Understanding Bipolar Disorder and the Extreme Mood Swings

HealthStar Home Health is presenting a series on various mental health and behavioral health topics. In this series of articles, we take a look at different subjects and provide information to help you know how best to care for your loved one.

Once termed as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes dramatic mood swings that include emotional highs, referred to as mania or hypomania, and lows, known as depression. Individuals with bipolar disorder experience time periods, referred to as “mood episodes”, that are unusually intense and affect the person’s emotions, sleep pattern and activity levels, including risky behavior.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), bipolar disorder affects men and women equally, with approximately 2.6% of the United States population having been diagnosed with the condition and nearly 83% of these cases are considered severe. The average age-of-onset is 25 years, but it can occur earlier in the teenage years.

Society has misconceptions about what bipolar disorder actually is. Many people believe the disorder is characterized by fluctuations between being happy and sad, but individuals in a manic state do not feel “happy”. Another common misconception is that individuals with bipolar disorder are constantly shifting between being up and down. Some do fluctuate between being manic and depressed quickly, this is called rapid-cycling, however this is not the norm. Typically, people slowly become more depressed, return to their baseline, and then slowly become manic. At HealthStar Home Health, our clients with bipolar disorder usually notice when they are manic, but may not always realize how depressed they have gradually become.

Here at HealthStar Home Health, we serve individuals in our adult and children’s mental health programs that are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. When serving individuals with bipolar disorder, we understand that each person with bipolar disorder has a different experience with their mental illness. Some clients tell us they feel a strong sense of dichotomy, that they tend to view the world in terms of black and white and it can be difficult to “live in the gray area”. We have learned that our bipolar clients tend to have great insight into their mental health symptoms and we support and use that insight when caring for them.

Symptoms and the severity can widely vary. Severe episodes of mania or depression can include psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or delusional thoughts. Individuals with bipolar disorder who are psychotic may be wrongly diagnosed as having schizophrenia. Some may cycle rapidly or some may experience extended periods with no symptoms at all.

Four Types of Bipolar Disorder:

  • Bipolar I Disorder
  • Bipolar II Disorder
  • Cyclothymic Disorder, or Cyclothymia
  • Other Types

To learn more about each type of bipolar disorder and the symptoms, visit:  https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder

We invite you to learn more about the mental health services offered by HealthStar Home Health. Both our Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS) and Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS) feature cultural sensitivity and are provided with empathy to the underserved members of the communities and regions we serve.

Our highly trained and culturally competent multi-disciplinary team of mental health professionals, practitioners and behavioral aides provide CTSS and ARMHS services in the home, school, and in the community.

HealthStar Home Health understands how overwhelming and challenging it can be to care for a loved one at home and also offer a variety of home health care services to help support your loved one to live a more independent and fulfilling life at home. To learn more about the various mental health and behavioral health topics being presented in this series, such as autism, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and schizophrenia, visit our blog.

With cultural care values as the foundation, our caregivers are able to provide quality service, delivering it with increased awareness and perspective. As we serve our clients and communities, we are motivated by our desire to bring services to everyone in need. Call us today at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a no-charge consultation.

HealthStar Home Health to Attend the Annual Association of Residential Resources in Minnesota (ARRM) Conference

Just like our clients and their families, we at HealthStar Home Health cannot function in a silo. Resources, education and interaction from outside agencies makes us stronger and more knowledgeable about the issues seniors and those with disabilities face and how to problem solve. That is why each year representatives from HealthStar attend a conference hosted by The Association of Residential Resources in Minnesota (ARRM). This 2-day conference is loaded with education hours, networking opportunities, innovative ideas and practical solutions intended to support the more than 600 participants expected to attend. The participants include direct support professionals (DSPs), mid-to-executive level management from agencies, as well as others from related industries.

What’s Trending? #ARRM2K16 is this year’s conference theme and it will be held May 11-12, 2016 in Duluth, Minnesota. The conference will include a large trade show, the ARRM annual meeting, training opportunities, as well as 2 keynote speakers and over 40 breakout sessions to choose from. A highlight of the event will be the ARRM Cares Awards ceremony which honors outstanding DSPs from across Minnesota. Visit www.arrm.org/ for more information.

