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Mental Health Education: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Mental Health Education: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

What is PTSD?

 

PTSD is a form of anxiety disorder that manifests as a result of a distressing, stressful or frightening event. Some examples of events that may trigger PTSD symptoms include: road traffic accident, personal assault, health problems and childbirth. While these are recognised as common triggers, there is no pre-determined list of experiences that do and do not “qualify” as events associated with the onset of PTSD.

 

Who experiences PTSD?

 

Around 1 in 3 people who have experienced a traumatic incident will go on to develop PTSD and while for some symptoms appear immediately after the experience, for some it take months, or even years, to develop.

 

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

 

Like all mental illnesses, PTSD can affect different people in different ways. This being said, some of the most common symptoms experienced by those with PTSD can be split into 4 categories:

 

Re-experiencing– involuntary reliving the trauma through flashbacks, nightmares, repetitive images/sensations and/or physical sensations (e.g. pain, sweating, nausea, shaking).

 

Avoidance/Emotional numbing– avoidance of certain places, people or activities that may remind that individual of the trauma they experienced. This may be achieved by excessively working or participating in hobbies or alternatively, it may be achieved by withdrawing from their former lives, making that individual isolated.

 

Hyperarousal– this essentially means that the individual will find it difficult to relax. This can present as irritability, anger, insomnia and difficulty concentrating.

 

PTSD is also heavily linked to other mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, phobias and addiction. Addiction will often involve self-destructive behaviours like alcohol and drug abuse.

 

What is the difference between PTSD and Complex PTSD?

 

Complex PTSD is experienced when an individual has been repeatedly exposed to traumatic events like violence, neglect or abuse. Children who have experienced abuse are particularly vulnerable to complex PTSD and unfortunately, symptoms are often not detected until later in life.

 

How can I help someone who is struggling with PTSD?

 

Due to the nature of the condition, people with PTSD often find it hard to trust other people. Being supportive is incredibly important and while it may be difficult, if symptoms like anger or irritability present, try to separate them from the person in front of you. Just like a person with a cold can’t help sneezing, these outbursts are often purely a symptom of the illness. If you or someone you love is struggling with PTSD of any kind, please reach out to someone and seek help. The team at Dr Julian are always available to help.

 

No one should struggle in silence. Talk to someone. Talk to us.

 

 

If you or anyone you know struggles with PTSD and you feel we could add more information to this factsheet or that we got something wrong, please feel free to message us on facebook or Instagram so we can make sure we’re providing people with the best information possible!

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Rocketman: Mental Health Themes

Rocketman: Mental Health Themes

This bank holiday weekend, there’s one film that’s predicted to break records in cinemas….Rocketman. This film tells the story of how rock and roll legend, Elton John, rose to fame. I was lucky enough to go and see it this week and despite preconceptions of a classic “rags to riches” storyline, I was surprised to encounter a strong connection to a multitude of mental health conditions. Without giving any spoilers, I thought the film posed some really important questions and viewpoints.

 

From alcohol and drug abuse/addiction to affection deprivation and toxic relationships, the film explores how situations and people can affect a person’s mental health. It really made me think about the importance of environments on mental health as, it was very clear in the film that certain people and places resulted in further issues for Elton. How many of us have been in a situation that we know isn’t good for us, but have stayed because we feel trapped and unable to leave? I know I certainly have. Yet it’s not something that’s discussed very often. So, how can we help those who may be feeling trapped?

 

I found the character of Bernie, Elton’s lyricist and friend, to be one of the most inspirational characters of the film. Despite not understanding his friend’s choices, he stuck by him throughout all the struggles he faced and even when he was pushed away, he always returned, ready to help. I think we could all learn from Bernie. Despite the pain it caused him to see Elton struggling, he persisted to help in any way he could. Just having one person who sees past the mental illness and tries to find a way to help you is priceless. Mental illness is often scary and isolating and cannot be fought alone. So I aim to take a leaf out of Bernie’s book, and try to put aside my own struggles in order to help those around me who may need a hand to get out of an extremely dark place.

 

It’s also apparent in the film that Elton feels like he’s let his childhood-self down. This is an extremely common theme amongst those with mental health issues for, as children, our futures seem full of potential, with adults appearing as superheroes and no dream being impossible. However, the rose-tinted glasses of youth blur out the hardships that many of us face throughout adulthood. As a result, it’s understandable that we feel as though we have failed our former selves.

 

However, it’s important not to let these feelings of failure knock you even further. During the film, there’s an extremely powerful moment where grown-up Elton gives child Elton a hug. Within this moment there’s an overwhelming feeling of forgiveness, reconciliation and hope. Our challenge for you today is to take some time to picture yourself as a child. Imagine what you would want to say to your younger self and what your younger self would say back. Consider the emotions you’re experiencing and think about where in your body you can feel those emotions.

