Overwhelmed? These 6 Strategies May Help

Overwhelm is a 20-foot wave crashing into you. Repeatedly. Psychologist Marla W. Deibler, PsyD, described overwhelm as “feeling completely overcome in mind or emotion.” When we think a stressor is too great for us to manage, we feel overwhelmed, she said.

Feeling overwhelmed has many faces. According to Deibler, overwhelm might manifest as an intense emotion, such as anxiety, anger or irritability; maladaptive thought process, such as worry, doubt or helplessness; and behavior, such as crying, lashing out or experiencing a panic attack.

Anxiety seems to be the most common, according to Kevin L. Chapman, Ph.D, a psychologist and associate professor in clinical psychology at the University of Louisville, where he studies and treats anxiety disorders. For instance, you might experience a fast heartbeat, sweating, tingling, chest pain or shortness of breath, he said.

What causes overwhelm?

“The possibilities are endless,” said Deibler, who’s also director of The Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia, LLC. And it varies by individual, she said. Overwhelm can peak from a long to-do list we can’t seem to finish or an emotional event like a birth or death, she said.

Whatever the reason behind your overwhelm, here are six strategies to help. Read More

By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., Psych Central

Falling in Love Triggers Bipolar Episodes

For manic and hypomanic episodes, participants indicated the most common triggers were falling in love, recreational stimulant use, and starting a new creative project. Other triggers were: partying all night, going on vacation, and times of personal growth.
Triggers for depressive episodes were: stressful life events, general stress, and fatigue. Other triggers noted were sleep deprivation, physical injury or illness, and menstruation.
Triggers for both manic and depressive episodes included changes in routine, chaotic situations, alcohol consumption, and a change in diet.
“The current research extends the existing literature by identifying triggers most prominent in young adults with BD,” the researchers wrote. “Identification of a unique set of triggers for mania/hypomania and a unique set for depression in young adults with BD may allow for earlier identification of episodes, thus increasing opportunities for early intervention.”

Source: News Medical


Anxiety Medications May Affect Driving

A new study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology warns those who are taking medication for depression, anxiety, or insomnia to take extra caution while operating a vehicle, as their risk of having a car accident may be higher than those not taking psychotropic medications.
Researchers from Taiwan say physicians may want to consider warning patients to avoid driving while taking the medications as they work by altering brain functions, and therefore could affect driving capabilities.
“Our findings underscore that people taking these psychotropic drugs should pay increased attention to their driving performance in order to prevent motor vehicle accidents,” said lead researcher Hui-Ju Tsai, who is based at the National Health Research Institutes in Zhunan.
The study compared medications taken by nearly 5,200 people involved in serious car accidents, to 31,000 similar people with no history of a serious accident. They found that those who had a car accident were more likely to be taking psychotropic medications.

Written by Magpie Media

Read more: http://www.mentalwellnesstoday.com/mental-illnesses/about-depression/depression-articles/42-newsletter/187-anxiety-medications-may-affect-driving?utm_source=Mental+Wellness+Today+Newsletters&utm_campaign=f285e89d57-Anchor_September_20129_19_2012&utm_medium=email

Death Penalty Appeals: Paranoid Schizophrenic Considered Competent to Stand Trial in Florida

(Oct. 15, 2012) John Errol Ferguson, 64, is scheduled to be executed in Florida this week after 34 years on death row for a mass killing. headshot - john fergusonA Florida judge has ruled that Ferguson “undoubtedly suffers from mental illness” – paranoid schizophrenia and delusions he is the “Prince of God” and will be resurrected after his execution – but rejected a defense motion to stay the prisoner’s execution (“Florida inmate found fit to be executed despite history of mental illness,” The Guardian, Oct. 14). Ferguson’s lawyers say their client has been too mentally ill for them to interview him for a clemency investigation, which began 25 years ago. Circuit Judge David Clark says Ferguson is competent to be executed because he understands the sentence and why it is being imposed on him. The decision has been appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. At virtually the same time Ferguson’s case was being heard in Florida last week, the US Supreme Court was hearing arguments in a pair two cases involving two more inmates who are not mentally competent enough to help their lawyers pursue appeals (“Should appeals wait for inmates to be competent?”, Associated Press, Oct 10). At issue in these appeals are decisions by lower courts in Ohio and Arizona, which imposed indefinite stays of execution for the prisoners because they could not communicate effectively in their own behalf. The court system will settle these and similar appeals elsewhere, but what remains unsettled is why tragedies are coming to this in the first place. Untreated mental illness is a factor in an estimated 10% of all the homicide deaths committed in the United States every year. Effective treatments for severe mental illness exist that would reduce the number of homicide victims and – by extension – the capital cases that result from them. As long as mental illness policy and systems fail to recognize and address this connection with timely and effective treatment, homicide victims and their killers alike will continue continue dying as a conseequence of non-treatment.

