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Mental Illness a Leading Cause of Disability in the U.S.

When the subject of disabilities surfaces in our thoughts or conversations, it is common to first consider those caused by some type of physical ailment or affliction. Conditions such as arthritis, heart disease and back problems are certainly primary causes of long-term disabilities in our nation. However, mental illness is the leading cause of disability in U.S. citizens ranging in ages from 15 to 44, according to National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) statistics.

What these numbers show is that many Americans and people around the world are affected by illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and a host of other mood and anxiety disorders in the prime of their working lives. Unfortunately, these numbers show no sign of subsiding anytime soon. In fact, they continue to rise, as do the number of filings with the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) for disability benefits due to mental illnesses.

The SSA and Mental Illness Claims

The SSA has established specific criteria that qualify those suffering with mental disorders for disability benefits. Basically, it must be determined that an existing mental condition limits or impairs one’s ability to fulfill their work obligations. In most situations, assessments and evaluations must be performed by mental health professionals. Additionally, evidence must be submitted to the SSA that indicates the individual in question is unable to perform their assigned job duties as a consequence of their condition.

Getting Back on their Feet

It is important for those with mental health issues to make their employers aware of their situation. All too often, workers are hesitant or afraid to address their condition with their employers for fear of negative repercussions. But behavioral or productivity problems could lead to termination, which also often results in the loss of insurance, creating even more problems for these individuals in regard to receiving treatment.

When documented mental health issues are reported to an employer, they are obligated under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations to accommodate that employee with whatever they need to successfully perform their job duties, or to make their working situation as comfortable as possible. In lieu of applying for disability benefits, this can allow an employee to continue to work while receiving mental health treatment and take measures that will eventually enable them to effectively manage their condition.

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This blog is written and published by Lindner Center of HOPE.

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Stress Relief

Everyone seems to have busy schedules these days and stress is something nearly everyone suffers from as a result of it. Luckily, there are several things we can do to relieve stress in our everyday lives.

Massage. Getting a massage is a great way to relieve stress. It’s a way to relax your muscles, reduce pain, and improve circulation, which puts you in a mental and physical state for relaxation.

Meditation. From 15-30 minutes each day, meditation can serve as a great stress reliever. To meditate, give yourself some quiet time to let your thoughts run wild or to simply focus on your breathing. This small section of peace in your day can help you deal with stress, and perhaps relieve some.

Exercise. No matter what the physical activity is, this allows you time alone with your thoughts, while at the same time, releases endorphins to the brain, which make you feel better. Physical exercise also prevents obesity and additional health problems, which gives you less to be stressed about.

Organization. When you’re organized, you have greater peace of mind. The mind can rest when you know everything is in its proper place, and when things are clean. Even the sight of clutter has been said to cause stress, so tidy up!

Eating healthy. Foods that are high in fat or sugar have proven to be a source of depression. Some foods, including blueberries, salmon, and almonds, are said so be especially effective in reducing stress. It’s also a good idea to avoid caffeine after lunch so you can get a good night’s rest.

Disconnect. Letting go of your cell phone or lowering your internet use can lower stress by blocking some of the sources of stress. So turn off your electronics and live in the moment for a little while.

By following these easy ways to relieve stress, you’ll find yourself less tense and better able to tackle daily challenges.

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This blog is written and published by Lindner Center of HOPE.

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Adolescent Depression Different from Depression in Adults

As most parents are well aware, the teen years can be trying and tumultuous times for both the adolescent and the adults in their lives. When a parent watches their once happy-go-lucky, gregarious child transforms into a moody teen, it can be a disquieting and often somewhat bewildering experience. Although moodiness is quite normal in teens, parents must also stay alert for signs of depression during their child’s adolescent years.

As a child moves through puberty, their bodies and brains undergo a series of rapid changes. Coupled with societal and peer influences — and depending on the environment at home — this can be a confusing and difficult period for an adolescent, often marked by anxiety and even moments of despair. But in normal situations, although they will surface from time to time, these symptoms come and go and are usually short-lived as the teen continues to progress toward achieving a balance in their life.

Signs of Depression

Teen depression affects approximately 10 to 15 percent of adolescents. Signs of potential sufferers of adolescent depression include:

– a persistent sad and melancholy demeanor

– expressed feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness

– constant fatigue

– hints at thoughts of suicide.

