Monthly Archives: August 2016

An Overview of the Mental Health Assessment

Mental health assessment is conceived only through a series of tedious processes that will help identify all necessary details of the mental wellness of the person leading to a conclusive judgment.

It is a common knowledge among practitioners of mental health care providers that a mental health assessment could only be conceived if all information relating to the disorder could be gathered.
Diagnosis may take a few minutes but arriving at a conclusion is possible only after a certain period of case study.

Fleshing out the details is necessary to arrive at an accurate result- may it be diagnosis or prognosis. But this could only be achieved by paying attention to small details that could uncover underlying symptoms, when developments of symptoms are well-recorded and when the mental state of the patient is strictly monitored.

A psychiatric assessment is built on careful attention to details associated with the person including medical history, upbringing and environment, experiences such as childhood traumas along with others.
If not done properly, the doctor may fail to see crucial details that could affect the result of the evaluation.

Apart from what has been listed above, a psychiatric assessment could also include evaluation on presented behavior, manner of thinking, mood, capacity to reason out and to express oneself and memory.
Routine medical assessment such as blood test, urine test, and other laboratory tests are also included.

Preparation

Health assessment such as this requires prior groundwork. Symptoms of a disorder must be clearly recorded in a diary or journal. This helps keep track of the symptoms that may be a sign of improvement or of worsening the case. This would give the psychiatrist or the doctor a clearer picture of the mental health illness.

If the patient is a child, the parent should see to it that the preparation of the journal is carefully supervised or that the parent should also make a separate journal to keep a detailed history of observations.

If already diagnosed and given medications for the control of symptoms, alterations of behavior or symptoms should also be recorded.

Interview

Nearly all psychiatric assessment require interview. Mental health illnesses normally lack in the presentation of observable symptoms. This is why talk is highly valuable in psychoanalytical and behavioral assessment of a patient.

A series of interviews gives the doctor a better look at the information that a patient could present. This offers the chance to gather information, clarify ambiguous details and to refute any established impressions.

There are three types of questions used during a psychiatric interview-

  • close questions
  • open questions
  • choice questions

Interviews are not only valuable because they clearly open opportunities for gathering information; it is also the opportunity for the patient to tell his or her story. Talk is beneficial as it allows usually terrifying thoughts to be voiced out.

Physical Examination

Neurological and cardiovascular examinations are the most commonly used physical examination for the assessment of mental health. The choice of examination is influenced mainly by factors such as the age of the person, concurrent disorders, planned medical treatment, concurrent medications and substance use or dependency.

Summary of the Findings

Plain examination and evaluation of a patient would not give reliable information for managing his or her mental health. A conclusive summary of all findings and accompanying recommendations for treatments and therapies would help prepare the person for recovery.

Men and Depression

Men and women suffer depression almost equally. Men, however, are taught that any need for help shows weakness.

They are, however, at greater risk for depression-related illnesses and suicide because they hide what is going on from everyone, often even denying it to themselves.

Most men hide their depression by trying to cover their feelings. They most often do this with drugs, alcohol, sex, or work.

Depression shows in men not as helpless or hopeless, but as angry, frustrated, and other aggressive feelings.

Men are less likely to seek treatment than women and they are less likely to admit that they have a problem.

Depression and men is a silent battle that barely makes a rumble until the battle is over. The drugs and the smiles and the carrying on and acting hide many of the typical signs of depression from others.

It’s hard to pick up on the signs of depression if you are close to the person, and it’s even harder if they are trying to cover the feelings up.

If you notice that a loved one is showing any of the typical depression signs like oversleeping or not sleeping, tension, or uncontrollable anger (in the case of men) you should address the topic and let the person know that you care about them and that you are ready to listen when they are ready to talk. It’s important not to push the issue and just let things run their course with men.

If you are a man who is depressed, there are a few things you can do to help yourself:

  • Talk about how you feel
  • Stay active (Find an activity that you enjoy)
  • Give yourself a break to do something you enjoy
  • Find a way to relax at the end of a busy day
  • Try to eat properly

Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder

Giving unconditional love for bipolar disorder patients is a tough job. If you do not understand what is happening to your loved one, then you will have difficulty relating to them.