–Treatment Advocacy Center


New Genetic Mutations in Schizophrenia Identified

Many of the mutations identified affect genes during early-to-mid fetal development—an interesting find considering the onset of schizophrenia is usually around adolescence to early adulthood. Findings show the function of the mutated gene, as well as when the gene is expressed, are significant factors for identifying schizophrenia risk.
The findings show that in pregnancy, environmental factors such as infection or malnutrition can contribute to the development of schizophrenia. “Our findings provide a mechanism that could explain how prenatal environmental insults during the first and second trimester of pregnancy increase one’s risk for schizophrenia,” said study leader Maria Karayiorgou, MD, professor of psychiatry at CUMC, and acting chief in the division of Psychiatric and Medical Genetics at New York State Psychiatric Institute. “Patients with these mutations were much more likely to have had behavioral abnormalities, such as phobias and anxiety in childhood, as well as worse disease outcome.”
A previous study looked at 53 families, and found that spontaneous mutations (or de novo mutations) are genetic errors that patients with schizophrenia have but their parents do not. Researchers found these mutations played a major role in cases of sporadic schizophrenia. These mutations were found in the part of the genome known as the exome.

by Written by Antonietta Petrella, Mental Wellness Today

Read more: http://www.mentalwellnesstoday.com/mental-illnesses/about-schizophrenia/schizophrenia-articles/16-shizophrenia-research/194-new-de-novo-genetic-mutations-in-schizophrenia-identified?utm_source=Mental+Wellness+Today+Newsletters&utm_campaign=6aada8ac06-SZ_Magazine_Newsletter_October_201210_10_2012&utm_medium=email

Heart Attack More Likely in Those With Schizophrenia

Are schizophrenia patients more in danger from a heart attack than the general population? According to scientists from Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) in Toronto, Ontario, the risk of death from a heart attack is indeed higher in those with schizophrenia.

In general, factors such as smoking, a higher occurrence of diabetes, and other issues associated with antipsychotic medications mean those living with schizophrenia have an average lifespan 20 years shorter than the general population. As well, those with the illness tend to not make necessary lifestyle changes after a cardiac condition to improve their health.

by Written by Antonietta Petrella, Mental Wellness Today

Read more: http://www.mentalwellnesstoday.com/mental-illnesses/about-schizophrenia/schizophrenia-articles/16-shizophrenia-research/195-heart-attack-more-likely-in-those-with-schizophrenia-study?utm_source=Mental+Wellness+Today+Newsletters&utm_campaign=6aada8ac06-SZ_Magazine_Newsletter_October_201210_10_2012&utm_medium=email

NIDA Accepting Proposals to Create Mobile App That Helps Patients Take Medications As Prescribed

Deadline: November 13, 2012, 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time.
Image of phone with several images of apps

NIDA seeks to develop and test a prototype mobile/tablet technology-based application to provide a low-cost, highly personalized, interactive patient-centric medication adherence tool that improves upon currently available mobile technology-based medication adherence applications.

Please share this announcement with others who might be interested. The full announcement can be found athttp://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/sbir.htm or the complete PDF athttp://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/SBIRContract/PHS2013-1.pdf.

The deadline for receipt of all contract proposals submitted in response to this solicitation is Tuesday, November 13, 2012, 5:00 p.m., Eastern Time.

For more information, contact the NIDA press office atmedia@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245.


–National Institute of Drug Abuse

Physical Performance May Depend on Mental Fitness

Getting Worked Up
We’ll start by talking about arousal, or how keyed up, excited or motivated you get while executing an action. This has to do with being alert, both physically and mentally. Weightlifters and football players will often psych themselves up before an event and almost work themselves into frenzies, while a concert violinist may breathe deeply or meditate to calm down and lower their level of arousal before a performance. A lot of things happen when you’re at a high level of arousal or “really psyched.”

