Category Archives: Bipolar Mood Disorders

Weekly Review of Consistency for management of Depression!

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist,
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

How to build structure for consistency in management of mood disorders!

This form helps you monitor your progress towards goals each week. Consistency is key when you have a mood disorder. People with mood disorders need planning and structure to help manage their symptoms. You can also track your marital/relationship goals if you choose. This tool helps track progress toward goals by adding structure to your week. Make multiple copies. Modify as needed; feel free to add or delete goals. Rate mood 1 through 10. Ten is best – 1 worst. Place copy on your refrigerator or someplace where you can check it daily. Mark the goals each day so that you can see the week in review. Note alcohol/drug use and your mood rating in the 3 days after use. Being consistent in your goals makes a huge difference in managing your mood. Try it!

Week of _________________

Goal:                                      Mon       Tues        Wed        Thurs        Fri        Sat       Sun
Medication compliance
Cardio/walking
Social activity
Hobbies
Chores
Date night
Civility and respect
Sleep # of hours
Drug, alcohol use
AA/NA meetings
Time out called
Time out respected
Mood
Family meetings
Psychiatric appt

Note: Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Zoom!  Now I can work via Zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it is currently covered by BCBS Insurance.  Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://psychologytoday.com
http://takenotelessons.com    Highly effective online, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, test preparation, via face time or skype.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

How to be well when you have depression?

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist,
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Ten Steps to Better Mental Health

1. Take the medication as prescribed by your doctor.
• “I don’t miss often; maybe once per week.”

The number one cause of relapse to symptoms is medication non-compliance. This is a tough one. For psychiatric medication to be effective, it must be taken daily as prescribed. I consider compliance to be missing no more than 5 pills per year! Many people don’t like to take medication, especially if it means daily for life. Let’s take one step at a time and see what it’s like to function to your capacity for a year or two before you make decisions about the rest of your life.

But remember, clinical depression is a lifelong illness and it’s all about a chemical imbalance. It is a biological problem first and foremost. It’s like being a diabetic: you must take the medication as prescribed in order to be well. You wouldn’t like it but you would take the insulin injection. This is just chemistry.

2. No caffeine, substance use/abuse, or alcohol.

• “It’s not the caffeine. I like coffee. It doesn’t affect me. I’ve always drank coffee.”

Whether it’s coffee, power drink, soda or tea, caffeine can interfere with sleep and create anxiety. It is the most obvious reason for poor sleep. With your doctor’s supervision to avoid anxiety and headaches, gradually reduce your daily caffeine use. Eventually, when you are caffeine free, I believe, you will feel and sleep better.

I would certainly recommend gradually reducing caffeine use before asking the doctor for a sleep aid. Caffeine may interfere with your sleep/wake cycle. As far as your mental health, I recommend keeping caffeine to a minimum and before noon.

I also don’t recommend working the night shift i.e., midnight to 8 AM. It is difficult for your body to adjust. For a person with a mood disorder, this is not recommended. The back and forth between day and night shifts and the social isolation are risky to one’s mental health. It also wreaks night havoc with the sleep/wake cycle. Lack of sleep for a client with a bipolar disorder may bring about rapid mood fluctuations and jeopardize stability. Tell your doctor or your therapist if you are not sleeping. Wouldn’t it be better to reduce the caffeine rather than take a habit-forming sleeping pill?

• “What? I can’t have a glass of wine with dinner? I don’t do it every day. It’s just one glass. It’s not like I’m an alcoholic.”

The second leading cause of relapse to symptoms of depression is alcohol and substance use. Some doctors and even therapists say that it is all right to have one or two drinks if you have no alcohol abuse or dependence issues. I still question this because alcohol is a depressant. Why would you take a depressant when you are already depressed?

Alcohol may affect your mood for days, even weeks. At least track your mood on the calendar after you have been drinking to see if it has made your symptoms worse. Especially monitor the first three few days of being alcohol free. As far as alcohol and substance use, it is as simple as it is hard. If it interferes with your life, your daily functioning, or your relationships, don’t do it! Need help! Contact your doctor.

