Schizophrenia

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that affects the way that one thinks, feels, and makes decisions. The disorder may cause the individual to “lose touch” with reality, which can lead to serious distress and impairment in daily life.

Schizophrenia affects less than 1% of the population, making it not nearly as common as other mental health disorders. Onset of the disorder usually occurs in one’s twenties, but may occur later or even slightly before. 

Although schizophrenia is a serious and complex illness, treatment has been proven beneficial for many.

SYmptoms

The signs and symptoms of schizophrenia vary by person, but they commonly include:

  • Delusions cause false beliefs that are not based on reality. Common delusions include feeling like oneself is being harassed or harmed by others. 
  • Hallucinations usually involve seeing or hearing something that does not exist. However, hallucinations can affect any sense. The hallucinations are typically vivid and indistinguishable from reality.
  • Disorganized thinking can often be heard through disorganized speech. One may have a hard time answering questions and communicating effectively.
  • Abnormal behavior may occur and can cause anything from “child-like” silliness to unpredictable agitation. Behavior symptoms may also include excessive movement, unusual posture, and catatonia.

Treatment

Many symptoms of schizophrenia can often be relieved or lessened through treatment. In addition, treatment can help improve one’s ability to function in day-to-day life. A health care provider can create a treatment plan suited to you and your specific needs. Treatment plans may include a combination of:

  • Medication
    • Antipsychotics are the most commonly used medications to treat schizophrenia. They can help decrease symptoms and improve functioning. With antipsychotics, and any medication, it is important to take note and tell your doctor of any side effects you may experience.
    • Antipsychotics are usually taken daily in a pill or liquid form. Some antipsychotic medications may also be given monthly through an injection.  
  • Psychosocial Treatments
    • Psychosocial treatments can help one manage symptoms and combat everyday challenges. These treatments are often in addition to medication. Specific psychosocial treatments include, but are not limited to, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), social skills training, assertive community treatment, and family therapy.

Crisis Help

If you or a loved one is in a crisis, it is important to get help immediately. If in danger of suicide:

  • Call 911
  • Go to the nearest emergency room
  • Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889)

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Mental Health and Romantic Relationships

The connection between mental health and romantic relationships may seem daunting. However, having a mental illness should not stop you from being able to have a happy and healthy romantic relationship. Mental illnesses are common, but still many people with mental health conditions find nurturing, supportive relationships. 

Navigating a romantic relationship while working on your mental health may bring challenges. Nonetheless, with communication and patience you can create a beautiful romantic relationship regardless of your mental health condition. It is important to recognize that your mental illness does not define you.

Starting a New Relationship

Many individuals with mental illnesses feel reluctant to start a new relationship. This is largely due to the stigma around mental health. In addition, one may feel hesitant to start a new relationship due to doubts about themselves. However, this fear can be eased with the help of treatment. 

When seeking a new relationship, it is important to first think about what you want in a partner. Find others who share your values and show them your strengths. Finding a relationship can take time, so do not get discouraged. With patience you will find the right person for you, regardless of your health history.

Talking to your Partner About Mental Health

Many people who are already in a romantic relationship find it difficult to talk to their partner about their mental health. However, as a relationship becomes long-term, it can be beneficial to share about yourself. By being open with your partner, they can better support you and your needs. 

If you are feeling afraid to open the dialogue about mental health with your partner, focus on all the qualities and parts of your personality that they love. It can be helpful to remind yourself of this. Sharing your mental health challenges also will give your partner insight into your strengths. Creating an open conversation can help your partner get to know you better and also may encourage them to share. 

Your partner may respond to learning about your mental illness with uncertainty or curiosity. If you are comfortable, invite these questions and answer them with honesty. Your partner may have been caught off guard, but their questions don’t mean that they don’t accept you.

If your partner does react to your mental illness negatively, that is okay too. It is better to know your partner’s true feelings about mental health conditions than living in secret. If they cannot accept you with your mental illness, then they are likely not the person for you. You deserve to be loved fully regardless of any illness.

Getting Help

It is important to seek professional health if you are struggling with your mental health. A mental health provider can help create a treatment plan that is right for you. They also can often provide guidance to navigating romantic relationships with a mental illness. 

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Staying Active this Spring

Tips for Staying Active This Spring

For some, staying active this Spring may be a challenge. With the Pacific Northwest’s unpredictable weather it can be difficult to maintain a physical activity routine. However, there are plenty of ways to get active indoors and outside. 

