journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

The warning signs of Mental Illness

There are over 200 classified forms of mental illness so its clearly very important to be aware of the warning signs. Mental Illness has no clear victim. It affects people of all ages, young and old, of all races and cultures and from all walks of life. Mental illness, like physical illnesses, is on a continuum of severity ranging from mild to moderate to severe.  More than 7 million people from the UK have a mental illness in any given year.  Mental illness affects one in four adults and one in five children. Very few people, however actually seek treatment for mental illness. Many aren’t even aware of the different types of mental health problems and struggle to spot the signs.

So what ARE the warning signs of mental illness?

In an adult:

  • Marked personality change
  • Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
  • Drop in functioning – an unusual drop in functioning, at school, work or social activities, such as quitting sports, failing in school or difficulty performing familiar tasks
  • Strange or grandiose ideas (impulsive, boastful, exaggerated, dreams and fantasies)
  • Excessive anxieties
  • Neurotic or repetitive behaviour (rocking, biting, hitting, head banging, pinching)
  • Prolonged depression and apathy
  • Marked changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Extreme highs and lows
  • Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch; avoidance of over-stimulating situations
  • jumpy/nervous behaviour, easily startled
  • problems with concentration, memory and speech
  • disconnected from self or surroundings
  • withdrawal and a lack of interaction with others
  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Excessive anger, hostility, or violent behaviour

A person who is thinking or talking about suicide or homicide should seek help immediately.

In a child:

Having only one or two of the problems listed below is not necessarily cause for alarm. They may simply indicate that a practical solution is called for, such as more consistent discipline or a visit with the child’s teachers to see whether there is anything out of the ordinary going on at school. A combination of symptoms, however, is a signal for professional intervention.

  • The child seems overwhelmed and troubled by his or her feelings, unable to cope with them
  • The child cries a lot
  • The child frequently asks or hints for help
  • The child seems constantly preoccupied, worried, anxious, and intense. Some children develop a fear of a variety of things–rain, barking dogs, burglars, their parents’ getting killed when out of sight, and so on–while other children simply wear their anxiety on their faces.
  • The child has fears or phobias that are unreasonable or interfere with normal activities.
  • The child can’t seem to concentrate on school work and other age-appropriate tasks.
  • The child’s school performance declines and doesn’t pick up again.
  • The child loses interest in playing.
  • The child tries to stimulate himself or herself in various ways. Examples of this kind of behaviour include excessive thumb sucking or hair pulling, rocking of the body, head banging to the point of hurting himself, and masturbating often or in public.
  • The child isolates himself or herself from other people.
  • The child regularly talks about death and dying.
  • The child appears to have low self-esteem and little self-confidence. Over and over the child may make such comments as: “I can’t do anything right.” “I’m so stupid.” “I don’t see why anyone would love me.” “I know you [or someone else] hates me.” “Nobody likes me.” “I’m ugly. . . too big. . . too small. . . too fat. . . too skinny. . . too tall. . . too short, etc.”
  • Sleep difficulties don’t appear to be resolving. They include refusing to be separated from one or both parents at bedtime, inability to sleep, sleeping too much, sleeping on the parent’s or parents’ bed, nightmares, and night terrors.

If you spot any of these warning signs in yourself or in another person please speak concerns to a health professional such as a GP or a charity that can help with advice such as childline or samaritans.

For more information on mental illness:

Mind

Rethink

NHS

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mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder is a neurological disorder that prevents the brain’s ability to integrate information received from the body’s sensory system. Sensory Processing Disorder is often seen in people on the autistic spectrum as well as people with mental illness. People with the disorder tend to react more extreme than normal. The disorder ranges from barely noticeable to having an impaired effect on daily functioning.

