November is National Family Caregivers Month, the month that family members, neighbors, and friends who devote many hours to caring for relatives or loved ones, be acknowledged. The idea behind this 2012 proclamation was and is to:
- Celebrate the support that family caregivers offer
- Increase the shared support of caregivers
- Raise awareness of the issues surrounding family caregivers
- Educate family caregivers in the area of self-identification
This year’s goal is to assist caregivers in asking more questions, exploring more options, and sharing in care decisions. The campaign slogan and social media hashtag to promote awareness is #BeCareCurious. Family caregiving is a stressful task, but the more confidence, knowledge, and support you seek, the more powerful your assistance can grow.
In order to better assist caregivers, below are some tips caretakers can consider when assisting a loved one with mental health disorders and self-harm.
Mental Health Disorders
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), the most common mental illnesses in the US are anxiety disorders. This type of mental illness affects at least 40 million adults (18 and older) in the US each year.
Anxiety disorders can develop from a complicated set of risk factors that include: genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events. The types of anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Panic Disorder (PD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Specific Phobias (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – OCD, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD)
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
Often those with anxiety disorder have co-occurring disorders or physical illness that can exacerbate their symptoms and slow their recoveries. Both or all problems the individual is presenting must receive simultaneous treatment.
- Bipolar disorder
- Eating disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Substance abuse
- Adult ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder)
- BDD (body dysmorphic disorder)
- Chronic pain
According to experts, one in five teenagers suffers from depression at some time during their teen years. The fact that depression is treatable makes it imperative for family members to reach out for assistance quickly. The faster the help comes, the less chance that a teen will in ways such as:
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Eating disorders
- Violent and angry behavior
- Possible illegal behavior
Try not to “compel” your loved one to share. Let the person find a pace that is comfortable for him or her. Pressuring the person will likely not be helpful.
Medical experts are the best individuals to diagnose and work at solving the individual’s disorder. Caregivers need to avoid making assumptions or jumping in to make a diagnosis. Find more information on this topic here.
Family members and friends need to learn all they can about giving support to their loved one who has a mental disorder. Doing so can play a decisive role in supporting and understanding what that individual is experiencing.
The best ways to care for teenagers who are depressed, in most cases, are to:
- Express your concern
- Be supportive
- Encourage your teen to be with friends
- Suggest after-school activities (volunteer programs, sports, social clubs, etc.)
- Establish a healthy, supportive home environment
- Help your teen get 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night
The CDC has reported that over 41,000 individuals die each year due to suicide. It is a sad reality that suicide is the second leading cause of deaths among those of 10- to 24-years-old. The total number of deaths by suicide among young people has reached as high as 4,400. Annual suicide attempts among young people in the US have reached as high as 440,000.
The Discovery Mood and Anxiety Program can help caregivers who are seeing warning signs in their teenage child that point to a possible suicide attempt. Parents and other caretakers can seek assistance by speaking up, recognizing the warning signs, and contacting professionals in the field of adolescent psychology.
- Problems at school
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Change in weight or appetite
- Low energy
- Social isolation
- Joining a different group of peers
- Anger, and more
There may be times when none of the suggestions above are helping your child. Be aware that it is up to you to decide if it is necessary to seek professional help. Once you find a therapist, talk with your child about his or her connection to the therapist. Do not be worried about finding another therapist, if necessary. According to a study found in the Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, therapeutic interpersonal relationships are a major piece in enriched a patient’s experience.
Get Help Today
Contact us at Discovery Mood and Anxiety Program website now. Those who need help with eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and the symptoms that accompany these disorders must get it now. Caregivers may want to know more about caring for the ones they love. Know that your friends, family, and neighbors can live a full and happy life. Oh, and thank a caregiver today.