 

This kind of practise can be extremely helpful in understanding your emotions and also in helping to forgive yourself. Everyone will experience some form of hardship during their lifetime, but the fact that you’re reading this shows you haven’t given up yet. That’s something to be extremely proud of and I’m sure your younger self would be proud of you too if they could see how brave they grew up to be. Give your younger self a hug and see if it could help you to take one step closer to a brighter future.

 

No matter what your situation, it’s never too late to turn things around, but it’s difficult to do so alone. Reach out to someone today and find the help that you deserve. Talk to someone. Talk to us.

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Mental Health Awareness Week: Body Image

Mental Health Awareness Week: Body Image

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. It’s an annual campaign designed to make the public take the time to think about mental health and how it may be affecting them or their loved ones. The theme this year is “Body Image” and was chosen to make us all consider how we think and feel about our bodies.

 

How is body image linked to mental health?

The majority of us will have, at some point, looked in the mirror and not liked what we’ve seen. While negative body image isn’t in itself a mental health issue, it can develop into one along with some other nasty symptoms such as poor quality of life and unhealthy and damaging eating behaviours.

 

The Mental Health Foundation found that 1 in 5 of us feel ashamed of our bodies and 1 in 3 of us have felt anxious or depressed as a result of body image. These figures are huge and clearly indicate that something needs to be done to help improve the nation’s body image and the associated mental health issues.

 

Social Media and Body Image

As the age of social media continues to expand, the mental health concerns associated with it follow. 1 in 5 adults have viewed images on social media that have caused them to worry about their own bodies and there is currently little regulation on social media platforms to present body criticizing content. While social media is not necessarily to blame for this trend, the way in which we use it is often damaging and steps need to be taken in order to promote body positivity and provide access to help for those who find themselves struggling with their body image while online.

 

The Be Real Campaign’s Body Image Pledge is striving to collect the signatures of top social media companies to look into how body diversity can be represented online and how social media can become a more positive experience for all users.

 

How can you help?

In modern society, most of us are guilty of posting only the positive aspects of our lives. Our social media accounts rarely show us slouched on a sofa, eating pizza, with unwashed hair surrounded by mess. Yet for a lot of us, this is more common than the pictures presented on our social media accounts showing holidays abroad or pictures of ball gowns and suits. While it’s down to personal choice what you share online, remember that what you don’t share, other people are unlikely to share either.

 

Be mindful of the accounts and pages that you follow and be aware of how they’re affecting you. Regularly look through your followed pages and don’t be afraid to unfollow if you think it’s having a negative effect on your mental health. Finally, this is not something that will change overnight, but being aware of the dangers of negative body image and how it may be affecting those around you can help you to become an ambassador for positive body image.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with body image and you’re concerned please don’t hesitate to talk to someone. Talk to us.

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Maternal Mental Health Week 2019

Maternal Mental Health Week 2019

When you mention “maternity” or “pregnancy” to the majority of the population, the classic Hollywood style images of happy families and new-born babies come to mind. However, as we enter into “Maternal Mental Health Week” this week, we want to open up the conversation about the struggles that many people face surrounding maternity.

 

More than 1 in 10 women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or during the first year of the baby’s life, the most common form being depression. If left untreated, maternal mental health is one of the primary causes for death of mothers during this time. However, due to a range of fears, such as societal judgement or having their children taken away from them, many women do not seek help.

 

This week is to raise awareness of the struggles that many mothers face and help to signpost services that can help mothers in need, but it is also important to help change societal views, to help mothers to know that they’re not alone if they’re experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition and to know that it’s okay not to be okay and to ask for help. The chances are that someone in your life is struggling with maternal mental health and may be doing so in silence. Simply asking a loved one if how they’re doing or noticing the signs of someone who’s struggling could help get that person the help they need and may even save their life. While pregnancy and post-natal life are traditionally joyful periods, be mindful that this may not be the case for everyone. Let’s talk about maternal mental health and help support these strong mothers through a very difficult time.

 

While there are many forms of maternal mental illness, we have included a few common symptoms:

 

Feeling sad/hopeless

Sleeping too much/too little

Loss of appetite

Lack of interest or pleasure in normal activities

 

If you have any worries about you or someone you know, please talk to someone. Whether it be your local GP, a midwife or any other service, the main focus it to make sure the individual is safe and gets the help they deserve. Don’t suffer in silence.

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Sink or Swim? - Art Therapy

Sink or Swim? - Art Therapy

Many mental health conditions are associated with feelings of being trapped or lost. While in these moments it feels as though you’re completely alone and that no one could possibly understand how you’re feeling, it’s important to remember that you are not alone and not only have other people experienced similar feelings, but many have also returned from these “places” where they feel trapped.

 

I myself have been through a time like this recently, and the only way I can describe it is feeling like I was drowning. I decided to create an art piece that could help describe how I was feeling. Art can be an incredible tool to use when you’re feeling down, not only to distract your mind, but also to help you understand some of the often confusing emotions. While painting, I realised so many things about my situation that I hadn’t noticed before, and somehow it all started to seem a lot more bearable.

