Bipolar vs. Schizophrenia

Overview

Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are two different chronic mental health disorders. People can sometimes mistake the symptoms of bipolar disorder for schizophrenia symptoms. Read on to learn how these conditions are alike and how they differ.

Bipolar disorder vs. schizophrenia

Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia have some aspects in common, but here are two of the main differences:

Symptoms

Bipolar disorder causes strong shifts in energy, mood, and activity levels. A person with bipolar disorder will switch between extreme excitement, or mania, and depression. These shifts can affect your ability to perform daily activities. In some cases, a person with bipolar disorder may also experience hallucinations and delusions (see below).

Schizophrenia causes symptoms that are more severe than the symptoms of bipolar disorder. People with schizophrenia experience hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations involve seeing or hearing things that aren’t there. Delusions are beliefs in things that aren’t true. People with schizophrenia may also experience disorganized thinking in which they are unable to care for themselves.

Frequency and ages affected

Bipolar disorder affects approximately 2.2 percent of people in the United States. Typically, it first appears between the late teen years and early adulthood. Children can also show signs of bipolar disorder.

Schizophrenia isn’t as common as bipolar disorder. It affects 1.1 percent of the U.S. population. People usually learn they have it between the ages of 16 and 30. Schizophrenia isn’t usually seen in children.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder

People with bipolar disorder experience episodes of intense emotions. These include three main types of episodes:

  • Manic episodes are times of increased activity and energy. A manic episode can make you feel extremely happy or elated.

  • Hypomanic episodes are similar to manic episodes, but they’re less intense.

  • Depressive episodes are similar to those of people with major depression. A person having a depressive episode will feel severely depressed and lose interest in activities that they used to enjoy.

To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you have to have at least one episode of depression that meets the criteria for a major depressive episode. You must also have at least one episode that meets the criteria for a manic or hypomanic episode.

Other behavioral changes that may be symptoms of bipolar disorder include:

  • restlessness

  • hyperactivity

  • tiredness

  • trouble staying focused

  • irritability

  • extreme self-confidence and impulsivity, in the case of a manic episode

  • suicidal thoughts, in the case of a depressive episode

People with bipolar disorder can also experience psychotic symptoms during a manic or depressive episode. These can include hallucinations or delusions. Because of this, people may mistake their bipolar symptoms for those of schizophrenia.

Symptoms of schizophrenia

The symptoms of schizophrenia are divided into two groups, generally referred to as “positive symptoms” and “negative symptoms.” This isn’t based on whether a symptom is good or bad, but on whether the symptoms involve what could be described as “adding” or “removing” a behavior. Positive symptoms involve adding a behavior, such as delusions or hallucinations. Negative symptoms involve removing behavior. For instance, the symptom of social withdrawal involves removing social interactions.

Some of the early warning signs of schizophrenia may include:

  • social isolation

  • a loss of interest in activities

  • moodiness

  • a lack of any feelings

  • making irrational statements

  • surprising or unusual behavior

  • an altered sleep schedule

  • getting either too much or too little sleep

  • an inability to express emotions

  • inappropriate laughter

  • violent outbursts

  • acts of violence toward yourself, such as cutting yourself

  • hypersensitivity to smells, touches, tastes, and sounds

  • hallucinations, which often appear as threatening or condemning voices that may tell you to act in violent ways

  • delusions

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Risk factors for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia

No one knows what causes bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. However, genetics are probably a risk factor, as both conditions likely run in families. This doesn’t mean that you’ll definitely inherit the disorder if your parent or sibling has it. Your risk increases, however, if multiple family members have the disorder. But knowing there’s a risk increases the chance of early detection and treatment.

Environmental factors may also contribute to your risk, but this connection isn’t entirely understood yet.

Diagnosis of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia

There are no blood tests for diagnosing bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Instead, your doctor will do a physical and psychological exam. During the exam, they’ll ask you about any family history of mental disorders and your symptoms.

Your doctor may want to do a complete blood test to help rule out other conditions. They may also request an MRI or CT scan. Finally, they make ask you to agree to a drug and alcohol screening.

You may need to return for several visits before your doctor can make a diagnosis. These visits will help your doctor fully understand your symptoms. They may ask you to keep a daily record of your mood and sleep patterns. This can help your doctor see if any patterns emerge, such as manic and depressive episodes.

Treating bipolar disorder

Treatment for both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia involves therapy and medication.

For bipolar disorder, psychotherapy may include:

  • learning about mood swings and how to effectively manage them

  • educating family members about the disorder so they can be supportive and help with overcoming episodes

  • helping you improve your relationships with friends and coworkers

  • learning to manage your days to avoid possible triggers, such as a lack of sleep or stress

Your doctor may prescribe medications to control mood swings and related symptoms, such as:

  • mood stabilizers such as lithium

  • atypical antipsychotics

  • antidepressants (in some cases)

People with bipolar disorder often have trouble sleeping. Your doctor may also prescribe sleep medication.

Treating schizophrenia

Treatment for schizophrenia includes antipsychotics and psychotherapy. Some of the more common antipsychotics used to treat schizophrenia include:

  • risperidone (Risperdal)

  • aripiprazole (Abilify)

  • haloperidol (Haldol)

  • paliperidone (Invega)

  • ziprasidone (Geodon)

  • olanzapine (Zyprexa)

Psychotherapy approaches may include cognitive behavioral therapy.

It’s possible to have an initial schizophrenic episode and never experience another one. You may find a coordinated specialty care program called Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) to be helpful if you’ve experienced one episode only. This program includes:

  • psychotherapy

  • medication

  • family education and support

  • work or education support, depending on each situation

What you can do

People can often manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia with medication and therapy. Having a support system in place will increase your chances of successfully managing your symptoms. A support system may include family, friends, and the people in your workplace.

If you have either bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, you have an increased risk of suicide. See your doctor if you have thoughts of suicide. They can provide treatment. Support groups can help to reduce the risk of suicide. You should also avoid alcohol and drugs to further reduce your risk.

If you have bipolar disorder, you should do the following:

  • Follow a relatively stable lifestyle.

  • Get an adequate amount of sleep.

  • Maintain a healthy diet.

  • Use techniques to manage stress.

  • Take medications as prescribed.

Identifying episode triggers may also help you to manage the condition.

If you have schizophrenia, you should follow your treatment plan. That includes taking medication as prescribed. This will help you to control symptoms and reduce your chances of a relapse.

Talk to your doctor if you think you may have either bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Early diagnosis is an important first step toward returning to a symptom-free life.

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10 Ways to Feel Better About Yourself

Everyday, you have another chance to make things better.

Some days are better than others. On those days that go less well, we usually end up being hard on ourselves. Here are some tools to avoid doing so.

1. Keep going. Don't let life's changes throw you off track, but remember that most extenuating circumstances are temporary. Gain more clarity by staying the course and channeling your energy in a positive direction.

2. Trust yourself. Believe in your inner resources, no matter what, and you'll grow from the experience. I believe that the answers usually lie within and you are probably smart enough to figure out what you need to do. Give yourself a little time and have patience.

3. Be friends with life. Remember that the world is not out to get you and it does not punish you. You do that to yourself. Learning to focus on other opportunities or in another direction can give you some perspective.

4. Watch your thoughts. Your thinking will never be 100 percent positive. You must learn to dismiss the negative thoughts and stay open to other ideas that will help you move in a positive direction. Start recognizing negative thoughts and use your mind to quell them.

