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Archive for the ‘For Parents’ Category

Dissolve the Stigma

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Mental Health Medications: Be Aware!

A little known fact to many of us taking mental health medications is that they can drastically alter what we think especially when first prescribed or with a change in dose, higher or lower.  Psychotropic drugs, those used to treat mental illnesses, can cause suicidal thoughts, irritability, increased anxiety and agitation, even violent tendencies. Anyone taking medication for anxiety, depression, bipolar disease, schizophrenia or other mental health diseases should be keenly aware of these mind altering side effects.  Swings in moods and thoughts can cycle rapidly and may be enhanced by use of alcohol. 

So … be very careful and fully aware of your mental state when first adopting medications and when changing doses.  Keep on a regular schedule with your meds.  Don’t stop taking your meds if additional symptoms occur but, call your doctor immediately.  Remember, pay attention to your moods.  You may be the only safety net between life and death.

Understand Your Depression

Dealing with depression is one of the hardest things you’ll do in life. However, there is hope! The best way to overcome depression is to first understand how depression creeps into your life. I call this “being aware of your slide pattern.” In my case depression starts slowly and progresses slowly until I reach the level of feeling about 50% normal. At that point I drop precipitously in my mood to 0%. In the 0% stage, I am sooooo depressed that I don’t even know the telephone exists to be able to get help. This state is equivalent to being wrapped tightly in black cellophane. You can’t see anything that surrounds you. You can only see inward pain. This is a dangerous state to be in.

So how do you prevent yourself from getting to zero which is full deep depression? First understand your slide pattern. Mine looks like the picture below.

Sliding into Depression

Once you know your slide pattern you have to catch yourself before you fall to zero. Once you get to say the 25-50% mood state, call a friend and say you need help. Friends want to give you this gift of help. It makes them feel good and it makes you feel good too. Other tricks are to do things that make you feel good, things you like to do … eat out, go hiking, go swimming ….. but the essential prescription in all of this is just three steps:

1) Know your slide pattern
2) Tell yourself it’s OK to reach out to others for help and reach out when you reach the 25-50% mood level.
3) And by all means tell someone how you’re feeling over and over again if you have to.