Archives for August, 2011

Anxiety and Panic

Social Networking and Your Partner’s Mental Health

@PostSecret had a Twitter post from one of its followers recently: "I set my status as widowed when my husband pisses me off."


A client knew her (now) ex-boyfriend's Facebook password, and used it to login to his account and read all the messages he had sent another woman. She didn't need the extra incentive to break off the relationship, but that certainly didn't help.

Another client complains that all of her friends are posting exciting, happy news on their Facebook pages, and she feels like a loser because she doesn't feel she has anything important to say, keeping her mired in depressive thoughts about the state of her life.

There was a post here on Psych Central a few weeks ago about the impact of social media on kids and adolescents. There's little argument that adults are affected too, and adults who have depression and anxiety can be even more affected than the general population. If your partner has a mental illness, what should you consider when it comes to social media and their mental health?

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Anxiety and Panic

When Anxiety Meets Addiction: Help for Partners

Does your partner “need” that glass of wine before meeting friends for dinner?

Is your partner dependent on marijuana to “relax and unwind”?

Has your partner’s use of prescription medications increased over time, sometimes to the point where they run out before it’s time for a refill?

Many people who experience anxiety, whether it's diagnosed or not, use alcohol, OTC meds, or illicit drugs to help them through the moment. Unfortunately, using substances for this purpose is a slippery slope. Besides being signs that your partner’s anxiety is beyond their control, there’s also a high risk for substance dependency and abuse. So, instead of having one problem to manage, you and your partner are now looking at two.

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Making It Work When Your Partner Has Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) has a bad reputation in the world of mental health. Many clinicians refuse to treat people with BPD, claiming that these patients are too challenging, too time-consuming, too volatile, too unstable, too emotionally draining, etc., etc.

But what if the person you love has BPD, either formally diagnosed or not? Is the only solution to walk away?

No, it's not.

Walking away is one solution, but my hope is that if you are reading this blog, you want to know all your options about how to possibly make the relationship work. And there are many.
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Sleep and Your Partner With Mental Illness

Sleep is one of those things that we take for granted when it's going well, and spend a lot of time complaining about when it's not.

Sleep issues are one of the top complaints my clients have when talking about what's not going well in their lives. It's estimated that 65-90% of people with depression experience insomnia, while on the other end of the spectrum, people who are in a depressive phase of bipolar disorder report hypersomnia (excessive sleeping).

How well your partner with a mental illness sleeps can have a huge impact on their day-to-day functioning. Problems with sleep are one of the diagnostic criterion for depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, and not getting enough--or getting too much--can cause real havoc for someone with a mental illness. An added bonus: by following these tips, you might sleep better too!

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Anxiety and Panic

Men’s Anxiety vs. Women’s Anxiety

Statistically speaking, women experience anxiety disorders at twice the rate of men. This fact is not limited to just one type of anxiety disorder, either: women outnumber men in being diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social phobia, agoraphobia, PTSD, and different kinds of specific phobias.

However, men absolutely also experience anxiety, and are often overlooked or not treated appropriately by the medical profession.

Depending on whether your partner is male or female may affect how they experience their anxiety and how they deal with it.

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Loving Someone With Asperger’s Syndrome

We've all encountered the brilliant artist who creates incredible, creative pieces of art, but does not pick up on your cues that you are ready to leave the conversation and move on. Or the person who can tell you absolutely everything you ever wanted to know about summer weather patterns, but totally missed the joke you just told and is now looking at you like you did something offensive. We walk away from these encounters wondering what exactly is going on since the person is obviously high functioning, but seems "socially awkward."

Perhaps these people have Asperger's Syndrome.

Many people with Asperger's Syndrome, often referred to as "Aspies," get diagnosed as children. However, many do not, especially if there is another issue going on, such as depression or anxiety, which is often the result of their Asperger's traits causing social awkwardness and/or issues interacting with the environment they live in.

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Is Your Partner Avoiding Recovery?

We all know people who call the doctor's office frantically at the first sign of a sniffle or sneeze. Other people wait until they are sure there's a real problem that isn't going to disappear on its own. Then there are the people who will never see a doctor or health professional, no matter how bad it gets, even though they are feeling the negative impact of their illness, both on themselves and their loved ones. This last group falls into a category called "recovery avoiders."

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about what happens when you and your partner disagree about their need for mental health treatment. There's no doubt that trying to convince someone that they need help is a delicate topic, especially if the person has not yet realized the impact of their illness. But when your partner acknowledges that yes, life is unmanageable AND they are not willing to do anything about it, that is a recipe for relationship disaster.

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Anxiety and Panic

The Impact of Partner Anxiety on Your Relationship

I recently came across a survey that was conducted in 2004 by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) that assessed the impact generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) has on relationships. Not surprisingly, the disorder has the biggest impact on romantic partnerships, followed by friendships, then work relationships.

Some of the findings were pretty eye-opening, even for me, a clinician who sees clients with panic and anxiety disorders on a daily basis:

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Affording Your Partner’s Mental Health Treatment

Among the top reasons I hear from clients about why they stop taking their meds or coming to therapy is the cost of their mental health treatment. It's no secret that psychiatric medications--especially the ones that are not available as generics--and psychotherapy costs are high.

For people who are low-income, on disability, or cannot work because of their mental health, the prospect of paying for appropriate treatment can be overwhelming. Even for people with insurance and reasonable incomes, mental health treatment can be pricey.

As the partner of someone with a mental illness, you, too, may be feeling the pinch and frustrated about the options that are (or are not) available for helping you and your partner.

What can you do to make your partner's mental health treatment affordable?

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Sex and Your Partner With Depression

Probably the number one reason patients give for stopping their antidepressant medications are that they have no libido while taking them. They say, "It's bad enough that I'm depressed--I'm not willing to give up my sex life, too!"

For the healthy partners, this presents a conundrum: you want your partner to feel relief from the depression, but hey, you've got needs, too, right?

According to a 2009 USA Today report, the amount of Americans using antidepressants rose in 2005 to close to 27 million people, or about 10% of the population.

As you've probably figured out as the partner of someone with depression, the mood disorder and sexual concerns and difficulties--including changes in sexual desire and lowered arousal--often go hand-in-hand. During a depressive episode, lowered sexual interest is common for both men and women. Antidepressants can cause many types of sexual concerns, such as the inability to have an orgasm or to achieve an erection.

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