There are so many symptoms for Sensory Processing Disorder so I’ve decided to list a few of the common symptoms in late teenage years and adulthood:

  • Atypical eating and sleeping habits
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Very high or very low energy levels throughout the day but more active at night
  • Very resistant to change in life and surrounding environments
  • heightened senses (sensitive to sounds, touch, taste, sight and smell)
  • very high or very low energy levels
  • Lethargic or severely tired most of the day
  • Motor skill problems – unexplained injuries and bruises with no recollection of how or when they occurred
  • Difficulty concentrating and staying focused – often in ‘own world’ or ‘glazed off’
  • Constant use of neurotic behaviours – swinging, rocking, bouncing, rubbing skin
  • repetitive and stimulating behaviours
  • Can appear self destructive (such as head banging, pinching, biting)
  • doesn’t notice dangers (such as walking in the road) or recognize pain
  • easily overwhelmed, frustrated, emotional and very tearful
  • clenching of extremities (hands and feet)
  • Sensitive to certain fabrics or textures

facts:

  • Sensory Processing Disorder is a complex disorder of the brain that affects developing children and adults.
  • At least one in twenty people in the general population may be affected by SPD.
  • In children who are gifted and those with ADHD, Autism, and mental health problems, the prevalence of SPD is much higher than in the general population.
  • Studies have found a significant difference between the physiology of children with SPD and children who are typically developing.
  • Sensory Processing Disorder has unique sensory symptoms that are not explained by other known disorders.
  • Heredity may be one cause of the disorder.
  • Laboratory studies suggest that the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are not functioning typically in children with SPD.

To find out more about Sensory Processing Disorder feel free to follow the link below:

http://www.spdfoundation.net/

RedFlagsofSensoryProcessingDisorder

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

What Mental Illness Stole

  • My friends. Friends are SO important in life, but there’s only so much that they can put up with. The mental illness isn’t you and you’re not the mental illness but friends can find this so difficult to accept. They worry which in turn makes your relationship suffer due to tension. You struggle all the time and most of the time they don’t know how to help. You get points where you don’t want help,  you don’t want people, you don’t want life. You ruin things for people because of your mental illness – even if you don’t intend to. You eventually become happy, carefree but this in itself carries risks and they don’t want it. They get angry, perhaps even upset and you feel a burden, you feel guilty, you don’t want to live anymore.
  • My freedom. Mental illness prevents you from thinking clearly. It doesn’t allow you to do whatever you want. “That will make you anxious,” “Going out will make you suicidal.” It stops you feeling social so that you end up sitting in your room by yourself. You need to think things through more to see whether or not your mental illness is going to take over. Can I walk down a street? Can I drink alcohol without dangering my life?
  • Relationships. “Can I be with someone who has a mental illness?” “How do I explain to this guy that I have an invisible illness?” Relationships are so hard but can be so necessary in mental illness. They provide peace, contentment and happiness, but when you first meet someone bringing up mental illness can be difficult. Most people don’t want to have deal with it – its too complicated.

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

5 Anxiety Myths

  1. Anxiety is not an illness – Some feelings of anxiety can be normal and often arise due to stress or a scary event such as public speaking, but an anxiety disorder is an extreme form of anxiety that can cause impairment and disruption of daily activities, and is a very real mental illness.
  2. Having an anxiety disorder means the person just worries too much and can’t be treated – There is a suggested link between anxiety and genetic components but effective treatment such as medication and therapy can help anxiety stay under control. According to a research published in Current Pharmaceutical Design, as many as 2/3 of anxiety disorders are genetic. The most effective approach of treating anxiety is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
  3. Anxiety disorders aren’t common – While 2.6% of the population in the UK experience depression and 4.7% have anxiety problems, as many as 9.7% suffer mixed depression and anxiety, making it the most prevalent mental health problem in the population as a whole. Nearly 1 out of 5 Americans experience some type of anxiety disorder in any given year. Most people believe that anxiety disorders are rare due to their isolating behaviour. You may never encounter someone with an anxiety disorder as they are often avoiding social situations, conversations and events.
  4. Anxiety gets better if you leave it alone – Anxiety does not get better if left alone. In fact, it gets worse. The average person with a diagnosable anxiety disorder tends to wait around 10 years before seeking or receiving help. Most people with an anxiety disorder who are able to partly function everyday often delay getting help in hopes that the anxiety will go away but this rarely happens. Furthermore, around 60% of people with anxiety disorders often develop some degree of diagnosable depression which also requires treatment.
  5. Anxiety is easy to just snap out of and people don’t really have a problem with it – Anxiety disorders are very difficult to overcome without any professional guidance and help. Meeting new people, seeing spiders, being in closed spaces or avoiding germs can seem stupid to many people who do not have anxiety disorders so it can be easy for them to think that a person can just get over their anxiety. However, many people who suffer with an anxiety disorder suffer periods of anxiety that may not relate to any specific fear. Fear and worry often lead to avoidance which increases the fear and worry. This is hard to break and often needs help.

