Watching Our Family Struggle

If you are told your child may have a mental illness, you might fast forward their lives to pictures of other family members (or even yourself) who have struggled with mental illness. Mental illness is common and many of us have been affected ourselves or have affected family. Especially if family members have not received treatment it can be tough to watch them struggle. Maybe they are someone you enjoy spending time with sometimes, but other times you feel let down because they neglect you or hurt your feelings. Having a mental illness that is not treated often means you are not doing things to be good to yourself – and if you’re not being good to yourself, it is hard to cultivate quality relationships with others.

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Because of this, being told your child may have a mental illness can cause anxiety because you are predicting their life will be a struggle and that is not something you want for them.  It’s understandable that you might worry or be upset. But then take some time to think about it a little more. It’s true that mental illness can run in families, yet every person is unique and it affects each person in a different way. Also, we are learning more and more about treating mental illness. Some of our older family members maybe did not receive enough treatment when they were younger, and we know getting treatment when you are younger helps more.

If you feel this way, remember we are like our family and then we are not like our family. Focus on yourself and your child. Sometimes when we do that, others notice and in time, help themselves as well.

Have you experienced worries your child’s life would be similar to a family member’s who struggles with mental illness? How did you cope with these concerns?

Why we should be Positive Thinkers

Life is challenging. I wish I could tell you that you’ll always be on top of the mountain. The reality is that there are days when nothing will go right, when not only will you not be on top, you may not even be able to figure out which way is up. Do yourself a favor, and don’t make it any harder than it has to be. In those moments…  

 Photo Credit: Peek A Boo The Midnight Adventures via Dimitra Tzanos

Photo Credit: Peek A Boo The Midnight Adventures via Dimitra Tzanos

Be careful how you speak to yourself 

Be careful how you think of yourself 

Be careful how you conduct yourself 

Be careful how you develop yourself 

–  Tony Dungy

What caused my child’s depression?

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

Have you ever thought about what the source of your child’s depression symptoms are? Have you discussed with them why they think they have depression?

A recent study from the United Kingdom explored 465 adolescent participants with diagnosed mild to severe depression. From the interviews with the participants, the researchers created three common beliefs of how the adolescents believed their depression developed.

Continue reading What caused my child’s depression?

If I don’t talk about it, maybe it will go away

Photo Credit: shenamt via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: shenamt via Compfight cc

I was so ready to graduate from high school! I had been accepted to my dream college and I wanted to move away from home, meet new people, and start fresh. High school had been pretty rough. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder my junior year and I struggled to understand the illness, how to manage it, and how to explain it to other people. People who have bipolar disorder struggle with bouts of extreme energy and euphoria and then dark depressive episodes. The depressive episodes wiped out my motivation and made me feel hopeless and worthless. I was a good student, I belonged to a lot of clubs, I played sports, and I had wonderful friends but when I was depressed I had no energy to do any of these things. Depression made me feel so lost and defeated that I forgot who I was. I felt like all I had was my depression. I really wanted to go to college because I thought everything would be different. I honestly thought I could leave my bipolar disorder and my depression behind me.

Continue reading If I don’t talk about it, maybe it will go away

What do all these letters mean?

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You may have seen them before while navigating the mental health world…MD, LPC, MFT, LCSW, PhD…what do they all mean?!

Here is a very brief introduction to what some of these different letter stand for and what they might mean to you.

Social Workers: Social workers can have a wide range of specialties and skills, and the term social worker can refer to a volunteer with a little experience up to a clinical social worker with years of practice.  When receiving therapy from a social worker you want someone with a Masters in Social Work (MSW) who has a license to do therapy which could be a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) or Licensed Clinical Social worker (LCSW). Social workers are often members of the National Association of Social Workers, where you can find more information on the professional and search for clinicians.

Counselors and Therapists: This is a wide term that can encompass many different specialties and background. One of these titles is Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). This title includes someone who got a master’s degree in Psychology, Counseling, Mental Health Counseling, Human Services, or a similar field, and have a certain number of supervised practice hours. Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) is another title you may see, which just means the counselor specializes in marriage and family therapy. The titles let you know that these counselors have the appropriate education and post-education training.

Psychologists: A psychologist will have a doctorate degree and will always have the letters PhD or PsyD after their name which means they are licensed to practice. Well it’s not uncommon to see a psychologist for talk therapy, they  are especially skilled in testing and diagnosing. You may be referred by a Social Worker or Counselor to a Psychologist for a one-time test or assessment. It is common for a psychologist to have an LPC after their name as well as the PhD or Psyd.

Psychiatrists: Psychiatrists are doctors (MDs) who went to medical school and did their residency with a mental health or psychiatry focus. Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medication, and are often referred by one of the other mental health professionals.  It is unlikely you would ever find a psychiatrist to receive talk therapy from weekly, and psychiatrists may or may not be trained in therapy. It’s common to be referred to a psychiatrist after seeing one of the other professions first.

Have you wondered what all these letters meant? Was this brief overview helpful? Let us know in the comments!

Trouble Functioning

It can be difficult to recognize when your child may need help with an emotional problem. Sometimes, it may seem like they are having a good day and are figuring things out. All of a sudden, though, they seem irritable, closed off, or distant – and you’re not sure what happened. One way to think about whether their emotional problem is an issue is thinking about how they are functioning.

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Photo Credit: cseeman via Compfight cc

Several research studies have looked into the types of problems adolescents can have when they don’t get help for depression. Young people who suffer from depression can have worse grades, get involved with drugs or alcohol, have risky sexual behavior, and have more health problems when they are older, causing them to miss work or school.

These problems all mean that they may have trouble functioning because of depression. Most people consider having health problems, using drugs and alcohol, having worse grades, and risky sexual behavior as a problem. These problems can show up when depression becomes serious. Its also important to try to recognize earlier signs of having trouble functioning.

Think about what has been important to your child in the past. What are their interests? goals? Do they really enjoy a sport? art? other activities? Are there people in their lives whose relationships were important to them and now they are not as close? or arguing all the time with them? What do they want their life to look like?

Maybe they want to be able to play basketball with their friends, get an art project done, not fight with their sister, and go to school without getting a headache. If depression is keeping your child from living the life they want to live, then that is what having trouble functioning means. The good news is there is help out there that can help get them back to being who they want to be.

Have you noticed these things in your child? Has anything you’ve said or done helped them? Stay tuned for future posts on different treatment options which may work for them.

Grr!

Photo Credit: DimitraTzanos via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: DimitraTzanos via Compfight cc

Have you met adolescents or does your child seem irritable constantly? Nothing ever seems to go right for them. They are always slamming doors or talking back. You feel like they should be really happy about something and instead they just seem pissed off. What is their deal?

You understand that sometimes some things just don’t work out. Some days are just rough. But for adolescents who have depression, every day can be like this. And they run out of explanations for why it is like this. Its called irritability. And for adolescents, it can be a major part of their depression. Sometimes it makes depression hard to identify in them because a lot of people can be irritable…sometimes… But not all of the time. They might be called by other people angry, uncooperative, insubordinate, impolite, antisocial – but under it all, under how other people react to them – is this feeling of irritability that they can’t shake off although they don’t understand why.

Continue reading Grr!