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Bipolar Depression Tough to Diagnose

Bipolar depression is often difficult to diagnose with some cases taking up to a decade of frustration before an accurate diagnosis is made. Without the correct diagnosis effective treatment cannot be accomplished. Research studies suggest that up to 50% of those with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed with unipolar instead of bipolar depression.

Bipolar Depression is Different Kind of Depression

Bipolar depression is the depressive phase of a mental health disorder called bipolar disorder, referring to the lows or depressive phase of the disorder. Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness where extreme mood swings occur from mania, or “highs,” to depression, or “lows.” The treatment options are different for the different types of depression, with proper diagnosis a critical component for successful management.

Bipolar Depression Disrupting Phase

The depressive phase of bipolar disorder is often more debilitating and disruptive than the mania phase as it typically lasts longer and occurs more frequently. In a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, those with Bipolar I report depression 3 times as often as mania, and for those diagnosed with Bipolar II, the low phase occurs 40 times as often.

Depression Episodes Dominate Function

While many may feel the general instability of the disorder has the greatest impact on daily functioning, it is the depressive episodes that often disrupt one’s life. Depression dominates the functional ability to work, actively participate in family and social groups, and it contributes to a significant decrease in motivation, desire, self-worth, and self-esteem.

Symptoms of Bipolar Depression

You may experience some or all of the following symptoms. A comprehensive psychiatric evaluation is in order if you have any of the following symptoms and are having difficulty with daily functioning.

  • Feeling sad, worried, or empty inside
  • Having little to no energy as a common occurrence
  • Feeling like you do not enjoy anything
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Difficulty with memory, focus, attention
  • Wanting to stay in bed
  • Difficulty with making decisions
  • Thoughts of suicide or death
  • Be full of energy but feel very sad
  • Feel “down” for at least 2 weeks at a time

Bipolar Depression Evaluation and Treatment

Stop the daily struggle and frustration. Correct treatment depends on an accurate diagnosis. Call Dr. Hege, Atlanta’s bipolar depression psychiatrist who has the experience and expertise you need for treatment.

Nutritional Psychiatry Reports Diet Affects Mental Health

While many people understand the connection between nutritional deficiencies and physical illness, very few recognize a similar connection between nutrition and depression. Nutritional neuroscience and nutritional psychiatry are emerging disciplines where research is showing that nutrition is intertwined with cognition, behavior, and emotions.

Diet Affects both Physical and Mental Health

The International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research reports data that suggests diet is as important to mental health as it is to physical health. While a healthy diet may help protect and bolster a person’s mental health, an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for both depression and anxiety.

Nutrition and Depression

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that by 2010, the diagnosis of depression will be ranked as the second leading cause of disability, just behind that of heart disease. Depression may be most commonly viewed as emotionally-rooted; however, nutrition can play a key role in the onset, severity, and duration of depression.

Nutritional Psychiatry Data for Food Patterns

The typical diet of people with depression is far from adequate. Food choices are often limited, meals frequently skipped, appetite is poor, there is an increased desire for sweet food, and a decreased desire for food rich in carbohydrates. These food patterns that precede depression are the same as those that are found to occur during periods of depression.

Depression Triggered by Diet

Eating a diet low in carbohydrates tends to precipitate depression as the production and release of “feel good” brain chemicals of serotonin and tryptophan are triggered by carbohydrate rich foods. For those with depression, their food choices may actually be contributing to their diagnosis.

Depression Psychiatrist Locally

While diet can be part of your overall treatment plan it is not a substitute for the medication and adjunct services that your psychiatrist prescribes following a comprehensive evaluation. Call the office for a confidential appointment.

Empty Nest Syndrome Can Overpower Ability to Function

With the end of summer and start of fall, thousands of parents across the country find themselves sending one or more children off to college. The lifestyle change that often occurs abruptly during this period of time is typically referred to as the empty nest syndrome where a parent faces dealing with middle age, loss, loneliness, sadness, fear, and depression. While seeing a child off to begin a new chapter in their lives is a joyful time with reason to celebrate, the changes and emotions can also interfere with a parent’s ability to function at work or home to such a degree that professional help is required.

