September Is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – Know the Warning Signs

Suicide affects millions; over 800,000 people take their lives each year, and the number of people who attempt suicide is twenty five times that amount. In addition to the lives lost, suicide also affects the many friends and family members devastated by the loss of their loved one.

Suicide is largely preventable though. Through education and awareness, we can get those people who are contemplating suicide the help they need.

One of the best tools in preventing suicide is to know the risk factors. Over 90% of people who attempt suicide live with depression or another mental disorder. Alcohol or substance abuse is often a contributing factor. Adverse factions to traumatic events or stress can also lead to someone wanting to take their own life.Other risk factors for suicide include:

 

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Self-loathing
  • Changes in sleep patterns; which can either be excessive sleep or a deprivation of sleep
  • Irritability or anger
  • Talking about harming themselves
  • Loss of interest in daily activities or things they were once passionate about
  • Reckless behavior
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • A preoccupation with death
  • Getting their affairs in order in preparation for death
  • Verbalizing thoughts such as “ Everyone will be better without me”  or “I  have nothing  to live for”
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye

These actions are a cry for help. It is important to let your loved one know that you have recognized changes in their behavior, they are not alone and you are there to support them through this difficult time.  Speak openly about what they are feeling and ensure them they will not be judged because they feel suicidal.  Seek the help of a mental health professional immediately.  Insist on accompanying this person to their consultation or treatment. Continue to demonstrate your support during treatment by reminding them to take prescribed medications, keeping up with physician appointments and encouraging a positive lifestyle.

Many organizations from around the world have joined together during the month of September, which has been designated Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Flushing Hospital’s supports their efforts and the hospital’s Department of Psychiatry offers many inpatient and outpatient services to help those in need.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or demonstrating suicidal behaviors, get help immediately. Call 911, 1-800-SUICIDE, or 1-800-273-TALK

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a form of mental illness that is marked by extreme shifts in a person’s mood. Those with bipolar disorder experience periods of being overly happy to feelings of extreme sadness and hopelessness.

Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression.  The word “manic” describes the times when someone feels overly excited and confident, while the word “depressive” describes the times when the person feels very sad or depressed. Most people with bipolar disorder spend more time with depressive symptoms than manic ones.

During their “highs” people with bipolar disorder are often restless, act impulsive, speak in a rapid fashion, have an increased sex drive, and are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. Conversely, during “the lows” those with bipolar disorder have trouble concentrating, experience changes in their appetite, require an abundance of sleep or experience insomnia, have difficulty making decisions, and experience thoughts of death or suicide.

In bipolar disorder the dramatic episodes of high and low moods do not follow a set pattern. Someone may feel the same mood state (depressed or manic) several times before switching to the opposite mood. These episodes can happen over a period of weeks, months, and sometimes even years. In between these periods, those with bipolar disorder can feel completely normal.

Signs of bipolar disorder typically first become evident during adolescence or young adulthood, but in rare cases the onset can take place during childhood. It is equally prevalent in men and women and can run in families. There is no single known cause for bipolar disease, but changes in genes, brain development and stress are all considered factors.

Diagnosing bipolar disorder is done by a trained mental health professional during an evaluation that will consist of a question and answer period. After ruling out that bipolar symptoms are not due to another cause, a doctor can outline a treatment plan that takes into account the severity, frequency, and length of symptoms.

The good news is there is treatment for bipolar disorder, but it is a long-term and on-going process that requires regular therapy and usually medication management. Medications prescribed are intended to stabilize the patient’s mood and avoid them from experiencing extreme highs and lows.

If you, or someone you love is experiencing symptoms associated with bipolar disorder, seek professional help. To schedule an appointment with a mental health professional at Flushing Hospital, please call 718-670-5562.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Suicide Prevention- Pay Attention to The Signs

An estimated 1 million Americans attempt suicide each year. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Ninety percent of people who committed suicide had treatable mental health disorders that went unnoticed.   Suicides can be prevented if signs associated with the mental health disorder are recognized and addressed immediately.