Physical activity is essential to self-care, and it benefits both physical and mental health. Various symptoms of many common mental health disorders can improve with exercise. In addition, being active can help prevent future illness or disease.

The following list consists of tips for staying active this Spring, whether rain or shine.

Take a Hike

Spring can be one of the most beautiful times of the year. For this reason, hiking in Spring can be especially rewarding.

There are hiking trails for all skill levels, making this activity very flexible in difficulty. When planning your hike, be sure to check the length and incline of your trail. This will help you ensure that you have chosen a hike that is suited to your needs.

Hiking is not only for sunny days. However, when hiking in the rain or in cold weather, be sure to dress and pack accordingly.

Practice Yoga

Yoga can be done both inside or outside, and requires only a small amount of space. For these reasons, many find that it is a great way to increase physical activity.

Bring the Gym Home

On rainy days it can be nice to stay in the comfort of our own home. There are many exercises that you can do from home. While the possibilities are endless, workouts that can easily be done from home include:

  • Jump rope
  • Push-ups, sit-ups, and other body weight exercises
  • Lifting with dumbbells or kettlebell
  • Walk/run stairs

Spend More Time Standing

You can increase your physical activity by replacing sitting with standing. During periods where you would normally find yourself sedentary, try to mix up your routine by standing. For those with desk jobs, standing desks can offer a great way to get more time on your feet during the day.

Take Walks

On nice days, a casual walk can offer a great way to get active as well as enjoy nature. For cloudy days, a rain coat can offer protection or you can try to get your steps indoors. Simple activities, such as walking through a mall, can actually create a great opportunity to get physical activity, even on a rainy day.

Do What Makes You happy

There are an endless number of possibilities for those looking to increase their physical activity this Spring. The important part is discovering what is right for you. By finding activities that you enjoy, you are much more likely to stay consistent with your physical activity.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

The signs and symptoms of depression vary by person but for many, these symptoms interfere with day-to-day life. Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is more than just a rough patch, but rather a serious mental health condition. When left untreated, symptoms of depression can worsen and contribute to further interference.

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions. NAMI reported that in 2020, at least 8.4% of the U.S. population experienced at least one major depressive episode. 

It is important to understand the symptoms of depression so that you can recognize the signs, and get treatment if necessary.

SYMPTOMS

Depression symptoms vary by person and form of depression. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Changes in sleep
  • Loss of energy
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Hopelessness
  • Change of appetite 
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Suicidal thoughts

COMMON Forms OF Depression 

  • Clinical depression
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Postpartum depression
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Bipolar disorder

TREATMENT AND RESOURCES

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month is recognized each May. The month aims to celebrate the voices of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), as well as encourage education about the diversity of our community.

The term “AAPI” encompasses a vast range of ethnicities, nationalities, and identities. AAPI communities consist of over 50 ethnic groups. 7.4% of the United States identifies as AAPI, according to NAMI.

Community identity can serve as a protective factor for many. However, AAPI individuals may face additional challenges and pressure to assimilate. This is often due to the stigma around diversity. 

Our hope is that together, we can create a space that is open to learning and welcome to all.

Barriers to Mental Health Care

Approximately 15% of AAPI individuals reported experiencing a mental illness in the past year, according to a study by Emory and Henry College. For many, getting the help they need is not always easy. There are many systematic barriers that can prevent people from receiving proper health care. In addition, studies by NAMI have shown that many AAPI individuals fear the stigma and shame that might be associated with receiving mental health care. Another factor that can create a barrier for treatment is language. There is a high demand for health care providers fluent in languages other than English, but the availability of providers can not keep up. All of these factors, and many more can create difficulties for AAPI individuals seeking health care.

Resources

There is a movement towards creating safe and inclusive spaces for all in health care. Many organizations aim to bridge the gap and create equality in health. We recommend visiting the following links to learn more about Asian American Pacific Islander culture, struggles, and resources.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

Since 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month has been recognized each May. The national movement aims to spread awareness about mental health through information, advocacy, and more.

This year’s theme is “Together for Mental Health.” Millions of individuals are faced with mental health struggles. Together we can help others get the care that they need and deserve.

Mental Health by the Numbers

Many individuals struggle with their mental health. This is important to recognize because it can help you understand that you are not alone. Regardless of the stigma, it is common to face challenges with your mental health. The following statistics by NAMI showcase the presence of mental conditions in the United States.

  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
  • 1 in 15 U.S adults experienced both a substance use disorder and mental illness in 2020
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.