There is a negative correlation between the use of alcohol or drugs and symptoms of a mood disorder. Their is an increased chance of dependence and risk (70% to 90%) of relapse to the symptoms of your mood disorder. The consequences are just not worth it. Connect the dots! Denial or not! The essential point here is that for many people USE IS THE SAME AS ABUSE!

I recommend you discuss this with your doctor. If you already know you have a problem, get into Rehab. It’s never too late to turn your life around. Get professional help and go to your Alcohol or Narcotics Anonymous meetings as often as it is necessary to maintain sobriety. Even if you are not dependent, alcohol or pot may not be a healthy choice for you. Don’t deny the obvious. So, remember, the healthy use of alcohol for one person, may not be a healthy for you. Make healthy choices!

3. Take care of your physical health.
Be sure to have annual dental and physical exams. Some medications require regular blood testing. Some physical ailments can cause depression. See your doctor regularly.

4. Exercise
People with mood disorders tend to be sedentary. They need to walk and get exercise as much or more than any of us. You don’t have to join a gym; all you need to do is take a brisk walk. You don’t have to run but you do have to hustle a little bit. Studies going back thirty years or more say that cardiovascular exercise lifts one’s mood and reduces anxiety. The more recent studies show that those old studies are true but the walk needs to be at least 40 minutes to get the full benefit toward lifting your mood and reducing anxiety.

Walk at least 4 times per week. I also recommend that you pick your days, otherwise you will say, “I don’t feel like it today; I’ll do it tomorrow.” Tomorrow comes and the same thing happens. If you make a schedule and stick to it (say, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday), the day of the week makes the decision for you. “Oh darn, today is Monday. I have to walk.” Remember, depression affects one’s motivation; if you wait until you want to do it, it may never happen.

Note: Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

5. Plan to have fun
It’s good to have fun; have fun! When my son was about four years old, I remember distinctly, it was a beautiful summer day. Our front door was open and he stood there and saw children outside playing. He said, “Dad, there are kids out there! Can I go out and play?”

My point is that when you are a child, all it takes is something as simple as finding other kids and the party is on! As an adult, it takes planning, especially if you have a mood disorder. You need to take time to plan to have fun. Join a bowling league, take a pottery class or cooking class, take ballroom dancing, or take a photography class at the local park district. Take an adult education class at your local community college or park district. It’s not about the grade so you can also skip the tests and homework. These are inexpensive and fun and a great way to meet your socialization goals!
• Do it to be more social.
• Don’t do it for a grade.
• Do it because you are interested in it.
• Do it to help manage your symptoms and to structure your free time.

6. Make time to nurture your relationship.
Line up sitters so you can have time alone with your spouse or significant other. This may feel awkward at first but keep it up anyway. Gentlemen, don’t let the wife be responsible for all the social and vacation planning. Do your share. Plan a date night. When you go to dinner, discuss your next date night, event, or do vacation planning. Don’t use the date night to discuss difficult issues. This is should be a fun time and a way to nurture your relationship. If you are going to have fun, you are going to have to plan ahead!

7. Be social
A common symptom of a mood disorder is social dysfunction or social isolation. Human beings are by nature social creatures, but unfortunately, a common symptom of mood disorders includes social isolation and/or withdrawal. Call a friend and make a lunch date. Have people over to play cards or watch a sporting event. If you don’t have a large social network, use the park district or local community college to meet people. Taking a class or joining the volleyball league at least gives you an opportunity to be with people and make a friend. While meeting strangers may seem intimidating, think of it this way: if you don’t know them to begin with, then you really have nothing to lose if things don’t work out. On the other hand, you never know when a stranger can turn into your new best friend, business partner, or love interest!

8. Hobbies
Try woodworking, paint by number, sewing, knitting, crossword puzzles, gardening, toy trains, arts and crafts, or whatever you choose! Go to a hobby shop and look around but pick something and stick to it. Work on your hobby several times per week or when you are feeling low, negative, or worrisome. It is quite possible you will enjoy the activity so much that you will forget about your symptoms for a while. Hobbies are a great way to distract yourself from troubling thoughts when one else is around.

