Screening Teens Annually for Depression

It’s no secret that the rate of depression in teenagers and young adults has increased over the last few years. Most of these teenagers (and their families) don’t know that they have depression until certain behaviors start to change (grades start slipping, they become more combative, start using drugs and alcohol etc.) or they commit or attempt to commit suicide. Most adults with depression will tell you that they felt their symptoms around the ages of 12 and 13 but didn’t know what it was or who they could talk to about it. The US, UK and other parts of the world are pushing for annual depression screenings for teens starting at the age of 12.

There are many reasons to agree with this guideline. Screening for depression yearly means that you will be able see the warning signs early enough to provide intervention, or you’ll find a child who may have been suffering in silence and be able to get them the help that they have been needing. You won’t be able to help everyone, there will be some that slip through the cracks (I’ll explain why), but you’ll get the opportunity to help a good portion of those who may not have otherwise been able to get it.

Though this guideline has some great potential, there are also many flaws and questions that need to be answered.

  1. Does this become mandatory or is it voluntary?
  2. What will you do for those cultures/individuals who do not wish to comply? Since there are cultures whose belief towards mental illness is different (some non-existent), it would be hard to get everyone to agree (on their own) to participate in such testing.
  3. Would the testing be done in school or would you have to go on your own?
    1. If it is done in the school…
      1. is it free or charge
      2. is the screening done by a professional or school counselor
      3. where would the money for the screening (and hiring a professional) come from
  4. Will the screening process follow a standard depression screening test
  5. How will you deal with the stigma it will create among the children? Children can be cruel and they love to tease each other. This opens the door for another thing to tease/bully a child about.
  6. When you find a child whose test shows they are or may be depressed, what’s the next step?
  7. Children can be tricky, so how do you weed out the tricksters and liars?

The government is wanting schools to get more involved, so they plan to incorporate mental health awareness training into their core programs for teachers and school counselors. There are many people who feel that starting at the age of 12/13 is too young. The argument is that these children aren’t sure of their feelings as they are just growing into themselves and still figuring out the world around them. The fear of knowing that a child that young is depressed is having to put that child on antidepressants. Doctors don’t particularly enjoy putting young children on anti-depressants due to the potential side effects.

Children need an open and safe environment where they feel free to talk about their problems. Read the article written in The Guardian for more information. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think teens should be screened for depression yearly? Do you think it would have helped if you were screened when you were younger? Should be stop at just depression? Let me hear your thoughts.

3 Symptoms No One Wants to Talk About

Bipolar disorder comes with a plethora of symptoms, some of which no one prepares you for or wants to even talk about. These 3 symptoms, found on an article written in Bipolar Magazine, have caught me off guard numerous of times, even gotten me in some trouble (with friends and family). There are many symptoms that we wish we could just hide in the closet, but the truth is this illness and who experiences what symptoms when is pretty random. All symptoms need to be addressed so that those dealing with the illness can be prepared.

  1. Aggressive and violent behavior: There is another episode one can experience with bipolar called dysphoric (euphoric being the opposite) mania or mixed mania. This type of episode can lead to aggressive and violent behaviors. That is because this episode is a mixture of high energy from mania and the negative thoughts from depression. Super human like strength mixed with bad thoughts and feelings is a horrible combination. I have dealt with this multiple times and just thought I was losing my mind. I would wake up and just want to punch a wall, not knowing where the feelings are coming from. There would be times that I would want to hit my boyfriend for no reason at all, simply because he was in arm’s length. My plan is to buy a punching bag so when I feel that way, and other things like painting my feelings or exercise don’t work, I’ll have a backup. They say the solution isn’t management, but instead preventing the mood swings. That’s not easy to do, therefore management will have to be part of your plan until you can control your mood swings.
  2. Psychosis: Hallucinations and paranoia were things I was not prepared for. I have had paranoid delusions since I was a young girl and just thought it was a “kid thing” like thinking there was a monster under my bed. I just thought my mind was playing tricks on me and tried my best to ignore those thoughts and feelings. When I became an adult and noticed it was still happening I didn’t know what to think. I did everything I could to ignore it, but nothing was working. Psychosis symptoms include paranoid delusions, auditory hallucinations (my current problem) and visual hallucinations. These symptoms are similar to that of schizo effective but the main difference between the two is that psychosis happens while in mania or depression, while schizo effective symptoms happens between the two moods. I hear voices from time to time. These voices are either those of loved ones yelling at me that they are disappointed in me, or they are inaudible voices just yelling. Why yelling, I don’t know. It usually happens when I’m trying to sleep or when I’m in a quiet place. My current medication has helped a lot in getting rid of the voices.
  3. Cognitive Impairment: This has been the hardest symptom for me to handle. I mentioned before in an earlier post that I feel like I’m going backwards mentally. How the simplest of things are becoming harder and harder by the day. I knew it had something to do with my bipolar, but I didn’t know how. Cognitive impairment also causes memory problems, brain fog and an overall sluggish brain feeling. During depression, the mind becomes sluggish anyway and it makes it harder to think straight or remember my name. When I’m having a manic episode, I find myself speaking quickly, tripping over the easiest words and having trouble thinking in order. Just like any other symptom, there are ways to deal with it. For me, I find that writing everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING, down helps me remember things and keeps things in order. Sometimes these notes get out-of-order, but I try my best to put them back. It’s hard dealing with this particular symptom at work due to the fact I deal with large amounts of money. I struggle with this symptom everyday in one way or the other. I’m always trying to find new ways to deal with not only this symptom but all three listed here.

Check out the full article for more details.

Gene Sight- Alternative Treatments

There are thousands of depression treatments out there. If you were to search for it on Google, you would get hundreds and thousands of results leaving you feeling confused and overwhelmed. How do you decide which treatment would work best for you. Medical professionals choose treatment options based on severity and duration of symptoms, other mental or physical health conditions, medications currently being taken and a variety of other factors. The most common treatment for depression is some form of medication [antidepressant] and therapy combined. If you tried this before and it didn’t work, don’t worry, there are other options. Before going off and trying these other options, I would consult a doctor.

Gene Sight has come up with 5 different methods for treating depression.

  • Brain Stimulation Therapy
    • Electroconvulsiv Therapt (ECT) is a treatment option that has been around since the 1930s. This type of treatment involves stimulating that brain with electricity. Electric currents are passed through the brain while a person is under general anesthesia. According to NAMI, a person typically receives 4-6 treatments before any real noticeable improvements can be seen.
  • Acupuncture and Vagus Nerve Stimulation
    • Acupuncture in the insertion of needles into the skin in areas of the body that link with specific organs; such as the brain. It helps free blocked energy and imbalances in the organs.
  • Ketamine
    • The Boston Herald recently reported that a new trial found that ketamine may provide “instant relief to those who have been failed by other treatment methods, which can take two to six weeks to work even if they are effective.”

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for any mental illness. Therefore, if you have tried several different treatments in the past, don’t lose hope. Just consult your doctor and let them know that you need something different. Try to work with them as much as possible. However, don’t be afraid to change doctors if you feel you’re not being listened to and tour needs aren’t being met. Doing your own research is a great way to start. Below will be the link to the full article from Gene Sight where you can get more information about these alternative treatments and gather other resources for further research.