5. Summon the strength you have inside. Learn to access and direct your strengths to the highest good for all concerned. Believe that your strength and intelligence can help you deal with anything. Remember that you have survived worse.

6. Learn to love yourself. You do not have to be who you are today, and your life is not scripted. Changing how you feel about yourself means creating a strategy, gathering some new tools, and making yourself into the person you want to be. A good way to start is to stop doing things that hurt.

7. Don't want too much. Desire can be a powerful motivating tool, but wanting something too much can be very painful and very expensive, so don't live beyond your means or covet the unattainable. Seek your desire, but keep your integrity.

8. Don't get insulted. It is wise to be dispassionate about critical comments. Human's will always bump heads, but consider the source, and if it's the other person's issue, ignore it. Learn to respond instead of react, and don't show your ire.

9. Recognize that disappointment is part of life. Even the most successful people have to deal with disappointment, but they've learned how to use it to get to the next level of life. The trick is to process your feelings, then take some kind of action.

10. Deal with your fears. Overcoming fear makes you stronger, and being a little scared can make you better. You want to have butterflies; you just want them flying in formation. It helps to understand and admit your fears. Then you can kick them to the curb.

Feel good about yourself, no matter what life brings. Know that each time you wake up, you have another chance to make things better. Don't waste it.

Reprint: Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, syndicated columnist, keynote speaker and most recently the co-author of 100 Ways to Overcome Shyness - Go From Self-Conscious to Self-Confident.

100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence: Believe In Yourself and Others Will Too

What to make a change?

Are you ready to take action, in a way that will change your life, right now? That’s a powerful feeling. Let’s leverage that motivation and potential you’ve got right now, and make it really happen for you.

First of all, though you may have several areas of your life that you’d like to see change, you need to just pick one to start. I’ll tell you why in a moment.

Let’s get right to it:

1)    Pick your “Thing”

Choose something that:

  • you really want to change

  • you know that you’d really benefit from, if you changed it

  • you can realistically change, starting now

For example, I’ve decided to focus on exercising more. To really get serious about it. I’m a relatively active person (walk the dog every day, get to the gym 2-3 times a week), but the amount I’ve been exercising isn’t enough to be as fit and full of energy and strength as I want to be. I know, from reading study after study, that working out 4-5 times a week (and pushing myself more with both cardio and weights) will dramatically improve my mood, appearance, health and overall resilience.

I really want these results, so I’m motivated. I know that making this change would be life-changing. I can make the time in my schedule, and I already go to a nearby gym.

So, what “thing” are you going to do?

2)    Decide how, when and where you’re going to do it

Research shows that if you are intentional about how, when and where you are going to do a new behavior, you are more than twice as likely to actually do it.

I’m going to go to the gym on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday mornings, because those are the best days for me. I’m going to do a combination of cardio, weights, core work and stretching each time. This is a realistic commitment.

How, when and where are you going to implement your new habit? Be realistic.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to start small and build up over time. That may give you the best chance at making something stick, versus starting out overly ambitious and then flaming out.

I’m going to start with doing 30 minutes of cardio, but will plan to build it up to 45 minutes over time.

3)    Imagine your life in 10 years, with and without the habit

If you implement this new habit or change and it sticks, what will be the result, 10 years from now? How will it change your life?

If you don’t take your commitment seriously enough, and give up after a few weeks, what will that mean for your life, 10 years from now?

As an example, if I exercise this often and this intensely, I will likely look and feel great in 10 years. I’ll age much more slowly and have much more energy to do all the different things I want to keep doing as I get older. If I give into laziness and don’t make the effort… well, let’s just say that it won’t be pretty (I have personally written out a much more detailed, depressing description).

I encourage you, too, to write out a description of both of these options: Describe in great detail how it will change or impact your life in 10 years if you do this thing, and what your life would be like if you don’t.

Writing the two scenarios out will go a long way toward keeping you on track when you’re inevitably tempted to quit.

4)    Keep your goal in your mind every day

When you pick just one thing to change, you can laser focus on it. It will stay top of mind. You won’t get distracted by trying to do a bunch of things at once. Your excuses will be forced to disappear, because you said you’d do this. This one simple thing.

When you get up in the morning, think of your “thing.” When are you going to do it today? How? Where? Do this every day. Keep it on the top of your mind.

Try to get it done early in the day, if you can. I used to plan to work out at the end of my workday, but fitness would constantly get shoved aside by things that came up. I’d end up running out of time. That won’t happen if I do it first thing in the morning. Doing it first means that when I say that exercising a top priority, it really is.

5)    Once it’s locked in, move on to the next thing 

You might resist picking just one thing because you feel like you need to change multiple things in your life. Won’t it take too long for your life and results to change, if you just do one thing?

Not at all. Studies show that implementing one new habit at a time is the smarter way to go. It takes a couple of months for most people to lock in a habit to the point that it becomes automatic.

Once your “thing” has become woven into the fabric of your life, to the point that you don’t need to make yourself do it (or remind yourself to do it) anymore, pick a new thing.

One new habit at a time, you can change your life. You can live your way into lasting, powerful, positive change.

Can you feel how good this feels?

You make a promise to yourself, and keep it. Since it’s just one promise, it’s so much simpler.

This dramatically increases the odds that you’ll succeed.

Now go out there and do it!

(P.S. One of the most impactful “things” I’ve implemented in the last year is a better sleep routine. It has been life-changing. I sleep better and longer, and have so much more energy. To read about the simple strategy I used that dramatically improved my sleep, check out this article: S   

 

Reprint: Dr. Biali: 
"10 Essential Easy Changes - Boost Mood, Increase 
Energy & Reduce Stress By Tomorrow

Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Basics

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder that generally causes extreme discomfort. Sufferers are often riddled with persistent and recurrent impulses, thoughts and images that are unwanted. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, OCD affects more than 2 million adults in the United States. Severe cases of OCD can cause an extreme amount of distress, and the disorder can dramatically interfere with a person’s daily life.

What Are the Types of OCD?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the categories of obsessive-compulsive disorder include:

  • Intrusive thoughts

  • Constant checking

  • Fear of contamination

  • Hoarding

Sufferers of OCD who have intrusive thoughts generally have reoccurring images in their minds that are disturbing or horrific. These thoughts may occur based on an event that happened in the person’s life, or they may occur for no particular reason. Sufferers of OCD who have the need to constantly check on people or items generally fear that something bad will happen if they stop checking. For example, someone with OCD may constantly walk throughout their home to make sure all the doors and windows are locked due to their fear that someone might try to break in.

Sufferers who have a fear of contamination may take baths and wash their hands many times throughout the course of one day, or they may be obsessed with cleaning every inch of their home to ensure it is spotless and free of germs. OCD sufferers who hoard items are obsessed with making sure they keep everything they’ve ever owned, even if the item is worn out or useless. A person who hoards becomes emotionally attached to items, and the very thought of throwing things away can cause great distress.

Obsessions

Obsessions are images, ideas, and thoughts that simply will not go away. While it is not uncommon for individuals to have disturbing thoughts from time to time, a person with OCD cannot escape their thoughts no matter how hard they try. These recurring thoughts are so severe that they can debilitate someone with OCD.

Compulsions

Compulsions are behaviors that individuals with obsessions display in order to relieve themselves of their anxiety. With OCD, the compulsive behavior is directly related to the excessive thought. For example, someone who counts their money every hour may have an obsessive fear someone will steal it or they will lose it.

