Family Mental Health Issues    
Mental Illness
You should be aware that there is a family history of depression, anxiety, Bi-Polar disorder, dementia and Schizophrenia.  There is plenty of information on these conditions online so I won't go into much technical detail but rather provide some basic definitions and focus on my personal observations.

Schizophrenia Can Be Life Altering

Schizophrenia Can Be Life Altering!

is a mental disorder characterized by abnormal behavior, strange speech, and a decreased ability to understand reality. Other symptoms include false beliefs, unclear or confused thinking, hearing voices that do not exist, reduced social engagement and emotional expression, and lack of motivation. People with schizophrenia often have additional mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, or substance-use disorders. Symptoms typically come on gradually, begin in young adulthood, and, in many cases, never resolve. I believed my mother presented all of these symptoms throughout her life.  In her later years she frequently had auditory hallucinations. She often heard voices from her past experiences of abuse during her days growing up in an orphanage. Although hearing voices may not be associated with a mental health problem. It is the most common type of hallucination in people with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

I also recall my father's sister isolating herself from the world for the last 30 years of her life. She wouldn't leave her apartment and would have groceries delivered to her door. She left payment in her mailbox so she wouldn't have to interact with the delivery person.

Bi-Polar Disorder, previously known as manic depression, is a mental disorder that causes periods of depression and periods of abnormally elevated mood. The elevated mood is significant and is known as mania or hypomania, depending on its severity, or whether symptoms of psychosis are present. During mania, an individual behaves or feels abnormally energetic, happy, or irritable. Individuals often make poorly thought out decisions with little regard to the consequences.  The risk of suicide among those with the illness is high. Second only to Depression and Anxiety this one of the most common disorders in our family history.

Depression Can Be Life Ending!

Depression Can Be Life Ending!

Depression is prevalent in the family. Although, it is something that is never talked about, it has been a widely known family secret for many years.  It has only been recently that people are beginning to acknowledge that it even exists in the family. It is more than just a bout of the blues, depression isn't a weakness and you can't simply "snap out" of it. It can cause you to lock yourself up in your room for long periods of time - days if you can get away with it. The darkness is often overwhelming and the desire to throw the switch and end it all can be irresistible. Hence when you find yourself in this situation you need to fight the need to isolate yourself and reach out to talk to someone - anyone about how you are feeling. Depression is very real and may require long-term treatment.

Anxiety is defined as "an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure."  Knowing the difference between normal feelings of anxiety and an anxiety disorder requiring medical attention can help you identify the problem and get help. It can make it very difficult to function at times and can lead to panic attacks.

Panic Attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that may include palpitations, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, numbness, or a feeling that something bad is going to happen. The maximum degree of symptoms occurs within minutes. Typically they last for about 30 minutes but the duration can vary from seconds to hours. There may be a fear of losing control or chest pain. You should be aware that Panic Attacks themselves are not typically dangerous physically. If you begin experiencing this disorder be aware that many of us have gone before you and seek help as early as possible.



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