If your son or daughter has been diagnosed with a mental illness this is for you. The main mental health issues, also called brain disorders are: Major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, among other disorders, are robbing millions of their quality of life. The National Alliance on Mental Illness, nami.org is an excellent source of education, advocacy, and support for individuals and their families.
Brain disorders aren’t the result of personal weakness, lack of character, or poor upbringing. They are medical conditions that men, women, and sometimes children, have no control over, like diabetes or cancer. These disorders diminish their ability to function and cope with the usual demands of life. The result is a huge ripple effect on family members and society in general. Compassion, understanding, and support is needed in abundance.
Today’s post is about major depression. If you love someone who suffers from this, be encouraged. There is plenty of help and hope. One of the best things you as a parent can do is to become as informed and knowledgeable as you can. This blog will help you get started.
Major depression affects fifteen million American adults – one out of every five in every age, ethnic, socio-economic, and religious group. The leading cause of disability in the U.S, and in many other developed countries, it’s a serious medical illness. More than temporarily feeling sad or blue, if someone experiences an episode of depression, they’re more likely to have another one sometime in their lives.
A chemical imbalance in the brain; low amounts of serotonin; genetic factors – can be hereditary; life events – loss of a loved one; physical illness; financial or relationship problems, or chronic stress.
Symptoms to look for: Beware of more than three of these symptoms, lasting more than four weeks.
– Changes in sleep: Insomnia or sleeping too much.
– Changes in appetite: Decreased or increased.
– Impaired concentration and decision-making: Trouble focusing and making decision.
– Loss of energy: Unable to do usual daily activities. Slowed responses.
– Low self-esteem: Negative thoughts of losses or failures and guilt.
– Feelings of hopelessness: Belief that nothing will ever improve; thoughts of suicide.
If you see these in your child or in yourself, seek help right away from a doctor. If the doctor confirms your suspicions, they may refer you to a psychiatrist for an evaluation since they’re not trained in prescribing medications for mental illness, other than possibly a mild anti-depressant.
The sooner you seek help the better. The longer you wait, the harder depression is to treat and the longer it can take for treatment to work. Getting your “brain soup” (a phrase some psychiatrists use) back where it needs to be takes time.
Treatment: Medication and counseling. A therapist friend of mine insists counseling combined with medication is the best approach. Not just one to the exclusion of the other. Medication helps regulate mood so that deeper issues can be addressed, and feelings can be processed. Peer support groups are also helpful.
Recovery: Most people treated for major depression return to their normal feelings and activities in weeks or months. Several different medications may need to be tried to find the best one in the right dosage. Success in recovery depends on the type of depression, its severity and length of duration.
Remember, there’s no need for shame or embarrassment. You’re in good company. Remember the statistics? Encourage your child not to isolate or deprive themselves of the help and support that’s available.
Hope is real. You’re Not Alone!