Obsessions Without Compulsions

There is not always a physical behavior associated with an obsession. If you constantly worry about or have obsessive thoughts about something you cannot control, such as the safety of a long-lost relative, you may feel a great deal of distress, but your doctor is unlikely to diagnose you with obsessive-compulsive disorder. There is generally some type of compulsive behavior that accompanies the obsession in individuals who receive this diagnosis.

If you’ve noticed any of the above-mentioned symptoms in yourself or a loved one, we can help. Give us a call today at to speak to a professional who can tell you about the resources available to you or your loved one.

What Causes OCD?

OCD is a disorder that is not yet fully understood. However, medical professionals believe there is a genetic component to this disease, as there is some research that has shown that this disorder has the tendency to run in families. This behavior can also be learned based on habits you may have developed during childhood or over a long period of time.

What Are the Signs of OCD?

The symptoms of OCD include both obsessive and compulsive behaviors. Signs of obsession include:

  • Repeated unwanted ideas

  • Fear of contamination

  • Aggressive impulses

  • Persistent sexual thoughts

  • Images of hurting someone you love

  • Thoughts that you might cause others harm

  • Thoughts that you might be harmed

Signs of compulsion include:

  • Constant checking

  • Constant counting

  • The repeated cleaning of one or more items

  • Repeatedly washing your hands

  • Constantly checking the stove or door locks

  • Arranging items to face a certain way

Emotional Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Sufferers of OCD are generally very anxious and emotional. They display many non-OCD symptoms, such as signs of depression, excessive worry, extreme tension, and the constant feeling that nothing is ever right.

Physical Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Aside from the obvious compulsive behaviors a person with OCD displays, there are no physical signs of this disorder; however, a person with OCD can develop physical problems. For example, a person with a germ obsession may wash their hands so much that the skin on them becomes red, raw and painful.

Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of OCD

A person with OCD may experience multiple short-term effects, including the inability to function as a contributing member of society, difficulties at school or work, or trouble maintaining friendships or romantic relationships. The long-term effects of OCD generally develop due to the poor quality of life that most extreme sufferers have. Long-term effects include depression, constant anxiety and an increased risk of substance abuse.

It is best to get on the path to recovery as soon as possible to prevent the worsening of these effects. Give us a call on our hotline today at .

Is There a Test or Self-Assessment I Can Do?

If your loved ones have told you that you have obsessive thoughts or are compulsive in action, you have likely noticed that you do, in fact, have some compulsive behaviors. Most patients with OCD are aware of the behaviors they are displaying; they just cannot stop them.

There is no self-assessment exam for OCD sufferers, but you can self-assess by getting together with your loved ones and coming up with a list of behaviors you consistently display. You can then discuss this list with your healthcare provider.

After speaking to you about your thoughts and behaviors, your doctor may recommend a psychological evaluation. Your doctor may also want to speak to your loved ones and close friends.

OCD Medication: Anti-Anxiety Drug Options

The medications used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder are the same drugs used to treat most anxiety disorders. Psychotherapy is another important aspect of treatment and generally recommended in conjunction with medication use.

OCD Drugs: Possible Options

According to the Mayo Clinic, the medications used to treat OCD generally include Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac, Luvox and Anafranil. These psychiatric medicines can control compulsions and obsessive thoughts. They work by increasing the level of serotonin in your brain, which is generally low in sufferers of OCD.

Medication Side Effects

Most anxiety medications, including the ones listed above, have side effects. Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, shaking, abnormal urination, vision changes, extreme confusion, stiff muscles, appetite changes, loss of sex drive and more are all possible side effects of these medications. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away.

Anti-OCD Drug Addiction, Dependence and Withdrawal

It is also possible to form a dependence on these drugs; therefore, it is important to strictly follow your doctor’s guidelines when taking them. These drugs may help to alleviate your OCD symptoms, but taking them too often can make it difficult for you to stop taking the drugs at your doctor’s recommendation.

Medication Overdose

Another reason why it is important to strictly adhere to your doctor’s recommendations is to prevent an overdose. Rapid heartbeat, breathing problems, vomiting, nausea, shakiness, seizure, extreme drowsiness, and low blood pressure can all occur if you’ve overdosed on an anti-anxiety medication. If you start to experience these symptoms, contact a medical provider or call 911 right away.

Depression and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Depression often occurs with OCD, which is why part of the treatment plan involves psychotherapy. Most of the anti-anxiety medications used to treat OCD are suitable for treating depression as well. Your doctor might also prescribe a separate set of antidepressants to take with your OCD medications depending on your particular situation.

Dual Diagnosis: Addiction and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Aside from depression, there are other conditions that a person with OCD can have. These conditions differ in every individual with OCD because the behavior each sufferer displays is different. For example, if you are obsessed with the thought of being thin, you may develop anorexia or bulimia, and your doctor may diagnose you with both OCD and one of these ailments. Treatment on OCD should focus on both issues in order to be successful.

Getting Help for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

No matter how severe your situation may seem, you can get help to treat your OCD. Getting help will allow you or your loved one to dramatically improve the quality of life you live.

Reprinted: Psychguides.com

ADHD in Adults

In the past, ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) was considered a condition that children had and then "grew out of" before they reached adulthood. However, we now know that ADHD is a condition that spans a lifetime, from childhood to old age.

Typically, ADHD symptoms change through a person’s life, at least in terms of what others can observe. For example, a young child’s hyperactivity is visible to someone else because the child is physically very active. In comparison, an adult might appear to be relatively relaxed and still. This is because adults develop coping strategies in order to fit with social expectations. The hyperactivity is still present, but it has become mostly internal.

Because attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a neurological condition that affects a person’s ability to focus, pay attention, and manage behavior (including impulsiveness), ADHD can create problems in every area of adult life, including relationships, work, health, and finances. People are often surprised and relieved to realize that some of their behaviors, which they thought were due to being "lazy" or "stupid," are actually related to ADHD–a realization that, for some, comes far after childhood.

There are different types of ADHD, which can affect both children and adults. What ADHD looks like depends on the type you (or someone you love) is managing.

10 Signs of Inattentive ADHD in Adults

You Get Distracted: Your mind might wander off when you are in a work meeting or listening to instructions. Sometimes you daydream to relieve boredom, and sometimes you get distracted even when you are trying really hard to pay attention.

You Have Problems Paying Attention to Details: This can give the impression that you are careless, or that you do not try hard.

You Are Disorganized: You might find it hard to keep your physical environment tidy. Perhaps you arrive at a dentist appointment on the wrong day, or you have a "messy" look to your appearance.

You Have Time Management Issues: Time can travel differently when you have ADHD. This means you are often late for appointments, hand in work assignments at the last minute, and pull all-nighters to meet deadlines.

Your Memory Is Poor: It is a standing joke among your friends that you never remember their birthday. You always have an uneasy feeling that you have forgotten something, but you are not sure what it is. When you leave your house, you usually have to go back at least once for an item you forgot.

You Struggle to Complete Tasks: You are fairly good at starting a task, but keeping the motivation and momentum to see it all the way through to the end is challenging.

You Do Not Appear to Be Listening: People accuse you of not listening to them when they are talking to you. You might find it hard to look directly at them when they are talking, and this gives the impression you are not interested in what they are saying.

You Avoid Tasks: You procrastinate sitting down to work on a task that requires mental effort, especially if it does not have a deadline looming.

