The Budget 2013; Financial Strain and Your Mental Health

Financial strain is probably one of the biggest causes of stress, especially in today’s economy and is only getting worse. With so many losing their jobs, cutbacks and tax increases just trying to make ends meet can cause immense stress to already stressful lives.

This year’s budget has promised to be tougher and more hard-hitting and may cause many of us to despair, panic and fear for the future.

If the stress and worry is becoming too much or if you feel you many benefit from talking to someone, please feel free to call me on 087 709 74 77 or email me in confidence at midwestcounselling@gmail.com

Stress, Depression and Christmas.

Although Christmas is meant to be a time of happiness and joy for many, depression, sleep problems and anxiety and stress are the more common features of the holiday season.

It may be the season to be jolly, but between mounting financial strain and the pressure of spending prolonged hours with our families and in laws, it’s easy to see why many of us would prefer to pull the duvet back over our heads and hope the whole thing will just pass us by.

Although this may seem a bit un-festive, in reality anxiety over strains of Christmas can negatively affect our health in many ways and with the “festive” period upon us there is often more opportunity to avail of unhealthy coping behaviors.
We are often more likely to try and cope by drinking, smoking, overeating or staying up alone late at night.

If you are feeling the strain and would like someone to talk to, feel free to call me on 087 709 7477 or to email me in confidence at midwestcounselling@gmail.com and perhaps we can try to put some of the yuletide glow back into the holiday season.

Bullying and our Children.

It’s normal to feel frightened and enraged about any kind of threat to our children’s well being, here are six solutions that can help parents to be effective in taking charge.
1. Stop Yourself from Knee-Jerk Reactions
If you act upset your child is likely to get upset too. They might want to protect you and themselves from your reaction and the older your child is, the more important it is that they’re able to feel some control about any follow-up actions you might take with the school.

2. Get Your Facts Right
Ask questions of your child in a calm, reassuring way and listen to the answers; look for solutions, not for blame. Be your child’s advocate, but accept the possibility that your child might have partially provoked or escalated the bullying.3. Protect Your Child
Your highest priority is to protect your child as best you can. What protecting your child means will vary depending on the ability of the school to resolve the problem, the nature of the problem, and on the specific needs of your child. Each case, like each child is unique.4. Prevent Future Problems
. Concerned parents can help schools find and implement age-appropriate programs that create a culture of respect, caring, and safety between young people rather than of competition, harassment, and disregard.5. Get Help for Your Child
Finally, you want to get help for your child and for yourself to deal with the feelings that result from having had an upsetting experience. Sometimes bullying can remind you about bad experiences in your own past. Getting help might mean going to a therapist or talking with counselors provided by the school or by other agencies.

6. Make this into a Learning Experience
As parents, it’s normal to want to protect our children from all harm but our children of also need the room to grow. Upsetting experiences don’t have to lead to long-term damage if children are listened to respectfully, if the problem is resolved, and if their feelings are supported.

(Abridged from the wonderful students at Antibullyingireland.ie )

Understanding anxiety disorders

It’s normal to worry and feel tense or scared when under pressure or facing a stressful situation. Anxiety is the body’s natural response to danger, an automatic alarm that goes off when you feel threatened.
In moderation, anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, anxiety can help you stay alert and focused, spur you to action, and motivate you to solve problems. But when anxiety is constant, excessive or overwhelming, when it interferes with your relationships and activities, it stops being functional — that’s when you’ve crossed the line from ordinary, productive anxiety into the territory of anxiety disorders.

Do your symptoms indicate an anxiety disorder?

If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, then it’s possible you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
• Are you constantly tense, worried, or on edge?
• Does your anxiety interfere with your work, school, or family responsibilities?
• Are you plagued by fears that you know are irrational, but can’t shake?
• Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things aren’t done a certain way?
• Do you avoid everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety?
• Do you experience sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic?
• Do you feel like danger and catastrophe are around every corner?

If you’re experiencing a lot of physical anxiety symptoms, consider getting a medical checkup. Your doctor can check to make sure that your anxiety isn’t caused by a medical condition, such as a thyroid problem, hypoglycemia, or asthma. Since certain drugs and supplements can cause anxiety, your doctor will also want to know about any prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, and recreational drugs you’re taking.
If you can rule this out maybe you would benefit from speaking to a psychotherapist in your area. Anxiety disorders respond very well to psychotherapeutic treatment. The specific treatment approach depends on the type of anxiety disorder and its severity. But in general, most anxiety disorders are treated with behavioural therapy, medication, or some combination of the two. Sometimes complementary or alternative treatments may also be helpful.