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

THIN is not the definition of Anorexia

A lot of people always message me saying that they feel they don’t have an eating disorder because of their weight.

I want to clarify this as it’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

You do not need to be severely underweight in order to suffer from a life-threatening eating disorder.

An eating disorder is often described as a PSYCHOLOGICAL disorder that presents abnormal eating habits that affects a person’s physical and mental well-being. Such disorders include binge eating disorder which involves eating large amounts in short periods of time, anorexia nervosa which involves eating very little and results in weight loss, bulimia which people eat and lot and then try to get rid of the food, and many other, less common disorders.

When a person develops Anorexia, they are usually of a normal weight. Sometimes, the person is slightly overweight. It is a cause for concern when a person dramatically loses weight in a short amount of time and this alone can be a sign of an eating disorder. Though many people with Anorexia Nervosa are seen as severely underweight, there are many people with the condition of normal weight and who fail to receive treatment. These people do not fit the definition of anorexia because they are not underweight. This is known as eating disorder not otherwise specified, or EDNOS. It wasn’t until 10 months after my weight loss started that I finally qualified for a diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa, but even then I was told by doctors that I could ‘lose a few more lbs’. I was not offered any inpatient treatment at that initial diagnosis which in thus leaded to a more serious decline in my health and has recently caused 3 relapses, in which one of these was severe.

When you have an eating disorder but still have a normal body weight, help is not offered. Although you are barely surviving on a glass of water a day and exercise excessively until you pass out, no one believes you are at risk. Therefore, you do not receive the help you need which pushes you into a distressed and unstable mental state, worsening both your physical and mental health and your eating disorder continues to progress.

I want to spread the message – You do not need to be thin to be anorexic! – so that all those suffering with early stages of eating disorders can receive the help they need before they get critical. For 3 years, I have suffered severely with thoughts of food, weight and appearance. I have suffered with putting even 10 calories into my mouth and spent endless amounts of time in the gym without anything inside my stomach. I do not want people suffering this way all because of a horrendous BMI guideline that determines whether you get help or not.

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Summer 2014
journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Dealing with a diagnosis of Endogenous Depression

I’d like to talk about the diagnosis of Endogenous Depression, a type of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Endogenous Depression used to be a distinct disorder but it’s rarely diagnosed these days. In 2014, I became one of the small number of people with a new diagnosis of this mood disorder. It can be difficult to find information on a disorder that is no longer diagnosed as frequently as before and it took me a long while to grasp the diagnosis of Endogenous Depression. Growing up, I thought there was only one type of Depression so when the doctor went and inserted some strange sounding word in front of it I sat there in absolute shock. He didn’t explain – actually, although I was diagnosed with the disorder in November 2014, I wasn’t aware of the actual diagnosis until the summer of 2015.

Endogenous Depression has no apparent triggers or causes. It usually occurs for no reason at all and is said to be caused by genetic and biological factors. Symptoms usually start to occur for no reason at all but these symptoms are very similar to other depressive disorders. Common symptoms of Endogenous Depression include:

  • persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once pleasurable
  • fatigue
  • lack of motivation
  • trouble concentrating, thinking, or making decisions
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • social isolation
  • thoughts of suicide
  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • loss of appetite or overeating

These symptoms are usually treated through a combination of medication and therapy. Medications to treat Endogenous Depression usually include Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s) or Selective Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs). Examples of these types of medication include citalopram, prozac, paxil and duloxetine. Sometimes, TCA’s can be used for the treatment of Endogenous Depression. However, side effects of TCA’s are usually more severe and so other medications are usually used beforehand.

