Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder. This specific mood disorder can strike at any given time or place. Symptoms of Bipolar disorder are elevated mood, erratic thoughts and behaviors, depression, and/or suicidal thoughts. These moods are not a result of anything particular happening in one’s life, which is why it is very important to seek treatment for bipolar disorder. There are counselors and psychiatrist that can provide you with information, treatment, and support. There are different forms of therapy that might motivate or positively influence you. Some forms of therapy are cognitive behavioral theory, equine therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and/or psychotherapy. What works for one person might not give the same results for everyone, which is why it is important to find what best suits you. There are many things you can do yourself to better accommodate your lifestyle and this specific mood disorder. By simply taking ones’ medication, exercising, and making healthier eating choices you can make positive steps towards your life and day to day activities. Maintaining a schedule, in which you plan to exercise for a certain amount of time, and eat at specific times can also be helpful. Rest your body and your mind, take time to relax yourself before bed. Build relationships and trust with family, friends, and/or community leaders. Do not be afraid to give support and ask for it in return. Be persistent and patient, have faith in the steps to a better lifestyle and management of this disorder.

By Shemea Lewis

Mental Health Coping Strategies

People with mental health disorders often find themselves experiencing negative or uncomfortable emotions. Whether it be just having a bad week, or something more serious and prolonging, like grieving the loss of a loved one or depression. Positive mental health coping strategies can help. Some of these strategies include having a positive perception of life, getting more sleep and making the effort to interact with others in a positive way.

Thinking happy thoughts and having a positive perception of situations is always a good place to start. If you are having a bad day if possible, try to think about positive events coming up in your life or the positive things that have happened that day. If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, reminisce of all the happy or funny memories you had with this person. Thinking positively can often bring you relief when dealing with stressful or depressing life events.

Cheer-leading statements are one way to get you to calm down in situations and evaluate your thoughts. Cheer-leading statements prepare you and or offer you the bravery to act effectively. These acknowledgements help you to not act on impulse. Some examples of these statements would be “I can disagree with someone without getting angry” or “I can be scared and still get through this situation.”

Getting proper amounts of sleep is beneficial to the body. A lack of sleep can make the body function less efficiently and put stress on not just the physical body, but also the mental body. A few ways to help increase the amount of sleep you get each night include, turning off the television early, listening to soothing sounds, and keeping the room temperature cool and comfortable.
Seeking out positive social interactions often has a positive effect on mental health. Some mental illness may make you want to retreat in solitude, but being alone can increase symptoms or worsen them. Surrounding yourself with family and or friends may be a distraction from the worries of the word. Engaging in positive social interactions can have a positive impact on overall mood and attitude.

All in all, these mental health coping strategies are helpful in their own ways. These strategies combined may help to reduce stress and aid those with mental health disorders who are going through a hard time or event in their lives. These strategies may also be beneficial to people who do not necessarily have a mental disorder but whom are going through a prolonged period of upsetting or distressing emotions.

By Joanna Vaggott

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder

According to Statistic Brain, 2017 there are 5.8 million adults that are currently diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the US. It usually starts to affect people by the age of 25 years old. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is a mental health condition that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. There are two types of moods that occur with this disorder. They are known as manic and depressive episodes. Manic episodes occur when someone is irritable, feeling jumpy, or feeling very elated. When people are down and feeling hopeless this is when the mood is depressive.

The four types of bipolar disorder that involve these severe changes in mood are Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder, and Specified and Unspecified related disorders. Bipolar I Disorder is defined by manic episodes that last at least seven days. Depressive episodes also occur typically lasting for at least two weeks. Bipolar II Disorder is a pattern of depressive episodes and hypo-manic episodes, but not like the manic episodes described above. Cyclothymic disorder is defined by numerous periods of hypo-manic symptoms as well as numerous periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years. However these symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypo-manic episode and a depressive episode.

In some cases, a mood episode includes both manic and depressive symptoms. When this happens, it is known as mixed features. A person could feel sad, empty, and energized at the same time. Some people with bipolar disorder can experience hypo-mania. It is a less severe form of mania. During an episode of hypo-mania, a person can be functioning well and feel very good without knowing that something is wrong with them. Family and friends can sometimes recognize the mood swings or changes as possible bipolar disorder. If they do not have proper treatment, people with hypo-mania could develop severe mania or even depression.