9. Chores
Most any physical activity is a good distraction from your negative ruminating thoughts and symptoms. Chores are another way to distract yourself and give you a clean environment. When you have depression, the idea of cleaning the entire house or apartment can be overwhelming. Break your chores down into one or two chores each day. For example:
• Monday is vacuuming
• Tuesday is bathroom cleaning
• Wednesday is washing the floor
• Thursday is cleaning the kitchen
• Friday is changing the sheets and towels day
• Saturday is laundry day
• Sunday is a free day. It is your reward for doing your chores all week long.

Chores are a great way to distract yourself from your symptoms. Most any physical activity will help. Make a schedule and stick to it. Try to come up with your own list of distraction activities. The more things you try, the less likely you will be a victim of your disorder.

10. Make healthy choices
This is my generic one. This one may very well be different from person to person. A healthy choice for one person may not be healthy for you. If you have a mood disorder, poor sleep, too much caffeine, alcohol or drug use, and social isolation are mental health issues. Remember! You manage it, or it will manage you!

Zoom! Now I can work via Zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it is currently covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information.

Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://jamesdelgenio.com
http://family-institute.org
http://takenotelessons.com    Highly effective online, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

How to manage Anger and Depression?

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist,
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Anger and depression are the flip side of the same coin.

Anger and hostility are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to anger, symptoms may include lack of civility and respect, lack of motivation, lack of goal directed behavior, sleep issues, too much or too little, overwhelmed with worry or sadness, inability to structure time, risky behavior, negative thoughts which seem to be on repeat and social withdrawal among others. This is unlikely to be managed without medication. As a therapist, I’m willing to try coping skills along with mindfulness to manage symptoms. If this doesn’t help, then we will need to consider medication.

Zoom!
Now I can work via zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance.  Check with your BCBS representative for more information.

Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://takenotelessons.com   Effective online, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype and much more.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

What are the symptoms of severe mental illness?

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist,
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Symptoms of severe mental illness

1. Positive Symptoms: (characterized by their presence)
a. Impaired contact with reality.
b. Hallucinations, delusions (often paranoid).
c. Thought disorders.
d. Thoughts of suicide, homicide

2. Negative Symptoms: (characterized by their absence)
a. Lack of pleasure, loss of interest and energy
b. Lack of goal-directed behavior.
c. Blunted affect.
d. Lack of insight.
e. Poverty of speech.
f. Poor judgment.
g. Poor self-care including hygiene.
h. lack of motivation.
i. Inability to structure time, poor concentration,

3. Interpersonal Relations
a. Asocial behavior, bizarre and inappropriate.
b. Withdrawal, isolation.
c. Lack of close personal ties.
d. Difficulty in getting along with people, irritable, angry.

4. Family Conflict
a. Crisis prone, police involvement.
b. Over involvement, overly intrusive family in trying to help.

Zoom!

Now I can work via zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more details.  Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://takenotelessons.com   Effective online, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype and much more.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

What you should know about dual diagnosis?

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist,
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

What is dual diagnosis?

Dual Diagnosis means that two or more independent disorders exist in the same individual. Specifically, for our purposes, when I speak of dual diagnosis, I am referring to mood disorder and alcohol abuse or drug dependence. Each exists independently of one another and yet each makes the other worse. Both are biological and psycho-social disorders with similar symptoms. They are lifelong disorders, which cause the person to be prone to relapse. Both require integrated treatment that includes psychiatric treatment, medication, psychotherapy, education, symptom management and additional supportive treatment such as Intensive outpatient (IOP), group therapy and Alcoholics Anonymous as needed.

Mood disorders and alcohol and substance abuse do not interact well. In fact, each makes the other worse, especially when one is using and/or not taking medication as prescribed. One must manage both disorders simultaneously and treatment must be a collaborative effort with the level and the array of services necessary to maintain stability, sobriety and consistency.

It is helpful to think of someone you know who is diabetic and what it means to be a diabetic. Mood disorders may not be as visible as sitting in a wheelchair, but you do have a disability. Mood Disorders, addiction and diabetes are comparable in many ways. Each is a lifelong, biological problem that requires daily attention, education and support.

Medication, when taken as prescribed, stabilize each condition but knowledge and training play a very important role in healthy functioning. The comparisons demonstrate that mental disorders, like other physical handicaps, can become manageable handicaps; not the global disability it is for some. It is a result of genetics, an imbalance in the chemistry of the brain. No one is at fault, and no one is to blame. Management of a Mood disorder may well be a lifelong pursuit.