Therapies for Endogenous Depression include Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Interpersonal Therapy. Electro convulsive Therapy is also another option if medication and therapy does not improve the condition.

If you have a diagnosis of Endgenous Depression, would like more information or feel you may have a diagnosis of the disorder, please feel free to email me at:

savannahaliciax@gmail.com

Mat

 

journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Monday the 22nd of February to Sunday the 28th February 2016 marks Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

As many people will know, in 2013 I developed disorded eating and thought patterns that eventually led to a diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa.

Anorexia Nervosa is currently the most lethal psychiatric disorder, carrying a sixfold increased risk of death. Although Anorexia is by far the deadliest eating disorder, death rates are also higher than normal in people with bulimia and “eating disorder not otherwise specified” (EDNOS, a common diagnosis for people with a mixture of atypical anorexia and atypical bulimia). Suicide is also a particular risk as 1 in 5 Anorexia death are due to suicide. People diagnosed with Anorexia between the ages of 20 to 29 had a higher death rate (18-fold) with the age group 15-19 following close behind with a ten fold.

Although Anorexia is the most lethal, other eating disorders are just as serious. Other disorders (including Anorexia):

  • anorexia nervosa – when a person tries to keep their weight as low as possible; for example, by starving themselves or exercising excessively
  • bulimia – when a person goes through periods of binge eating and is then deliberately sick or uses laxatives (medication to help empty the bowels) to try to control their weight
  • binge eating disorder (BED) – when a person feels compelled to overeat large amounts of food in a short space of time

Some people, particularly those who are young, may be diagnosed with an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). This means you have some, but not all, of the typical signs of eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia.

Spotting the signs of an eating disorder can be difficult. Remember – a person with an eating disorder does NOT have to appear thin or underweight.

Warning signs to look out for include:

  • missing meals
  • complaining of being fat, even though they have a normal weight or are underweight
  • repeatedly weighing themselves and looking at themselves in the mirror
  • Losing interest in social events, not attending classes or school, becoming withdrawn
  • making repeated claims that they’ve already eaten, or they’ll shortly be going out to eat somewhere else and avoiding eating at home
  • cooking big or complicated meals for other people, but eating little or none of the food themselves
  • only eating certain low-calorie foods in your presence, such as lettuce or celery
  • feeling uncomfortable or refusing to eat in public places, such as at a restaurant
  • the use of “pro-anorexia” websites
  • Use of dietary aids such as weight loss products, diuretics and laxatives
  • eating in secret or having days of ‘normal’ eating
  • Using the bathroom frequently after eating

Eating disorders cause a wide variety of complications, some of them life-threatening. The more severe or long lasting the eating disorder, the more likely you are to experience serious complications, such as:

  • Significant medical problems
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Problems with growth and development
  • Social and relationship problems
  • Substance use disorders
  • Work and school issues
  • Death

So, whose affected by eating disorders?

A 2015 report commissioned by Beat estimates more than 725,000 people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder. Eating disorders tend to be more common in certain age groups, but they can affect people of any age.

Around 1 in 250 women and 1 in 2,000 men will experience anorexia nervosa at some point. The condition usually develops around the age of 16 or 17.

Bulimia is around two to three times more common than anorexia nervosa, and 90% of people with the condition are female. It usually develops around the age of 18 or 19.

Binge eating affects males and females equally and usually appears later in life, between the ages of 30 and 40. As it’s difficult to precisely define binge eating, it’s not clear how widespread it is, but it’s estimated to affect around 5% of the adult population.

Be disorder aware this week and reach out to those you feel may be suffering with an Eating Disorder

[credit: NHS UK]

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