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DISCLAIMER: Note that the contents here are not presented from a medical practitioner,and that any and all health care planning should be made under the guidance of your own medical and health practitioners. The content within only presents an overview based upon research for educational purposes and does not replace medical advice from a practicing physician. Further, the information in this manual is provided "as is" and without warranties of any kind either express or implied. Under no circumstances, including, but not limited to, negligence, shall the seller/distributor of this information be liable for any special or consequential damages that result from the use of, or the inability to use, the information presented here. Thank you.

Dec 14th 2018

Is Your Mental Health Making You Broke

A top hat, shoes that didn’t fit and an abundance of art materials all seemed like reasonable purchases to Leah Milner during one of her high phases. "Everything I saw seemed to scream out to me. It was like everything I saw, I needed," says 37-year-old Milner, a freelance journalist who writes about money and mental health and suffers from bipolar disorder.

Blowing her savings on random items, combined with not being able to work, resulted in one period of illness costing Milner £25,000. "It’s amazing how much damage you can do in a relatively short period of time," she says. "But it didn’t feel to me like I was spending too much. I found ways of rationalising every purchase."

Milner’s experiences are not unique. Impulsive spending is a symptom of bipolar, with 8% of sufferers reporting compulsive buying habits compared to 3% of the populationRecent research on bipolar disorder from Solent NHS Trust identified two themes of overspending: bank-breaking online shopping sprees and spending as part of a grand scheme.

PHOTOGRAPHED BY MEG O'DONNELL.

A top hat, shoes that didn’t fit and an abundance of art materials all seemed like reasonable purchases to Leah Milner during one of her high phases. "Everything I saw seemed to scream out to me. It was like everything I saw, I needed," says 37-year-old Milner, a freelance journalist who writes about money and mental health and suffers from bipolar disorder.

Blowing her savings on random items, combined with not being able to work, resulted in one period of illness costing Milner £25,000. "It’s amazing how much damage you can do in a relatively short period of time," she says. "But it didn’t feel to me like I was spending too much. I found ways of rationalising every purchase."

Milner’s experiences are not unique. Impulsive spending is a symptom of bipolar, with 8% of sufferers reporting compulsive buying habits compared to 3% of the populationRecent research on bipolar disorder from Solent NHS Trust identified two themes of overspending: bank-breaking online shopping sprees and spending as part of a grand scheme.

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Bipolar is just one example of a mental health condition that can put people’s finances in jeopardy. "My research showed that other emotions play a role," explains Dr Thomas Richardson, principal clinical psychologist at Solent NHS Trust. "Greater depression, anxiety and stress increased compulsive spending over time. Participants also reported comfort spending to cope with difficult emotions. Lots of different mental health problems can be related to financial problems in many different ways."

People with mental health issues are three times as likely to be in problem debt, according to charity Money and Mental Health. Our impulse control becomes weaker when we’re sleepy, for example, and insomnia often goes hand in hand with anxiety, depression and stress. If you’re lying in bed awake at night, scrolling through your phone, it can take superhero strength to resist the lure of a flash sale.

"People can end up spending thousands of pounds in the night and realising in the morning that they’ve made a really big mistake,” says Helen Undy, director of Money and Mental Health. It’s also understandable that lots of people self-medicate with alcohol when they are going through a tough time and this causes any last drop of impulse control to evaporate.

Along with regularly treating ourselves, losing impulse control can make us overly generous towards others. Milner gave away many of her possessions and handed out £20 notes to homeless people several times a day when she was unwell.

Undy discovered a strong correlation between mental health issues and excessive gifting in her research. "We call it 'social value spending'," she explains. "We’re seeing people spending money they don’t have on gifts for people that they care about, often in response to low self-worth or struggling with feelings of being a drain or a burden." Women suffering from postnatal depression, for example, often buy things for their baby to compensate for their negative feelings.

