fbpx
Category

Mental Health

Thinking Positively About Mental Health

By | Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health

Thinking Positively About Mental Health

 

 

People tend to view mental health from the perspective of an illness – either you have a mental health disorder, or you are mentally healthy. In fact, good mental health is a positive state that every person can work towards.

The World Health Organization defines good mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

Here are some facts about mental health that might challenge your perceptions.

Mental health disorders are experienced by a large and diverse group of Australians.

The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing surveyed the mental health of the Australian population. Their study showed that 45.5% of Australians had experienced a mental disorder at one point in their lives, and 20% had experienced a disorder in the last 12 months – almost 3.2 million Australians. Regardless of gender, age or culture, good mental health is vital.

Mental health is not just about disorders.

While it is important to address mental health conditions, everyone should prioritise their mental health – even if they are never diagnosed with a disorder. Feelings of anger, anxiety, sadness, tension, or simply feeling down are normal emotions, but when they persist they can negatively affect mental health. There are many steps you can take on your own to work on your mental health, but if these feelings are disrupting your daily life it’s important to seek outside help.

You can improve your mental health.

There are a number of ways you can work towards positive mental health – although remember that it is normal and ok to need outside help. Some ideas to help you stay mentally healthy are:

  • Focus on good nutrition and exercise
  • Get good, regular sleep
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol and drug use
  • Talk about your feelings (or express them in a way that is natural to you)
  • Set realistic goals
  • Practice relaxation
  • Try new things and challenge yourself
  • Spend time with friends and family

Good mental health is a positive pursuit.

There is often a social stigma around people with mental health disorders, which can prevent people from seeking help. Some people don’t identify with needing to improve their mental health if they don’t have a “condition”. The truth is, mental health is about functioning well in all areas of life, having significant social connections, good self-esteem and being able to deal with change.

If you have any concerns about your mental health, whether you identify with having a “condition” or whether you could just use some support, your GP is a great place to start looking for information. Think positively – improving your mental health is about helping you to live your best life, and it’s worth pursuing.

Click here to make an appointment with a GP to discuss improving your mental health —>

Dealing with Dementia – Tips for Addressing the Practical Needs of Dementia Sufferers

By | Elderly and aging, Mental Health

Dealing with Dementia – Tips for Addressing the Practical Needs of Dementia Sufferers

 

 

Caring for someone with dementia is a life-changing responsibility. Whether you choose to be the primary carer or part of a wider team, dementia is a condition that will require a lot of love, compassion and patience. Planning ahead can help your family be prepared for the challenges and rewards that are in the future. Here are some practical areas to keep in mind.

Nutrition

Eating and drinking needs to be carefully monitored, even if they are in an aged care home, because people with dementia can forget to eat and can also have problems with swallowing. If you have checked with a doctor that there isn’t a treatable reason behind a lack of appetite (such as dental pain or depression), try offering smaller meals regularly, preferably made of familiar foods. In later stages you may need to demonstrate chewing and consider nutritional supplements. Don’t forget to offer lots of liquids, especially in hot weather.

Hygiene

People with dementia often lose interest in caring for themselves, especially in the area of basic hygiene. Choose a time when they are calm and create a relaxing, soothing environment with everything laid out and simple instructions. People with dementia might have fears that you can help provide a solution to; for example, a fear of falling might need a sturdy shower seat with a handheld shower head.

Continence

Losing control of the bladder/bowel commonly occurs in dementia, and it’s important to maintain as much privacy and dignity as possible. Make going to the toilet as easy as possible, with clear lighting at night and bathroom installations to help them get on and off, and clothing that is easy to fasten and unfasten. People often fall into patterns of when they use the toilet and give non-verbal cues for when they need to go, so you can use those patterns to help suggest they go to the toilet. Continence pads and aids are available if necessary.

Support

As a carer of someone with dementia, it is more important than ever that you look after your own basic needs, as well as theirs. You don’t have to do it alone. Get financial, emotional and physical assistance wherever possible. A National Dementia Helpline is available on 1800 100 500 if you need information. Other groups include Alzheimer’s Australia, Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service, and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme.

Your GP can provide further information about support networks available to provide care for your loved one. When caring for someone with dementia, and especially when looking after their practical needs, it’s a good idea to establish an ongoing relationship with a GP so that you can work together to address health concerns as they come up. A good support network and lots of information goes a log way to ease the challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia.

Click here if you would like to book in to see a GP to discuss dementia –>

 

Meditation – It’s Not What You Think

By | Lifestyle, Mental Health

Meditation – It’s Not What You Think

 

While meditation has often been associated with Eastern religions, different styles of meditation are practiced in most of the major religions and philosophical practices. In modern times, non-religious meditation has become more popular as the scientific evidence of its benefits keeps building up. Here are some facts about meditation that will have you looking for inner peace.

Meditation can change your brain

Many studies have proven that meditation can reduce anxiety and stress, and can even help with depression. Meditation and relaxation techniques have been shown to decrease cognitive decline. Meditation has been seen to increase people’s overall feelings of well-being, making them feel happier and calmer in everyday life.

Meditation has very real health benefits

Other potential outcomes include benefiting the central nervous system, the immune system, improving lower back pain, and promoting relaxation. Having lowered levels of stress and anxiety can help your body to deal with illnesses, and can even help lower blood pressure.

Meditation doesn’t have to be done on the floor

While many people visualise the cross-legged lotus position when thinking about meditation, the truth is that meditation can be done anywhere that you are relaxed and comfortable. Sitting on a chair or a bed is perfectly fine, but try to avoid somewhere you are likely to fall asleep. Some people even prefer to meditate while moving – either slow, gentle movements such as yoga or tai chi, or even while doing repetitive movements like housework.