You Lose Concentration When Driving: You have had many minor collisions and tickets for not stopping at stop signs because you became distracted.

You Find Mundane Task Difficult: You find basic living tasks, such as grocery shopping, laundry, or unpacking a suitcase, very challenging. This can make you feel bad about yourself, because everyone ‘should’ be able to do these things.

10 Signs of Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD in Adults

You Always Seem to Be on the Go: You have a full schedule and lots of physical energy. People often think you are much younger than your biological age because of how much energy you have.

You Have a Hard Time Sitting: When you were a child, you probably jumped up many times when you were supposed to be sitting still. As an adult, you learned to sit, but you still find ways to move by bouncing your foot or tapping your fingers or fiddling with a pen.

You Interrupt When Others Are Speaking: Because your mind works quickly, you finish other people’s sentences or answer a question before it has been asked completely. Other times you interrupt and speak because you are worried you will forget what you wanted to say if you do not say it immediately.

You're Talkative: You are known among your family and friends to be very hyper talkative. You might also speak loudly and enjoy debating.

You Find Waiting Hard: Waiting is challenging for you. Whether you are waiting for a friend to arrive, at a traffic light, or in a line at the store, you feel very restless, impatient, and bored.

You Drive Very Fast: You enjoy speeding–and often get pulled over for it.

You Do Not like Slowness: You get impatient with ‘slow’ people. You also speed through tasks, even important ones, just to get them over with.

You Feel Internal Restlessness: You feel unsettled when you are required to be physically still (for example, at a restaurant or in a meeting). This can feel like agony at times.

You Make Decisions Quickly: Sometimes this is good; other times it leaves you with regret.

You Say Things Impulsively: You often offend people because you say things without thinking them through. You say ‘sorry’ a lot. Maybe you've quit a job without giving it a second thought.

How Is Adult ADHD Diagnosed?

Getting diagnosed with ADHD is not as simple as having a blood test or filling out an online questionnaire. A detailed evaluation is required. This is done by a health professional who has experience with ADHD in adults. This person’s job during the evaluation is to decide if you meet the criteria for ADHD as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)–the official diagnostic guide used in the United States.

The testing is done using questionnaires, rating scales, intellectual screenings, and interviews, and by measuring sustained attention and distractibility. ADHD symptoms can look similar to other conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, learning disabilities, and sleep problems. Therefore, an important part of the evaluation process is to determine if you have ADHD, a different condition, or ADHD and a co-existing condition together.

The latest edition of the DSM (5th edition), published in 2013, takes into account how symptoms of ADHD look in adults. This is very helpful, as it was felt that adult ADHD was overlooked in previous DSMs.

ADHD and Adult Women

Women are more likely to have inattentive ADHD, which historically has meant that their ADHD symptoms were overlooked in childhood. Teachers and parents were aware that hyperactivity was a symptom of ADHD, but less was known about inattentive ADHD. If a child was daydreaming or disorganized, that was thought to be the child’s character rather than ADHD. Because of this, many women (and some men) are diagnosed with ADHD later in life.

Women can also have hyperactive-impulsive ADHD, though this is less common. Growing up, a girl might be described as a tomboy because of her physical energy, even when ADHD was the cause.

How Is Adult ADHD Treated?

Medication is the most common way of treating ADHD. However, it is not the only way. There is a saying: “Pills don’t teach skills.” This means that learning ADHD-friendly ways to do daily tasks is also helpful. Many treatment plans include a combination of approaches, as each method increases the other’s effectiveness. For example, taking medication can make it easier to implement new behaviors.

Medication

There are two groups of medications that your doctor might prescribe: stimulants and non-stimulants.

Sometimes people are wary of taking a stimulant; these medications get a lot of negative attention in the press. However, they are the most studied ADHD medications. Stimulants reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity, and increase attention. It is important to work closely with your doctor to find the right dosage for you and to report any side effects you experience.

A non-stimulant medication might be prescribed instead of a stimulant medication if you have a history of addictions or have too many side effects when taking stimulant medication. Sometimes a combination of stimulant and non-stimulant medications is prescribed.

Counseling

There are many types of counseling approaches. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been found to be effective for treating ADHD. With this type of therapy, you learn new ways to behave in the world. Low self-esteem and shame are common feelings for adults who have ADHD, and CBT is a helpful way to address these issues.

Additional Ways to Help Your ADHD

There are many other ways you can minimize the negative effects of ADHD on your life. For example, you might be eligible to get workplace accommodations. You could include exercise in your life and practice stress reduction techniques. Making lifestyle shifts, so that you focus on personal strengths, is also helpful.

Reprinted: Kessler, R. C., L. Adler, R. Barkley, J. Biederman, C. K. Conners, L.L Greenhill, and T. Spencer. 2011. The Prevalence and Correlates of Adult ADHD. In ADHD in Adults; Characterization, Diagnosis, and Treatment, edited by J.K. Buitelaar, C.C Kan, and P. Asherson. Cambridge, U.K: Cambridge University Press.


Alone New Year's Eve?? Maybe You Will..

Make Resolutions

New Year's Eve is a terrific time to craft your list of resolutions. These can be about anything from general life improvements to specific concerns related to social anxiety.

Some resolutions to help your social anxiety might include:

  • Develop healthy lifestyle habits like eating well, getting lots of sleep, and exercising regularly.

  • Work on improving your social skills: Start with how to be better at making small talk.

  • Face challenging situations rather than avoid them. Say yes instead of no.

  • Tell others how you are feeling. You might be surprised at the support that you receive.

  • Develop assertiveness. This will help to improve your confidence.

  • Be grateful for what you have. Appreciate the talents and skills you possess.

Accept an Invitation You Turned Down

Perhaps you received an invitation to a party that you turned down. Maybe you would have been a single among couples, or the thought of spending the evening with a group felt like too much.

It isn't too late to go back and say: "Yes!"

Consider it a chance to work on your social skills and usher in the new year with a resolution to attend more social functions.

Do Something Mundane

New Year's Eve really is just another night. Cope with being alone by doing mundane things and ignoring the hype surrounding the holiday. Clean your house, organize your office, or catch up on your sleep. Don't let tradition dictate your choices if you just don't feel up to celebrating.

Rent Movies and Watch the Ball Drop

If you are staying in, consider ordering pizza, renting a good movie, and watching the ball drop in Times Square. These are solitary activities that give you the flavor of the holiday and help you to feel like you are participating from afar.

Some movie picks about New Year's Eve:

  • 200 Cigarettes

  • Ocean's Eleven

  • When Harry Met Sally

Plan Some Phone Calls for Midnight

Have people call you or plan on calling others right before midnight so that you have someone with whom to share the countdown. You don't have to stay on the phone for long; just ring in the New Year and then get back to your solitary celebration.

Enjoy the time alone!!!!

Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Yes, Virginia ...

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor—

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon
115 West Ninety Fifth Street

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.

We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

-----------------

"Is There a Santa Claus?" reprinted from the September 21, 1897, number of The New York Sun.


10 Ways TO Avoid Depression Over the Holidays


Do you celebrate the holidays or do you secretly dread them? For some of us, the period between Thanksgiving and St. Patrick’s Day can be the most depressing time of the year.

The first reason is that we are exposed to less sunlight during the winter. We need light to maintain our physical, mental and emotional health. There are also societal pressures that can weigh heavily on pain patients, such as not being able to participate in holiday activities. The holidays can make us depressed, financially strained, anxiety ridden, and harder to be around.