With proper diagnosis and treatment, people with bipolar disorder can live healthy and productive lives. The first step someone will need to take is talking to a doctor or other licensed mental health professional. If the problem is not caused by other illnesses a doctor should refer you to someone who can diagnose and treat bipolar disorder such as a psychiatrist. Bipolar disorder may be a lifelong illness; however, it can be kept under control. An effective treatment plan usually includes a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy can provide support, education, and guidance to people with bipolar disorder and their families. It is also good for a client to keep a record of their everyday moods. They should track symptoms, treatments, sleep patterns, and life events. This allows the client and the doctor to track and treat the disorder more effectively.  The medications that are used to help treat this disorder are mood stabilizers and antidepressants. In a case where someone cannot take the medication, other treatment is available.

By Brianna Nedd-Rice

Living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Are you having uncontrollable reoccurring thoughts and behaviors that gives you the urge to repeat things over and over? If so, then you may have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, also known as OCD.  OCD is a common disorder that can affect all ages. Most people are usually diagnosed by the age of 19; boys have an earlier onset than girls do. There are two components to OCD, which included obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions causes people to have repeated thoughts and urges. Those same thoughts and urges can cause people to have anxiety. Fear of germs, having things symmetrical, and having aggressive thoughts towards yourself or others are all different symptoms of obsessions. Compulsions are repeated behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to the obsessive thoughts. For instance, if someone is obsessing over germs, their compulsions will be excessive cleaning or hand-washing. Compulsions can also have people repeatedly checking things out of fear that something bad will happen.

People that suffer from this disorder cannot control their excessive thoughts or behaviors. They do not get pleasure out of performing the behaviors, but they may feel some relief. There are times when some adults and most children do not realize that what they are doing is out of the ordinary. Typically, it takes a parent or teacher to recognize the symptoms in children. Occasionally, people with OCD will try to avoid their triggers by turning to alcohol or drugs. Though the cause of OCD is unknown, there are some risk factors. This includes, genetics, the environment, and brain functioning.

Medication and/or psychotherapy are treatments for OCD. Sometimes people with OCD have other mental disorders. Those disorders can include anxiety, depression, and even body dysmorphic disorder. Before deciding about treatment, it is important to take into consideration other mental disorders that can be present.  When someone is prescribed medication they should talk to their doctor so they can understand all the risks and side effects. Psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for both adults and children.  Research shows that certain types of psychotherapy, such as Exposure and Response Prevention can be just as effective as the medication.

If you are looking for treatment you can contact:

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
  • Door of Hope Counseling Center at 478-822-0033

Written By Brianna Nedd-Rice


ADHD stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It is a disorder that makes it difficult for a person to pay attention and control impulsive behaviors. ADHD does not only affect children, but it can affect adults as well. ADHD is not caused by poor parenting, family problems, moral failures, or excessive sugar. Current research suggests that ADHD may be caused by interactions between genes and environmental or non-genetic factors. Many factors can contribute to ADHD; such as gender, family history, cigarette smoking, alcohol use, exposure to environmental toxins, low birth weight, and brain injuries. There are other mental health conditions that occur in someone who has ADHD. Up to 30% of children and 25%-40% of adults with ADHD have a co-existing anxiety disorder. 70% of them will be treated for depression at some point in their lifetime.

There are three key behaviors of ADHD. Those behaviors include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Also, these three behaviors can interrupt functioning and/or development. Some signs of inattention in ADHD are having problems sustaining attention, fail to not follow through on instructions, overlooking details, avoid or dislike task, become easily distracted, and being forgetful in daily activities. The signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity include running around, fidgeting, constantly in motion, having trouble waiting, interrupting other, and having trouble playing quietly.

Although there is no cure for ADHD there are some treatments that can help reduce and improve functioning. The current available treatments include medication and behavioral therapy. The types of medication that can be used are stimulants, non-stimulants, and antidepressants. Therapy can be beneficial for people who are living with ADHD. It may not be an effective treatment but it is good for helping patients and families cope. It is also important to be educated on the condition. There are many ways in which someone can be educated. They can go through parenting skills training, stress management techniques and support groups. Also, some school based programs offer special education services. Educational specialist can help teachers make changes to classroom and homework assignments to help the children succeed.

If you are concerned if you or your child might have ADHD you should talk to a health care professional and/or access online screening tools.