The Association of Residential Resources in Minnesota (AARRM) is dedicated to leading the advancement of community-based services that support people living with disabilities as well as advocating towards positive industry reform to help make a difference in their everyday lives. This private, non-profit association was founded in 1970 and is made up of over 225 advocates, providers, agencies, and businesses who continue to support Minnesotans with disabilities.

We look forward to the opportunity to share with the attendees some of the services we offer, such as medical social work, skilled nursing, home & community services, and mental health services. From routine household chores such as light housekeeping, transportation arrangement or meal preparation included in our homemaking program to providing planned short-term and time-limited breaks for caregivers through our respite care offerings, we ensure support is available to those that need it with our Home and Community Services program. This program is available to all persons covered under the Medical Assistance Waiver Programs or as private pay.

Throughout our Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS) and our Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS) we feature cultural sensitivity and provide a wide variety of mental health services with empathy to the underserved people of all ages in our communities. Our goal is to make communities strong by providing skills that can help with independent living and social situations.

HealthStar Home Health has values and a mission that closely align with those of the Association of Residential Resources in Minnesota. At HealthStar Home Health we offer a diverse set of care, chores, transportation, and social companionship services through our Home and Community Services program. If you or a loved one is suffering from mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder, major depression or schizophrenia, the HealthStar Home Health professionals work together with the individuals and their families toward positive outcomes. These services are customized to your needs and are provided by our caring, skilled professionals who are dedicated to ensuring that men and women in the Duluth and Minneapolis, Minnesota metro area living with disabilities receive the help they need in a dignified way.

Our employee representatives look forward to attending the What’s Trending? #ARRM2K16 conference knowing the education and insight they will take away from it can directly enrich the people with disabilities we proudly serve. Contact HealthStar Home Health today for more information on these, and other services we provide. Call us at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a no-charge consultation.

Mental Health and Depression

With the holiday season fast approaching, the first thing that comes to mind are the joys the holidays bring. Time with friends, family traditions and the wonders of the season all bring great joy to many. But for an estimated 16 million American adults that had at least one major depressive episode last year, the holidays are not so joyous. The added stress and expectations at this time of year can throw anyone into a funk, but when you also consider a variety of factors including the fact that there is less daylight causing a decrease in the body’s ability to produce vitamin D, it really opens up the doors for a flood of emotions.

According the the Mayo Clinic website, depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. Depression is more than just the blues or a rough patch in life. It is a serious mental health condition requiring treatment, a recovery plan and most of all, understanding and support from those around you.

If you or your senior loved one is feeling symptoms such as feelings of sadness or emptiness, loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, or feelings of failure, worthlessness or guilt most of the day, nearly everyday, then it may be time to seek help.

Since many people think that it is a normal part of the aging process and a natural reaction to illness or social transition, depression often goes untreated in seniors. Symptoms to watch for might be vague complaints of pain, memory problems and can also be a side effect of commonly prescribed medications.

Depression may show itself in different ways with different age groups. Children and teenagers are experiencing life’s emotional ups and downs as a part of growing up, but for those with depression the downs are more severe. Children and teens with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are at a higher risk for depression, as well as someone who has experienced considerable stress or trauma.

Depression is a devastating and debilitating mental health disorder for the millions of Americans who suffer from it. With an early detection, diagnosis and treatment plan, many people can get better and have good control of their depression. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) lists several options for treatment plans on their website, here is a sampling:

  • Medications including antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotic medications
  • Psychotherapy which includes cognitive behavioral therapy, family-focused therapy and interpersonal therapy
  • Light therapy, using a light box to expose a person to full spectrum light and regulate their melatonin levels
  • Mind, body and spiritual approaches such as prayer, faith, and meditation

HealthStar Home Health offers support to families dealing with mental health disorders, whether it is an adult in the family, a senior loved one you are caring for, or children and teenagers, we have a program to help you. Our Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS) offers assistance and support to adults 18 years of age and older who have a qualifying mental illness and are eligible for medical assistance who want to improve their life. Our ARMHS program is not case management or traditional therapy, but instead is mental health services aimed at teaching you skills for managing your mental health symptoms and can get you through the busy, unpredictable holiday season.