Suicide prevention-467918329There are several signs that may indicate that a person is suffering from a mental health issue and is contemplating suicide. If someone you know exhibits the following behaviors, do not dismiss them as a passing phase:

 

 

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Self-loathing
  • Changes in sleep patterns; which can either be excessive sleep or a deprivation of sleep
  • Irritability or anger
  • Talking about harming themselves
  • Loss of interest in daily activities or things they were once passionate about
  • Reckless behavior
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • A preoccupation with death
  • Getting their affairs in order in preparation for death
  • Verbalizing thoughts such as “ Everyone will be better without me”  or “I  have nothing  to live for”
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye

These actions are a cry for help. It is important to let your loved one know that you have recognized changes in their behavior, they are not alone and you are there to support them through this difficult time.  Speak openly about what they are feeling and ensure them they will not be judged because they feel suicidal.  Seek the help of a mental health professional immediately.  Insist on accompanying this person to their consultation or treatment. Continue to demonstrate your support during treatment by reminding them to take prescribed medications, keeping up with physician appointments and encouraging a positive lifestyle.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or demonstrating suicidal behaviors, get help immediately. Call 911, 1-800-SUICIDE, or 1-800-273-TALK

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Flushing Hospital Warns That Getting Help for Mental Health Issues is Nothing to be Ashamed About

Mental illness affects millions of Americans, yet not surprisingly, many of those who need help do not receive it. There are many reasons why – it could be due to limited availability of services, or a strong distrust of others, or those who are mentally ill might have such a sense of hopelessness that they do not seek care.

While all of these are factors as to why someone doesn’t seek support, perhaps the biggest single reason is a sense of fear and shame associated with admitting help is needed. This sense of shame is very common and it is only reinforced by society, which has attached stigmas to mental illness. The beliefs the public has about mental illness leads those who need help to avoid it so they are not labeled as “crazy” and have their condition negatively affect their personal relationships and career goals.

Getting society to overcome the stigmas associated with mental illness is the key to having more individuals come forward, but unfortunately negative attitudes and beliefs toward people who have a mental health condition are common. These stigmas can lead to obvious and direct discrimination, such as someone making a negative remark about mental illness or it may be unintentional or subtle, such as someone avoiding an individual because they assume they could be unstable, violent or dangerous due to mental illness.

Those with mental illness should never be ashamed of their condition and here are some reasons why:

  • According to the World Health Organization, one out of four people will experience mental health problems at some point in their lives.
  • Shame is pretty much guaranteed to make things worse. Feelings of shame are proven to have detrimental effects on our mental and physical health
  • Mental illness is no one’s fault. No one asks to have a mental illness and it is definitely not a choice we make.
  • We’re not ashamed when our bodies get sick, so why should we be ashamed when our minds aren’t in top form.
  • There is no normal – our minds are complex things and no single brain is the same
  • Our mental health doesn’t define us. Don’t let your mental illness become who you are, it is just one aspect of you.

It’s time to speak out against the stigmas associated with mental illness and reframe the way we see it. Getting help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.

Flushing Hospital advises anyone who feels they need help to get it.  Don’t let the fear of being labeled with a mental illness prevent you from seeking help. Treatment can provide relief and help you in life.

To make an appointment at Flushing Hospital’s Outpatient Mental Health Center, please call 718-670-5522.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Know the Facts About an Anxiety Attack

We all feel anxious from time to time. It is a natural reaction where we feel apprehension, uncertainty, or fear in anticipation of an event, situation or circumstance that we consider to be threatening. However, some people can develop feelings of anxiety that are so intense and overwhelming that they result in a feeling of “losing control.” These episodes are commonly referred to as an anxiety (or panic) attack.

An anxiety attack usually occurs without warning and has no obvious cause. It may even wake a person from their sleep. In addition to an incredible feeling of fear, anxiety attacks are potentially accompanied by many other symptoms such as:

  • Palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath
  • Feelings of choking
  • Chest Pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness, light-headed, or feeling aint
  • Feeling detached from reality

Since each person is different and chemically unique, an anxiety attack can affect each person differently.  One person may experience only a few minor symptoms while another may have many symptoms with much greater severity.