Listed below are some online screening tools:

By Brianna Nedd-Rice

The Power of Perception

The Power of Perception

By: Candiace Parks

Oxford dictionary, defines perception as, the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. What we perceive determines how we receive things. We  are influenced by our thoughts, how we treat people, our expressions on our face, as well as the energy we put out. How you see things in the world helps to shape, mold, and determine your perception of it.

The way we perceive things can be themed around how we interpret things. For example, when you see a half of cup of water some might look at the cup and consider it to be half empty, while others will look at it and consider it half full. Each person views the world differently than another. Perception is something that you believe to be true. If a person believes the glass is half empty they look at the world in a more pessimistic way. Whereas a person who looks at the glass as half full has more of an optimistic view on life because they are more aware of different opportunities of a half full glass.

With life you have the freedom of being able to make choices. You can choose to see the goodness in things or you can focus on all the things that might go wrong. The Old Testament Book of Proverbs chapter 17, verse 22: “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.”  Sometimes we miss things because of our level of awareness. If we increase our awareness it helps to increase our accuracy of how we perceive things. If you change your mind you can change your world. Instead of complaining about how the cup is half empty, take another perspective of it because we have the power to change our perception of how we view things.  In Philippians 4:8 it states, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”   Once we change our perspective of something the way we received the half empty glass can be looked at as something much more. Even in our darkest of situations if we simply take the time to breath, think resiliently and change our outlook we could change our outcome. You are the only one who has power over how to perceive things in life.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

ptsd   When most people hear the words “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD) they think of it as a problem connected with the military and the war in the middle east. This is true. However, PTSD can happen to anyone experiencing or witnessing an intense traumatic event. This could be an auto accident, an assault, a rape or any event that is life threatening and intense. PTSD is loosely defined as “an emotional and psychological reaction to trauma, a painful and shocking experience.” After trauma, survivors feel their lives have changed. What was once a safe and secure world may suddenly seem dangerous and unpredictable. PTSD can affect your personal relationships, your social life and your work.

     Symptoms of PTSD include recurring memories or flash backs of the event. Often survivors continually relive the experience in their mind. They cannot control these flashbacks or predict what may trigger them. People with PTSD may have very vivid nightmares reliving the events. Physically, the survivor may have headaches, nausea and chest pains. They may suffer anxiety, depression, jumpiness, unable to relax. They are always on guard against the event recurring. These symptoms often cause the individual to withdraw from people, abuse drugs or alcohol, or have conflicts with people around them.

   For an official diagnosis of PTSD, in accordance with the Diagnostic Manual of Disorders put out by the American Psychological Society, the symptoms must last for more than one month and include flashbacks, numbness plus physical symptoms.

   Recovery takes time and professional guidance. Many people will deny the event even happened or forget major parts of the event. Forgetting the event, is the mind’s attempt to escape from the horror. With the help of a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health specialist the survivor can resolve the problems caused by PTSD. This treatment may include prescription medication, plus individual or group talk therapy. There are several types of talk therapy, these include cognitive behavior therapy, exposure therapy, stress inoculation therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. (EMDR). In exposure therapy, the patient will gradually relive the experience with a counselor in a safe environment in order to face the problem and adjust to it. Stress inoculation therapy  teaches the client methods relieving the stress and coping with the flash backs. EMDR has shown very good results in a relatively short period-of-time. It is an eight-phase treatment involving lateral eye movement while the client holds different aspects of the event in his mind.

   If you or a friend suffers from PTSD it is important that you get professional help.

Additional information can be found at PTSD Alliance, 1-877-507-7873 or Or by calling Door of Hope at (478) 825-0033.

By Roger Green, Intern

Depression, Suicide and Youth

girl    Did you know that suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth 15 to 24? And that 90% of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness? For teenagers, growing up is tough. They face strong feeling of stress, confusion, self-doubt and pressures to succeed. The transition from childhood to adulthood is a rough road in the best of circumstances. When there is added pressure to succeed in school or sports, a divorce, a changes of schools, conflict between peer pressure and parents, the pressure can easily overwhelm a teenager.

As a parent or friend of a teenager it is important that you know and recognize the signs of depression and know what to do. It is normal to feel sad or anxious from time to time. Failing a school test, losing the big football game, extra homework, hormonal changes can all can make you feel down or depressed. However, feeling very sad or withdrawn for two or more weeks, is a sign of more serious problems. Additional signs of serious depression include severe mood swings, out of control risk taking behavior, use of drugs or alcohol, talking about harming oneself, drastic changes in behavior, personality or sleeping patterns. Take seriously any talk of a person taking their life or wishing they were dead. The threat of suicide is a serious matter.