  • Manage both disorders simultaneously.
  • Take medication as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Use coping skills, ie., cardio, socialization, hobbies.
  • Limit or abstain from alcohol use.
  • Your ability to maintain sobriety and manage your mood determines. the level of support needed.
  • Each failure requires an increased level of support, esp around alcohol or substances.

Zoom

Now I can work via zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative.

Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

What are the causes of relapse to symptoms of depression

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist,
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

What causes relapse?  

The causes of relapse to active symptoms of mood disorder have been well documented over the years. It’s no surprise that these reflect the relapse warning signs listed below.
They are:
• Medication non-compliance (Not taking the medication as prescribed).
• Alcohol and substance use and abuse.
• Little or no sleep.
• Lack of social support, isolation.

Non-compliance with medication and alcohol or substance use or abuse are by far the leading causes of relapse to symptoms. These are self-explanatory. However, little or no sleep and lack of social support also need to be addressed.

Alcohol and/or substance abuse will cause relapse to active symptoms of depression, panic and anxiety. If you are not an alcoholic, I recommend no more than 2 drinks twice per week but never in back to back days. If you mood dips in the days following you should consider abstinence.

Sleep is an important issue for most with mood disorders. People with Bipolar disorders usually report that they don’t need much sleep. They have a tendency to play with their sleep/wake cycle. They like the euphoric hypomanic feeling that lack of sleep creates. It is very much like the moth and the flame. There is an attraction to the high that one gets when they are sleep deprived. Unfortunately, you can take anyone in the world and keep them awake for two, three or four days, they will become actively psychotic. For people with a mood disorder, sleep is a mental health issue.

Social support is also very much a part of maintaining good mental health. Even if one is compliant with medication and not using or abusing alcohol and drugs, social isolation can create considerable stress and ultimately cause a relapse to symptoms. It is imperative that people with mental disorders, have an avenue to combat their tendency to isolate and withdraw from people. I encourage my clients to maintain regular social contact. This contact creates reality testing. We don’t think of socialization as reality testing but it is. For example: You have an argument with your spouse; you call a friend and say here is what happened. What do you think? You get feedback on your situation and behavior. That is reality testing. Lack of social support may result in an inability to test the accuracy of what one is feeling or experiencing. This is obviously a very important component of maintaining good mental health.

Zoom!   Now I can work via Zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information.   Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.  I am currently doing Zoom only.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://takenotelessons.com   Effective on line, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or skype and much more.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

Issues to discuss before Marriage. What you will learn in premarital counseling?

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Premarital Counseling is a really good idea! 

Premarital counseling can help ensure that you and your partner have a strong, healthy relationship. This will give you a better chance for a stable and satisfying marriage. Premarital counseling can also help you identify weaknesses that may become larger problems during marriage. Good marriages don’t happen by accident. Many issues can be resolved prior to marriage with the help of a therapist. Common issues addressed may include work, finances, lifestyle, spending habits, credit card balances, student loans, savings, retirement planning, roles and responsibilities, children, parenting, in-laws, and leisure and fun. Marriage requires an understanding of yourself, your future spouse, and the tools and skills you need to make it work.

Does your significant other have a Mood Disorder?
Some moodiness is a part of everyone’s life; sometimes we feel happy, other times we are sad; some days we have lots of energy, while at other times we may be fatigued and unmotivated. When mood changes interfere with your ability to function, work or go to school, when they harm your relationships significantly, when they cause you to miss sleep, abuse drugs, or behave in ways you later regret, or when they lead to risky behaviors, thoughts of suicide, or losing touch with reality, your mood requires professional attention.

If this sounds like you’re intended. All is not lost. The key factor in this decision is Denial. If your partner tends to deny issues now, do you really think it is going to get better later?
I find that most premarital couples are well aware of their intended’s mood and alcohol/substance issues. My main questions are as follows:
Is he/she:
• Willing to seek help?
• In need of psycho-education and symptom management?
• Willing to take medication, if prescribed?
• Willing to honestly address alcohol and substance abuse issues?
• Willing to see a therapist for relationship issues and support?
It’s not going to get better if your intended is in denial. Get out while you still can!