Here are some early warning signs of depression:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions

  • Fatigue and decreased energy

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness and/or helplessness

  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping

  • Irritability, restlessness

  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex

  • Overeating or appetite loss

  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems

  • Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" feelings

  • Thoughts of suicide or a suicide attempt

Take this seriously, as depression carries a high risk of suicide. Anybody who expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions should be taken very seriously. Do not hesitate to call your local suicide hotline immediately.

Depression can cause you to isolate yourself from others, decreasing your mobility and increasing drug dependence. A cycle begins where depression causes and intensifies the pain and stress on your body.

It can be hard to face the emotional aspects of pain, but it is important to look at the signs and be aware of them. Remember, pain causes depression, not the other way around! 

Depression can keep you from taking care of yourself. You cannot afford to let yourself fall into dark dreary moods. Be sure, no matter how you are feeling, that you are following the goals set for your care, such as taking the correct dose of medication at the correct time of each day.

It may take a little effort to keep healthy habits when you are depressed. Here are a tips fellow pain patients, friends with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and I have used over the years.  

  1. Use artificial light sources. The body’s internal biological clock can get really out of sync during the winter season. Bright light therapy becomes an important tool.

  2. Try something new, such as a craft or hobby.

  3. Progressive muscle relaxation, hypnosis and meditation can reduce stress and pain levels

  4. Stop doing things you don’t enjoy and do things you like, such as listening to music or aroma therapy.

  5. Physical therapy and exercise can break the cycle of pain and help relieve depression

  6. Make a list of life’s blessings, reminding yourself what you have accomplished in life. Even if you can’t do it now, you could once and no one can take that from you.

  7. Cognitive and behavioral therapies teach pain patients how to avoid negative and discouraging thoughts.

  8. Change everyday routines to ward off physical and emotional suffering

  9. Clean out or organize an area of the house. It could be as simple as clearing a bedside table or filing your medical records. Getting organized in one area of your life can help you manage other areas more successfully.

  10. Seek professional help if you start feeling overwhelmed. Dealing with chronic pain can slow recovery from depression. Specialists should treat both problems together.  

Getting your depression under control will help you focus on managing your health. As you learn to let go of anxiety and stress, it will help lower pain levels and make the holidays more enjoyable.  

Reprinted - By Barby Ingle, PNN Columnist

A Guide to Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Life naturally slows down in winter. The days grow shorter, light becomes scarce, and we respond by planting ourselves in front of the television or hiding under the covers to stay warm. But how do you know when a seasonal slump is a more serious problem?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a category of depression that emerges in particular seasons of the year. Most people notice SAD symptoms starting in the fall and increasing during the winter months, but a few people experience a spring/summer version. Let’s take a look at some common questions you might have about this disorder.

What are the most common symptoms of SAD?

SAD symptoms are the same criteria you’d need for a diagnosis of major depression. These might include a depressed mood, feelings of hopelessness, a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, changes in sleep and appetite, a loss of pleasure in activities you once loved, and even thoughts of death or suicide. Persons with the winter version of SAD might also notice the following unique symptoms:

  • Heaviness in arms and legs

  • Frequent oversleeping

  • Cravings for carbohydrates/weight gain

  • Relationship problems

Is SAD a “lighter” version of major depression?

No, even though this is a common misconception. SAD is a “specifier” of major depression, which is just a fancy word for a more specific kind, or subtype. Persons with seasonal affective disorder experience the symptoms at a particular time of year. With the changing of seasons, their depression goes into remission. If you notices this switch happening several times over two years, then you may qualify for this diagnosis.

What causes SAD?

Researchers have yet to uncover the specific cause for SAD. We do know however, that several factors are at play. The reduction in sunlight in winter can throw your biological clock out of whack and reduce levels of serotonin (a brain chemical that regulates your mood) and Melatonin (a chemical which regulates sleep and mood).

If you are young and female, you are also at increased risk for SAD. People who live farther from the equator or have a family history of depression also experience the symptoms more frequently.

How do I know when to call a doctor?

Sure, everyone has days in the winter when they feel sluggish or unmotivated. But if your symptoms are causing disruptions in your life, then never hesitate to reach out to a professional. If symptoms occur for days at a time, you notice major shifts in sleeping or eating, you are withdrawing socially, or the activities that usually boost your mood don’t work, then it’s time to pick up your phone. Seek immediate help if you are using alcohol to manage symptoms or you are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

How do I get the best care for SAD?

It’s never too late if you’re already experiencing symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Seeking treatment can help prevent them from becoming worse. You can schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or make an appointment with a mental health professional, like a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed counselor. Check to see if your workplace has an Employee Assistance Program that offers free counseling or referrals to providers in your community.

To get the best level of care, sit down and engage your brain before your appointment. Play detective, and take some notes about the frequency and nature or your symptoms, other mental and physical health concerns you have, and observations about what helps your depression or makes it worse. You can also jot down specific questions you might have for your doctor. These might include:

  • What might also be causing my symptoms instead of SAD?

  • What treatments have your patients found helpful in the past?

  • Would you recommend a mental health provider in the community?

  • Are there any behavioral changes I can make today to help my mood?

  • Are there any written resources you’d recommend?

When you’re at the doctor’s office, he or she may conduct a physical exam or lab tests to rule out other physical causes for your depression. The doctor may also recommend that you see a mental health professional to receive a more thorough assessment.

What treatments might work for me?

With any mental health problem, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. Here are a few options to explore with your doctor.

  • Medication – Antidepressants have proven to be effective for people with SAD, especially those with intense symptoms. Medication requires patience, because it can take several weeks before you begin to feel the effects. It’s also important not to stop taking the medication if you feel better. Consult with your doctor before you change your dosage, and let him or her know if you experience any side effects.

  • Psychotherapy – Talk therapy can be an invaluable option for those with SAD. A psychotherapist can help you identify patterns in negative thinking and behavior that impact depression, learn positive ways of coping with symptoms, and institute relaxation techniques that can help you restore lost energy.

  • Light therapy – Phototherapy involves exposing oneself to light via a special box or lamp. This device produces similar effects to natural light, triggering chemicals in your brain that help regulate your mood. This treatment has proven effective especially for those who experience the winter version of SAD. Don’t make an impulse buy on the Internet though, as it’s important to consult with your doctor first. You want to make sure you’ve purchased an effective and safe device.

But what can I do today?

In addition to seeking help from your doctor, there are lifestyle changes that can improve symptoms and lift your mood. You might try going outside more often, getting plenty of sunlight, exercising, avoiding drugs and alcohol, getting plenty of sleep, and practicing relaxation exercises.

Planning a healthier lifestyle is never a bad idea. But don’t beat yourself up if your symptoms don’t improve right away. Don’t brush them off as the January blues and simply hunker down until spring. Asking for help is a sign of strength and movement towards a better version of yourself. Consider how you can start managing seasonal affective disorder today and live a healthier life in every season.

Last Updated: Feb 14, 2018

Article by:

  • Arnold Lieber, MD

There are two types of bipolar disorder — here's how they're different

There are two types of bipolar disorder — here's how they're different

Bipolar disorder is a mental health problem that affects mood. People with bipolar experience manic episodes, periods of depression, and potentially some psychotic symptoms, according to mental health charity Mind.

In the manic or hypomanic periods, they feel high and energetic, but then the depression comes and they crash back down to Earth.

