Mental Health Conditions
Research conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health has shown that anxiety disorders are the number one mental health problem among American women and are second only to alcohol and drug abuse among men. Nearly 40 million people in the U.S. alone have suffered from panic attacks, phobias or other anxiety disorders in the past year.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is diagnosed when a person has excessive anxiety and worry occurring more days than not for at least 6 months and finds it difficult to control the worry. He/she may be feeling restless, easily fatigued, irritable, unable to concentrate and tense. Sleep disturbances are also common. Types and severity of anxiety varies and can cause significant impairment in activities of daily living if left untreated.
What are some causes of anxiety?
- Childhood circumstances
- Cumulative stress over time
- Significant personal loss
- Significant life change
- Stimulants and recreational drugs
- Anxious self-talk
- Mistaken beliefs
- Withheld feelings
…and the list goes on.
If you, someone you know or one of your patients is experiencing any form of anxiety, please know that there is help and hope.
Please call us to schedule a time to meet with a professional who can help lower stress and discuss and decrease the symptoms of anxiety.
Bipolar Disorder is often not recognized as an illness, and people may suffer for years before it is properly diagnosed and treated. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person’s life.
Bipolar Disorder patients experience unusual changes and shifts in mood. A common misconception of bipolar mood changes is that they are quick and drastic. In reality, the mood shifts are quite often gradual. An episode, whether depressive or manic, can last for weeks, months and even years. It can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance and even suicide. But there is good news: bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.
Depressive episodes can include:
- Excessive crying
- Loss of pleasure
- Abnormal sleep
- Low energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of Appetite or overeating
- Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Manic episodes can include:
- Inappropriate sense of euphoria
- Racing thoughts
- Extreme irritability
- Rage attacks
- Reckless behavior
- Excessive energy
- Excessive spending
- Unsafe promiscuity
- Abuse of Alcohol and drugs
- Sleeping too little
- Excessive or rapid speech
To read more about Bipolar Disorder, click here.
Depression goes much deeper than a passing blue mood, and people with a depressive illness cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months or even years. However, there is hope and help for people who suffer from depression…
A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself and the way one thinks about things. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away.
Below is a checklist of 10 symptoms of clinical depression. If you or your patient experience five or more of these symptoms for longer than two weeks, or if the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with a daily routine, referral for mental health treatment is advised.
- Thoughts of death or suicide (require immediate mental health intervention)
- A persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Restlessness or irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Sleeping too little or sleeping too much
- Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
Outpatient psychotherapy, partial hospitalization (short-term mental health treatment five-days-a- week) and psychiatric medication management are all available right here at St. Luke’s Hospital & Health Network.
- Acknowledge your feelings — it is normal to sense sadness and grief (particularly after a loss) — No one has to force themselves to be happy just because it is the holiday season!
- Seek support — family, friends, church, community groups, volunteering — no one has to be alone. It may at first seem hard but you will be surprised -- others like company too!
- When there are differing opinions, try to not personalize them
- If other relatives are sniping at each other, leave the room, take a walk or a deep breath or listen to some pleasant music -- whatever will "lighten" your space
- Be understanding if others get upset or distressed
- Consider having a holiday meal out if tension is likely at the dining room table — people behave better and try to avoid a scene
- Stick to a budget and know your limits
- Plan your shopping and think about a gift with meaning (expensive gifts are not always the ones that mean the most)
- Shop early and watch for sales
- Don't overlook a special gift for yourself
- Delegate! Let others share in the responsibility of planning activities
- Plan ahead — set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting and other activities
- Learn to say "No" or "I just can't do that right now, let's figure out another time or project."
- Avoid being too ambitious — a gingerbread mansion would be just as fun to build on Valentine’s Day!
- Go easy on alcohol (excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression). Better yet have a hot chocolate!
- Be realistic — families and traditions change — hold on to those you can and find new ways to celebrate
- Rethink resolutions — be realistic and make sure they are valuable
- Forget about perfection
- Stay flexible — physically and emotionally
- Seek professional help if needed
- Rein in your expectations and take a moment to appreciate the simple things!
If despite your best efforts to remain upbeat this holiday season, you find yourself down for a sustained period of time, get help. Don't try to "tough it out" alone. There are treatment options available to you that could make a significant difference in your life.
Winter or Seasonal Depression
The darkest months of the year are upon us. Many of us will find it noticeably more difficult to carry out our activities of daily living over the winter months. Our daily rhythms are driven by biological functions called Circadian rhythms. Research suggests that seasonal or winter depression is often a result of an imbalance between your body’s circadian rhythms and rhythms of the environment! Secretions of the hormone melatonin appear to be particularly important in winter depression. This hormone, nicknamed the “Dracula” hormone, is secreted by the brain’s pineal gland when our surroundings are dark, but not when they are light. Most people are able to adjust to these internal changes. For those who struggle with mood changes in the winter, however, the results can feel crushing.
Here are some tips for coping with winter or seasonal depression:
- Get a thorough physical examination and level with your doctor
- Light therapy/phototherapy (exposure to extra amounts of synthetic light throughout the winter; need several hours of exposure to light 5x brighter than a well-lit office daily (talk to your doctor about how to order a phototherapy box)
- Talk to your doctor about altering melatonin levels during the day
- Avoid alcohol. Completely. (Yes, you.)
- Learn about your vulnerabilities and develop ways to manage them
- Strive to exercise regularly
- Do fun things and do them often
- Get and stay connected to others
- Learn to relax
- Be goal-oriented in important areas
- Prioritize and problem-solve
- Get support, get help. Don’t wait!
Things NOT to do when you’re depressed:
- Don’t dwell on the past and tomorrow hasn’t happened yet
- Don’t compare yourself to others. “You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your daddy was.” (A. Lincoln)
- Don’t catastrophize-understand probability
- Don’t leave things unsaid or unresolved
- Don’t leave time unstructured
For more information, or to make a referral, please call:
Innovations Partial Hospitalization Program at 451 W. Chew Street, Allentown, PA
Blue Mountain Partial Program at 512 Bank Street, Bowmanstown, PA
Behavioral Health Intake at 257 Broadhead Road, Bethlehem, PA (psychiatric evaluation or outpatient counseling)