Do not think of the illness as humiliation. If you will feel ashamed of your loved one because he is inflicted with such illness, then you are not helping him restore his good health, instead you are letting him do worse than expected.

Trust is essential to individuals with Bipolar disorder. They need you to trust them, not entrust them to other people or institutions such as the psychiatrists or an asylum. To build up trust, an open and honest communication is needed.

Keep the communication line open. An open and honest communication is vital. Encourage your loved one to talk about what he thinks and feels. Let him suggest ways on how you are supposed to relate to him.

Do not suppress what you feel. However, there are positive ways to let your loved know how you feel. It is recommended that you avoid nagging, preaching or lecturing an individual with Bipolar disorder.

Such negative actions will drive him to detach. If you are concerned about him, let him see how concerned you are in a gentle and encouraging manner.

Let him do things his way. Along with trust and communication, let the person experience what he can do for himself. Let him solve problems if he can find solutions.

Let him live the way he is supposed to live. By that, he will feel that he is important and has a good reason why he lives.

Be there. Although you allow him to do his own way, it does not mean that you will not be there when he needs you to. Let him do things his way but make sure that you are around to give assistance when needed.

Most importantly, apart from assistance, you need to offer your love, understanding and support.

Herbs That Help With Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common of all mental health disorders. Fortunately, anxiety disorder is highly treatable, and with professional help, it can often be completely overcome. Many times, successful treatment depends only upon individual or group therapy and learned relaxation techniques.

In some cases, however, anti-anxiety prescription medication is also recommended. Medications can carry a risk of alarming side effects and can be highly addictive, spurring many people to seek safer, more natural alternatives.

There are many natural herbs for anxiety, which have been proven to effectively ease many of the symptoms of with a very low risk of side effects. Just as with prescription medications, everyone reacts differently to natural medications, and it can take time to find the right combination and dosage for your body.

Passionflower – an ingredient that is often used in natural medicine, alleviates hyperactivity, anxiety, insomnia, nervous tension — and is even sometimes used to treat Parkinson’s Disease. Passion flower soothes and calms and can lower high blood pressure.

Lemon balm – a general restorative for the nervous system, can reduce blood pressure and also calm the digestive system.

Lavender – an excellent anxiety treatment and one of the best natural panic attack treatments. Lavender is a general tonic for the nervous system and a natural relaxant.

Valerian – a popular natural ingredient that can be used as a sedative and a painkiller. It is often effectively employed as a treatment for anxiety and for insomnia, as well.

You may find that with psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation exercises or support groups, or some combination of all of them, you do not need any medication.

But if you do decide to explore the option of medication, natural treatments for anxiety can provide you with safe, effective results, without the risk of side effects that prescription medications pose.

Natural medications are becoming increasingly popular as awareness of them grows, and you might find that they are the right treatment for you as well.

Expressive Therapies in Mental Health

Many people who are diagnosed with mental issues show an extreme liking for or talent in the creative arts. It only makes sense that some of the alternative treatments incorporate this natural tendency. Below I cover three such alternative treatments. Often each is combined with more traditional methods, but not always.

Art Therapy: Drawing, painting, and sculpting help many people to reconcile inner conflicts, release deeply repressed emotions, and foster self-awareness, as well as personal growth.

Some mental health providers use art therapy as both a diagnostic tool and as a way to help treat disorders such as depression, abuse-related trauma, and schizophrenia. You may be able to find a therapist in your area who has received special training and certification in art therapy.

Dance/Movement Therapy: Some people find that their spirits soar when they let their feet fly. Others-particularly those who prefer more structure or who feel they have “two left feet”-gain the same sense of release and inner peace from the Eastern martial arts, such as Aikido and Tai Chi.

Those who are recovering from physical, sexual, or emotional abuse may find these techniques especially helpful for gaining a sense of ease with their own bodies. The underlying premise to dance/movement therapy is that it can help a person integrate the emotional, physical, and cognitive facets of “self.”

Music/Sound Therapy: It is no coincidence that many people turn on soothing music to relax or snazzy tunes to help feel upbeat. Research suggests that music stimulates the body’s natural “feel good” chemicals (opiates and endorphins).