But overspending is only part of the picture. Mental health problems also impact our ability to organise our money and cope with debt. That’s because conditions like depression or anxiety don’t just impact the way we feel, they affect the way our minds work. Financial admin is gruelling at the best of times but when we lose our mental health, our ability to rationalise, communicate with others and understand the world around us often goes with it.

For example, depression can make it harder to weigh up and process complicated information. "During my most serious period of depression I couldn’t deal with any kind of admin or bureaucracy," says Milner, who didn’t open her computer for months.

"Lots of people say that having depression is like seeing through a fog," says Undy. "When you’re looking at your energy bills or bank balance, it can seem like the numbers are swimming around and you can’t make sense of it. That’s a clear impact of a mental health problem, not some personal failing."

Our short-term memory can also suffer when experiencing conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder or as a side-effect of some mental health medications. This makes dealing with money more painful, as remembering things like passwords, pin codes or when to cancel a direct debit becomes a struggle.

And of course, the damage caused by extravagant spending is compounded when people aren’t well enough to handle the admin aftermath. If someone is so anxious that they can’t leave the house, they won’t be able to return that leather jacket they splurged on at 4am. In Undy’s research, three-quarters of people with mental health problems didn’t send back the last thing they bought that they regretted.

"It ends up becoming quite a complicated trap that people can fall into," says Undy. "When our mental health is suffering, often income goes down, spending goes up and your ability to manage the difference between those two things is reduced. It’s harder to budget, understand bills and financial statements and to shop around to make sure you’ve got the right products."

While some conditions make people particularly vulnerable financially, mental health is a spectrum and we are all susceptible to letting our moods make it rain. When broken-hearted, we might book a trip we can’t afford or blow our money for bills on a haircut. When we’re stressed, we might be tempted by a calming box of doughnuts or a spur-of-the-moment spa treatment. Spending as a way to cope with loneliness or boredom is also common, according to Undy’s research.

"We all have mental health and it fluctuates for everyone," says Undy. "And we’re all familiar with comfort spending. There’s a reason why we call it retail therapy — you get a rush of endorphins creating a short-term impact on how you feel. This is understandable and it’s important that we never blame people for turning to spending when they’re struggling."

The key is to recognise when shopping is a symptom of an underlying issue so that we can exercise some damage control. The signs to look out for will be different for everyone though, as money is so personal. "There is no such thing as normal spending," says Undy. "What’s important to notice is when there is a change in your normal behaviour and to look at your spending patterns over time."

Dr Richardson also advises looking out for patterns. "With time hopefully you’ll be able to identify triggers and subtle warning signs which come before excessive spending," he says. "It varies depending on the individual but there will usually be certain thoughts which occur before impulsive spending, or strong emotions such as anxiety."

If you’re worried about your mental health affecting your money, Undy recommends calling National Debtline or charities like StepChangeCitizens Advice or Christians Against Poverty. These organisations can help you come up with strategies to turn things around and even negotiate with creditors on your behalf to make sure you get the right repayment plan.

Money and Mental Health is also working with banks to introduce tools that empower customers. Credit card company Capital One can send people nudges when their spending goes above a certain level. Challenger bank Monzo has put a lot of thought into its customers' mental health; it's already rolled out a tool that lets you block gambling transactions, and offers customers bespoke support depending on their needs. "Rather than simply supporting customers who already have money problems, we want to prevent people from getting into financial difficulty in the first place," says Natalie Ledward, one of the bank’s vulnerable customer specialists.

The relationship between money and mental health is multilayered, personal and not just down to us as individuals to manage. "It’s really important that we don’t forget the structural issues at play. If you don’t have enough money in the first place, being better at managing your spending is not going to fix it," says Undy, who is working to influence government policy and support for people who can’t work because of mental illness. But we can all help stop the shame around spending and, if we’re struggling, at least give ourselves a break for going broke.

 

May 17th 2018

Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by periods of manic and depressive episodes, interspersed with relatively normal states of mind. The unusual shifts in mood interfere with one's ability to carry out a normal daily life.