Fell free to call me, in confidence, on 087 709 74 77 for an appointment.

Extract abridged from helpguide.org 22 July 2012

Minister to meet constituents to discuss mental health law

Minister to meet constituents to discuss mental health law

11 July 2012

Cork representatives, including Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health, will meet constituents to discuss improvements to Ireland’s Mental Health Act later today.

People with personal experience of mental health problems are meeting Minister Lynch, other Cork TDs and Senators to discuss their personal experiences with a view to influencing the Government’s current review of the Act.

Diarmaid Ring, service user activist and member of Amnesty International Ireland’s Expert by Experience Advisory Group said: “We as service users, family members and carers will be bringing our own grassroots experience of the mental health services to the table.

“It is crucial the experiences of service users are heard by those developing mental health law and policy, so they can introduce mental health law in line with the latest human rights standards.

“One of the key things we need to challenge is the current ethos of using mental health law to ‘contain’ and instead champion the ethos of recovery, as outlined in the Government’s mental health policy, A Vision for Change.”

Karol Balfe, Mental Health Campaign Coordinator, Amnesty International Ireland, said: “This is a great opportunity for politicians and policy makers to hear from those directly affected and ensure the changes they propose will really improve the experience for people with mental health problems.

“Today’s meeting is particularly timely as the Government is in the middle of its own review of the 2001 Mental Health Act and last month published its initial report.”

What is Depression?

What is Depression?

There is a difference between depression with a little‘d’ – which we all get – and depression with a big ‘D’. Depression with a little ‘d’ is a natural response to having a bad day or hearing sad news. Depression with a big ‘D’ is when your whole energy and concentration is down and you are struggling to focus. It is a mental health condition which affects a person’s thinking, energy, feelings and behaviour. It’s not just having a bad day!

Symptoms of Depression

Depression has eight main symptoms. If you experience five or more of these symptoms, lasting for a period of two weeks or more, you should speak to a GP or mental health professional. The symptoms of depression are:

• Feeling sad, anxious or bored

• Low energy, feeling tired or fatigued

• Under-sleeping or over-sleeping,waking frequently during the night

• Poor concentration, thinking slowed down

• Loss of interest in hobbies, family or social life

• Low self-esteem and feelings of guilt

• Aches and pains with no physical basis, e.g. chest, head or tummy pain  associated with anxiety or stress

• Loss of interest in living, thinking about death, suicidal thoughts

What causes it?

Depression has a number of possible causes. For some people, it happens because of a traumatic life event such as bereavement, relationship breakdown, financial difficulties or bullying. In other situations, the person may have an inherent tendency towards depression, and such genetic factors can be key in the case of bipolar disorder. This mood disorder involves not just periods of depression, but also periods of elation, where the person’s mood is significantly higher than normal. During these periods, a person may have excessive energy with little need for sleep, may have grandiose ideas and may engage in risk-taking behaviour.

What should I do if I think I am depressed?

The most important thing to do is to speak to a doctor or mental health professional in order to get a correct diagnosis. There are a number of treatments for depression, depending on the cause and severity of symptoms and a professional is best placed to decide which, if any, treatment is most appropriate. Accessing reliable information is also vital.

 Taken from Aware.ie 15th July 2012

Suicide Warning Signs

Article taken from

Suicide Ireland 13th July 2012

 Warning Signs

Information to help you spot the warning signs of depression and suicidal behaviour. We can all make a difference.

What are the warning signs?

These are some of the classic signs that someone you know may be in need of some help. Please watch for the following symptoms…

Talking About Dying

  • any mention of dying, disappearing, jumping, shooting oneself, or other types of self harm.

