Monthly Archives: December 2013

Understanding Depression

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A common question most mental health professionals encounter is “How do we differentiate between Depression as a disease and Depression as a feeling?” Probably a reasonable explanation can be to say that feeling depressed is a healthy reaction to an external life event or situation, whereas ‘depression’ is when these feelings are out of proportion to external life events and/or continue longer than a healthy recovery period. Usually the ‘depressed’ feelings are far stronger with depression than we experience when ‘depression’ is not present.

Depression is a relentless, pervasive sense of despair; a paralysing condition characterised by a lack of interest in life and feelings of utter uselessness. If depression just meant “the blues” it wouldn’t have an official definition listed by the World Health Organisation. It is not something “you can come out of on your own if you have a strong will power”, or “think positive and you will come out of it”, “it is nothing, but weakness of spirit”. If it was just a case of depressed people “pulling themselves together” and getting on with life, doctors would not be required to help hordes of people who are unable to cope with life.

People suffering depression are battling an illness. It is not their fault that they have an illness. They have not failed. They are not lesser people and should not be seen as such.

However, due to the very nature of depressive conditions, that is precisely the way they will see themselves.

The danger signs of depression:

§  Two weeks of abnormal depressed mood.

§  Loss of interest and decreased energy.

§  Loss of confidence.

§  Excessive guilt.

§  Recurrent thoughts of death.

§  Poor concentration.

§  Agitation or retardation.

§  Sleep Disturbance

§  Change in appetite.

 

Research suggests that ongoing stressors, such as financial worries, a stressful job, redundancy or fear of unemployment are more likely to trigger a depressive episode in vulnerable people than one-off events in life. Long-term or serious illnesses such as diabetes or cancer can also lead to a bout of depression.

A personal risk factor that can be an important influence in whether or not you develop depression is your personality. Some people tend to always look on the darker side of things. According to beyondblue, personality traits that may put you at higher risk of developing depression include:

  • perfectionism
  • sensitive to personal criticism
  • unassertive
  • self-critical
  • shy, socially anxious
  • low self-esteem.

 

Depression can also run in families and some people may be at increased genetic risk of the condition. However, researchers have yet to find a simple genetic explanation, and this doesn’t mean that you will automatically develop depression if a parent or a close relative has it. Life events and your personal risk factors are as likely to determine your chance of developing depression. Other biological factors for depression include illnesses, ageing and gender.

 

You would not think twice about seeking expert help for any physical medical condition. The same rules must apply for depression or any other mental health problem. So if you can recognize the signs of depression in someone you know or yourself, get help today!

 
 
 
 
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Managing Learning Disabilities

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Dyslexia is caused by biological factors not emotional or family problems. The majority of dyslexic preschoolers are happy and well adjusted. Their emotional problems begin to develop when academic inputs do not match their learning style. Over the years, the frustration increases as classmates surpass the dyslexic student in reading skills. The frustration of children with dyslexia often centers on their inability to meet expectations. Their parents and teachers see a bright, enthusiastic child who is not learning to read and write. Time and again, dyslexics and their parents hear, “He’s such a bright child; if only he would try harder.” Ironically, no one knows exactly how hard the dyslexic is trying.

 

The pain of failing to meet other people’s expectations is surpassed only by dyslexics’ inability to achieve their goals. This is particularly true of those who develop expectations in order to deal with their anxiety. They grow up believing that it is “terrible” to make a mistake. However, their learning disability, almost by definition means that these children will make many “careless” or “stupid” mistakes. This is extremely frustrating to them, as it makes them feel chronically inadequate.

 

The dyslexic frequently has problems with social relationships. These can be traced to causes:

  • Dyslexic children may be physically and socially immature in comparison to their peers. This can lead to a poor self-image and less peer acceptance.
  • Dyslexics’ social immaturity may make them awkward in social situations.
  • Many dyslexics have difficulty reading social cues. They may be oblivious to the amount of personal distance necessary in social interactions or insensitive to other people’s body language.
  • Dyslexia often affects oral language functioning. Affected persons may have trouble finding the right words, may stammer, or may pause before answering direct questions. This puts them at a disadvantage as they enter adolescence, when language becomes more central to their relationships with peers.

 

Dyslexics’ performance varies from day to day. On some days, reading may come fairly easily. However, another day, they may be barely able to write their own name. This inconsistency is extremely confusing not only to the dyslexic, but also to others in his environment as a result, knowingly or unknowingly, parents, teachers and peers often end up making comments or behaving in a manner which can only exacerbate emotional problems in these children. However awareness about certain steps and behaviors can ensure that such behavior is kept to the minimum, so as to foster positive well-being and feelings of acceptance among the children.

The most common management method of learning disabilities is a combination of special education and occupational therapy inputs. The child is taught learning skills by building on the child’s abilities and strengths while correcting and compensating for disabilities and weaknesses. Occupational therapy inputs target motor functions and help children with their writing skills. Psychological therapies such as family counseling and individual therapies with children are helpful in order to enhance their self-esteem and overall emotional and social functioning.

 

Contact World Brain Center for Multimodal management of Learning Disability and get management tips in the areas of Child Psychology, Special Education, and Occupational Therapy.

What is ADHD?

Some children can never sit still, or do not seem to listen when called. They seem to be “on the go” or “run by a motor”. Sometimes these children are labeled as troublemakers, or criticized for being lazy and undisciplined. However, they may have ADD/ADHD. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that appears in early childhood. You may know it by the name attention deficit disorder, or ADD. ADD/ADHD makes it difficult for people to inhibit their spontaneous responses—responses that can involve everything from movement to speech to attentiveness.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most misunderstood, misdiagnosed and incorrectly managed disorders. It is also one of the most commonly diagnosed child psychiatric disorders. It affects about 5-12% of the children and is more prevalent among boys than girls. ADHD can affect relationships and school performance, thereby leading to self esteem problems. It may contribute to learning, social and emotional difficulties as well as career problems.

Symptoms begin before age 7 years and can cause serious difficulties in home, school or work life. ADHD can be managed through behavioral or medical interventions or a combination of the two. It is most commonly diagnosed when children reach school age.

 

Causes of ADHD

The cause of ADHD is not known. Many working theories assume that brain chemistry is out of balance. There seems to be a genetic component to ADHD. Children who have ADHD often have at least one relative who also has it. Similarly, little is known about whether ADHD is related to diet. Foods sometimes linked to ADHD, such as chocolate, sugar and food additives do not cause ADHD; though they might make symptoms worse in people who have the disorder.

Factors that are not causes of ADHD include:

•Poor parenting

•Family problems

•Bad teachers / ineffective schools

•Too much television

•Refined sugar

•Food allergies

•Diet

If required ADHD symptoms can be treated through medicines, which are called stimulants. Behavioral Therapy is designed to help a child curb problematic behaviors. This may involve helping the child learn to organize time and activities. Or it could help a child complete homework. It may also involve helping the child control his or her impulses and responses to emotional stimuli. Educating parents about the disorder and its management is another important part of ADHD treatment. For parents, this may include learning parenting skills to help the child manage his or her behavior. That would involve skills such as giving positive feedback for desirable behaviors, ignoring undesirable behaviors, and giving time-outs when the child’s behavior is out of control. In some cases, the child’s entire family may be involved in this part of the treatment.

Studies show that medication alone and the combination of medicine and behavior therapy worked better than behavioral therapy alone for improving ADHD symptoms. 

 

Look out this space for management tips on ADHD, or contact our team for expert advice to help you with identifying ADHD and its management. 

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