In bipolar disorder, people can have "overly euphoric or irritable mood, or low or depressed mood," said Dr. Scott Krakower, a psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, New York.

"The disorder tends to hit young adults. But there's a fairly high number of children who can have it too," Krakower said.

At least half of all cases of bipolar disorder start before age 25, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The condition affects about 5.7 million adults, or about 2.6 percent of the adult population in the United States, and more than 80 percent of these cases are classified as "severe," according to the NIMH.

Symptoms

Manic episodes in bipolar disorder include heightened mood (could be euphoric or irritable), flight of ideas (racing thoughts and speaking rapidly, changing from one topic to another), increased energy, decreased need for sleep and hyperactivity. During a manic episode people may become easily distracted, talk very fast, take on an unrealistic number of new projects, have an unrealistic and grandiose belief in their abilities and engage in risky behaviors, such as gambling, drug abuse, or high-risk sexual activities, Krakower said.

The average duration of the first manic episode is about three months. Manic episodes be further divided into different gradients of severity.

In contrast to typical major depression, the depressive episodes of bipolar disorder often occur acutely, can take place over a few weeks and without significant precipitating factors. Aside from depressed mood, depression episodes may also be accompanied by sleep problems, apathy or agitation, loss of energy, suicidal thoughts and more, according to the NIMH.

Diagnosis & tests

Usually a psychiatrist diagnoses a person with bipolar disorder, but increasingly more primary care practitioners are being educated to help diagnose the condition in patients.

Bipolar disorder is divided into several subtypes by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the mental health guidebook published by the American Psychiatry Association, based on severity of manic symptoms. Bipolar I disorder patients suffer from at least one manic episode and one depressive episode and these mood swings can be severe enough to create difficulties in school, at work and in relationships. Bipolar II disorder is less severe than bipolar I disorder. Individuals experience at least one hypomanic episode, which is less severe than full-blown mania, and at least one major depressive episode. For these people, periods of depression typically last longer than periods of hypomania, with minor effects to daily routines, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Part of the diagnosis will be based on the patient's medical and family history, according to the NIMH. It's important to note that people are more likely to seek help during depressive episodes, when they appear to be suffering from major depressive disorder. Therefore the NIMH suggests that input and description of symptoms from family members and friends can create a more accurate picture and avoid a wrong diagnosis.

Treatment & medication

Currently, bipolar disorder is a lifelong recurrent illness with no available cure. However, medications and therapeutic treatments may be used to help smooth out the mood swings and related symptoms and manage bipolar disorder on a long-term basis to avoid relapse, according to the Mayo Clinic.

"Bipolar disorder is usually treated with mood stabilizers," Krakower said. "But in addition to medication you can have psychosocial interventions, get patients involved in the community, and also teach the family how to manage the condition.

Mood stabilizers such as lithium and valproate are used to prevent the extreme highs and lows, according to the Mayo Clinic. A possible side effect of lithium treatment is low thyroid levels, which has been associated with rapid mood cycles and weight gain in some people, especially women during their first two years of lithium treatment, according to a 2002 study in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience.

Other medications may be used to treat specific symptoms, which may include antidepressants, anticonvulsants and antipsychotics. Anticonvulsants such as valproic acid (Depakene), gabapentin (Neurontin), topiramate (Topamax) and lamotrigine (Lamictal) also act as mood stabilizers and appear to possess a broad spectrum of effectiveness, according to a 2010 review published in the journal Current Opinion in Psychiatry. However, the Food and Drug Administration and a 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association both warned that there's an increased risk of suicidal behavior among patients using seizure medication and they should be monitored for notable changes in behavior.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is also used to treat some patients with bipolar disorder. It's particularly suitable for highly agitated or suicidal patients or those with psychotic or catatonic symptoms, according to the NIMH. ECT involves administering a brief electrical stimulus through the scalp to the surface of the brain. Though the treatment is generally effective, especially to those who are not responding to medication, there's concern as to whether the therapy could cause long-term permanent memory impairment and deficits, according to a 2007 article in the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience.

