No one likes to talk about it. But the truth is that suicide rates are rising in America and almost everyone has been touched, either directly or indirectly, by this tragic reaction to stressful life situations.
Death, particularly by suicide, is nearly impossible to understand. Yet, so many who grieve the loss of someone who has taken their own life often look for answers which makes the process of bereavement that much more challenging. Fortunately, there are actions we can all take to help prevent suicide including: starting a conversation, offering support, and directing others to get the help they need.
If you are concerned that someonel may be contemplating suicide, don’t be afraid to ask them about their mental health. Sometimes simply asking a person about their thoughts can help them re-examine their wish to die.
The death of a loved one is never easy, whether it comes without warning or after a long battle with illness. But several circumstances set death by suicide apart and make the process of bereavement more challenging.
Many people have trouble admitting that a family member may be mentally ill and secretly concerned about whether their loved one may be contemplating suicide. Being aware of the warning signs can help prevent this strategic outcome. Here are 15 warning signs, from The National Suicide Prevention network, that someone may be suicidal.
While the pain and loss will never go away, suicide survivors must understand that they are not to blame and those who have died by suicide did not do this to hurt you. They did it to stop their own pain— a pain they thought would never end. There’s no way to know the demons they faced or how many years it was going on.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For more information on The National Suicide Prevention network, visit their website suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call 1-800-273-TALK. Please share your comments and be sure to check out our podcast, Speaking Candidly with Candace, for real life stories about those coping and recovering from mental health issues.
A friend of mine recently observed that I have an addictive personality. While my addictions to things such as caffeine, bargain hunting, and social media are not life threatening, the statement prompted me to wonder why some people have addictive behaviors while others appear to be asymptomatic.
By definition, a person with an addiction uses a substance, or engages in a behavior, for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeat the activity, despite detrimental consequences. Addiction may involve the use of substances such as alcohol, inhalants, opioids, cocaine, and nicotine, or behaviors such as gambling.
While the above definition of addiction excludes a plethora of behaviors, such as impulse shopping, overeating, gaming disorder, and even exercising, they all share a common key neurobiological component that severely involves brain pathways of reward and reinforcement involving the neurotransmitter dopamine. The good news is that these brain changes are reversible after the substance use or behavior is discontinued.
Since addiction affects the brain’s executive functions, centered in the prefrontal cortex, individuals who develop an addiction may not be aware that their behavior is causing problems for themselves and others. Over time, desire for the pleasurable effects of the substance or behavior may dominate an individual’s actions.
Characteristics such as a lack of ability to tolerate stress or other strong feelings have been associated with addiction, but there is no one “addictive personality” type that can clearly predict whether a person will face problems with addiction or not.
When most people think of addictive behaviors, alcoholism is often one of the first to come to mind. Alcohol addiction is a disease that affects people of all walks of life and can unfold in a variety of ways. The severity of the disease, how often someone drinks, and the alcohol they consume varies from person to person. Some people drink heavily all day, while others binge drink and then stay sober for relatively-long periods of time. Regardless of how the addiction looks, someone who relies on drinking and can’t maintain their sobriety is most likely an alcoholic.
Substance abuse and gambling affect the reward, reinforcement, motivation, and memory systems of the brain. They are generally characterized by impaired control, changes in personality, and cravings that can disrupt everyday activities and relationships. These addictions can be particularly harmful to relationships and can impact job or school performance.
According to Psychology Today, the clinical diagnosis of an addiction is based on the existence of at least two of the following features:
The road to recovery from any addiction can feel like a rollercoaster ride. It is extremely common for someone to relapse. Not just once but multiple times. Thus, it is critical to recognize the desire to change. Should you or a loved-one relapse, don’t think of it as failure. Instead, get back on track and resume treatment as soon as possible.
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A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no apparent cause or immediate danger. Panic attacks can be extremely frightening, and you might think you're losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.
Panic attacks may occur with or without a known trigger. According to the Mayo Clinic, many people have just one or two panic attacks in their lifetimes. But if your panic attacks are recurring and you are in constant fear of another attack, you may have a condition called panic disorder.
Although panic attacks themselves are not life-threatening, they can have a significant effect on your quality of life. In order to be diagnosed with a panic disorder, symptoms must not be related to substance use or another illness. If you have at least 4 (or more) of the following symptoms, you may have a panic disorder and should seek medical help.
Panic Disorder Signs and Symptoms
Living with anxiety and panic attacks is more common than you may think. According to the latest mental illness statistics, 40 million American adults have a panic disorder.
In 2014, professional soccer player David Beckham went public with his own struggle with panic attacks and said that playing with Legos calms him down when he is feeling anxious. Other celebrities including Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, and Nicole Kidman, have admitted to suffering from anxiety and panic attacks.
Mental health research has shown that people who have been diagnosed with panic disorder can be effectively treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.
Treatment for Panic Disorders
Medications for panic disorders typically fall into two categories: antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs.
When first introduced in the 1950s, antidepressants were primarily used to treat mood disorders. However, today, these medications are known to effectively help reduce anxiety, lessen the symptoms of panic, and decrease the intensity and frequency of panic attacks.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Celexa, Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft are frequently prescribed to treat panic disorders, anxiety, and panic attacks. This class of medication has been proven to decrease the frequency and intensity of panic attacks and can make a huge difference for a person who has become afraid of leaving the home or has difficulty engaging in other necessary activities.
Expert psychologists recommend that anyone who is struggling with an anxiety disorder try cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) as the first-line of treatment. One of the main goals of CBT is to develop coping skills by changing negative thinking patterns and unhealthy behaviors found in persons diagnosed with panic disorder.
Another popular treatment for panic disorder is panic-focused psychodynamic psychotherapy (PFPP). This form of therapy aims to uncover past experiences and emotional issues that may have influenced the person’s development of panic and anxiety. Psychotherapists believe that by coming to terms with emotional turmoil, the client can then overcome their issues with panic disorder.
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