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The Facts

Conditions & Behaviors

Here is some basic information about behavioral health disorders and addiction.  For more information about these and other disorders, go to www.mentalhealth.govwww.mentalhealthamerica.net, or www.samhsa.gov 


 

ANXIETY DISORDERS (INCLUDING OCD AND PTSD)

Common symptoms include nervousness, heart palpitations, sweaty or clammy hands, catastrophizing (worrying about catastrophic escalation of a small problem), needing to repeat rituals around hygiene and cleanliness, or counting.  Anxiety disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Panic Disorder (frequent panic attacks), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), social anxiety, and specific phobias like agoraphobia, arachnophobia, and fear of heights.

“The stigma makes it seem like it’s a label, but it just means I think a little differently than everyone else! Which is actually normal if you really think about it.”

MOOD DISORDERS

Depression: Common symptoms include feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, difficulty sleeping, change in appetite, and loss of interest in things you normally enjoy. Many people with depression describe it as a loss of feelings or emotions: more than feeling sad all the time, people with depression can also feel numb or have what professionals call a “blunted affect”. Thoughts of suicide or self-harm are not unusual for depression, but are a serious symptom and should be reported to a professional or someone who can help you find a professional.

“When you’re depressed you feel like the only person that feels that way, but you’re not!”

Bipolar Disorder: Bipolar disorder features periods of depression and manic periods (hence the old term “manic-depression”). When feeling depressed, people with bipolar disorder can feel helpless, have thoughts of suicide or self-harm, and might isolate by avoiding social situations. During manic periods, people with bipolar disorder sometimes go days without needing to sleep, feel euphoric and highly motivated, and can spend large amounts of money. While manic episodes may feel good, they do not last, and the depression that follows combined with consequences of decisions made during mania can be devastating.

EATING DISORDERS

sticky notesEating disorders are about feelings, not food. An eating disorder can be really hard to manage and overcome alone. You or a loved one might feel ashamed, hopeless, drained, irritable, and anxious. Be aware of eating patterns and beliefs that may signal unhealthy behavior and the peer pressure that might trigger eating disorders. Some of the most common eating disorders include:

Anorexia Nervosa– When you are obsessed with food and being thin, sometimes to the point of starvation. Symptoms can include refusal to eat, fear of eating in public, and social withdrawal.

Bulimia Nervosa– When you have episodes of bingeing and purging, eating large amounts of food in a short amount of time and trying to get rid of extra calories by vomiting or excessive exercise. Signs include self-induced vomiting and going to the bathroom often after and while you eat.

Binge Eating– Eating excessive amounts of food (binge) but don’t follow with purging or exercise. After a binge you might feel ashamed or guilty which can trigger you to do it again.

stop post it note

Photos from: OperationBeautiful.com

“The mission of Operation Beautiful is to post anonymous notes in public places for other people to find. The point is that WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL. You are enough… just the way you are!”

PERSONALITY DISORDERS

People can’t be diagnosed as having a personality disorder until they are 18 years old, because our personalities are still developing. Borderline personality disorder is the best known personality disorder, but there are others such as dependent personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder: Symptoms of borderline personality disorder are shared by other disorders, hence the term “borderline.” BPD presents itself often times as someone is is severely emotionally disregulated.  Features of borderline personality disorder are severe mood swings, recurring thoughts of self-harm and suicide, and difficulty managing relationships with others.

PSYCHOTIC DISORDERS

Schizophrenia is the best known psychotic disorder, but there are others such as schizoaffective disorder (a mix of schizophrenia and a mood disorder).

Schizophrenia: Common symptoms of schizophrenia are delusions—beliefs or thoughts that are not based in reality, like a belief that you can control the weather or that you are being persecuted; and hallucinations—seeing, hearing, sensing, or smelling things that aren’t there.  People diagnosed with schizophrenia make up only 1% of the population.  Typical age of onset for men is teens through mid-twenties, while for women it is twenties through thirties.  Early intervention is linked with better chances of recovery.

SUBSTANCE USE AND ALCOHOLISM

It might’ve started like “every other kid.” To fit in. To experiment. And somewhere along the line those intentions shifted. You would do these things to feel good, better, different, or to numb out the pain; anything to get out of your head. Once a drink or drug is picked up, that nagging feeling that you want more remained. Addiction can happen at any age. You’re not too young to have a problem. AND you’re not too young to get help. Click here to take a self-assessment and see where you’re at.

“I got sober my senior year in high school. It was one of the scariest, most worth it decisions I’ve ever made. It saved my life.”

The idea of giving it up can be hard to imagine. These habits seemed to be the only thing that helps. And then we remember the increased pain it brought. Hopelessness, anger, loneliness, fear, guilt, and that shame that you can’t stop. But you can. Seriously, sobriety as a young adult is possible. The journey is different for everyone. There are lots of options. This includes detox, rehab, and intensive outpatient programs (IOP); many people need more than one. (You can check out What Should I Expect from a Residential Treatment Program) . The road chosen can be different from one person to the next. There are also 12-step programs that have been vital in many people’s recovery, for a variety of different addictions, including alcoholism, substance abuse, gambling, and overeating. Some people benefit from recovery community organizations.