This stimulation results in improved blood flow, blood pressure, pulse rate, breathing, and posture changes. Music or sound therapy has been used to treat disorders such as stress, grief, depression, schizophrenia, and autism in children, and to diagnose mental health needs.

Exercise and Mental Health – Are There Connections

We all know that exercise promotes healthier body and better sense of well-being. It boosts confidence for people who need newer self image while it prevents the aggravation of physical illnesses for some. While nearly all of the research on exercise is focused on demonstrating positive effects on the physical body, there is a growing mass of research that seeks to prove that exercise is good for mental health as well.

A study conducted by the researchers from the Duke University along with other similar studies proved that exercise could help treat depression for 60{07965d1a73f172391d248434f2d27e2a2315fb5c95eb3ba6629368cfee7d254a} of all the participants. This result is similar with the total number of participants who are using medications for their treatment from depression.

However, you don’t have to be a sufferer of a mental illness before you benefit from exercise. You can boost your sense of well-being while walking on the treadmill or by combining yoga and meditation. In a way, exercise could be used as a potential medium for preventing the development of psychological and emotional conditions.

There are three dimensions at which we could look at when examining the benefits of exercise in the mental wellness of a person. Among the less well known is the biological aspect.

One theory suggests that physical workout or exercise could stimulate a part of the brain to release endorphins. Activities that are more likely to trigger the release of endorphins are swimming, cross-country skiing, running, bicycling, aerobics and sports like soccer, football and basketball.

Endorphins are comparable to opiates in a way that they resemble morphine. Endorphins could work in two ways- as a pain reliever (which is produced in response to the stresses brought about by physical work or stress) and as an enhancer of well-being. There are, however, no definite data that could support this claim.

On the other hand, exercise is also found to trigger the release of hormones norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. All these are known to help improve mood and is actually the main effect of Prozac, a known antidepressant.

Increase in these hormones could be best observed in a condition known as “runner’s high”. This feeling during after an acute exercise is directly linked to the increased number of the said hormones. However, there are still no conclusive studies proving that improvements on mood could be facilitated for a longer period of time.

Another is the physiological aspect. Nearly all of the feelings we associate with mental wellness come from our personal evaluation of the way our body feels. Say for instance, if you perceive a stomach pain as a form of stress then you will feel stressed (and sometimes even depression) every time your stomach aches. Likewise, exercise could render feelings such as muscle relaxation and easier breathing which we associate with “feeling better”. While this correlation is yet to have a better scientific grounding, we still could not deny the fact that muscle tension and increased blood flow go together with physical fitness.

No one knows yet how exactly exercise affects mental health. But it is common among patients to view exercise as a good medium to elevate their moods. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Charity Mind nearly two-thirds of all people who said that they use exercise to relieve symptoms of stress and depression believe that exercise actually works for them. The scientific community is yet to understand how this happens though and for now, it remains a truth that people benefit from exercise for mental health.

Elgin Mental Health Center – More Than Just a Psychiatric Facility

If a friend or someone in the family is to be treated in a mental facility, we try to find the best facility for them. After all, the goal is for them to get well, and we believe that our choice of hospital is vital for the person’s recovery. In Illinois, when we speak of psychiatric facilities, one hospital easily comes to mind. That is Elgin Mental Health Center or EMHC.

As the second oldest state hospital in Illinois, this facility opened in 1872 under its former name, Northern Illinois Hospital and Asylum for the Insane. The first-ever physiological measurements of mental patients were recorded by the Elgin Papers back in the 1890s. By 1997, the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations gave EMHC its commendation for two years in a row.

How the hospital was developed can be broken down into five phases. The first phase ended in 1893. A stable leadership was responsible for the gradual growth during this period.

After this phase, the hospital immensely grew to more than twice its size. This second phase, which ended by 1920, was characterized by a lot of politicking, leadership changes and power struggles in the system.

For the third period, growth was more rapid. Hospital population, which reached its peak by the 1950s, increased for both geriatric and veterans. This is because the period was post World War I and World War II.

By the time the third phase ended, hospital population declined. During this phase, psychotropic medications were introduced. Other milestones for this period include the development of community health facilities, deinstitutionalization, until the decentralization of decision-making and authority. This fourth phase ended until the 1980s.