Generally, we want to be very keyed up, with adrenaline flowing, when we’re trying to perform a simple task that doesn’t require much thought or complex action. Running and doing pushups and sit-ups are activities where you want a high level of arousal. While in this state, you tend to feel pain and fatigue less and blood and oxygen are carried to your major muscles quickly. On the other hand, when you’re performing an action that requires concentration and fine motor skills, like shooting or land navigation, you want less arousal. Being too keyed up will actually decrease performance because the parts of your brain responsible for concentration, visual-spatial skills and creative thinking become less active, essentially shutting down.

How Do You Perform Best?
Another point to consider is your personality type. Extroverts or thrill-seeking people generally perform better when they’re more aroused while introverts tend to perform better when they’re calmer, or less aroused. So, it’s important to find your optimal level of arousal based on the task at hand and your personality type.

Things get interesting when you have to switch from high-intensity activities to low-intensity activities very quickly. Snipers are good at this. During training, they sprint and then drop to the ground and fire rounds into a target. They perform an activity (running) where a high level of arousal is needed and then suddenly transition to an activity (shooting) where a lower level of arousal is needed. Being in good physical condition lets them sprint without needing too much arousal, and breathing deeply before shooting lets them lower their heart rate and calm down, allowing them to shoot accurately.

–Dr. James Bender, former Army psychologist


Drug Courts Emphasize Substance Abuse Treatment

There are more than 2,600 drug courts across the United States, of which half are adult treatment drug courts.

Drug courts are specialized court docket programs that target criminal defendants and offenders, juvenile offenders, and parents with pending child welfare cases who have alcohol and other drug dependency problems. Although drug courts vary in target population and resources, programs
are generally managed by a multidisciplinary team including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, community corrections, social workers and treatment service professionals. Support from stakeholders representing law enforcement, the family and the community is encouraged through participation in hearings, programming and events like graduation.

Adult drug courts employ a program designed to reduce drug use relapse and criminal recidivism among defendants and offenders through risk and needs assessment, judicial interaction, monitoring and supervision, graduated sanctions and incentives, treatment and various rehabilitation services.

Juvenile drug courts apply a similar program model that is tailored to the needs of juvenile offenders. These programs provide youth and their families with counseling, education and other services to: promote immediate intervention, treatment and structure; improve level of functioning; address problems that may contribute to drug use; build skills that increase their ability to lead drug- and crime-free lives; strengthen the family’s capacity to offer structure and guidance; and promote accountability for all involved.

Family drug courts emphasize treatment for parents with substance use disorders to aid in the reunification and stabilization of families affected by parental drug use. These programs apply the adult drug court model to cases entering the child welfare system that include allegations of child abuse or neglect in which substance abuse is identified as a contributing factor. Program goals include: helping the parent to become emotionally, financially and personally self-sufficient; promoting the development of parenting and coping skills adequate for serving as an effective parent on a day-to-day basis; and providing services to their children.

Other types of drug courts have emerged to address issues specific to unique populations including tribal, driving while intoxicated (DWI), campus, reentry, veterans and mental health courts.

–U.S. Department of Justice


Study Finds Combined Dopamine Dysfunction in Drug Addicted, Schizophrenic Patients

Dopamine release in one area of the brain’s striatum is increased in schizophrenia, whereas drug addiction is associated with decreased dopamine in a neighboring striatal region. Since substance use disorders often occur concurrently with other mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, a new NIDA-funded study examined amphetamine-induced dopamine release in patients with comorbid schizophrenia and substance dependence. In this study, dopamine release was reduced in the striatum of comorbid patients exposed to amphetamine, yet patients showed enhanced positive symptoms (i.e., psychotic reaction), as previously observed in schizophrenia. These results suggest that these comorbid patients suffer from a combined dysfunction: a) increased dopamine sensitivity in the part of the striatum responsible for the psychotic symptoms and, based on prior research, b) reduced sensitivity to dopamine in the area of the striatum associated with reward. Such a set of alterations in dopamine release could set up a vicious cycle of using drugs to self-medicate, which in turn may cause or further worsen psychosis.

Better understanding of the brain changes underlying comorbid disorders could lead to improved treatments for both drug addiction and schizophrenia in patients possessing both disorders. This is a vital research area, since failure to treat co-occurring conditions can jeopardize a patient’s chance of recovery.

–National Institute of Drug Abuse

Read more: http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2012/10/study-finds-combined-dopamine-dysfunction-in-drug-addicted-schizophrenic-patients