Empty Nest Syndrome

Being impacted by the empty nest syndrome is normal and can be felt from when the first child leaves home to when the last child moves off to college or to start a new life elsewhere. College, employment, marriage, or military service are but a few reasons that a child may leave their family home. A change in the household status may bring a multitude of feelings and fears to the surface. It is normal to experience strong emotions during this time of change. It is not normal to let those feelings interfere with your daily life.

Empty Nest Symptoms That Require Help

The following more severe symptoms have been known to occur with empty nest syndrome and do indicate a need to seek mental health services as soon as possible. These emotions and feelings require professional treatment as they are impacting one’s ability to function with daily life tasks and in their social and more intimate relationships. If you or a loved one recognize any of the listed symptoms it is important to make the call for psychological help.

  • Feeling your life is no longer useful
  • Feeling there is nothing left to live for
  • Feeling like there is no joy left in your life
  • Feeling you have lost your sense of identity
  • Excessive crying and weepiness
  • Avoiding friends at work or in social situations
  • Calling in at work to the extent it affects the job performance
  • Turning to drugs and or alcohol to help deal with the situation
  • Worry and anxiety about child’s safety that brings paralyzing fear
  • Finding mood affects your appetite or ability to eat
  • Poor sleep patterns or insomnia related to worry or fears
  • Thoughts of suicide or of harming yourself

Empty Nest Syndrome Treatment

Treatment is available and can help you return to a functional life at home, work and in social situations. Change the sadness and fear into joy and excitement – call Dr. Hege, an expert in successfully treating those with empty nest syndrome for a confidential appointment today.

Depression Brings Disabling Feelings of Hopelessness

Hopelessness, persistent sadness, and pessimism are common symptoms of depression. With an estimated 322 million people suffering from depression, it is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders in the world.

Depression Seen in Negative Light

Depression is a negative view of oneself, of the world, their life, their future. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 25% of adults who have a mental health issue feel that others in society are sympathetic toward them. It is a common statement for people who are depressed to think that no one understands them, which makes living with and struggling with how they view their diagnosis a really tough place to be.

Mood State versus Physical State

Many people consider being depressed as an issue with mood. Depression actually involves major physical symptoms which may take one longer to seek mental health services as they believe something else is wrong with them. Depressed behaviors may also be accompanied by restlessness, indigestion, nausea, headaches, joint and muscle fatigue, as well as an increase in any previous physical pains or difficulties you may already be living with. The symptoms of mood and physical symptoms are tied together and affect one’s normal life routines and behaviors.

Difficulty Imagining Ever Being Happy

A recent study published in December of 2016, conducted at McMaster University in Canada, reports those with depression tend to live in a “stuck state” which they cannot imagine ending, nor can they imagine ever being happy again. Study findings indicate that depressed adults had less ability to imagine how someone who was not depressed would feel; they tend to focus inward, often losing touch with the feelings and experiences of others. For those who cannot imagine what it would be like to not be depressed, they often lose hope and become unable to “see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Local Psychiatrist

There is hope. Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment to discuss your diagnosis and treatment options.

Co-Occurring Disorders with PTSD

Many people may think they have anxiety because they suffer from social anxiety, or they have difficulty making quick decisions or any decision at all. Or some may feel as though they seem to be functioning in “survival mode” in order to just get through the day. While it may be determined that they do have anxiety, in some instances, they may actually be suffering from PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as one or more co-occurring disorders.

PTSD Statistics

It has been estimated that almost 8% of Americans will suffer from PTSD symptoms at some point during their life. Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD, with the numbers 10.4% and 5% respectively. Approximately 3.6%, or 5.2 million adults in the U.S. have PTSD during the course of a given year.