“Even though I didn’t feel this way in the beginning, a 12-step program is so important to my recovery. It gives me support, guidance, and hope.”

Remember you are not alone. You don’t have to be “an adult” to hit bottom. And never forget that a happy and healthy life is possible, despite your past. Addiction of any kind is strong, but we believe you are stronger.
Check out Macklemore opening up about his battle and recovery with addiction.

SELF-INJURY

Many of us try to keep it a secret because of the shame and the overwhelming belief that no one will understand. It is important to know, you are not alone.

What is self-harm?

– Cutting or severely scratching your skin
– Burning yourself
– Banging your head/ hitting yourself
– Sticking objects into your skin
– Intentionally preventing wounds from healing
– Etc.

Why do some of us do it?
Self-injury is a way of expressing and dealing with deep distress and emotional pain. It’s sometimes difficult to really give one simple reason of why because it constantly changes- although the most common reason for self-harm is to cope with difficult feelings. However, the relief is a very temporary solution and an unhealthy way of coping with problems. It is helpful to learn how to manage overwhelming stress and emotions, as well as identify your self-injury triggers.
Self-injury is not a life-sentence, and people can and do stop self-injuring. You deserve to feel better and get there without hurting yourself. It can be hard to stop, but you can do it, and it will be worth it.

“The urges can be really strong, almost unbearable. In those really painful times I try to think of my family and the pain it causes them when I self-harm. It’s hard to take that step back, but I’m getting better at it.”

There are other options!
Self-harm is not your only option, there are alternatives and healthy coping skills that can be used instead! Exercising, writing, talking to someone you trust, squeezing ice, watching a funny video, etc. For specific alternatives check this out. There are so many options, despite the times when self-injury seems like the only one. Don’t be discouraged if you find it difficult or if it doesn’t happen right away; many people experience this too. For more ideas on how to ride the wave of urges click here.

“When I ride out the wave I feel proud of myself. And I remember that I don’t have to wear long sleeves today to hide what I did.”

Remember when you’re really struggling…
If the self-injury is in need of urgent care or you are at risk of suicide, reach out and tell someone as soon as possible. Identify someone you trust, where you can get help (like a parent, therapist, or doctor).

For more information on what self-injury is check this out. Or if you want to learn about the misconceptions about self-injury click here.

SUICIDALITY

Refers to suicidal ideation, thoughts related to suicide and suicide plans, as well as suicide related behaviors. This can include self-harm and suicide attempts.

Here are some things you should be aware of:

Behavioral Signs… Have you or a friend ever said statements like “life is not worth living” “I would rather be dead”? Have been withdrawing from family, friends, and or activities? Done things like giving away possessions, impulsive acts, risk taking, or any kind of self-destructive behavior? Drug or alcohol abuse can also come into play, as some of you may know. These things whether a few or all can really have an impact on our lives, many times being driven by the emotional signs of suicidality.

Emotional Signs… There are these awful and overwhelming feelings of sadness and hopelessness. That nagging emotional dullness or feeling of indifference. Other feelings may include humiliation, anger, guilt, anxiety, etc.  There is something you need to remember, this feeling will pass, it doesn’t last.

“It may be bad right now, but no matter how hard it is there is always a way to make it better, so don’t give up.”

The biggest thing for you to know or you could remind a friend is that you are not alone. Young adults tend to bottle up emotions, especially ones like this which are especially hard to talk about. If you or a friend can identify with these symptoms don’t hesitate to talk about it. And never forget that you’re important and matter!

If you are feeling like you need to talk here are some places where you will always have someone on the other end:

The Lifeline (suicide & crisis hotline): 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Trevor Project Lifeline (crisis intervention & suicide prevention for the LGBTQ community): 1-866-488-7386

Crisis Text Line: Text CTL to 741741

“If it’s you, if you feel suicidal, tell someone immediately. Tell someone.”

PROBLEM GAMBLING

Super bowl bets. Online gambling. March madness. Poker tournaments. Gambling can become more than something just to do for fun. It becomes a problem when it negatively impacts your life.

You could be experiencing gambling problems at any age or gender and come from any social class, education level or cultural background.

There are things you should really be aware of when you think you are a friend have a problem. When you can’t control the impulse to gamble, and gamble whether up or down, broke or flush, happy or depressed. There is an intense interest in gambling conversation and you might increase bet amounts when gambling in order to achieve the desired excitement (“high”). A big one is knowing if it has come to the point that it is worrying friends and or family.

There is no shame in asking for help if you might be dealing with a gambling problem, it’s a real addiction. Young people don’t always think gambling is a big deal, but it can really affect someone’s life. Avoid isolation and reach out! There are many different ways to take those steps.

The first one can be calling the problem gambling helpline, a toll free service for confidential assistance 24 hours a day. National Helpline (CT): 1-800-522-4700 or 1-888-789-7777 associated with the Connecticut Council for Problem Gambling.

You can also check out Gamblers Anonymous– CT Hotline: 855-2CALLGA (222-5542)