Tag Archives: National Alliance on Mental Illness

How to Help a Depressed Loved One

Don’t tell him to “snap out of it.” There are better ways to deal with depression.
The most important thing you can do for a family member or friend who is depressed is to help him or her get an appropriate diagnosis and treatment. This may involve encouraging him or her to stay with treatment until symptoms begin to abate (several weeks), or to seek different treatment if no improvement occurs. On occasion, it may require making an appointment and accompanying your loved one to the doctor. It may also mean monitoring whether he is taking medication. Encourage your friend to obey the doctor’s orders about the use of alcoholic products while on medication.

The second most important thing is to offer emotional support. This involves understanding, patience, affection, and encouragement. Engage the depressed person in conversation and listen carefully. Do not disparage feelings expressed, but point out realities and offer hope. Do not ignore remarks about suicide. Report them to your friend’s therapist. Invite your friend for walks, outings, to the movies, and other activities. Be gently insistent if your invitation is refused. Encourage participation in some activities that once gave the person pleasure, such as hobbies, sports, religious or cultural activities, but do not push him to undertake too much too soon. Your friend or family member needs diversion and company, but too many demands can increase feelings of failure.

Do not accuse your friend of faking illness or of laziness, or expect her “to snap out of it.” Eventually, with treatment, most people do get better. Keep that in mind, and keep reassuring her that, with time and help, she will feel better.

Where to Get Help:
If you’re unsure where to go for help, check the Yellow Pages under “mental health,” “health,” “social services,” “suicide prevention,” “crisis intervention services,” “hotlines,” “hospitals,” or “physicians” for phone numbers and addresses. You can also search the websites listed under “Related Links.” People and places that will make referrals to, or provide, diagnostic and treatment services include: family doctors, community mental health centers, hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics, university- or medical school-affiliated programs, family service or social agencies, employee assistance programs, and local medical and/or psychiatric societies. In times of crisis, the emergency room doctor at a hospital may be able to provide temporary help for an emotional problem, and will be able to tell you where and how to get further help.

From: The National Institute of Mental Health

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Insecurity may impact your immune system

Feeling insecure in close relationships may take a toll on the immune system, preliminary Italian research suggests………...click & see 

A team led by Angelo Picardi from the Italian National Institute of Health in Rome reports its findings in Psychosomatic Medicine.

In a study of 61 healthy women the researchers found that those who had difficulty establishing close, trusting relationships showed signs of weaker immune function.

Specifically, lab experiments showed that the women’s “natural killer”immune system cells were less lethal compared with those from other study participants.

Whether this means they’re more susceptible to disease is unknown, and for now the answer to that question is a “very prudent maybe”, says Picardi.

The findings are in line with research showing that chronic stress can impair immunity, and the extent of the impact may depend on how an individual perceives and responds to stress.

In short, personality traits may affect immune function. The researchers looked at the trait known as “attachment insecurity,”characterised by difficulty trusting and depending on others, feeling uncomfortable with emotional intimacy or worrying about being abandoned by loved ones.

A person’s “attachment style”forms in childhood, based on a child’s relationship with his or her parents, says Picardi. And it affects and is further shaped by romantic relationships later in life. So attachment style can be seen as a fairly stable trait that affects a person’s response to stressful events.

Picardi says attachment insecurity affects people’s ability to regulate emotions, including how they perceive and deal with stress—which may affect the body’s physiological response to stress.

For their study, Picardi and team recruited a random sample of female nurses, who were younger than 60 years old, had no chronic illnesses and no history of major psychiatric disorders.

The researchers measured the women’s attachment style using standard questionnaires and collected blood samples to study the function of their immune system cells.

The study found, women with greater attachment insecurity had lower activity in their natural killer cells, key defenders against illness.

Picardi noted that in other research, his team found associations between insecurity and certain skin diseases related to immune dysfunction.

These include plaque psoriasis, a condition where scaly patches form on the skin, and alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss.

Source:The Times Of India

Depression, loneliness linked to physical ills

CHICAGO: Depression, severe mental illness and loneliness are linked to illnesses such as heart disease and dementia, according to several studies published on Monday.

The exact connections between a dysfunctional mind and a malfunctioning body remains an ongoing question, but at least one of three sets of researchers writing in the Archives of General Psychiatry said several factors may be at work.

Jesse Stewart, formerly of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, found a correlation between depression and hardening of the arteries in his three-year study of 324 men and women who averaged 60 years old.

The arteries of those who were most depressed had narrowed twice as much as those who were least depressed, the study found. Hardening of the arteries can be a precursor to a heart attack or stroke and may occur because of a malfunctioning nervous system in depressed people.

Depression may also upset the body’s regulation of glands that release chemicals governing energy level and growth, and alter the functioning of cells responsible for blood clotting.

Hardening of the arteries leads to an overreaction of the immune system and the resulting inflammation is known to release chemicals that can have effects on behaviour.

In the same journal, a British study of 46,136 severely mentally ill people found those who were younger than 50 were more than three times as likely to die from coronary heart disease and stroke than people not suffering from mental illness.

Mental illness more than doubled the risk of dying from heart disease for people up to age 75.

Source: The Times Of India