Moodletter provides help for being happier, more capable and confident, even if you are living with depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety.

Quick Tips for mental health

Understanding mental illness

Maybe it’s not depression.
Other conditions can mimic its symptoms. Have a doctor rule out thyroid conditions and infection, medications you’re taking, excessive alcohol and sleep disorders before making a diagnosis of depression.

What is hypomania?
Someone experiencing bipolar hypomania may be: outgoing, talkative, creative, productive, energized, impatient, distracted, irritable, defensive or hostile. The other end of the bipolar spectrum is depression.

Men and depression
Many men do not recognize or seek help for their depression. They are more likely to report physical symptoms such as fatigue and sleeping problems than to acknowledge feelings of sadness or worthlessness. Four times as many men as woman die by suicide. Get help!

Women and depression
Women
experience depression twice as often as men. Causes included biological differences and social pressures.

One in 10 American adults
is living with depression in any given year; 2.6 percent with bipolar disorder.

Anxiety diisorder?
Worrying that is constant, chronic and unsubstantiated, causes major stress and interferes with your life could be an anxiety disorder. Talk to a doctor.

Bipolar II
Someone who has Bipolar II disorder experiences depression far more often than hypomania.  They’re often misdiagnosed.

Anxiety disorders can be treated
with cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques and/or medication.

Causes of bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder can be triggered by a traumatic event in someone who is genetically vulnerable

Panic attack sysmptoms:
Sudden fear with pounding heart, sweating, weakness, faintness, hot/cold, nausea, chest pain, dizziness, feeling of “impending doom.”

Anxiety and alcohol
People with anxiety disorders are up to three times more likely to have a substance abuse disorder.

Symptoms of depression:
hopelessness, sadness, irritability, guilt, not enjoying activities, sleeping or eating changes, fatigue, isolation.

Bipolar mixed states:
When depression and mania occur together, symptoms can include anxiety, increased energy, distorted thinking, irritability and hopelessness.  It can be dangerous: individuals experiencing mixed mania are at high risk of suicide

The mentally ill have been
demonized, categorized, lobotomized, psychoanalyzed and medicated. The Evolution of Mental Health Care.


Medical treatments

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
is sometimes considered if medication and psychotherapy haven’t eased depression. It works by stimulating the brain with a brief, controlled series of electrical pulses, causing seizures within the brain. Significant memory loss and cognitive difficulties can result.

Partial hospitalization
An Intensive Outpatient Program allows you to get comprehensive mental health treatment for part of the day while living at home. You might attend days or evenings and might go to work for at least part of the day.


Medications

Generic drugs
You can save up to 60% on generics, which are bioequivalent to the brand name drug, but are allowed a 21 percent difference in formulas. For some people, this difference means it won’t work as well or may have different side effects.

Save on medications
Ask your doctor if there’s a generic or lower-cost version, if he has samples, or if you can get the same quantity in a higher dose and split your pills. Shop around for the best price. Find out if you qualify for assistance programs.

Keep track of meds
with a pill organizer divided into the days of the week.

Starting, switching, stopping meds
without directions from your doctor can cause serious side effects. Don’t play pharmaceutical roulette.

Medications for bipolar disorder
Antidepressants aren’t an effective treatment for bipolar disorder and can make symptoms worse, triggering a manic episode. Mood stabilizers are more typically prescribed.

Meds and weight gain
Psychiatric drugs, like lithium & Depakote, can pack on the pounds. Get switched to other drugs, learn healthy habits.

Pregnant?
Meds for depression or anxiety can cause risks for pregnant women.


Psychotherapy

What we believe influences how we feel and act
Cognitive therapy helps us recognize distorted thoughts and beliefs that cause us pain and replace them with healthier ones. Working with a therapist, we can use it to deal with our emotions, relate to others in different ways and solve problems.

Psychotherapy can help
you understand yourself, learn new skills for coping with emotions and practice strategies for improving relationships.

People with bipolar disorder
get well faster and stay well if they receive psychotherapy in addition to medications.

Family therapy:
Research shows that patients are more likely to stay on their medication and stay out of the hospital when family members are involved in treatment.


Alternative/Self Help

Support groups can educate, boost recovery
A support group can boost your recovery from depression, bipolar disorder or other psychiatric challenges by offering education, peer empowerment and problem solving. Within a safe environment, you can learn from and teach others about symptoms, treatments and skills for living with an illness. Find a support group.

What do our dreams mean?
How do your dreams relate to your life? Note details. Use your dreams to consider what decisions you face and what choices you have.


Managing our mood

Managing your anxiety
Spend 30 minutes thinking about your worries. Write down what you’re afraid might happen, then write down what is more likely to happen or what really is. Think about solutions. Then let go of the worry and go on with your day.