PTSD Symptoms

Three different kinds of symptoms are experienced with PTSD:

  • First set of symptoms involve reliving the trauma in some way
  • Second set of symptoms occur when you purposefully stay away from places or people that remind you of the trauma; you become isolated from other people or feel numb
  • The third set of symptoms include feeling irritable, startling easily, or feeling on guard

Examples of PTSD Symptoms

While there are numerous symptoms reported with PTSD, following are some of the more commonly reported issues:

  • Loss of confidence in trusting your own instincts
  • Social anxiety
  • Difficulty at times separating reality from imagination
  • Waking up frequently at night; having a “fitful” sleep
  • Finding yourself flip-flopping on making a decision
  • Difficulty with short term memory retention
  • Finding it difficult to focus on a task, conversation, idea; difficulty with following through to the end of a thought process
  • Physical or mental lethargy
  • Feeling hopelessness, despair, or depression
  • Becoming exhausted after even small tasks; simple things become “just too hard to do”
  • Making poor life choices where you feel shame instead of making choices to change the situation to the positive
  • Confusion as to why you feel in a “fog” or feel “shell-shocked” by life in general
  • Exhibiting addictive behaviors as a means of escape

Co-Occurring Conditions with PTSD

Those that suffer from PTSD are also commonly diagnosed with other disorders such as depression, substance abuse, anxiety, difficulties with memory or cognition, as well as other problems with mental health or physiological changes.  The disorder itself is associated with impairment of the ability to function in social or family life – it is common to see problems with relationships, family discord, difficulties in parenting, and job instability.

For men, more than half with PTSD also have problems with alcohol; the most common co-occurring issues for men in order are depression, conduct disorder, and substance abuse.

For women, just under half of those with PTSD experience depression; the next most common co-occurring mental health issues are specific fears, anxiety, problems related to alcohol.

PTSD Psychiatric Care

PTSD is not just a “veteran’s ailment.” PTSD can occur across every socio-economic status and life stage. Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment at one of his convenient weekend and weeknight office hours for a comprehensive evaluation that addresses your primary and co-occurring issues.

Sexual Side Effects and Psychiatric Medications

Reporting a sexual side effect while using psychiatric medications is a common complaint for both men and women. The severity of sexual side effects vary widely depending on the person, how they react to their medication, the specific medication prescribed, the dosage taken, and any co-existing medical disorders such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Sexual Side Effects

Psychiatric medication may effect sexual function in a number of ways. The severity of sexual side effects may be minor, may ease up as your body adjusts or become a continuing issue that impacts life enjoyment. Sexual side effects include:

  • Erectile problems
  • Orgasm difficulties
  • Problems with arousal and satisfaction
  • A change in the desire for sex

Statistics of Sexual Dysfunction

Most of the research available on impaired sexual function and psychiatric medication focus primarily on depression and antidepressants. Sexual dysfunction however is also a concern for those diagnosed with anxiety disorders, mood disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia to name a few. While 35% to 50% of those with untreated major depression report some type of sexual issue, those taking SSRIs (anti-depressant medication) report 30% to 40% delayed orgasm, 20% report decreased libido, and 10% of men complain of erectile function.

Impact of Psychiatric Medications on Sexual Function

The following classes of medication listed indicate some common drugs within each class that have more reported sexual side effects versus those with fewer reported sexual side effects:

Antidepressants:

  • More reported side effects: Celexa (citalopram), Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Fewer reported sexual side effects: Wellbutrin, Aplenzin, Forfivo XL (bupropion), Cymbalta (duloxetine), Remeron (mirtazapine), Viibryd (vilazodone)

Antipsychotics:

  • Increased side effects: Cozaril (clozapine), Risperdal (risperidone)
  • Fewer reported effects: Abilify (aripiprazole), Zyprexa (olanzapine), Seroquel (quetiapine)

Sedatives:

  • Increased sexual side effects: Valium (diazepam), Mellaril (thioridazine)
  • Less reported effects: BuSpar (buspirone)

Reduce Psychiatric Sexual Side Effects

The solution is not to stop the medication you need for your mental health issues but rather to work with your psychiatrist to find an effective medication or combination of medications that work for you and reduce any sexual dysfunction that you have been experiencing.

Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment – there are many avenues of treatment available to help you live a full and satisfying life. Let Dr. Hege help.

Depression and Fast Food: An Overlooked Cause

With almost 16 million adults in the U.S. experiencing at least one major depressive episode over the course of a year, depression is one of the most common mental health disorders diagnosed in this country. The Anxiety and Depression Association (ADAA) report that approximately 7% of all American adults experience a major form of depression every year. More than 50% or more than 8 million adults may be struggling with depression because they are eating a fast food diet.