Katherine Ponte, who has lived with severe bipolar 1 disorder for over 15 years, told INSIDER it's being manic that gets you into trouble, but it's the depression that's the most dangerous.

"When you're manic, you don't think you're gonna die, you think you're on top of the world, you can do anything," she said. "When you have major depression, that can kill you."

Bipolar used to be called "manic depression" because of the two different states, but bipolar is now the most widely used term.

There are also two types of the disorder: bipolar 1 and bipolar 2.

Joseph F. Goldberg, a clinical Professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in NYC told INSIDER: "In bipolar 1 disorder the high periods cause trouble, and about half the time may involve psychosis — delusions (false beliefs) or hallucinations (false perceptions)."

With bipolar 2 disorder, the highs are milder intensity, and don't involve psychosis.

"[They] don't involve psychosis, and by definition aren't disruptive to one's functioning," said Goldberg.

"In both conditions, depressive symptoms and episodes are similar although depression tends to be more enduring and predominating over highs in bipolar 2 than bipolar 1 disorder."

During Ponte's manic episodes, for instance, she made religious shrines and thought she was receiving messages about the world coming to an end.

This probably wouldn't happen to someone with bipolar 2, as they don't experience long manic episodes. Instead, they have hypomania, which can last for a few days.

"It can still have a disruptive effect on your life and people may notice a change in your mood and behavior," according to the Mind website. "But you will usually be able to continue with your daily activities without these being too badly affected."

For many, living without treatment is living without hope.

How bipolar is treated

Mood stabilizers are the cornerstone of treatment, said Goldberg. These are drugs that treat highs and lows.

Lithium, divalproex, and carbamazepine are some that work for the highs, which lamotrigine is used to treat the lows.

"Atypical antipsychotics are increasingly being used for both short- and long-term treatment management, regardless of the presence of psychosis," he said.

"Our drugs are far from perfect. Many medicines have annoying side effects like weight gain, response rates are not always as dramatic in real life as they are in research studies for numerous reasons — such as the presence of additional disorders such as substance abuse — and combination drug therapies are common."

If someone doesn't get treatment, their manic and depressive episodes persist, and they may be hospitalized over and over again.

"Persistent symptoms can cause a downward spiral... and consequences such as work and social functioning take a toll, sometimes leading to disability, isolation and loss of social supports," said Goldberg.

Ponte was taken to the hospital and locked in isolation a few times before she found the right treatment.

"Before I was living without hope, and after was living with hope," she said. With her organization , Ponte aims to connect people with others who are going through something similar, and give them a future.

"We want to increase awareness of that possibility for people," she said. "To give them that hope that they can recover from mental illness and go on to live a healthy, productive life."

Lindsay Dodgson - Insider

Oct. 31, 2018,

What is Depression? Free Hotline Numbers - Someone is always there for You.

What Is Depression?

Depression does not have to be a life sentence, even though a person experiencing a depressive episode might feel like it is.Many life events can leave us feeling sad or down, but depression is different than just being sad. Situational sadness becomes depression when it lasts longer than 2 weeks, when you experience it for most of the day nearly every day, when your symptoms are distressing, and when you experience a negative impact in one or more areas of your life.1–3  

Depression can affect your ability to function at work, school, or home and can reduce your motivation to engage in social and recreational activities.1–3 Common symptoms of depression include:1–3

  • Feeling sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, or generally pessimistic.

  • Feeling more irritable than normal.

  • Not doing the things you used to enjoy because you have no interest and/or motivation.

  • Feeling easily fatigued or generally lacking energy.

  • Experiencing changes in your sleep and/or appetite.

  • Having difficulty thinking, making decisions, concentrating, or remembering things.

  • Having an increase in physical ailments with no medical reason or evidence as to why.

  • Thinking of death or suicide.

Depression does not have to be a life sentence, even though a person experiencing a depressive episode might feel like it is. There are treatments that have proven effective, and people with depression typically find relief from a combination of psychotherapy and medication.1,2

Teenage Depression

Between 4-8% of adolescents currently experience depression, and up to 25% will experience depression by the time they reach the end of adolescence.2The symptoms of adolescent depression manifest differently depending on the developmental stage they are in.2,6

Teenage depression, like depression in adults, has a negative impact on social, school, and family functioning.2,6  Depression during formative stages of childhood and adolescence can impact personality development.2

Unlike adult depression, depression in teenagers may present as increased irritability, instead of low mood.1 Teenage depression is also unlike adult depression because it cannot be easily treated with anti-depressants.2 In fact, medications can make depression symptoms in teenagers worsen and can increase thoughts of suicide.1,2

If you are a teenager or parent of a teenager who may be depressed, contact a teenage depression hotline to get answers about the best treatment options.

Free Hotline Numbers

If your depression has caused you to lose a job, drop out of school, lose touch with family or friends, or if you’ve noticed changes in your sleep and appetite that have not improved, contact one of these free resources to learn more about treating your depression.

SAMHSA’s behavioral health treatment services locator is an easy and anonymous way to locate treatment facilities and other resources, such as support groups and counselors, to treat and manage depression.

If your depression is leading to suicidal thoughts, call the National Hopeline to connect with a depression treatment center in your area. The Hopeline also offers a live chat feature for those who don’t want to (or are unable to) call and can dispatch emergency crews to your location if necessary.

This national hotline is another valuable resource for people whose depression has escalated to suicidal or other harmful thoughts. Their network of crisis centers provide emotional support and guidance to people in distress and are also available via a chat service and a special hotline number for the hearing impaired: 1-800-799-4889.

  • National Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-800-448-4663

This resource provides brief interventions for youth who are dealing with pregnancy, sexual abuse, child abuse, depression and suicidal thoughts. They also provide referrals to local counseling, treatment centers, and shelters.

Sources:

  1. National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Depression.

  2. Bylund, D. B., & Reed, A. L. (2007). Childhood and Adolescent Depression: Why do children and adults respond differently to antidepressant drugs? Neuro

A new investigational medication may help patients with depression find relief.

Recent data from the National Institutes of Health shows more than 16 million American adults over age 18 had at least one major depressive episode in the previous year.

The condition, known as major depressive disorder (MDD), is characterized by a depressed mood or a loss of interest in activities for at least two weeks that impairs a person’s social, occupational or educational functions.

About 7 million Americans with MDD are treated with first-line antidepressant medications. However, the therapy doesn’t work for about 4 million of those patients, who then try second-line medications. Still, that therapy doesn’t work for about 3 million people. 

Treatment-resistant depression

When two lines or more of antidepressant therapies fail to work, those patients are diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression (TRD).

Patients with TRD are typically prescribed antidepressants, talk therapy and other treatments, hoping for something to work.

The treatment approach has been, “trial and error with great difficulty,” says Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D., the chief of psychiatry at the University of Miami Hospital.

Innovation in research

A new investigational drug — AXS-05: a novel, oral product combining existing medicines bupropion and dextromethorphan — may be a breakthrough treatment. The investigational drug is being evaluated as part of the STRIDE-1 (Symptom Treatment in Resistant Depression 1) phase 3 study.

“There haven’t been major developments in new therapies for depression therapies in years,” says Cedric O’Gorman, M.D., MBA, senior vice president of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs for Axsome Therapeutics, the company that makes AXS-05.

