearance of OCD symptoms later in life merits a thorough medical evaluation to ensure that another illness is not the cause of these symptoms.

What causes OCD?

People with OCD can often say “why” they have obsessive thoughts or “why” they behave compulsively, but the thoughts and the behavior continue. A large body of scientific evidence suggest that OCD results from a chemical imbalance in the brain. For years, mental health professionals incorrectly assumed OCD resulted from bad parenting or personality defects. This theory has been disproven over the last few decades. People whose brains are injured sometimes develop OCD, which suggest it is a medical condition. If a placebo pill is given to people who are depressed or who experience panic attacks, nearly 40 percent say they feel better. If a placebo is given to people who experience obsessive-compulsive disorder, only about two percent say they feel better. This also suggest that OCD is a biological condition as opposed to a “personality problem.”

Genetics are thought to be very important in OCD. If you, or your parent or sibling, have OCD, there’s close to a 25 percent chance that another of your immediate family members will have it.

OCD has been found to be connected with dysfunction in certain parts of the brain, can cause the repetitive movements and rigid thinking that effects people with OCD. Successful treatment with medication or behavior therapy changes the activity in these brain regions, which decreases the symptoms of OCD. Two specific chemicals in the brain – a neurotransmitter called serotonin and a hormone called vasopressin – have also been studied by scientist who have found a link between these chemicals and OCD. Researchers believe OCD, anxiety disorders, Tourette’s and eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, can be triggered by some of the same chemical changes in the brain.

A world-renowned expert, Judith Rapopart M.D., describes OCD by writing, ” something in the brain is stuck, like a broken record.”

Now that I have educated you on OCD, I hope that you have learned something. I got the above information  from NAMI’s website at nami.org.

I plan on blogging on one mental health diagnosis a week so I can be able to continue to educate others on mental illness. I just want to  lessen the stigma of mental illness. I am going to call it an evening. Peace Out!!

Mental Health Awareness Week; Day 5: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

It is Day 5 of Mental Health Awareness Week. Today I will be discussing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is sort of a continuation of yesterdays topic of depression. SAD is personal to me as well because I was (and still am) diagnosed with it. This is another diagnosis I have had over half of my life. Again the information I am going to give you is from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website which is nami.org.

What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

     The symptoms of depression are very common. Some people experience these only at times of stress, while others may experience them regularly at certain ties of the year. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is characterized by recurrent episodes of depression, usually in late fall and winter, alternating with periods of normal periods of normal or high mood the rest of the year.

Whether SAD is a distinct mental illness or s specific type of major depressive disorder is a topic of debate in the scientific literature. Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) first posited the condition as a response to decreased light, and pioneered the use of bright light to address the symptoms. It has been suggested that women are more likely to have the illness than men and that SAD is less likely in older individuals. SAD can also occur in children and adolescents, in which is usually first suspected by parents and teachers rather than the individual themselves.

While no specific genes has been shown to cause SAD, many people with this illness report at least one close relative with a psychiatric condition – most frequently a severe depressive disorder or substance abuse. Scientists have identified that a chemical within the brain ( a neurotransmitter called serotonin) ma not be functioning optimally in many patients with SAD. The role of hormones, specifically melatonin, and sleep-wake cycles (also called circadian rhythms) during the changing seasons is still being studied in people with SAD. Some studies have also shown that SAD is more common in people who live in Northern latitudes (e.g., Canada and Alaska as opposed to California and Florida).

What are the patterns of SAD?

For all depressive episodes, it is important to understand the patter of the condition, in other words, what stressors or triggers contribute to the depressive symptoms. In SAD, the seasonal variation in mood states is the key dimension to understand. Through recognition of the pattern of symptoms over time, developing a more targeted treatment plan is possible.

Symptoms of SAD usually begin in October or November and subside in March or April. Some patients begin to “slump” as early as August, while others remain well until January. Regardless of the time of onset, most patients don’t feel fully “back to normal” until early May. Depressions are usually mild to moderate but they can be severe. Treatment planning needs to match the severity of the condition for the individual. Safety is the first consideration in all assessment of depression, as suicide can be a risk for more severe depressive symptoms. Although some individuals do not necessarily show these symptoms, the classic  characteristics of recurrent winter depression include oversleeping, daytime fatigue, carbohydrate craving and weight gain. Additionally, many people may experience other features of depression including decreased sexual interest, lethargy, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, lack of interest in normal activities and decreased socialization.

In a minority of cases, symptoms occur in the summer rather than winter. During that period, the depression is more likely to be characterized by insomnia, decreased appetite, weight loss and agitation or anxiety. In still fewer cases,a patient may experience both winter and summer depressions, while feeling fine each fall and spring, around the equinoxes. Many people with SAD also report that their depression worsens or reappears whenever there is “less light around” (e.g., the weather is overcast any time of the year, or if their indoor lighting is decreased).

Some people with Bipolar Disorder can also have seasonal changes in heir mood and experience acute episodes in a recurrent fashion at different times of the year.I has been classically described that some people with bipolar disorder are more likely to experience depressive episodes in the fall/winter and manic episodes in spring/summer.

A person with any of these symptoms should feel comfortable asking their doctors about SAD. A full medical evaluation of a person who is experiencing these symptoms for the first time should include a thorough physical examination as well as blood (e.g., thyroid testing) and urine testing (e.g., pregnancy testing, drug screening). A medical evaluation is appropriate because SAD can often be misdiagnosed as hypothyroidism, infectious mononucleosis or other medical conditions.

Again I got this information from NAMI’s website at nami.org. I hope that I am able to convey to you the reader and/or follower on what I am wanting to educate you all on. It being Mental Health Awareness Week it is my desire to educate people especially those who do not have any mental health diagnoses.

I deal with the symptoms of SAD the same way I deal with Depression. If you want to know how I deal with depression you can easily read yesterdays blog titled Mental Health Awareness Week; Day 4: Depression. SAD effects me mainly in late autumn through mid spring. It is key with any mental health diagnosis to know what your triggers are and I know what my triggers are with SAD. As with any mental health diagnosis treatment is another key compounding element with SAD.

I hope that I will be able to blog again tomorrow to continue to educate other on another mental health condition. It is my hopes that my blogging about mental illness that maybe just maybe the stigma that surrounds mental illness will start to lessen. Stigma is a major reason why those who suffer from mental illness suffer in silence and alone. Please don’t be afraid to share this on any social media site you want just as long as it is in a respectful manner. Have a good day everyone. Peace out!!!!