Recent Loss

 

  • through death, divorce, separation, broken relationship, loss of job, money, status, self-confidence, self-esteem, loss of religious faith, loss of interest in friends, sex, hobbies, activities previously enjoyed

Change in Personality

  • Sad, withdrawn, irritable, anxious, tired, indecisive, apathetic
  • Change in Behaviour
  • Can’t concentrate on school, work, routine tasks
  • Change in Sleep Patterns
  • Insomnia, often with early waking or oversleeping, nightmares
  • Change in Eating Habits
  • Loss of appetite and weight, or overeating
  • Diminished Sexual Interest
  • Impotence, menstrual abnormalities (often missed periods)
  • Fear of losing control
  • Harming self or others
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling worthless, shame, overwhelming guilt, self-hatred, “everyone would be better off without me”

Report from RTE News on Suicide stats in Ireland 2011

Reported on RTE News 11th July 2010

 525 suicides, representing 11.4 per 100,000 of the population, were registered in 2011.

The vast majority of those who took their own lives were men.

The figures are contained in the Central Statistics Office Vital Statistics for 2011, which look at the numbers of births, deaths and marriages registered in that year.

The 2011 figures saw a rise in male suicides, which accounted for 84% of all suicide deaths.

Responding to the figures, the Irish Association of Suicidology said international research shows that for every 1% increase in unemployment there is a 0.78% increase in the rate of suicide.

It said that given the impact the economic downturn had had, especially on young males, it was not surprising that men were so at risk to suicide.

However, the association said that there is always help available to anyone suffering emotional distress or feeling suicidal, including through the samaritans or their family GP.

490 suicides were registered in Ireland in 2010.

Dan Neville TD, President of the Irish Association of Suicidology, said he was “extremely concerned” by the increase in the number of deaths by suicide.

Mr Neville said the figures were not a surprise because there was anecdotal evidence of an increase. He said the true figure was closer to 600 when “undetermined” deaths were taken into account.

He said the figure reflected the neglect of suicide prevention for decades, and the economic recession, which impacts on the levels of depression, anxiety and despair.

Mr Neville said that he has been assured that €35m allocated to the development of mental health services was safe from cutbacks.

He said in the past, the HSE did hive off money allocated to mental health for other services, and there must be vigilance that this doesn’t happen again.

He called for the urgent appointments of a Director of Mental Health Services, and a new director of the National Suicide Prevention Office.

“They are key positions that there should be no delay in the appointment of,” he said.

“Particularly the Director of Mental Health Services. This is a new position, promised by the government, by Dr Reilly. But it’s something we have been looking at for years.”

Facebook depression’ fears unfounded: US study

Worries about a link between depression and the amount of time spent on Facebook or other social media sites are probably unfounded, suggested a recent US study.
The University of Wisconsin School study found no basis to support the theory outlined in a study last year by the American Academy of Pediatrics that suggested exposure to Facebook could lead to depression among adolescents.

“Our study is the first to present scientific evidence on the suggested link between social-media use and risk of depression,” said Lauren Jelenchick, a researcher at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

“The findings have important implications for clinicians who may prematurely alarm parents about social-media use and depression risks.”

Jelenchick and professor Megan Moreno surveyed 190 students at the university between the ages of 18 and 23. The survey participants were on Facebook for over half of the total time online.

They found no significant links between social media use and the probability of depression.

The results were published Monday in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“Our findings are similar to those from studies of other communication applications, such as e-mail and chat, which also found no association with depression,” the researchers wrote.

Still, they noted that “a single study cannot prove or disprove an association” and cautioned that the latest study “is limited by the sample’s ethnic homogeneity, our focus on older adolescents in a single university setting, and a small sample size.”

Moreno, a pediatrician who studies social media use among children and adolescents, said parents don’t have to be overly concerned if their child’s behavior and mood have not changed, and if they have friends and their school work is consistent.

“While the amount of time on Facebook is not associated with depression, we encourage parents to be active role models and teachers on safe and balanced media use for their children,” said Moreno.

 

Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression (PPD), also called postnatal depression, is a form of clinical depression which can affect women, and less frequently men, typically after childbirth.

tudies report prevalence rates among women from 5% to 25%, but methodological differences among the studies make the actual prevalence rate unclear. Among men, in particular new fathers, the incidence of postpartum depression has been estimated to be between 1.2% and 25.5%.[1] Postpartum depression occurs in women after they have carried a child. Symptoms include sadness, fatigue, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, reduced libido, crying episodes, anxiety, and irritability. Although a number of risk factors have been identified, the causes of PPD are not well understood. Many women recover with a treatment consisting of a support group or counselling.