mental health

The 8 Best Online Resources For Mental Health

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This is a reblog from another site.

It’s normal to struggle with stress from time to time, but what happens when that feeling of overwhelming misery becomes more of a near-constant battle than an occasional annoyance? Well, that’s what it’s like for the 15.7 million Americans who struggle with depression alone – and those staggering numbers don’t even include the myriads of other disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Bipolar Disorder.

If you struggle from any number of mood, anxiety or other mental disorders, you are certainly not alone. In fact, I myself suffer from GAD and Panic Disorder! More importantly, there’s no shame in seeking help for your mental health. Whether you’re suffering from a full-blown mental illness or just stressed out of your mind, the Internet can be an amazing resource for helping you take control of your mental health – if you know about the amazing websites that are out there.

So, here are just 8 of the best mental health resources available online today (as of September 2017) to help you feel happier, healthier and overall better about yourself and your life. And remember: this is NOT medical advice. If you’re in crisis, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for confidential help ASAP!

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Safe Space

Ever find yourself needing to slow down and just BREATHE? Sometimes we forget to take that time for ourselves during the day, and find ourselves quickly becoming panicked and overwhelmed. Thankfully, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a resource called Safe Space on its website. Described as a “calming, de-stimulating environment,” the Safe Space encourages you to breathe in a minimal landscape until you find yourself calm, cool and collected once more. (Note: if you are in crisis, this is not a suitable alternative to calling the lifeline. Please call the hotline above or visit your nearest crisis center ASAP!)

ADAA Online Support Group

A good support group won’t replace professional therapy for those who suffer from anxiety or depression – but itisa great supplement to help you connect with likeminded people and remember that you’re not alone in this struggle! The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has a free online support group through the site HealthUnlocked, which you can access via web or mobile app. Simply log into HealthUnlocked, follow the ADAA support group and start communicating almost instantly!

TalkSpace

TalkSpace is an app that provides text and video chat therapy that you can access anytime, anywhere. Just shoot your therapist a message whenever you’re feeling low, or have got something on your mind you just can’t shake, and they’ll reply to you next time they’re online. The only downside to this app is that you have to pay for it – but if you don’t have insurance or have confidentiality obstacles, TalkSpace is a great, cheaper alternative to traditional talk therapy.

Pacifica

If you struggle from a mood or anxiety disorder, Pacifica is an awesome tool to help you track your moods, unravel your negative thinking patterns and calm down on the go. Once you create a free account, Pacifica can be accessed either via its website or the mobile app. Inside the app, you can enter your mood and Pacifica will recommend an appropriate activity for you to complete to help yourself feel better instantly. You can also listen to a guided meditation, add positive pictures to your Hope Board and write a journal entry to help you identify the thought patterns that might be hurting you.

Happify

Happify is another excellent tool for anyone suffering from a mental illness, at their wit’s end or simply looking to boost their mood in the long term. With Happify, you complete activities and games that are scientifically-designed to help you feel happier – and stay that way! First, you create an account and receive recommendations for “tracks” (i.e. mini courses) to choose. Then, you choose a track, view your recommended activities and complete them daily for a chance to win medals – and even monthly raffle entries!

Therachat

Therachat is an anxiety self-help tool originally designed for therapists to help their clients track their mental health between sessions. However, anyone can use this app regardless of whether or not they have a therapist to guide them! With Therachat, you can customize a chat bot to guide you through journal entries and mood ratings with your preferred style and tone. The app even uses a therapist-approved approach called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of therapy that guides patients through the process of recognizing and altering their negative thought processes.

Calm

In case you haven’t heard, meditation and mindfulness are all the rage for helping you cope with negative emotions and mental illness. Luckily, Calm is a free resource to help you stay more mindful and connected to the present moment. With the Calm app, you can meditate along to guided audio or in silence – or simply enjoy the calming scenery and soundscape. You can access Calm online via their website, or download their mobile app for meditation on the go. Still craving more? You can pay to subscribe to Calm’s premium version, which provides you with even more guided meditations and ways to relax.

MoodMission

The MoodMission app will help you conquer negative feelings like stress, anxiety and depression by completing mini actions to boost your mood and make you happier. You begin by choosing whether you’re feeling depressed, anxious or neither, and the app will recommend a challenge accordingly. For example, when I’ve been feeling flat, drained and numb, MoodMission has told me to try the puppy yoga pose, scroll through my favorite websites or make a list of three things I’m grateful for. Once you accept the challenge, it’s up to you to complete it – and watch your mood rise when you do!