The last phase is what some call the “rebirth.” It began in 1983, when hospital census was at its lowest. Because of this, the hospital was on the verge of closure. However, the state decided to close Manteno Mental Health Center instead.

During this time, the hospital was practically rebuilt. While the old buildings used a congregate model called the Kirkbride plan, new physical facilities were added such as cottages in order to adhere to a segregate plan. There are two divisions, civil and forensic. Each division has an acute treatment center, office and conference rooms which faculty and trainees can use.

Forensic programs were further developed, and new affiliations with medical schools were also made. Affiliations include that with The Chicago Medical School, among others. An increase in educational activities showed that EMHC is also concerned with the education of future doctors and medical graduates.

Hospital system operations were also modified. Activities of community mental health centers are integrated in the system operations. Community mental health centers refer their patients to EMHC. These community mental facilities include DuPage County Health Department, Lake County Mental Health Center, Ecker Center for Mental Health, and Kenneth Young Center.

At present, admissions are close to 1300 annually. Patients are usually African-American, Euro-American and Hispanic. The hospital holds 582 to 600 beds and about 40 full-time physicians.

Just like any health facility, EMHC is harassed with problems and controversies with respect to their policies and programs. Nevertheless, Elgin Mental Health Center continues to do what it is supposed to do, and that is to provide the best treatment for their patients.

Do I Need Mental Health Help?

With extreme emotional issues, we often have no problem deciding whether we need to see a counselor or not; however, with a slight discomfort, a few bad days, we can’t always make that decision.

Ask yourself the following questions and truthfully answer yes or no.

  • Do you get honest satisfaction from simple pleasures?
  • Do you have respect for yourself?
  • Can you laugh at your own errors?
  • Do you feel capable of dealing with situations as they come your way?
  • Can you accept displays of your own emotions – fear, anger, jealousy, guilt, worry?
  • Do you have personal relationships that are satisfying and lasting?
  • Do you trust others and assume that others will trust you?
  • Do you respect people who differ from you?
  • Do you refuse to be pushed around and refuse satisfaction from it?
  • Can you feel you are a part of a group?
  • Are you able to love somebody?
  • Do you accept as much responsibility as comes your way?
  • Do you make your own decisions?
  • Do you deal with your problems as they arise?
  • Do you shape your environment whenever possible and adjust to it whenever necessary?

Count up the number of no answers. If you don’t have any, you are exceptional. A couple of no answers is normal and is absolutely nothing to be concerned about.

If, however, you answered no to more than five questions, there is a good chance you could benefit from some type of counseling to help get you back on track.

The fact you are able to take this test is a good indicator that, with the proper counseling, you will be fine. Just don’t let it go until more answers turn to no. You deserve enjoying the best mental health possible. Don’t neglect it.

Choosing a Therapist Step-By-Step

Therapy is a collaborative process, so finding the right match is critical. After you find someone, keep in mind that therapy is work and sometimes can be painful. However, it also can be rewarding and life changing.

What are the steps for choosing a therapist?

1. See your primary care physician to rule out a medical cause of your problems. Many physical disorders can mimic psychological ones.

2. After you know your problems are not caused by a medical condition, find out what the mental health coverage is under your insurance policy or through Medicaid/Medicare.

3. Get two or three referrals before making an appointment. Specify age, sex, race, or religious background if those characteristics are important to you.

4. Call to find out about appointment availability, location, and fees. Find out if they take your insurance or if they charge by income.

5. Make sure the therapist has experience helping people whose problems are similar to yours. Don’t be afraid to ask about experience.

6. If you are satisfied with the answers, make an appointment.

7. During your first visit, describe those feelings and problems that led you to seek help. Find out how the therapist reacts and what options you are given for treatment. Do you feel comfortable with your choices?

8. Be sure the psychotherapist does not take a "cookie cutter" approach to your treatment – different psychotherapies and medications are tailored to meet specific needs. You are an individual and your therapist must show that perspective.

9. After your initial visit, take some time to explore how you felt about the therapist. Is there a connection? Do you feel comfortable?

10. If everything meets your approval, schedule your next appointment. If not, go back to the list you gathered in Step 3 and start over again.