Meditation has different techniques

Meditation comes in many varieties. The type of meditation used has been shown to have a different effect on different people, meaning that if one method is not working, it might be helpful to try another kind. Some basic suggestions are:

  • Focusing on an object – focus your attention on an object, noticing how it looks and sounds, the colours and shapes, any patterns you can see. Try not to actively think or analyse, just peacefully observe.
  • Emptying the mind – letting the mind clear and not letting any specific thoughts enter.
  • Using a mantra – repeat a word or phrase over and over, in time with your breath, to focus your attention.
  • Mindfulness – focusing on the neutral observation of inner experiences like thoughts, memories, feelings or sensations.
  • Breathing – focus your attention on your breath coming in and out of your nostrils while you relax.

Meditation can be taught

While many meditation practices can be self-taught, some people benefit from lessons and prefer to be in a community.  The benefits of meditation come from regular practice, so having a class can help you make meditation a habit.

If you are having serious problems with anxiety, stress or depression, make sure you discuss it with your GP before starting any new program.

Coping with Anxiety

By | Mental Health

Coping with Anxiety

Anxiety – that shivery feeling in your chest, and adrenaline running down through your fingers – no one enjoys it, but so many experience it.

 

Anxiety is defined as ‘a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.’ But it’s not just feeling stressed or worried – it’s when these feelings don’t go away. It’s when they happen at a time that you wouldn’t expect to feel anxious – without reason or cause.

It’s also very very common – 1 in 4 Australians will experience it at some point in their life! The good news it that the sooner you get help with your anxiety, the more likely you are to recover.

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

It’s important to understand that there is a difference between ‘normal anxiety’ and an anxiety condition. Normal anxiety is usually associated with an event or situation at a specific point in time. However, an anxiety condition is where the feelings of anxiety are persistent or frequent. They can effect your quality of life and how you function day to day. Each person may experience anxiety slightly differently, but Beyond Blue has summarized the common symptoms, which include:

  • Physical: panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, quick breathing, restlessness, or feeling tense, wound up and edgy
  • Psychological: excessive fear, worry, catastrophizing, or obsessive thinking
  • Behavioural: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on study, work or social life

What kind of treatments are there for anxiety?

There are many different kinds of treatments, which can be explored depending on what kind of anxiety you’re facing.

Things you could try through the support of a health professional, such as a GP include:

  • Lifestyle changes – physical exercise, meditation
  • Psychological treatments / talking therapies – to help support you through your experience of anxiety and teach you tools and habits to help to reduce worries and keep your anxiety under control
  • Medical treatments – including antidepressants, which are designed to correct chemical imbalances.

The key to handling anxiety, is finding a support system and an approach to treatment that helps you feel as though you are regaining control and where you feel you can be open and comfortable to discuss the worries on your mind. A GP is able to listen to you, get to know your unique circumstances and then work collaboratively with you through things. They can suggest approaches that may be most suited to you, and travel through the journey by your side. Sometimes, taking the first step is the hardest, but also the one where you make the most progress.

 

If you need to see a GP to discuss anxiety, you can book one here –>

8 questions about Perinatal Depression and Anxiety

By | Family Planning & Parenting, Mental Health, Women's Health

8 questions you might have about Perinatal Depression and Anxiety 

Are you a new or expecting parent? Have you had feelings of depression or anxiety? If so, you’re not alone.

 

What are the stats?

1 in 10 expecting mothers and 1 in 20 expecting dads struggle with antenatal (before child birth) depression. Additionally, 1 in 7 new mums and 1 in 10 new dads are diagnosed with postnatal (after child birth) depression each year.

 

And what about anxiety?

Unfortunately, even more new and expecting parents suffer from anxiety.

 

So what does this mean for me?

Adjusting to having a new baby is something that all parents should expect and prepare for. It’s usually a temporary adjustment, and might include some feelings of ‘baby blues’ for the first few days. So if you feel teary, anxious or moody during this time it’s not something to be overly alarmed by. But when these feelings last beyond the first few days and worsen, it could be time to reach out for help.

 

What should I be looking out for?

Keep an eye out for some of the common signs of postnatal depression such as:

  • Feeling like you’ve failed or are inadequate as a parent
  • Having a sense of hopelessness about the future
  • Having a very low mood that continues for long periods of time
  • Worrying excessively about your baby
  • Feeling scared of being alone or scared of going out
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed, worthless,
  • Feeling exhausted, empty sad and teary
  • Having trouble sleeping, sleeping for too long or having nightmares

 

What if I’m experiencing things that are scaring me?

In some situations you might experience thoughts that are confronting to you, such as leaving your family, or worrying that your partner will leave you. If you have these thoughts, or thoughts about self-harm or harming your baby or partner, please seek professional help right away.

 

Who can I reach out to?

Your family and friends.

Your GP – at HealthMint our GPs are particularly good at helping people through depression and anxiety. They take the time to listen and work through things with you to put you on a path to feeling better.

Phone services:

GLOW Clinic – a Perinatal Emotional Health and Wellbeing Clinic, which offers a combination of support.

 

What help is available?

Family and friends are the obvious go-to, but in some situations, just having a friendly face to speak to outside of your family can be a big help. So you may find that having regular visits with a good GP helps to alleviate your symptoms and make you feel relaxed and in control of your health. A GP can also keep an eye on your symptoms, and help you to determine whether what you’re experiencing needs further help. Together with your doctor you could explore things like:

  • Counselling
  • Group treatment
  • Medications such as anti-depressants
  • Developing support strategies
  • Diet and exercise
  • Yoga and mindfulness

So what’s the take home message?

You are absolutely not alone. There are people both within your immediate support network, as well as professionals that are ready and willing to help you. If this article encourages you to take the first step, then you are already a step closer to feeling better.

Call Now Button