Civility and Respect
Work on resolving conflicts in a civil and respectful way. Lack of civility and respect will eventually be the undoing of any relationship. It is possible to argue, resolve conflicts, and agree to disagree in a respectful manner. In order to do this, all couples need rules of engagement for conflict. It is important that couples express how they feel, but this needs to be done in a very caring and respectful manner. This definitely means there should be civility and respect when conflict occurs. That means no hitting (of course), no yelling, no swearing, no screaming or name calling or sarcasm. I encourage you to look at yourself and your relationship with your intended. Are you holding onto resentments? If so, you will need a therapist to help resolve this and teach you how to fight with civility and respect.

Zoom!

Now I can work via Zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information.

Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

How to cope with depression, panic and anxiety?

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist,
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

How to distract yourself from your depression and anxiety?

Socialization, Exercise, Hobbies, and Chores!

Socialization is an important coping skill. It is good to have fun. Have fun! People with mood disorders often become engrossed in the past, their illness, and problems. They tend to isolate and withdraw. That is just not healthy and is a common symptom of depression. You should have at least 3-4 social events each month.

Exercise (especially walking) is good for depression and anxiety and is a great distraction when one is experiencing symptoms. Research suggests that a brisk walk for 4o minutes (with your doctor’s approval) will lift your mood and reduce anxiety. Don’t wait to feel motivated. Lack of motivation is often a direct result of a mood disorder. If you wait to feel motivated, it may never happen. Walk or do cardio work at least 4 times per week. Pick your days and let the day of the week make the decision for you. This will help to avoid, “I don’t feel like it today; I’ll do it tomorrow.” Unfortunately, tomorrow never comes. Any physical activity is likely to be helpful.

Hobbies can also be an important coping skill. A hobby can serve as a distraction when you are feeling low or anxious. Go to a hobby shop and pick something. I have had a lot of people choose paint by number sets. It’s the perfect hobby. You can pick up a paint brush and distract yourself and put it down and walk away when you need to. I had one man become a very good artist after starting with just a paint by number set. So, go to the hobby shop and pick something!

Chores can also be a great distraction. Many people with depression are overwhelmed by the thought of cleaning their entire living space. Again, use the pick a day method and choose one or two chores per day. Do your chores and exercise on the days you have picked to do them. Try to have at least one social activity per week. Plan to have fun. Adding structure to your life addresses many common symptoms of a mood disorder but especially lack of motivation.

Zoom! Now I can work via zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative.

Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://jamesdelgenio.com
http://family-institute.org
http://psychologytoday.com

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.

Why do people resist taking medication for depression?

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

Resistance to medication?

Psychiatric medication is useful in controlling symptoms of mood disorders. Mood disorders are considered bio-psycho-social disorders. They affect thinking and behavior and often create relationship issues. In most cases, medication and medication management are essential in the management of the biology or the chemistry of the disorder. I consider this to be the foundation of treatment. It is difficult, if not impossible, to treat a severe mood disorder without medication. You can’t build a solid house without a good foundation. Medication, when necessary, provides that solid foundation.

Therapy addresses the psycho-social treatment issues including identification and management of symptoms, daily living skills, coping skills, and the relationship issues and conflict which often accompany these disorders.

Refusal to take medication is a common issue. I do on occasion have clients who refuse medication. In the past, I have said, “I will work with you to see if the use of coping skills will have an impact an impact on your symptoms. If the use of coping skills does not work, I will revisit the medication issue.” If it does that’s great. If not, I will try to deal with the denial and the refusal of medication.

For instance, what if I told you that you are a diabetic and will have to be on insulin injections the rest of your life?  Of course, you wouldn’t like it, but chances are, you would take the insulin injections in order to live! Why is medication for a mood disorder any different?

Let me remind you that alcohol is a drug and if you are drinking, you are self-medicating with a depressant. This may lead to alcoholism or substance abuse and addiction. Wouldn’t it be wiser, safer, and more productive to let a doctor prescribe the correct medication to help you get on the path to recovery?