Coping & management

Beyond medication, patients with bipolar disorder can also seek additional help and emotional support through psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Various programs and support groups can also help the patient stay focused on recovery goals, according to the Mayo Clinic. Since the disease and its symptoms can affect spouses, family members, friends and caregiver, it is also important to extend emotional support to them and help prevent physical and mental exhaustion, according to the NIMH.

April 12th 2018

'I was living in denial': Mariah Carey opens up about bipolar disorder

Mariah Carey has said she is no longer living in "denial and isolation" after being treated for bipolar disorder.

The singer has told celebrity magazine People that she "didn't want to believe it" when she was diagnosed in 2001 after receiving hospital treatment for a physical and mental breakdown.

She said: "Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me. It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn't do that anymore."

The 48-year-old is now in therapy and taking medication for bipolar II, which involves periods of depression and hypomania, and often involves irritability.

Carey said the medication is having a positive effect and is not making her feel too tired or sluggish.

"I got back to doing what I love - writing songs and making music," the mother-of-two said.

She said that she first thought she was suffering with "normal insomnia" as she could not sleep and was "working and working and working".

The star said she was "irritable and in constant fear of letting people down" and that she later learned she was "experiencing a form of mania".

"Eventually I would just hit a wall. I guess my depressive episodes were characterised by having very low energy.

"I would feel so lonely and sad - even guilty that I wasn't doing what I needed to be doing for my career."

According to the NHS, bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme mood swings, and includes periods of extreme highs and lows.

Feb 11th 2018

Could an antibiotic treat autism?

Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, depression and alcoholism may all share some similar genetic origins, according to a new paper published Thursday in  Science. Understanding these genetic commonalities and differences could lead to new treatments—and for autism, that day might be right around the corner.

Based on samples taken from 700 human brains, scientists found that some disorders shared some modifications to the genetic codes that control how a person’s DNA is expressed.

Autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder all had certain changes in common; different changes were shared by people who had schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. The conditions that were most genetically related were schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, sharing about a 70 percent overlap in the genetic changes. Alcoholism had little genetic relationship to any other illness.

Many of the genes that did show similar changes in their patterns of expression were related to glia—the brain’s support cells. Unlike neurons—what we usually think of as "brain cells"—these cells generally aren't responsible for sending electrical signals between each other. Some glia, called microglia, act as part of the brain’s immune system. Others, called astrocytes, also help supply neurons with the chemicals they need to do their job.

But understanding what exactly might be happening to these support cells is one thing—applying it to treat actual humans is another.

Some signals associated with a cell type called microglia were far higher in the samples from people with autism than from samples of people with other conditions. This signal may be higher because the microglia are more active. If that’s true, an antibiotic that reduces their activity could be one way to treat the condition—which is what UCLA Health psychiatrist and one of the authors of the study, Dr. Michael Gandal, is testing right now.

“We are already running a small, proof-of-principle trial at UCLA right now, largely motivated by the basic science findings of this study and others,” he told  Newsweek. He and his colleagues are working to recruit about 30 adults for a brain-imaging study to look at their microglia and take an antibiotic called minocycline for 12 weeks.

“Throughout the 12 weeks, we measure a set of cognitive tasks, and we repeat the brain imaging," he said. "The idea is to look at how levels of inflammation in the brain relate to cognitive and behavioral function in individuals with autism.”

The results of this study might not be available for some time; Gandal and his team have recruited about one-fifth of the people needed for the trial so far.

Nov 3rd 2017

Bipolar is a condition which wreaks havoc on those that it affects. If you suffer

from Bipolar, chances are good that your family suffers with you. No matter if

you are that family member trying to learn to cope or you are the person that has

been diagnosed, there is hope out there.

Although there is no cure for Bipolar, just yet, there are many ways in which you

can improve your chances of living a long and happy life. The good news is that

the process doesn’t have to be difficult either.