Causes and RIsk Factors

There are many causes and risk factors for mental health conditions. Although there is no one clear most mental illnesses, experts agree that the following may increase one’s risk factor:

  • Trauma can cause long-term changes in the way that one thinks and make them more vulnerable to many mental health conditions.
  • Genetics can increase the risk of many mental health conditions, as many tend to run in families.
  • Other medical conditions can contribute to mental illness. Many physical and mental health conditions can increase one’s risk for other illnesses.

Self Care for Mental Health

It may not be a cure all, but many individuals find that their mental health improves with self care. Self care can include a variety of things, but it is important to figure out what is best for you. Some ways you can practice self care are to:

  • Eat healthy meals and stay hydrated
  • Ensure you are getting enough sleep
  • Get active, even if in small amounts
  • Find a relaxing activity
  • Set goals
  • Focus on the positive in your life

When to Seek Help

It is important to seek professional health if your mental health struggles persist. If your symptoms last more than two weeks, we strongly recommend speaking with your health care provider. Together, you and your provider can create a plan for you to get the treatment that you need.

Crisis Help

If you or a loved one is in a crisis, it is important to get help immediately. If in danger of suicide:

  • Call 911
  • Go to the nearest emergency room
  • Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889)

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Sleep Disorders

Sleep Disorders

There is a strong connection between sleep disorders and mental health. Disruptions in sleep patterns may be caused by mental health conditions, such as depression. In addition, the symptoms of many physical and mental illnesses can also be worsened by a lack of sleep.

Sleep disorders are very common. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in the United States 1 in 3 people experience trouble sleeping at least once a week. Sleep disorders can cause difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early.

Causes

There is no one cause for insomnia or other sleep disorders. Oftentimes there are many contributing factors causing the interferences with sleep. However, NAMI reported that roughly 50% of insomnia cases are related to depression, anxiety, and/or stress. 

 

 

EFFECTS

Not getting enough sleep can cause many negative effects for an individual’s health. Many studies have shown the relationship between sleep and mental health. A lack of sleep can make mental illnesses worse or decrease the effectiveness of treatment. The negative effects that come along with sleep troubles illustrate the importance of improving your health by getting a goodnight’s rest.

 

 

Self Care

There are many ways that you can improve your ability to fall asleep and have quality rest. Although different methods of self care, self care practices that have been found to improve sleep disorders include:

  • Sticking to a consistent schedule
  • Prioritizing and making goals
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed
  • Increasing activity levels during the daytime
  • Making your bedroom comfortable and ideal for sleep

 

 

Treatment

If your troubles sleeping persist, we recommend speaking with your healthcare provider. Together, you can create a plan for treatment that is right for you. Treatment commonly includes:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which aims to help individuals control negative thoughts that may be preventing them from being able to sleep.
  • Medication is used at times to treat sleep disorders. However, many doctors agree that medications used for sleep should not be taken long term.

 

 

Learn More

To learn more about sleep disorder and how to improve your sleep, we recommend the following resources:

National Sleep Foundation: https://www.thensf.org/

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html

NAMI: https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Common-with-Mental-Illness/Sleep-Disorders

Depression in Men

Depression in Men

Many people often overlook depression in men, as the condition (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) was once considered a “woman’s disease.” In addition, oftentimes men experience symptoms differently than women. This lack of recognition often prevents men from recognizing their symptoms and getting the help they need. 

SYmptoms

The signs and symptoms of depression vary. Common symptoms of depression in men include:

  • Anger or irritability
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Loss of interest in work, relationships, and/or once enjoyable activities
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Feeling anxious or on-edge
  • Engaging in high-risk activities
  • Increased alcohol consumption
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Physical aches, pain, nausea, or discomfort
  • Suicidal thoughts

Causes and RIsk Factors

There are many causes and risk factors for depression, current studies within the United States suggest risk factors for depression include a combination of:

  • Genetics
  • Environmental stress
  • Other medical conditions

Treatment

Depression can be treated through a variety of methods. After receiving an evaluation from a healthcare provider, they can help you create a treatment suited to you. Treatment plans commonly include a combination of:

  • Medication
    • Antidepressants are the most common medication used to treat depression. However, sometimes mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications may also be prescribed, but are much less common. 
  • Psychotherapy
    • Various types of psychotherapy can be used to treat depression, and have been proven to be very beneficial for many. Commonly used types of psychotherapy used in the treatment of depression include cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and family-focused therapy.
  • Self Help
    • In addition to professional help, self help can also be beneficial. Individuals can often lessen their symptoms through self help. Symptoms of depression are often decreased by exercise, getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and more. 

