Comorbidities in people with mental illness means they have another disorder in addition to their mental illness. This is quite common. I, for example, have bipolar disorder and chronic migraine.
Comorbidities do not have to be a mental disorder paired with a physical disorder. They can also be two or more mental disorders or two or more physical disorders.
Having more than one disorder has its challenges. For example, a person with both multiple sclerosis and depression would be treated for both conditions, but it would be important to take into consideration the overlap between medications that would be prescribed by different doctors.
For this reason, people with comorbid disorders should take good notes of their symptoms, medications and their side effects, and anything they and their doctors discuss at each appointment so that unwanted interactions are avoided. It is also important to have excellent communication with all providers so that everyone knows what everyone else is doing.
If you have comorbidities, you must be a persistent advocate for yourself to get the proper treatment plan in place to treat all of your disorders so that you can reach and maintain optimal health, both physically and mentally. By following the aforementioned suggestions you can be on your way to better health no matter how many comorbidities you have.
Depression is a clinical disorder that is very treatable. It is more than feeling sad for a short period of time and can increase feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness for days, weeks or months at a time. Clinical depression also keeps you from living your life the way that you used to before you became depressed. There’s no cure for depression, but your symptoms may go away over time and you may become stable again with treatment and medical care.
Depression symptoms include:
Your mood is depressed for most of the day, especially in the morning.
You feel tired or have a lack of energy almost every day.
You feel worthless or guilty most every day.
You feel hopeless or pessimistic.
You have a hard time focusing, remembering details, and making decisions.
You can’t sleep, or you sleep too much, almost every day.
You have almost no interest or pleasure in many activities nearly every day.
You think often about death or suicide.
You feel restless or slowed down.
You’ve lost or gained weight.
You may also:
feel cranky and restless
lose pleasure in life
over eat or stop feeling hungry
have aches, pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that don’t go away or get better with treatment
have sad, anxious, or empty feelings. (WedMD)
Not everyone experiences all of these symptoms and some people may experience other ones not listed.
Depression and Suicide
You should take anyone who thinks or talks about hurting themselves very seriously. In the US call 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433); 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255); for hearing impaired, call 800-799-4889. Or you can contact a mental health professional. If you intend to or have a plan to attempt suicide, go to the emergency room immediately.
Do you identify with any of the symptoms of depression? If so, please talk with your doctor or mental health professional about them right away.
To take medication for a mental illness is a very personal choice. For me, medication has allowed me to live a life with some stability in my moods and has helped me to be a better wife, mom, and friend.
I have severe symptoms that do not subside without medication because I believe my brain is imbalanced with regards to certain neurotransmitters, such as Serotonin, Dopamine, and Norepinephrine. There are side effects, such as drowsiness and weight gain, but these need to be weighed against the benefits to decide if the medicine is worth taking or not.
Some people can manage their symptoms with non-medication interventions such as counseling, lifestyle changes, diet, prayer and meditation, exercise, and journaling/keeping mood charts to stay on top of their mental health status.
It is up to the individual whether or not to treat their mental illness with medication and it is none of everyone else’s business to criticize what they decide to do.
Any thoughts? Join the conversation and leave a comment.
I became a mom almost 21 years ago. I was not yet diagnosed with mental illness. About six months into motherhood when postpartum depression had a strong hold on me, I went to my doctor for help and she put me on an antidepressant. About six years later, after the birth of my second child, I was diagnosed with bipolar type 2 disorder. It is at this point that I think my anxiety developed into something that I could not handle without professional help or medication because I began to have panic attacks along with generalized anxiety and eventually severe social anxiety.
Play dates were difficult at best and attending sporting events were and still are extremely stressful and anxiety producing (hint: wearing earbuds playing calming music helps a lot!) Having children who are growing up with their own anxiety and depression issues only increases the stress of motherhood exponentially for a mom with anxiety. On the up side, having an anxiety disorder has better equipped me to completely empathize with my children and help them in ways I would not be able to if I hadn’t already learned skills to deal with my own anxiety. Some of these skills include the following:
Setting healthy boundaries by saying no to things when I feel I am reaching my threshold for responsibilities and daily activities.