If you are a parent and have concerns about your child, it is important that you talk to them and listen to what they have to say without judging. Contact the school counselor to get additional information about school progress and activities. Contact the parents of their friends. In short get all the information you can. If in doubt, contact your family doctor and get a referral for a mental health specialist. If your child doesn’t want to talk to you, suggest they call the crisis hot line. 1(800) 273-8255.

As the friend of a depressed teenager, there is a lot that you can do. First, show your concern. Ask the friend, “Are you Okay? You don’t look happy. Is there something I can do?” Be a good listener. Get others involved. Talk to the school counselor or another authority figure that the friend would trust. You can offer support, “I’m here if you need me.” Check in with them regularly. Avoid such phrases as “It can’t be that bad”, “Pull yourself together”, “Don’t worry, your problems will go away” To the depressed person, it is that bad and if they could pull themselves together they would.

  If attempted suicide seems eminent, call 911. DO NOT leave the individual alone. Stay with them until help arrives.

 Additional information can be obtained on line at

By Roger Green

Counseling for Children

Child counseling can be extremely successful if you support your child throughout the counseling process. Family counseling also works wonders if everyone bands together and supports each other through the changes that are being made. Follow these tips to support your child and family in therapy:

1. Be there to listen and offer caring support, without judgment, to your child during the time in child therapy

2. Meet with the child’s counselor to make sure personalities are a match for you and your child.

3. Be open and talk frequently with your child. Make sure discussions are age appropriate; early school aged children need brief, simple discussions or explanations, upper elementary age children may ask more detailed questions and may need help figuring out reality from fiction.

4. Don’t pressure the child to talk to you about what happened in the child counseling session, your child may tell you in his/her own time in his/her own way.

5. Keep the lines of communication open with the child’s counselor and the child. Showing your child that you trust the child’s counselor helps build trust.

6. Try not to rush change. Remember trust is built over time; it’s not any different in child and family counseling. Allow time for your child to learn to trust his/her counselor. If you become intimidated by the child-counselor relationship, bring it up to the counselor (there’s nothing to be embarrassed about).

7. Patience is extremely important throughout the child and family counseling process. Children often don’t know how to express their emotions and fears like an adult would, therefore may have some temporary behavior changes throughout the process.

8. Be a good role model, show the child you are willing to take care of yourself and if you need counseling, seek it.

9. Make time to discuss your child’s worries, fears, and even accomplishments. Be sure to turn off any distractions (phones, TV, video games, etc.) so your child knows how important the time with your child is to you.

10. Most importantly, enjoy favorite activities with your child alone and with the entire family.

If you have any questions, throughout the process, speak up. Your child and family counselor is there to help!

Do I Need Counseling?

Every day millions of people search online for help with their problems, wondering if it’s finally time to reach out for direction and support to handle sadness, depression, anxiety, stress, fights with their partner or spouse, and family issues, among others. Here are some of the questions and mistaken beliefs we encounter as therapists every day.

Can’t I just talk to my friends about my problems?

Talking to a friend about mental health or personal issues may bring you temporary relief, but will make the problem more deep seated in the long run because you become more identified with the issue the longer you complain without intervention. Remember, you get what you pay for, and zero-cost advice is pretty much worth zero!

Nobody can change my situation, so why pay to see a professional about it?

There is a saying that “your world changes when YOU change.”  A professional, licensed therapist is trained in ways to help you respond to your world differently. We have at least two college degrees and extensive supervised training thereafter. There are thinking patterns, usually formed in childhood, of which you are completely unaware. I can show you how you are holding yourself back and perhaps help you find insight and freedom. It’s often a cage of your own making!

I’ve felt this way so long…

If you had a persistent fever, would you just say “oh well” and live with it? Or would you go to a health care specialist who could evaluate, diagnose, and treat it? The average person doesn’t realize how common mood and relationship problems are to the human condition, and that they can be (and are) identified and studied. Whole systems of therapy are developed for common issues, much as drugs are developed for physical ailments.

What will people think?

The people intelligent and mature enough to seek therapy realize that it doesn’t matter what people think! It matters how you live every day of your limited, precious life, and whether you can enjoy that to a higher degree and love more fully. Besides, you would be surprised how many of those “imaginary people” you think are judging you are actually patients themselves.

Is it time for YOU to feel better? It’s time!

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