If left unaddressed, this affliction can have dire consequences. In fact, suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers.

Differences in Teen and Adult Depression

A number of contrasts exist between depression symptoms in adolescents and adults. For instance, adults will often withdraw from those around them and become more isolated. However teens, while withdrawing to a degree from the adults in their lives, will often continue to associate with their close friends.

Though a depressed teen may experience changes in sleeping patterns, they will still find time to sleep, even at odd hours. Adults are more prone to experience insomnia when they are depressed. In addition, depressed adolescents will generally express their feelings and emotions through anger and irritability, as opposed to depressed adults who are often more sad and withdrawn.

Parents must remain vigilant and “in-tune” with their child’s behaviors and attitudes throughout their teen years. If problems exist that appear to go beyond what is expected of the “normal” adolescent, parents should not hesitate to contact a mental health professional for advice.

Through expert diagnosis and counseling, and possibly the administration of anti-depressant medications, adolescent depression can be successfully treated, paving the way toward a healthy, productive adult life.

Click here to learn more.

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This blog is written and published by Lindner Center of HOPE.

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Dealing with the Quarterlife Crisis

The prevalence of the “quarterlife crisis” – essentially, a midlife crisis that occurs in your 20s – seems to be on the rise.

Many young people experience some degree of stress, self-doubt and lack of motivation upon entering the “real world” after college. However, the phenomenon of the quarterlife crisis seems to be increasingly common as fewer young adults reach the traditional milestones of success, though pressures to achieve them remain the same.

Research shows that up to 86 percent of young adults feel pressure to succeed in careers and relationships by the time they reach age 30. However, only 11 percent actually attain conventional markers of achievement such as obtaining a steady job, getting married and having children by their 30th birthday. Likely due to this discrepancy, up to 73 percent of 26 to 30 year olds may experience a quarterlife crisis.

So what are some things you can do to deal with a quarterlife crisis? Experts say it’s important to redefine your idea of success and stop comparing yourself to others. Instead of despairing over why you don’t have your dream job or the perfect relationship, try defining success by what you have to offer others. Try volunteering and other skill- and character-building activities. Remember that life is not a race and that everyone is on their own path.

Dr. Paul E. Keck, Jr., President and CEO of Lindner Center of HOPE, recently gave a talk on this subject on LA Talk Radio’s Answers 4 the Family radio show. Check out Dr. Keck’s talk, “Failure to Launch – What’s Really Holding Back Emerging Adults?”

In some cases, quarterlife crises may lead to anxiety, depression, eating disorders or even addictive disorders. If you or a twenty-something family member is displaying signs of a psychological or addictive disorder, it’s important they receive prompt and effective treatment. Contact Lindner Center of HOPE for more information on screening and treatments for mood disorders and other conditions.

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This blog is written and published by Lindner Center of HOPE.

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Understanding Anxiety Disorders

Everyone experiences some level of worry or anxiety from time to time. But when that worry or anxiousness becomes overwhelming or subsists for long periods of time, there may be a deeper issue at hand.

In a given year, anxiety disorders affect roughly 18 percent of Americans over the age of 18, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Following are descriptions of some of the more prominent anxiety disorders:

Panic Disorder: A panic attack is a brief period of intense uneasiness, fear or distress. The duration of these attacks can range anywhere from minutes to a few hours. While the cause is not completely clear, it is thought that the tendency toward panic attacks could be genetic or linked to a traumatic occurrence in an individual’s life. Those suffering from panic disorders display an inability to properly process stressful situations and therefore react to them with a heightened sense of fear and apprehensiveness.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Those suffering with OCD are bombarded with persistent thoughts and fears usually focusing on one area. They develop repetitive behaviors in an attempt to “control” the things causing their fears, and end up becoming obsessed with their rituals.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is the result of a terrifying or traumatic event in one’s life where they will re-experience the event and react with intense fear, anger, anxiety or even numbness. These episodes are usually brought about by exposure to a situation, thought or image reminding them of the original experience.

A combination of psychotherapy, behavior modification and medications are used for OCD treatment, PTSD treatment and the treatment of most other anxiety disorders. Mental health professionals continue to gain a better understanding of anxiety-related disorders, which has resulted in more effective methods of therapy.