Crisis Help

If you or a loved one is in a crisis, it is important to get help immediately. If in danger of suicide:

  • Call 911
  • Go to the nearest emergency room
  • Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889)

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Earth Day: Connections Between Nature and Health

This Earth Day, we encourage you to learn about the connections between nature and health. For many, spending time outside can be healing and serve as a form of stress relief. The health benefits of nature are backed by numerous studies, including one by the European Centre for Environment and Human Health. In this study, the over 20,000 participants spent two hours outside weekly. The vast majority experienced improvements in their psychological wellbeing, as well as physical benefits. The leader of the study, Mathew White, analyzed the results and claimed in his findings that, “nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive function.” Although the benefits of spending time in nature may vary, there is substantial evidence backing up the positive effects that time outside can have on one’s health.

There are many ways that you can make the most of your time spent outdoors. The following consists of our recommendations to help you better your health by spending time in nature.   

01

Observe with all of Your Senses

Nature often provides beautiful scenery to look at, but the outdoors can also be enjoyed through your other senses. Take time to experience nature and soak it in.

02

Go on a Hike

Hiking doesn’t have to be rigorous. There is an endless number of hiking trails, many suited to beginners. Hiking can help improve your fitness and also benefit your mental health.

03

Spend Time With Others

Spend time with friends or family outdoors. Not only will you receive health benefits from the outside, but human connection is also vital to our wellbeing.

04

Discover a New Hobby

Finding an outdoors hobby that you enjoy can serve as great motivation to get out. Whether you may enjoy kayaking, gardening, bird watching, or anything else, all provide an opportunity to do something you love and experience the benefits of nature.

Additionally, try combining an existing hobby with the outdoors. Whether you enjoy reading, drawing, or anything else, try engaging in that activity outside.

05

Ground Yourself

Many find that spending time in nature can be grounding. Take advantage of the tranquility that the environment provides, and use the opportunity to balance yourself.

06

Find What Works for You

Everyone’s wants and needs vary, so it is important to find what works for you. There are endless ways to enjoy nature. Take the time and experiment to find out what is best for you.

Learn More

There are many resources available to help you learn about the benefits of nature, and how you can receive them. The following list contains resources that we recommend.

 

The Difference Between Stress and Anxiety

The Difference Between Stress and Anxiety

Although they may share similarities, there are significant differences between stress and anxiety. Stress is a physical and mental response to an external cause, such as work, money, and more. Anxiety is a reaction to stress, and can be experienced even if there are currently no stressors. When anxiety persists, it can cause health interferences and increase one’s risk of developing a mental health disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder or depression.

It is important to know the difference between stress and anxiety so that you can better understand what you may be feeling. The following highlights key differences and similarities between stress and anxiety.

Stress


There are many situations that may invoke feelings of stress. Many experience stress related to school, work, money, family matters, and more. A key factor of stress is that it tends to be caused by external factors. Since stress is typically a reactionary response, it often subsides when the situation is resolved.

Stress can be beneficial at times. For some, stress can work as a motivating factor to help them complete an assignment or respond quickly. 

Overtime, the weight of stress can adversely affect one’s mental and physical health. To help avoid built up stress we recommend:

  • Creating lists and prioritizing tasks
  • Setting manageable goals
  • Engaging in activities that bring you joy
  • Speaking with a healthcare provider if feelings of stress persist

Anxiety


One may experience anxiety as a reaction to stress. Generally, it is internal factors that cause anxiety. Anxiety can cause feelings of uneasiness, dread, fear, and more. It also often causes physical symptoms such as restlessness, rapid heartrate, nausea, and sweating. 

Many people may experience feelings of anxiety from time to time. However, if anxiety continues overtime, it may be a sign of a mental health disorder. For this reason, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider if you are experiencing persistent anxiety.

In addition to speaking with a healthcare provider about specific treatment for anxiety, we recommend the following to help reduce symptoms:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Exercise
  • Set goals
  • Take time for yourself

Learn More

There are important similarities and differences between stress and anxiety. To learn more, we recommend speaking with your healthcare provider. To read more about stress and anxiety, we recommend the following resources:

NIMH “I’m So Stressed Out”: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/so-stressed-out-fact-sheet

NIMH Anxiety Disorders: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders

APA: https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/anxiety-difference

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