Be good to yourself today.
Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. Think about the things you like about yourself.

Stressed?
Use imagery: Visualize a relaxing place ot experience from your memory or your imagination.Use all yur senses to imagine the sights, smells, sounds, textures. Spend some time there, then return to the here and now.

Feeling down?
Browse in a bookstore, library or museum.
Take a drive. Explore a neighborhood you’ve never visited, go to the mountains or the shore. Put on some music and sing along.More ideas.

Anxious?
Focus all your attention on a special object and think of nothing else while breathing slowly and deeply for one to two minutes.

Depressed or anxious?
Make a list of activities that make you feel better and use it when you’re feeling bad.

Feeling stressed?
Focus on the here and now. Use all your senses to be aware of your environment. Listen to your breathing.

Keep a mood chart
Use a chart to track emotions, behavior, meds, lifestyle, stressors and recognize when changes are needed.

Anxiety? Become more aware of what situations make you anxious, what you’re thinking, what actions you take, and what makes you feel better.

Tense? 
Drop your shoulders, which improves the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, making you feel more relaxed and clear-headed.

For a good mood,
surround yourself with supportive people and avoid those who bring you down.

Trying to control your anger?
Breathe deeply. Then slowly repeat to yourself a calming word or phrase such as ‘take it easy.’

We can choose how we respond to our thoughts
Learn to recognize the distorted thoughts and beliefs that cause you pain and replace them with healthier ones. A therapist can help.


Healthy body, Healthy mind

Caffeine can increase depression and anxiety
Caffeine aggravates anxiety and mood swings; it depletes the anti-stress vitamin B1. It may temporary lift depression, but as it wears off, your mood can plummet. Caffeine-induced sleep problems make depression worse. It’s in coffee, sodas, some teas, chocolate and energy drinks.

Protein contains the essential
amino acids important for your mood, sleep, energy, and appetite regulation. Find it in meat, dairy products and eggs, as well as vegetable proteins combined with beans or whole grains.

Folic acid
can improve your mood. Find it in spinach, black beans, oranges, fortified cereals or in supplements.

Fish oil
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold-water fish such as tuna and salmon or in fish oil, may significantly reduce depression and anxiety.

Boost your health, lift your mood
Exercise, even walking, boosts your emotional immune system, helps you lose weight and increases your endurance and energy.

Craving carbs and sweets?
Sweet and starchy foods make us feel better, for awhile, because they increase the secretion of the mood-elevating brain chemical serotonin, so the craving continues. Control them with a healthy diet.

Herbal therapy
This ancient treatment may help relieve mild to moderate mood symptoms, anxiety and insomnia with few side effects. Chamomile, damiana, flaxseed oil, hops, lavender and valerian are just a few of the herbs commonly used.


Survival skills

Can’t sleep?
Dim the lights an hour or two before bedtime. Sleep in a dark, quiet room with a comfortable temperature – 65 degrees is best.

Pets boost mental wellness
Pets are great for mental health, research has found. They ease anxiety, improve our mood, motivate us to exercise and keep us from isolating. Caring for pets provides structure and routine and their physical contact is therapeutic.

Yoga can relax and revive you,
lift your mood and strengthen your body, and it’s convenient, costs little or nothing and has no side effects.

Memory problems?
Your disorder and your meds can cause them. Use lists and calendars; keep keys, cell phone and sunglasses in a basket by the door; store account numbers, log-ins, passwords together in a secure place.

Exercise, even walking,
boosts your emotional immune system, helps you lose weight and increases your endurance and energy.


Family and friends

How to help someone who’s living with depression
Ask how you can help. If she wants to talk, be a good listener and don’t offer unsolicited advice. Assist him with errands or chores.

How to support someone with depression
Tell them, “You’re not alone. I’m here if you need me.”

Encourage someone with depression
Encourage her to stay active by inviting her to take a walk with you.. Encourage them to participate in hobbies they once enjoyed. Don’t push for too much too soon.

Help someone with depression
Notice and point out signs that they’re feeling better. “You laughed tonight more than you have in a long time.”

Communicating with somone who’s living with bipolar disorder
Don’t attribute every emotion to their disorder. Maybe they’re just sad or angry. DON’T say “Did you take your meds?”

Reduce conflict
Conflict happens when you make assumptions about what someone says. Did they really mean what you think they meant? Check it out with them.


The mental health system

Getting your health plan to pay
Negotiate: If there’s no available doctor, will they pay one out-of-network? Get pre-authorization when required. Keep thorough records and write down details of all phone conversations. If your claim is denied, enlist your doctor to make the case that your care was medically necessary.

Working on Social Security Disability Insurance:
You’re allowed to return to work and keep receiving your benefits for a trial period. But the rules are complex.

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