Substance Abuse & Suicide Guide

“Alcohol and other drugs can cause a range of health problems. Substance addiction also increases a person’s risk of facing other life-changing consequences. Overdose, disease and legal problems are among the top hazards for people with substance use disorders, but there’s another major risk that’s often overlooked.”

“‘A lot of times, suicide is not on the radar of drug and alcohol treatment providers or families because, for understandable reasons, they’re so focused on safety around substance use,’ Mark Ilgen, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, told DrugRehab.com. ‘Sometimes suicide risk goes unnoticed and doesn’t get the attention it needs.’”

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I believe in miracles

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Millions believe in miracles. And millions have experienced it too. Six weeks ago, I was the lucky one. My miracle appeared the 20th of April, when my son was born. It is still so strange to have a son. One week after he was born, his eye was infected and I had to get a remedy in the pharmacy. When she asked me if it was for myself or someone else, I proudly announced it was for my son. It hit me then. I am now a mother, with all that it entails. First and foremost, that means being there for him, making him secure. He has already got a little personality, and so far he has been a very kind and calm baby. These last days he has also become more social and engaged with the world. Every little development is a miracle, just him being here is. How lucky am I ?

Bipolar, Schizophrenia, and the Microbes Inside You

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This post is a reblog of a post by Candida Fink, MD.

I found it very interesting and hope you like it too! The post can be found on her blog: bipolar beat at psych central

Can the bacterial community that lives in your gut actually be related to psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder? Research on the human microbiome and its effects on health and illness has exploded into the worlds of medicine and research. It is increasingly clear that the microorganisms in the human intestinal tract, and the genes produced by all of these microscopic living things, play critical roles in an individual’s patterns of overall wellness — far beyond helping us digest food effectively.

Microbiota and Microbiome Defined

Microbiota is the ecological community of microorganisms (mostly bacteria, but also fungi, viruses, and so on) that live in a particular location, such as your gut. Microbiomerefers collectively to the genes harbored in these microorganisms. Researchers must understand the patterns of both the organisms and the genes to help clarify the roles these microscopic creatures play in the body’s health and function. So, if you read something about the microbiome that’s about only the bacteria and not the genes, you know it is an incomplete discussion. Also, while most of the discussions are about the gut microbiota and microbiome, humans actually have colonies of microorganisms living in other areas in and on their bodies, including their skin, reproductive tract, and the mouth and throat (which are technically part of the gut but sometimes are not thought of in that way).

A study in the journal Brain, Behavior, Immunology (May 2017), entitled “The microbiome, immunity, and schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,” summarizes some of the current research looking at the microbiome as it relates to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The article reports that many studies in animal models have shown that the gut microbiome could affect thinking and behavior through effects on the immune system. Some human studies have shown that people with psychiatric conditions took antibiotics more frequently than people without these disorders. Humans take antibiotics to kill off unwanted bacterial infections, but these medications also kill off some of the microbiota, changing the person’s microbiome. The question that comes up then is whether these microbiome changes were related to the development of the psychiatric conditions. This article also points to studies that found different microbiota in the mouths and throats (oro-pharyngeal microbiota) of people with schizophrenia compared to those without.

Babies are born with “sterile” guts; they don’t have any gut microbiota. But in the birth process, microorganisms colonize the baby’s mouth and intestine, starting off their process of building a microbiome that eventually looks like an adult’s. Many researchers are exploring how the developing microbiome might affect the developing brain and nervous system. While it seems clear that there are effects, the exact processes mediating the effects and what exactly gets changed or affected remains very unclear. While the immune system is thought to be one pathway, other mechanisms are also being investigated.

Many other areas of research show promising results when looking at the microbiota, microbiome, and illness. Autism researchers are looking at the “gut-microbiome-brain” connection, and there are strong indicators that the microbiota and microbiome have some relationship to autism. Obesity — not a mental illness but of concern to so many people living with mental illness — has been shown to have some very interesting connections to the microbiota in mouse studies. Changing the patterns of bacteria in mouse guts can transform the mouse from lean to obese and vice versa without changing diets. A study from China last month in the World Journal of Gastroenterologyreports a case of a 20-year-old with Crohn’s disease and seizures. They treated her with fecal microbiota transplantation — giving her the gut microbiota of a healthy person — and her gastrointestinal symptoms and seizures improved significantly.

The potential benefits to understanding how the microbiota and microbiome interact with the brain and central nervous system could be enormous. Understanding microorganism mechanisms that increase the likelihood of mental illness such as bipolar disorder or neurodevelopmental condition like autism would make room to build new interventions that target those mechanisms. The research in these areas is still in early stages, and there is much more to do, but this is an intriguing and promising story in the quest to understand and treat disorders of the brain.

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