An attack can last anywhere from a few moments to over an hour. The length of the attack is usually determined by how frightened the individual is.  While the symptoms of an anxiety attack can seem very powerful, they are typically not harmful.

Although the exact causes of these attacks are unclear, the tendency to have them runs in families. There also appears to be a connection with major life transitions such as graduating from college, getting married, or having a baby.  Severe stress, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or job loss can also trigger a panic attack. In some cases, panic attacks can be caused by medical conditions and other physical causes. If you’re suffering from symptoms of panic, it’s important to see a doctor to rule out an underlying medical issue.

The good news is that these attacks are treatable. They can usually be managed successfully with self-help strategies or a series of therapy sessions. To make an appointment with a mental health professional at Flushing Hospital’s Mental Health Clinic, please call 718-670-5562.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Mood Music

Music has been known to make us smile, excite us, make us dance or bring us to tears.  It can bring back a memory so vividly that we actually feel we are there.

Music can stabilize or have an enhancing effect on our mood, but how does it have this profound power over a person’s emotions?

Maybe because it is a common phenomenon that crosses all boarders of nationality, race and culture.  Music is often used as a tool for arousing feelings and can be far more impactful than language.

Did you know that when we listen to a musical rhythm, our heart can actually begin to synch with it?  Studies have shown that a “major key” will signify cheerful communication to our brain, while a “minor key” can bring on sighs and lamentations. All of this has an effect on the brain, which directs our psyche to feel what’s being communicated to us.

In many instances, music is utilized for treating depressed or anxious patients since the meter, timber, rhythm and pitch of musical arrangements are managed in areas of the brain that deal with emotions and mood.

Although the overall phenomenon still has its certain level of mystery, many people turn to music for a general sense of well-being.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Tips for Dealing With Holiday Stress

During the holiday season, many of us struggle to complete an extensive list of tasks in what often feels like very little time.   We run rampant decorating our homes, attending social gatherings, shopping for loved ones, volunteering, traveling or cooking.  These activities are often added to our already busy schedules, which can make us feel overwhelmed.

Contrary to what we may think, these activities which should make us feel happy can actually increase our stress levels.

Although there are various factors such as unrealistic expectations or financial strain that contribute to holiday stress, finding ways to avoid stressors or minimize their effects is very important. If stress is not managed well, it can have a significantly negative impact on our health.

Here are five tips to help you cope with holiday stress and maintain your  mental health:

  1. Set realistic goals– Unrealistic goals often equal added pressure and expectations that cannot be met. If these goals are not met, they can lead to negative feelings such as inadequacy or hopelessness.
  2. Know when to take a moment for yourself (Take a break) – We are often pulled in multiple directions during this time of the year. Know when to take a breather to decompress and clear your mind.
  3. Communicate- The added pressures of the holidays are clearly overwhelming and one of the ways that people sometimes deal with this is to isolate themselves. This is not recommended; instead, reach out to loved ones or a trained mental health professional to communicate how you feel.
  4. Do not neglect healthy habits– Taking good care of your health can help combat holiday stress. Moderating your food intake, fitting in a few minutes of exercise and getting adequate amounts of sleep can be profoundly beneficial for your health.   Additionally, maintaining a healthy daily routine can help take your mind off holiday demands.
  5. Ask for help- We live in a time where multitasking has become the norm but if you begin to feel overwhelmed, ask for help. Soliciting the help of friends or family can alleviate some of the holiday pressure. The holidays can also trigger depression; if you are experiencing symptoms of depression ask for help from loved ones or seek the assistance of a mental health professional.

The holiday season can be overwhelming; however, by applying these helpful tips you can take the steps needed to minimize stress and make this time of year more enjoyable.  If you find that you continue to experience elevated levels of stress or symptoms of depression, it is recommended that you seek the help of mental health professional immediately.