Fast Food and Depression

While most will agree a diet of fast food is not good for a healthy lifestyle; it is a quick, easy and tasty fix to grabbing a fast meal that also fills you up. Two different university studies, with an initial study starting in 2011 analyzed data from almost 9,000 participants who had never been diagnosed with depression or taken antidepressants. The data results showed that those who did eat fast food were 51% more likely to develop depression than those that ate little to no fast food.

Link Between Fast Food and Depression

Both previously mentioned research studies also demonstrated that there was a link between fast food and depression which was dose responsive; greater quantities of fast food eaten resulted in a greater risk for the development and diagnosis of depression. Even eating small amounts of fast food was linked to a significantly higher chance of developing depression.

Drive Through Versus Sit Down Food

In our fast paced society, we may find it almost impossible to follow a strict holistic or organic diet. Even those restaurants that we feel provide a more nutritious menu still offer “fast food” entrees and side dishes such as fries, hash browns, subs, specialty desserts, and pizza. The University of Illinois reported in a study that the total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium intake were substantially larger when full-service restaurant food was consumed away from home.

Depression Treatment Recommended

No matter what kind of diet you are eating, getting help for your depression is the best choice and recommended option for living your life to the fullest. A comprehensive mental health evaluation will provide an accurate diagnosis of the type of depression you have and allow treatment to begin immediately. Nutrition plays a big role. Changing your eating habits and lifestyle can be addressed throughout your depression treatment. Call the office for a confidential appointment.

Holiday Depression Dampens the Spirit

During this time of good cheer, bright and colorful decorations, advertisements and commercials showing happy times seemingly enjoyed by all except for maybe you, makes being depressed all that more noticeable to others and to one’s self.  Signs of holiday depression or sadness may bring comments like “Don’t be a Grinch,” or being called “Scrooge,” which certainly do not help cheer you up at all.

Holidays Not Always A Happy Time

The months of November and December may not be in reality so cheerful. The store window dressings, magazine decorating articles, food ads, and holiday shows belie what may really be going on in people’s lives. The end of the year is often extremely stressful trying to plan for the holidays with limited finances, end of year deadlines and responsibilities. In addition, social work events, poor eating and drinking habits, or dealing with increased family stress also occur. Add holiday stress on top of dealing with the loss of a loved one during increasingly cold and dark winter days, and holiday depression finds its way into thousands of lives.

Sadness or Depression

It can be normal to be sad or depressed at any time of the year. The stress of the holidays may trigger sadness or depression for many. Seeing others happy and cheerful, full of generous spirit, may make one feel there is something wrong with them if they do not feel that way. During the months of November and December the stress and anxiety experienced may cause those who are normally content with their lives to experience loneliness, a lack of fulfillment, sadness or depression.

Signs of Holiday Depression

The most common signs of depression are crying, loss of interest in usual activities, fatigue, social withdrawal, feelings of sadness, thoughts of being worthless; additionally, irritability, changes in sleep, weight, appetite, blaming oneself or feeling guilty about a situation or event are commonly seen. These symptoms can come and go during the year. If they become severe or last for more than a couple weeks, it may be more than the holidays causing this. It is time to get professional help, turn your life around letting some joy back into your life.

Statistics of Holiday Depression

Part of feeling depressed can come from being alone, or from having limited support of family and friends. In the U.S. 43% of adults are single and 27% live alone. With senior citizens 17% are single, divorced or widowed over the age of 65 often with health and mobility issues. Women have twice the risk as men for depression. After development of heart disease, depression is the next most debilitating illness for women, 10th for men.

Holiday Depression Help

Holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, but some people find them anything but happy times. Call the office for a confidential appointment to determine if you have seasonal affective depression, a bout of the blues, or are clinically depressed. Help is available. Call today.

Hidden Depression: 6 Concealed Signs

Many people struggle through life with hidden depression, hiding their depression from others and even from themselves. While help is readily available, many keep their depression concealed, masking their symptoms and putting on a “happy face” or always responding with “I’m fine” when asked how they are.