Asking for help with daily responsibilities from my partner, family, and friends.
Taking time for self care activities like reading a chapter of a book, journaling, taking a bubble bath, listening to calming music, watching an episode of a series I enjoy, petting my dog or cat, taking a nap, sitting in the sun for a few minutes, doing my nails, getting my hair done, meditating, or doing some stretches or simple yoga exercises.
Not being hard on myself when I can’t do things I wish I could.
Accepting my limitations.
Praying for the strength to do as much as possible without making myself sick.
Being thankful for all I can do and for all I have instead of focusing on the negative aspects of having an anxiety disorder.
Being a mom with anxiety has its challenges, but with an awareness of and honoring what your limitations are and following the suggestions above, you can thrive as a mom and a person with anxiety.
It has been nine months since I posted here because I needed to take a break from thinking and talking and writing about mental health and mental illness.
I went through a big change around the time I quit blogging and I suppose that has something to do with the long break as well. This change altered some of my core values and helped me grow as a person in ways I never would have imagined. My love and tolerance for all people has blossomed exponentially.
I dare say I went about a psychic change that brought me through a depression and grieving process to a place of total acceptance. I am a better person for it today.
However, even with the positive impact this event had on my character, I still have all of my mental illnesses (bipolar type 2, anxiety and panic disorders, social anxiety disorder, ADHD, seasonal affective disorder, complex PTSD, recovered alcoholism, borderline personality traits).
The most prevalent illness currently causing problems for me is anxiety. The social and generalized anxieties are the main triggers for my chronic migraine. The ways in which I limit my activities outside of the house in order to decrease my migraine frequency has made my world very small.
Is your life limited because of your symptoms? How so? Tell me in the comments and follow me for more mental health updates.
We are half way through Mental Health Awareness Month. Awareness for mental health is so important because people die everyday from poor mental health. People can’t work due to poor mental health or take care of their family or get out of bed. We have to bring awareness to this in order to normalize it in such a way that those who find themselves in such situations don’t hesitate to get professional help.
Twenty percent of adults in the United States experience a mental health condition in a given year. This topic deserves our attention and consideration. People are suffering and need help.
– Share the following mental health facts taken from nami.org with permission.
– Host a Facebook or Instagram Live with an expert or a person with real life experience to discuss how people can manage their mental health or practice self-care.
– Share a video of what mental health means to you. Use video sharing apps like TikTok or Instagram reels to create videos to post on your social media profiles.
– Use the following social media hashtags for Mental Health Awareness Month:
– Promote NAMI Helpline’s contact information and hours of availability as a resource for people seeking mental health support. Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. 800-950-NAMI (6264). email@example.com nami.org/Help
How are you going to help increase mental health awareness this month?
Today is World Maternal Mental Health Day, which purpose is to draw attention to the mental health concerns for mothers and families. The changes that pregnancy and having children brings in life makes women more vulnerable to mental illness.
I was first diagnosed with depression not long after my first child’s birth. I was later diagnosed with type 2 bipolar disorder after the birth of my second child.
Worldwide, as many as 1 in 5 women experience some type of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder. These disorders include postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder, postpartum bipolar, and postpartum psychosis. Symptoms can appear at any time during pregnancy and the first 12 months after childbirth.
Health professionals and friends and relatives of new moms need to ask the mom how she really is feeling and encourage her to seek help if she is struggling.
Stress is physical, emotional, or psychological tension felt as a result of an event or thought that causes feelings of frustration, anger, or anxiety. In short bursts, stress can be helpful, like in getting you out of a dangerous situation or helping you meet a deadline. When chronic, however, it can be harmful to your health and contribute to the development of conditions such as
High blood pressure
Depression or anxiety
Skin problems, such as acne or eczema
Common causes of stress include
Getting married or divorced
Starting a new job
The death of a spouse or close family member
Getting laid off
Having a baby
Having a serious illness
Problems at work
Problems at home
Signs of chronic stress include
Diarrhea or constipation
Frequent aches and pains
Lack of energy or focus
Stiff jaw or neck
Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
Use of alcohol or drugs to relax
Weight loss or gain
Sometimes stress can be managed by getting the right amount of sleep, talking problems over with a trusted friend, getting regular exercise and proper nutrition, and generally taking good care of yourself. Other times if you find yourself having panic attacks, feeling overwhelmed for weeks on end, or unable to function at work or home, you should probably contact your doctor or mental health professional for some help.