Treating depression

Dr. Nemeroff, who is not an advisor to Axsome Therapeutics, is enthused that new therapies are in development. He advises patients, “You can’t give up, because the odds are you’re going to respond to one treatment or another.”

His patient, Michelle Rovere, 56, has TRD and was suicidal in 2016.

“I’d become a burden to myself, to my husband, to my children,” she says, concluding, “I was in so much emotional pain.”

Rovere, who takes antidepressants, is in talk therapy and is feeling well.

“Peace and mental wellness are achievable,” she says.

Patients with MDD who are currently depressed and have failed one or two antidepressant treatments are encouraged to see if enrollment in the STRIDE-1 clinical trial may be suitable for them. https://www.trdstudy.com/

Five Steps to Helping Someone Who May Be Considering Suicide

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers five steps to help someone who may be considering suicide.

1. Ask: There is a common misconception that asking someone if they have/ are considering killing themselves puts the idea in their head — it does not. Do not be afraid to ask!

2. Keep them safe: If someone admits to considering suicide, it is important to seek immediate medical attention, especially if they shared their plan with you or have access to firearms, the number one cause of suicide (50 percent).

3. Be there: Listen without judgment and with empathy. Let them know they have a shoulder to lean on when they need.

4. Help them connect: Help them find a support system to reach out to. Support is very important for someone battling the idea of suicide. Those who have attempted to harm themselves are often at risk of another attempt at suicide.

5. Follow up: Following up could mean preventing thoughts of suicide or another attempt.

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741. You can reach Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada) and The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386.

10 Interesting Facts about the Human Brain

The human brain is one of the most important organs in a human body. It helps us think, reason, remember, and learn new things. In fact, our brain and its superior functioning differentiate from animals and other creations of the Almighty.

Here are 10 interesting facts about the Human brain:

  1. The human brain weighs 3 pounds
  2. It comprises 60% of fat and is one of the fattest organs in the human body
  3. Human brain has the capacity to generate approximately 23 watts of power when awake.
  4. Of the total blood and oxygen that is produced in our body, the brain gets 20% of it.
  5. When the blood supply to the brain stops, it is almost after 8-10 seconds that the brain starts losing the consciousness.
  6. The brain is capable of surviving for 5 to 6 minutes only if it doesn’t get oxygen after which it dies.
  7. The blood vessels that are present in the brain are almost 100,000 miles in length.
  8. There are 100 billion neurons present in the brain.
  9. In early pregnancy, the neurons develop at an alarming rate of 250,000 per minute.
  10.  As we grow older, we are unable to remember new things. According to the researchers in the US it is because the brain is unable to filter and remove old memories which prevent it from absorbing new ideas.

To teach the working of the human brain as well as its important functions to kids, you must buy a model of the human brain.

 

** ScienceFirst - 2015

Signs of Teen Depression

Signs that their teen is depressed: Excessive irritability or generally depressed mood. Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping. Sudden severe weight gain or weight loss. (Dreamstime/TNS)

It’s no secret that teenagers can be moody, but research shows that ongoing moodiness often is far more serious. Dr. Janna Gewirtz O’Brien, a Mayo Clinic pediatrician, says teen depression is much more common than most people realize.

“This is something that affects teenagers of all walks of life, of all backgrounds, and actually of ages from as young as 12 — sometimes even younger — and up to the young adult years,” O’Brien says.

She says new guidelines suggest screening all teens for depression starting at age 12.

“About half of kids are not identified with depression when they have it in the primary care setting, so we need to make sure that we’re catching more of those,” O’Brien says. “We can do better.”

She says parents also should look for these five signs that their teen is depressed:

• Excessive irritability or generally depressed mood.

• Trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping.

• Sudden severe weight gain or weight loss.

• A sudden drop in grades in school.

• Sudden loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy.

“So if somebody reaches out to you, an adolescent reaches out and says: ‘I’m worried. I’m depressed. Or I’m thinking about harming myself,’ that is something to be taken very seriously,” O’Brien said.

 

** Mayo clinic News

Helping a Family Member or Friend with Depression

 

When someone you love and care about experiences the symptoms of mental illness, you face unique challenges yourself, including complex family dynamics, social isolation and often unpredictable behavior. Getting support for yourself is essential for you to be able to be helpful for the person you care about.

Learn more about your loved one’s condition. Learning about the condition your loved one experiences will help you better understand and support them. Read personal accounts of lived experience, full of tips and advice on the NAMI website (www.NAMI.org)

Recognize early symptoms. Depression often has warning signs, such as a low mood, feeling fatigued or having trouble sleeping. Discuss your friend or family member’s past episodes with them to help them improve their ability to recognize the signs early.

Communicate.  Speak honestly and kindly. Don’t scold or blame people with depression or urge them to “try harder” to “just be happy.” Instead, make specific offers of help and follow through with those offers. Tell the person you care about them. Ask them how they feel and truly listen.

React calmly and rationally. Even if your family member or friend is in a crisis, it’s important to remain calm. Listen to their concerns and make them feel understood—then take the next step toward getting help.

Find emotional support from others. Share your thoughts, fears and questions with other people who have loved ones with similar conditions. Connect with others through online message boards.

Listen and be kind.

** NAMI 2017

 

Migraine News....Migraine in Children

For both children and adults, migraine impacts those around them (e.g., causes problems for their loved ones, such as parents and/or partners). Studies have demonstrated increased burden on family members as a result of migraine, with the burden for children with migraine falling on parents or caregivers  and adult migraine burden falling on partners or spouses (and children in the family). Such burden includes increased stress on family members, decreased relationship quality, and decreased family involvement in leisure or social activities. Such stressors are also related to increases in anxiety and depression in family members. Increased stressors on family are often positively correlated with higher levels of migraine-related disability in children and adults.

Migraine is, in turn, influenced by family members; however, this relationship has not been widely studied across age groups, with most research in this domain focusing on the parent-child relationship. Existing research has demonstrated that certain parenting variables can negatively impact children's migraine because of children's heavy dependence on their caregivers . For example, existing problems with family communication can lead to increased problems with pain management in children as well as increased relational difficulties between parents and children. Additionally, pre-existing physical or mental health concerns in parents can have negative impact on frequency, intensity, and ability to manage migraine in their children. Such conditions can include parents with chronic pain conditions (including migraine), and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Importantly, it can be difficult to determine if conditions such as depression and anxiety in parents developed as a result of managing a child with migraine.

Lifestyle recommendations

Recommendations of daily lifestyle activities for migraine management are typically consistent across age groups. These recommendations include consistent intake of food, staying hydrated, and sleeping and exercising regularly.. Specifically, at minimum, food intake should include three meals a day (without skipping meals). Hydration recommendations vary slightly depending on age and activity level, but include an average of 8-10 cups of non-caffeinated fluid per day (greater physical activity includes increased recommendations of fluid intake). Consistent with best practice for physical activity regardless of migraine diagnosis, exercising 30 minutes or more 3-5 times per week is recommended. And finally, recommended duration of sleep also varies by age, but falling asleep and waking around the same time on a consistent bases is encouraged..

While such recommendations are consistent across age groups, some age-related challenges faced by adults may interfere with their ability to adhere to these practices . For example, adults with migraine typically have more health-related comorbidities as a result of ageing that make it difficult for them to regularly exercise. Age related changes in sleep can also result in less consistent sleeping patterns and fewer hours of sleep each night for adults.