Reasons for Hiding Your Depression

There can be so many individual reasons for hiding personal depression; however, one reason may be that they do not want to admit or acknowledge the severity of their depression. Other reasons may be that they believe their depression will go away on its own, or may think, “We don’t talk about feeling sad, but push on through life.” It can be a common plight for thousands to believe that having a hidden depression makes them weak and asking for help is the last thing that they should do.

Signs of Hidden Depression

  • Unusual sleep, eating, or drinking habits. When a change in the way a person sleeps or eats occurs, it can be a sign that something is not right in their world. For example: they cannot sleep or they sleep far beyond normal every day; overeating may help someone feel less emotionally empty by “stuffing” themselves; drinking may be used as a means to help cover up the feelings of sadness and loneliness. Others may lose all interest in food or drinking.
  • Wear a “happy face” or “all is well face” so that others may think that indeed all is fine. In addition to the “mask of happiness,” they may avoid or give excuses why they cannot hangout, go out to dinner, go to a get-together, etc.
  • Conversation may turn to topics the person does not normally talk about, with topics tending to focus on what their life has amounted to so far, what the meaning of life is, is life really worth living, would death be a better choice than the life they currently have, is there happiness out there for them, can they change the course their life is on. Hidden depression can change one’s entire outlook on life.
  • Put out an attempted “cry for help” by making that appointment to see a specialist, or by letting some of their hidden feelings out to friends and family. These are attempted cries for help however as they tend to not keep that medical appointment, or they just blow off what they had said as having a bad day and that they did not really mean it.
  • Those with a hidden depression who are keeping all of their emotions bottled up may find “leakage” of emotion, crying during a movie, commercial, or at family event, where they normally would not reveal that side of themselves. Other emotions may come out unexpectedly like flashes of anger, or becoming overly demonstrative with feelings of love and endearment toward others.
  • Exhibit Depressive Realism where they have a more realistic and less optimistic view of world around them. For the most part, it is harder to cover up depressive realism as their viewpoints lack expectation that they will succeed or do well – they may look toward an outcome with a negative foundation that does not fare well for them – for example, they may have applied for a job promotion but say, “I doubt that I’ll get it, let alone be anywhere in the running for it.”

Help for Hidden Depression

Call a local psychiatrist with decades of experience who is ready to help you from taking the first step to recovery to reclaiming the happiness in your life that you deserve.

10 Behaviors that Indicate a Mental Health Problem

People with quirky or eccentric personalities may be more interesting or fun to be around, but when their behaviors become too extreme or negatively impact their lives, there may be something else at play, including the possibility of a mental health disorder. In the U.S., about one in five adults, or almost 44 million people exhibit the occurrence of a mental illness every year.

Signs and Behaviors of Mental Health Issues

You may feel that you are unique and different, or even having a personality that is often misunderstood – when do those thoughts change over to questioning if you need to see a psychiatrist? There are certain behaviors and signs that do signal a need to see a mental health practitioner – if you recognize any of the following in yourself it does not mean you are disturbed or crazy, but rather that your life may be able to benefit from an aspect of mental health guidance and treatment.

  • Difficulty coping with life on a day to day basis, having irrational fears
  • Intense anxiety where every worry is “super-sized” and worst case scenario is expected
  • Feeling overcome with sadness, or feeling down or hopeless on a regular basis that affects your ability to function
  • Unexplained and recurrent headaches, stomach-aches or a rundown immune system
  • Using a substance to cope with daily life; use of alcohol, illegal or prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications or other illicit activities to numb emotional pain
  • Have impulsive or obvious mood swings
  • Cannot shake the impact of recent or past traumatic events
  • Thinking about suicide or hurting one self
  • Serious anger issues, significant irritability, hostility, rage and frequent outbursts of anger
  • Distorted body image along with a highly troubled relationship with food and eating

Help is a Phone Call Away

While the list above does not cover all the mental health issues or concerns a person may have, it does highlight some of the most common behaviors and signs that a comprehensive evaluation by a skilled psychiatrist may provide a diagnosis for. Mental health disorders are treatable. Call for an appointment.