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All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

When a person is recognized as having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, they demonstrate unreasonable thoughts and fears that make them perform repetitive and ritualized behaviors.  A person with OCD feels obliged to perform these actions as a way to reduce their stress and anxiety. They will feel that by not giving in to these impulses will cause something bad to happen, which can raise their stress and anxiety.
Traits of Obsessive Compulsive Disorders fall into themes:
• Washers  – have a fear of germs makes them wash their hands  over and over
• Checkers – will check to make sure a door is locked more than once
• Doubters and sinners – fearful that harm will occur to someone if everything isn’t done correctly
• Counters and arrangers – everything has to be in a certain order or something will go wrong
• Hoarders – hold on to everything so that nothing bad will occur
There are three main theories as to what causes obsessive compulsive disorder:
• Biology – caused by changes in the body’s chemical make-up or the way the brain functions.
• Environment – causes a person to respond to a triggering event that leads to the obsessive compulsive behavior.
• Genetics – may contribute to a person’s susceptibility to OCD and also a certain level of stress in a person’s life may be a factor.
What should a person do if they feel they may have obsessive compulsive disorder? The first step is to identify what traits they feel they are exhibiting that may be out of the ordinary. Consulting with a primary care physician about symptoms is a good place to begin. They may recommend seeing a mental health professional who can determine the degree of OCD and recommend psychotherapy and possibly medication to control the symptoms.  You can schedule an appointment with a mental health professional at Flushing Hospital Medical Center by calling 718-670-5562

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Protect Your Skin Naturally

Wearing sunscreen isn’t the only way to ensure UV protection. During the dog days of summer when the sun is at its hottest try these three delicious fresh fruits and vegetables that naturally offer UV protection.

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  • . Citrus fruit – Bring some fresh lemonade to the beach! Lemons, oranges and limes all contain limonene, which studies have shown to reduce skin cancer risk by 34 percent.
  • Carrots and Red peppers – Snack on some crudité by the pool! Red, yellow and orange vegetables provide carotenoids that help to reduce sunburn intensity.
  • .  Spinach – Take a smoothie to the ball park! Leafy greens, like dark green lettuce, spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are great sources of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that studies how halt abnormal cell growth prompted by UV light.

Remember that these fruits and vegetables are not a substitute for wearing sunscreen and protective clothing when outside in the sun, but they may give you an extra line of defense in saving your skin down the line.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What You Need to Know About Body Dysmorphic Disorder

A person stands in front of the mirror and glances at their reflection; they perceive their image to be severely unattractive or obese.  They become obsessed with a particular body part and deem it to be an extreme defect that alters their appearance. While this is their perception, in reality no one else sees these physical characteristics.

There is a possibility that this person may be suffering from a chronic body-image disorder known as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which is a compulsive obsession with an imagined or exaggerated physical trait that often no one else can see.

BDD is known to occur in both men and women and usually begins during teenage years or early adulthood.  Factors that may contribute to the development of BDD are

  • Low self-esteem
  • Traumatic events
  • Genetics
  • The influence of others who are critical of the person’s physical appearance

Characteristics of the disorder may include an obsession with skin imperfections such as scars or wrinkles, facial features (it is very common for those afflicted with BDD to be obsessed with size of the nose), body weight and hair. There are several behaviors that are identifiable with BDD, they are:

  • Constantly looking in the mirror and trying to cover up the perceived defect
  • Asking for reassurance that the defect is not obvious
  • Isolation from people due to the belief that imperfections will be noticed
  • Becoming increasingly self-conscious
  • Avoiding mirrors
  • Excessive grooming in an effort to cover up a flaw
  • Frequently consulting plastic surgeons or undergoing cosmetic procedures
  • Developing other psychological disorders such as eating and anxiety disorders

If someone you know is exhibiting these behaviors, it is recommended that they seek help immediately as this disorder can lead to self-harm. Once diagnosed with BDD, treatment will usually include a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, group or family therapy and medication. For more information about body dysmorphic disorders or treatment please contact Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry at 718-670-4416.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.