From the desk of Mental Health Officer Morgan:
If you have a family member who suffers from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, you’ve almost certainly experienced the difficulty in helping them deal with their illness.
Below you’ll find an interesting, and hopefully useful, link to an article about “anosognosia”. The article goes into more detail but anosognosia is a condition that approximately 50% of sufferers of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (though not mentioned in the article) suffer from.
This condition leaves them unable to recognize that they are sick which leads to non-compliance with treatment and frustration on the parts of all involved. It’s not the same as denial; it’s a complete lack of insight to their condition. Sometimes this leads to families cutting children, spouses, or otherwise out of their lives because of the frustration and tensions that build.
This article mentions contacting NAMI for help. NAMI is a great resource. If I might suggest another, pick up the book, “I’m Not Sick. I Don’t Need Help” by Dr. Xavier Amador. This book has a lot of information about not only the condition, but how to help your family member or loved one help themselves, get treatment, and stay compliant . This book can be found at all major retailers websites and there are electronic versions for e-readers such as the Kindle and Nook.
How Caregivers Can Cope With Anosognosia
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We are excited announce a new hashtag campaign – Mental Health Monday – or #MHM for short. On select Monday posts, you can expect to find information from our Mental Health Officer that will share facts, statistics and helpful information on identifying and helping those who may be suffering from Mental Illness. Officer Morgan wanted to kick start the campaign off today. We’re going to be identifying some “warning signs” to look for, including those that pose imminent danger.
According to the CDC, each year more than 41,000 individuals die by suicide, leaving behind thousands of friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of their loss. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the U.S. and the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-24; these rates are increasing.
Suicidal thoughts or behaviors are both damaging and dangerous and are therefore considered a psychiatric emergency. Someone experiencing these thoughts should seek immediate assistance from a health or mental health care provider. Having suicidal thoughts does not mean someone is weak or flawed.
Know The Warning Signs
- Threats or comments about killing themselves, also known as suicidal ideation, can begin with seemingly harmless thoughts like “I wish I wasn’t here” but can become more overt and dangerous
- Increased alcohol and drug use
- Aggressive behavior
- Social withdrawal from friends, family and the community
- Dramatic mood swings
- Talking, writing or thinking about death
- Impulsive or reckless behavior
Is There Imminent Danger?
Any person exhibiting these behaviors should get care immediately:
- Putting their affairs in order and giving away their possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
- Mood shifts from despair to calm
- Planning, possibly by looking around to buy, steal or borrow the tools they need to commit suicide, such as a firearm or prescription medication
If you are unsure, a licensed mental health professional can help assess risk.
Risk Factors For Suicide
Research has found that about 90% of individuals who die by suicide experience mental illness. A number of other things may put a person at risk of suicide, including:
- A family history of suicide.
- Substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows that exacerbate suicidal thoughts.
- Intoxication. More than one in three people who die from suicide are found to be currently under the influence.
- Access to firearms.
- A serious or chronic medical illness.
- Gender. Although more women than men attempt suicide, men are four times more likely to die by suicide.
- A history of trauma or abuse.
- Prolonged stress.
- Age. People under age 24 or above age 65 are at a higher risk for suicide.
- A recent tragedy or loss.
- Agitation and sleep deprivation.
As always, if you have an immediate emergency, dial 9-1-1. If you need to speak to Officer Morgan, or would like further guidance in helping a loved one suffering from Mental Illness, Officer Morgan can be reached at 817.427.7092 or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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