 

 

Source:  PMC5885754 NCBI

 

Symptoms of Bipolar Disease

Depression involves feelings of sadness and emptiness or a loss of pleasure or interest in things.  These feelings last most of the day, on most days for at least 2 weeks.  These symptoms are severe enough to impact negatively on work, relationships and everyday life.

 

Bipolar Depression Symptoms  include:

1. Feeling sadness or emptiness.
2. Losing interest or pleasure in one’s usual enjoyments.
3. Changes in appetite (up OR down), and/or substantial and unplanned loss of weigh or weight gain.
4. Insomnia.
5. Excessive tiredness or sleepiness, and/or lack of energy.
6. Restlessness and agitation.
7. Reduced sex drive.
8. Lack of motivation.
9. Feeing worthless.
10. Feeling guilty about things you are not responsible for.
11. Indecision.
12. “Fuzzy” thinking, problems concentrating, or memory loss.
13. Thoughts of self harm or suicide.
14. Hallucinations.

15. Delusions.

Could a blood test lead to new treatments for Depression?

Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide, with more than 300 million people suffering from this mental illness, according to the World Health Organization.

Despite how common depression is, scientists still have a lot to learn about it.

Among what is known is that depression is not a single disease but a variety of feelings and behaviors that may have different underlying causes.

“Depressive disorders can present differently in different people. What is known now is that depression affects not just the brain but the whole organism,”said Natalie Rasgon, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University.

But a new study of which Rasgon is a senior author finds evidence of a possible biomarker for major depressive disorder, which could lead to better treatments for this sometimes crippling disease.

The study by a group of researchers from around the U.S. and in Sweden finds that a specific, naturally-occurring chemical, called acetyl-L-carnitine, or LAC, is lower in the blood of people suffering from depression. The research was published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Previous animal studies convincingly showed the role of LAC in models of depression. This study is the first confirmation of the results from animal studies in human subjects with depression,” Rasgon told ABC News.

Levels of the chemical were lower among people with more severe depression

Researchers measured LAC levels in the blood of 116 participants, and found that those with depression had significantly lower levels of the chemical than healthy individuals. Two groups of people at two different hospitals were examined, with the same results.

LAC levels were especially low among people whose depression was more severe, who began suffering from the disease at an earlier age or who had a history of childhood trauma. Levels were lowest among females whose depression did not get better with medications or therapy, known as “treatment-resistant depression,” and who had suffered childhood trauma or neglect.

The human body naturally produces LAC from a nutrient called carnitine, but researchers found that carnitine levels were the same in people with and without depression. This suggests that differing levels of LAC can be attributed to depression and not to diet.

 

What do we know about this chemical?

LAC performs a number of important tasks, including regulating how the brain and nervous system use energy. It also can interact with DNA to change how certain genes are expressed.

In previous studies, LAC has been shown to effectively and rapidly improve symptoms of depression in mice.

A review of multiple studies published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine in 2017 showed that acetyl-L-carnitine may be better than a placebo in treating depression and may be as effective as common antidepressants but with fewer side effects. The review authors noted the studies were very small and larger trials are necessary to confirm any benefit.

There is a LAC supplement that has been used for dementia, but a 2003 review from Cochrane found it is unlikely to be of benefit for this purpose. Some studies suggest a benefit for a type of nerve pain called neuropathy.

But it is important to note this study did not test if LAC can be used for the treatment of depression.

“We are at the very beginning of this discovery and can’t recommend people to buy this supplement at the GNC store,” warned Rasgon.

How further research might lead to possible treatments

LAC has potential to be a biomarker, something measurable in the body that reflects the presence of a disease. As such, it could potentially be used to screen for and diagnose severe or treatment-resistant depression and allow for earlier and more aggressive treatment.

Researchers hope future studies could shed light on whether physical activity, dietary habits, and sleep may affect LAC levels.

This study also found that people on antidepressant drugs still had lower levels of LAC in their blood, suggesting that taking supplements of the chemical might be helpful or possibly even necessary to fully benefit from a medication.

This research, together with prior studies, suggests that correcting a deficiency in LAC could be a step toward more targeted treatments of depression, especially for those who suffered childhood trauma or began having depression at an early age.

We are excited with these results and are working on extending them to further understand the role of LAC in patients receiving treatment for depression,”Rasgon said. “It is one of the pieces of a very large puzzle that constitutes depressive disorders as an illness.”

While this study has important implications in understanding depression, Rasgon cautioned that it requires larger studies to confirm the findings. “There are many questions to be answered – who will ultimately benefit from taking this supplement, what is the right dose, what is the appropriate duration of use.”

The study was a collaboration between researchers at Stanford, Rockefeller University, Duke University, Weill Cornell Medical College, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

Michael MacIntyre is a psychiatry resident working with the ABC News Medical Unit.

Exercise and Migraines

Methods for Migraine Prevention

 

We’re often raving about the benefits of various types of exercise.  Yoga, running, strength-training, spinning--the list seems endless and continues to grow.  In some people, exercise has had incredible effects on symptoms of chronic disease.  But for some, exercise also causes migraines. 

If you suffer from migraines, you know that they are painful, debilitating headaches that can interrupt your entire day.  So, how does exercise affect the brain?  And how can exercise exacerbate or prevent migraines?  We asked Dr. Ashok Patel, Medical Director of the Memory and Aging Center of Toms River, NJ, for more information.

Some of us go for a run with no issue, and we even feel better afterward.  What happens differently in people with migraines?

So, actually, exercise seems to counteract the severity of migraines in some people, while exacerbating the migraines of others.  Exercise has tremendous benefits to your circulation, getting blood flowing everywhere and boosting immunity, plus regulating breathing, hormones, and strengthening bone and muscle. 

With migraines, the effects would be easier to explain if we knew the entire pathway from trigger to migraine, but we don’t know yet.  Some believe migraines are caused by neuronal overstimulation, others believe they’re a vascular problem.  Most believe migraines are caused by both--no one knows the exact mechanism yet.  What we do know is that there are ways to treat and prevent migraines.  Ideally, avoid the exact trigger, eat right, stay hydrated, and exercise just enough. 

If we’re unsure of our trigger(s), what’s the best way to differentiate them?

The best way to differentiate between triggers is to pay close attention to your environment and actions before, during, and after each migraine occurs.  When you feel a migraine coming, take note of what you’ve eaten within the last few hours, where you’ve been or what you’ve been doing. Then track the events over time.  Eventually a pattern will become clear.

And if exercise is our trigger, then how can we cope with it?

Exercise isn’t a trigger that people should avoid.  First, see if there’s a certain exertion level or type of exercise that causes or exacerbates your migraine.  If there is, then avoid overexertion.  On the other hand, if, say, running in general seems to cause a migraine, then switch to other options, like yoga or biking.  Sometimes, taking NSAIDs before exercising prevents migraines.  But because the effects are different for different people, consult your physician for the right treatment regimen.

Are medications available to prevent or help treat migraines?

Acetaminophen or ibuprofen or other NSAIDs should help with mild attacks. For severe or chronic migraines, prescription medications are available.  Your doctor can learn which medication suits you best, based on your history and their knowledge of all your options.  If you’ve tried everything, and nothing seems to work, clinical trials are also available.  There’s a chance that you don’t have to live with so much pain.  

 Consult your physician immediately if your headaches are recurring or debilitating, or if one is debilitatingly painful for a very short amount of time (seconds to a minute).

For a free consultation, schedule an appointment with us today (732) 244-2299