The ups and downs are what make the most problems for individuals. Being

happy and go lucky one minute is wonderful but when it is followed by serious

lows and depressed moods the next, there’s even more to worry about.

In this e-book, you will find a number of different scenarios that will help you to

ultimately learn to cope with bipolar and all of these ups and downs. Through an

understanding of your condition as well as help in dealing with the beneficial

tools we will teach you, you will be able to improve the quality of life that you and

your loved ones share.

Chapter 1: Understanding Bipolar To Get Help

Most individuals that suffer from bipolar have one goal. That goal is to live a life

that is as normal as can be. To get through today without having any emotional

problems, to make it through the big meeting at work without having people

wonder what is wrong with you and to simply be able to enjoy your daughter’s

graduation are all additional goals that you may have.

Before you can fully learn to cope with bipolar, you need to fully understand your

condition. You need to know what things happen, as best that you can, so that

you can then trigger your coping mechanisms to work for you.

There is no 100 percent sure way of stopping these things from happening to you.

But, there are countless things you can learn to do to help you to improve your

outlook.

To get to that point, we will start by giving you all of the information you need

about your condition so that you can better understand what is happening to you.

If you are a family member who just wants to help someone that has bipolar, then

by all means, you too can learn all that you need to in order to deliver the help

that you can give to them.

Bipolar: The Medical Side

Bipolar is a condition in which there are extremes in moods and life experiences.

There is no doubt that bipolar is a health condition that is serious and disabling.

We have written a very comprehensive guide to this condition and what you can do to alleviate the symptoms, it is now ready for a circulation.

August 10th

The Bangkok-born model, who paraded naked around Times Square on June 30 yelling about Donald Trump and Kanye West, has resurfaced to tell his story in a gripping first-person account of his battle with Bipolar disorder.

Krit McClean, a 21-year-old model and student, spoke about the manic episode he was suffering from when he made his surprising naked display in New York City, ending with him jumping off a ticket-purchasing booth and breaking his arm.

Those that suffer from Bipolar disorder have episodes of depression and mania. The latter may include racing thoughts, inability to sleep or eat, delusion, hallucinations and paranoia.

McClean noted that, on the morning of the episode, he had already been walking around the city barefoot, his feet were covered in blisters and he was gripped by unexplainable fear.

He was in a paranoid state, he told the New York Post, and believed that evil people wanted to get him. He said that he thought advertisements were sending him secret messages.

One billboard said “Express Yourself,” so he decided to do just that by removing his clothes. He was drawn to the top of the famous TKTS booth, with its giant, glowing red sign.

He said that he began eating garbage that he found up there, including used gum, change and cigarette butts.

He saw police coming for him and thought they seemed evil. He began to sing and dance, repeating Kanye West lyrics that he believed would protect him. In his manic state, he believed West to be a God-like figure.

As the police closed in on him, he jumped from the booth, falling almost 20 feet. He said that, in his mental state, he didn’t feel pain but pretended to be dead in hopes of being left alone.

When police took hold of him, he yelled West’s nickname, “Yeezy,” before being shot with a tranquilizer.

He woke up in the famous New York City psychiatric ward in Bellevue Hospital. He reported that his feet and right hand were handcuffed to his bed while his broken left arm was immobile in a cast.

He reported that his manic episode had started a week before but had not been violent. He became obsessed with the color yellow, painting everything in his apartment and his clothes in that color. He also began following yellow taxis around the city.

He stopped eating and keeping in contact with people. His best friend and family grew very worried by his behavior. He stopped using his phone because he thought he was being tracked.

After he woke up in the hospital, his family told him that he had their support but that he had been released from his modeling contract. Columbia University, where he is a student, has not yet decided if he can return to school. He also faces legal charges.

He said that he is going public with his story so that he can help others that also suffer from mental illness and the way society judges them.