Medication and Support

Many people remain on medication their entire lives. Some people with mild depression or situational depression are able to use medication intermittently (6 to 18 months) for periods of stress that caused their depression to re-emerge. Others don’t want those periods of regression in their life, so they chose to just stay on the meds. I encourage clients to consult with their doctor for recommendations.

Therapeutic support may also be intermittent or as needed after a time. Depending on the severity of the disorder and how well a person learns to manage, many of my client’s check-in at least three or four times per year, once they are stable and consistent in management. This is especially common for couples whose disorders affect their relationship.

Unfortunately, some people with severe clinical depression or bipolar disorders  may go in and out of the hospital their entire lives if they remain in denial. This is usually a result of non-compliance with treatment and medication, combined with alcohol and/or substance abuse. Mood disorders and addiction can be global disabilities or manageable handicaps. Which one will you choose?

The number one cause of regression, recurrence of symptoms and possibly hospitalization is not taking medication as prescribed. This is not like having a headache. When you have an ordinary headache, you take two aspirin and twenty minutes later your headache is gone. In order for antidepressants or mood stabilizers to work effectively, the medication must maintain a certain level in the body. When that level is not maintained, debilitating symptoms reappear. These medications take four to six weeks to reach their peak level of effectiveness. When you miss doses of medication, drink or use drugs, you negatively affect that level.

Medication Side Effects and Allergic Reactions

All medications have side effects. Even aspirin can cause ringing in the ears if you take too much. The pharmacy must list all side effects, but that does not mean you will experience any or all of them. Most of the common psychiatric medications for depression and mood disorders have very few, if any, side effects after the first week or so. First, ask your doctor about allergic reactions and possible side effects and what to do in the event of a serious reaction. Severe allergic reactions typically include but are not limited to rash, hives, and swelling (of the tongue). Always read the medication information given to you by the pharmacist. He or she is also a good source of information on medications.

The most common and less serious side effects are typically sleepiness, nausea, diarrhea, blurred vision, insomnia, dizziness, or headache. These usually go away in the first week or two. If any side effect becomes severe or you simply have concerns, contact your doctor or go to the ER. Know the possible side effects and allergic reactions of your medications. You should always know the name of your medication, frequency, and the dosage in milligrams. Carry a card in your wallet that will tell emergency personnel exactly what you are taking. If you have questions or concerns, direct your questions to your doctor or pharmacist. Dial 911 or go to the emergency room for serious allergic reactions and side effects. Ultimately, the more you know, the safer you will be.

Mental Illness is a disease very much like diabetes. It takes insulin to manage diabetes; it takes psychiatric medication to manage severe depression and other mood disorders. Some say you just have to be tough. “You just have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and try harder.” This is false and it won’t work. The only way to successfully manage a mood disorder is with education, medication, structure, ongoing treatment and support.

Always contact the doctor when faced with positive (active) symptoms. Do not self-medicate. A doctor never operates on himself or his own family. Don’t play doctor! Remember, the leading causes of relapse are medication non-compliance and drug and alcohol use. The doctor can’t possibly medicate you properly if he does not know honestly what the patient is or is not taking including alcohol or substances!

Rule of thumb: Never lie or withhold information from your doctor or therapist.

It is extremely important to learn to make healthy choices. Sometimes people do not recognize that the choices they make may not be healthy. Once stable and consistent, some people simply need to check-in with their therapist a few times per year. Others need ongoing supportive therapy every two to four weeks to remain stable. The frequency will depend on the individual and how well one manages their disorder. Together with your doctor, therapist, and ancillary supports, if necessary for dual diagnosis, you can learn to manage your symptoms and cope with the day-to-day stress of depression, mood disorder, or dual diagnosis. This is the reason that ongoing support from your doctor and therapist is essential for management.

You should call your doctor, 911 or go to the hospital if you are experiencing medication side effects or an allergic reaction. If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else call your doctor and therapist immediately. If you are actively considering hurting yourself, call 911, go to the emergency room, or call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline, 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

The Leading Causes of Relapse

The causes of relapse to active symptoms of a mental disorder have been well documented over the years. It’s no surprise that these reflect the relapse warning signs listed below.

They are:

  • Medication non-compliance (Not taking the medication as prescribed).
  • Alcohol and substance use and abuse.
  • Little or no sleep.
  • Lack of social support.