With mental health providers already in limited supply the increase in the need for services due to the stresses caused by the pandemic has made finding help extra difficult as of late. If you are just starting out with problems, your primary doctor or ob-gyn might be a good place to start. In addition to doing an initial assessment, taking a history and prescribing medication, they can refer you to the appropriate mental health professional, if needed.
The obvious way to find providers is to check your health plan provider list. Consider those outside your area who offer teleheath services via the phone or computer. This could widen your options quite a bit.
Seeing providers out of network or paying out of pocket may be other options to facilitate access to providers, which unfortunately are more costly and not possible for many people. Although, some providers may offer a sliding-fee scale for those who are self pay that allows them to pay based on their personal income and what they can afford.
If you or your spouse are employed, you can check to see if your employer offers an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) which is separate from the medical plan. Typically you can access counseling at no cost on a short-term basis. Check with your HR department.
If you are a student, take advantage of any free campus or university resources.
Your local church might offer pastoral counseling from a trained clergyman or woman which is usually free.
Some teaching colleges and universities may offer low-cost therapy provided by grad students who are supervised while they gain counseling experience. If there is such a school in your area, contact the psychology or behavioral health department and inquire.
SAMHSA is a government organization that is the go-to resource for locating affordable mental health care nationwide. Contact them at 1-800-662-4357 or online https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov
Online therapy is another option with chats with actual therapists from places like Better Help, TalkSpace or 7 Cups.com.
Theravive is a resource directory you could investigate for low cost therapists by state.
Open Counseling is another resource for attaining accessible care. The site indicates if providers are accepting new clients and many list their rates.
Open Path connects low-cost therapists to patients. I think you pay a lifetime membership fee and then get access to discounted rates on therapy sessions in the future.
You can also get professional help getting professional help by contacting NAMI support services. Call their helpline, 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) to find a chapter or services in your area.
If your mental health puts you in an immediate crisis, help is always available by going straight to the hospital emergency room. All emergency rooms have access to psychiatric care.
Are you having trouble accessing mental health services? What are you doing about it?
Ten years ago today I posted my first blog here at Write into the Light. Ten years! I feel like that is such a long time.
I started off writing daily meditations because I couldn’t find any meditation books specifically written for people with mental illness or mental health issues. Over the years my writing has evolved from those meditations to journal-type entries and poems, to essays and opinion pieces, and finally, reports on mental health research articles.
Regardless of the type of writing I post, all of it helps me process and cope with my own mental health symptoms and I hope helps others with the same. Writing has been one of my biggest coping skills when it comes to my mental illnesses, hence the name of this site.
There were many months I was inactive and even full years where I only wrote a few blogs at most depending on my health status. Several times I almost closed the site down but I never did because even though I would go periods without writing, the stats showed that people were still viewing my posts on a daily basis. And I thought, if the blog was helping someone by just being there then it was worth leaving up even if I wasn’t adding anything new to it at the time.
Over the last 10 years I’ve written over 360 posts and have had over 44,000 visitors and 65,000 views. I have close to 900 readers on WordPress, a tad over 300 Twitter followers, 1200 and something Facebook fans, and 25 email subscribers. Definitely not a big outfit by any stretch of the imagination, but a small little part of the mental health community that I hope is contributing enough in a way that is making a difference in someone’s morning, afternoon, or evening every once in a while.
I wonder who is out there who has been blogging for ten years or more. I am in contact with no one from my early days of blogging because their blogs have been dead for years and I miss some of them so much.
I am happy to have found new bloggers throughout the years, however, and thank every one of you for taking the time to follow, read, like and comment on my posts. I appreciate you and always enjoy connecting with you.
If you haven’t already, please follow this blog or subscribe via email and