Family History of Depression

Genes explain approximately 30 to 40 percent of depression.(1),(2) Approximately 60 to 70 percent of depression is due to environmental factors and poor coping skills. This has been proven by looking at identical twins, which have the same genes. Genes would explain 100 percent of depression if every time one twin developed depression the other twin also developed depression. But in fact, when one twin develops depression, the other twin develops depression approximately 30 to 40 percent of the time.

Depression is caused by changes in neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Your brain has to produce these neurotransmitters to keep your mood balanced. If you have a family history of depression, your brain has a harder time producing those neurotransmitters in the right quantities, which means you are predisposed to depression.

If you think about it, it's a miracle that more people don't get depressed. Your brain has to produce millions of chemicals every day in exactly the right amounts in order to function properly. If it produces some of those chemicals in slightly reduced amounts, or not at exactly the right time, you will feel depressed.

If your main cause of depression is family history, it's more likely you may need antidepressants to overcome depression. A family history of depression is sometimes hard to recognize. Most people don't openly admit that they suffer from depression, and previous generations were reluctant to seek treatment for depression. Sometimes you have to decide if you have a family history, not by what people say, but by how they behave.


Drugs, Alcohol Abuse and Depression

All drugs and alcohol are brain depressants. In moderate amounts, alcohol does not lead to depression, but abusing drugs or alcohol will definitely lead to depression. This is because they deplete your brain of serotonin and dopamine. Brain scans have shown that it can take months for your brain chemistry to return to normal after drug or alcohol abuse.

Alcohol abuse almost doubles the risk of depression.(4) One study looked at 2,945 alcoholics. Fifteen percent were depressed before they began abusing alcohol, and that number jumped to 26 percent after they started abusing alcohol. Once they stopped drinking for an extended period, 15 percent remained depressed. In other words, alcohol almost doubles the risk of depression.

Marijuana users are four times more likely to develop depression.(5) One study followed a large group of people for 16 years. It discovered that people who smoked marijuana were four times more likely to develop depression. This was confirmed by another study of 1601 students.(6)

Even stimulants such as cocaine cause depression. Cocaine initially stimulates your brain, and temporarily elevates your mood. But over the long run it depletes your brain of serotonin and dopamine and leads to depression. 

Feeling Trapped

If you feel trapped in your life, you'll struggle against that feeling until you eventually become exhausted and depressed. You can feel trapped by external factors, such as a job that you don’t like or an unhealthy relationship that won’t change. But in many cases you are trapped by internal factors, such as poor self-esteem or negative self-labeling.

This is where cognitive therapy helps treat and prevent depression. It helps you see how your negative thinking makes you feel trapped. It helps you see ways that you are not trapped. It also helps you develop alternative thinking so that you can get out of feeling trapped. 

Dual Diagnosis

Approximately 15 to 30 percent of addicts suffer from both addiction and underlying depression.(7),(8)The combination of depression and addiction is sometimes called a dual diagnosis. People who have a dual diagnosis often have a repeating pattern of staying sober for a while and then relapsing because they feel awful.

If you have a dual diagnosis and your depression isn't treated, you're more likely to relapse, because your recovery feels flat and unrewarding. If you're depressed for too long, you'll eventually think of turning to your addiction to escape. If you don't have a dual diagnosis, you'll generally start to feel better quickly after you stop using.

Dual diagnosis is hard to diagnose in the first few months of recovery. It's hard to decide if the symptoms of depression are due to an underlying depression or due to the depressant effect of drugs and alcohol. You usually have to be abstinent for at least 3 months before a diagnosis of underlying depression can be made. Sometimes it takes as long as 6 months for your brain chemistry to begin to return to normal. Of course these are general guidelines.

 Many thanks to Dr. Steven M. Melemis, www.AnxietyDepressionHealth.org

This is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide and the drug companies are working hard to produce better medication to relieve their suffering, may they succeed soon.

There is very much more information on this problem and tips for a more comfortable life in my e-book called

All about Bipolar Disorder which you can purchase here for just £15

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