Non-compliance with medication and alcohol or substance abuse are by far the leading causes of relapse to symptoms. These are self-explanatory. However, little or no sleep and lack of social support may also need to be addressed.

Sleep is an important issue for most with mood disorders. People with Bipolar disorders usually report that they don’t need much sleep. They have a tendency to play with their sleep/wake cycle. They like the euphoric hypomanic feeling that lack of sleep creates. It is very much like the moth and the flame. There is an attraction to the high that one gets when they are sleep deprived. Unfortunately, you can take anyone in the world and keep them awake for two, three or four days, they will become actively psychotic or out of touch with reality. For people with a mood disorder, sleep is a mental health issue.

Social support is also very much a part of maintaining good mental health. Even if one is compliant with medication and not using or abusing alcohol and drugs, social isolation can create considerable stress and ultimately cause a relapse to symptoms. It is imperative that people with mental disorders, have an avenue to combat their tendency to isolate and withdraw from people. I encourage my clients to maintain regular social contact. This contact creates reality testing. We don’t think of socialization as reality testing, but it is. For example: You have an argument with your spouse; you call a friend and say, here is what happened. What do you think? You get feedback on your situation and behavior. That is reality testing. Lack of social support may result in an inability to test the accuracy of what one is feeling or experiencing. This is obviously a very important component of maintaining good mental health.

Relapse Warning Signs

Be aware of relapse warning signs and symptoms. When one is taking medication as prescribed by the doctor, symptoms are largely under control and the client is stable. The reappearance of certain symptoms is an indication that the medication may need to be adjusted, reevaluated or changed. These symptoms may also be an indication that the medication is no longer being taken as prescribed or alcohol and substance use is interfering with the effectiveness of the medication.

Relapse warning symptoms include:

  • Thoughts about hurting oneself or others.
  • Changes in one’s sleep/wake cycle, especially little or no sleep.
  • Inability to concentrate, rapid speech, skidding from subject to subject.
  • Rapid mood fluctuations, mania, or depression
  • Poor judgment, risky behavior, or lack of insight into one’s own behavior.

These symptoms are reflected by poor daily functioning, lack of motivation, loss of interest and conflict. These are considered to be active symptoms and usually are caused by non-compliance with medication and use of alcohol or drugs. In many instances, the medication may need to be changed or the dosage adjusted by the doctor. This may also reflect the need for family members to monitor medication compliance and alcohol/drug usage. Relapse warning signs should be reported to the doctor and therapist immediately. Don’t wait!

Zoom

Now I can work via zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information.

Call James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC, Senior Staff Therapist at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://takenotelessons.com   Highly effective online, one on one, SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation, via face time or Skype.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material with your doctor and therapist.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

By: James E. DelGenio MS, LCPC
Senior Staff Therapist
The Family Institute at Northwestern University

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD as it is known by many, is a type of depression related to the dark gloom of fall and winter with shorter days and less sunlight. SAD is exacerbated by a decrease in activity level that is generally created in the cold winter months. The symptoms are largely the same but not as severe as for other depressive disorders including poor sleep and fatigue, crying spells, irritability, poor concentration, weight gain and loss of sex drive. In some severe cases, seasonal affective disorder can also be associated with thoughts of suicide.

Though symptoms usually improve in the summer, many people have found relief from the use of full spectrum lighting in their homes. These lights come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be easily found on the internet. Probably the least expensive of these is the 27-watt full spectrum CFL bulb which can be placed strategically in fixtures and lamps throughout one’s residence. These are effective when used on a daily basis. Sometimes, however, these lights are simply not enough. In these cases, many of my clients have found relief by taking an antidepressant for a period of time and by increasing the level of physical exercise especially cardio work.

Zoom!

Now I can work via zoom with anyone, anywhere in the country and it may still be covered by BCBS Insurance. Check with your BCBS representative for more information. Call 847-733-4300 Ext 638.

http://manageyourmood.net
http://family-institute.org
http://takenotelessons.com   Highly effective SAT, ACT, GRE, standardized test preparation and much more.

Disclaimer: This material is meant to be used in conjunction with psychiatric treatment, medication, if necessary, and supportive therapy. Always share this material and your questions about this material with your doctor and therapist.