We also offer mental health services to children through our Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS) which features cultural sensitivity and empathy to the underserved people in our communities and regions.

Don’t let the Minnesota winter or upcoming holiday season get you down. If you need support, get it! Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help. If we all do our part to help remove the stigma associated with depression and mental health illnesses, it will go a long way for those who suffer daily. Spending quality time with family, friends and being active in your community is helpful in staying healthy, but sometimes you need a little more support. Contact HealthStar Home Health directly by calling 612-871-3700 and ask for a professional in the Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS) department or the Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS) department.

Facts about ADHD

A survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found approximately 11% of children 4-17 years of age (6.4 million) in the United States have been diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as of 2011. In this same survey, parents were asked whether their child received an ADHD diagnosis from a health care provider and the results show that:

  • Boys (13.2%) were more likely than girls (5.6%) to have ever been diagnosed with ADHD.
  • The average age of ADHD diagnosis was 7 years old, but children reported by their parents as having more severe ADHD were diagnosed at an earlier age.
  • The rates are on the rise with ADHD diagnosis increasing an average of 3% per year from 1997-2006 and an average increase of 5% per year from 2003-2011.
  • The percentage of children with an ADHD diagnosis has increased from 7.8% in 2003 to 9.5% in 2007 to 11.0% in 2011.

Several reliable sources, including healthline.com, state that Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most common childhood disorders and as you can see from the information from the CDC, it continues to be on the rise. Our HealthStar Home Health caregivers recognize this rise in diagnosis and offer services to help the families and children with ADHD through our Mental Health and Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports programs (CTSS). The condition has been known as attention-deficit disorder (ADD) in the past, though ADHD is now the preferred term as it describes both of the primary features of this condition: inattention and hyperactive-impulsive behavior.

So what exactly is ADHD and how do you know if your child may have this condition?

The Mayo Clinic defines Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder as a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often persists into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are three different types or categories of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder the individual may fall under:

Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: It is difficult for the individual to organize or complete a task, pay attention to details, or to follow instructions or a conversation. This person is also easily distracted and forgets details of daily routines.

Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: This person will fidget and talk a lot. It is very hard to sit still for long periods of time, even for a meal or to complete homework. Younger children may constantly run, jump or climb and often feels restless and struggles with impulsivity. Someone who is impulsive will interrupt others often, grab things from people, or speak out of turn and at inappropriate times. More accidents or injuries may occur with an impulsive person also.

Combined Presentation: Symptoms of the above two types are equally present in the person.

It is normal for children to have trouble focusing and behaving during the early childhood years. However, children with ADHD typically do not grow out of these behaviors. The symptoms continue and can cause difficulty at school, at home, work, or with friends.

A child with ADHD will show some or all of the following symptoms, even as early as 2-3 years of age:

  • Frequently daydreaming
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Often has trouble following through with instructions or listening
  • Unable to organize tasks or activities
  • Forgetful and often loses items such as books, pencils or toys
  • Easily distracted
  • Struggles to complete homework, chores or other tasks
  • Often fidgets or squirms
  • Excessively talkative and frequently interrupts or intrudes on others’ conversations or activities
  • Difficulty waiting his/her turn and is often impatient

If you are concerned and your child is showing these symptoms, discuss it with your family doctor. It is important to start with a medical evaluation first to rule out other possible causes of your child’s troubles. There may also be help available thru local Twin Cities public services and the Minnesota public school system in your area.

Since many healthy young children are inattentive, hyperactive or impulsive and it is normal for preschoolers to have a short attention span, it may be difficult to pick up on these symptoms early in their development. It also may be difficult to know the difference between a naturally energetic child and hyperactivity for example, and you don’t want to classify a child as having ADHD just because they are different from their siblings or other friends. It is important to get a doctor involved if you are concerned. In most cases ADHD is best treated with a combination of medication and behavioral therapy. For preschoolers (4-5 years of age), behavioral therapy is the recommended first-line of treatment.

HealthStar Home Health invites you to contact us for more information on the mental health services we offer to children and adults in Minnesota. Call us at 651-633-7300 to learn more.