 

A common misconception is that in order to do art, one must be good at art, but this really isn’t the case. Art is simply taking the time to express yourself whether it be on paper, in model form or an entirely different mode altogether. In taking the time to do something, it allows your mind to take a break from all the confusing aspects of life and really come to terms with the parts of life that are troubling us. It can often help you to understand your own mind better and as a result helps you to figure out what to do next to give yourself the self-love you need. It’s so effective that it has become a form of therapy in itself, which you can find out more about online. We highly recommend doing something artistic to help improve your mood and you can even get friends or family involved too to make it more sociable.

Check out our social media pages to see the full version of our artwork!

 

We challenge you to try out some form of art this week and let us know how it goes on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter!

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Mother's Day

Mother's Day

Today we celebrate Mother’s Day. It’s a day that, for most, is filled with joy with gift giving and general festivity. However, Mother’s Day can also be extremely difficult for some people. For those who have lost a mother or for mothers who have lost a child, those who have faced difficulty during motherhood, same sex parents who may face discrimination for raising a family without a traditional mother figure, parents who may have struggled to conceive along with many others . So, on this day, we want to extend a hand to anyone who may be struggling, whether it be related to this holiday or for another reason. At Dr Julian, one of our motos is “you are not alone”. It’s a simple three-word phrase, but it can have so much strength when delivered to someone in need of strength. It’s easy for negative feelings to be amplified on holidays, making the world seem to be an even more dark and scary place, but having someone to walk alongside you and help you through can be a real saving grace. With Dr Julian, the ability to choose when you want to speak to some and do so in the comfort of your own home means that you really aren’t alone. Sometimes making the first move can be scary, and many feel this way, but our team of friendly and qualified therapists are waiting to help you in whatever way you need. Download the app today or create an online account and take the first step towards a happier future.

 

No matter what your situation, we hope that you have a lovely day.

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Gratitude Journals

Gratitude Journals

For those of us who struggle with mental health, the world can often feel dark and scary. It’s incredibly easy for negative thoughts and feelings to overpower the good things in our lives. Part of dealing with mental health issues it to try and re-train your brain into thinking in a different way. One of the ways that we can do this is by keeping a gratitude or happiness journal. While it sounds a bit complicated it’s really not, and it doesn’t have to be expensive either. There are a whole range of books on the market, designed to help guide users through writing tasks to help realise the good things about day to day life, but using a standard notebook or an app on your phone can work just as well. It’s all about finding what works for you. The aim is to write 3 things you’re happy about in your life, 3 times a day. For example, you might write: a comfy bed, a good TV show and a really yummy pizza. It can be anything you like as long as it’s something you’re happy about.

 

This isn’t just a habit created by book makers to try and make you buy their products. There has been scientific research that shows that in completing this task, the brain begins to change and view the world in a more positive way. This is an incredible result from such a simple act.

 

We challenge you to keep a gratitude journal for the next few week and let us know how you get on! Your stories could help others to take the next step to improve their life!

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Nutrition and Hydration Week

Nutrition and Hydration Week

Today marks the end of Nutrition and Hydration Week. Your diet can have a lot of effects on your body, but most importantly for us at Dr Julian, it can have a massive effect on your mental health.

 

How can diet help my mental health?

 

People who struggle with many forms of mental health problems often report symptoms such as tiredness, lack of self-esteem, over/undereating alongside many more. While these symptoms are heavily associated with mental health conditions, there’s a lot that diet can do to help keep them manageable. Here are just a few examples of how changes to your diet can help boost your mood!

 

Tiredness

 

Being tired is not fun! It can prevent you for doing many things from going to work to socialising with friends (both very important aspects of life). However, it may be possible to increase your energy levels with small changes to your diet.

 

Iron is a mineral that all humans need and a lack of it in the diet can lead to extreme tiredness. Iron can be found in meat, beans, nuts, wholegrains, most breakfast cereals and dark leafy vegetables just to name a few! Iron supplements can also be purchased from most pharmacies.

 

Having a balanced diet can also help with low energy levels. Processed or fast food is often quick to make, tasty and satisfying. Individuals struggling with mental health often gravitate towards these foods, whether it be because of lack of energy to make fresh food, lack of interest in food or other reasons. However, processed and fast foods are usually very low in nutrients and lead consumers to feel bloated, heavy and tired! By switching to a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, you’d be surprised at the boost in energy that comes with it!

 

TOP TIP: When cooking, batch cook items like pasta sauce, curries and stews. Put excess food into containers and freeze for a later date. This will save both time and money and will give the convenience of fast food with the nutrition of fresh food.

 

Over/undereating

 

It’s not uncommon for people struggling with mental health conditions to over/under-eat. A general disinterest in food often leads to a lack of routine when it comes to meals and replacing set meals with snacking (whether the snacking is limited or excessive). Your body likes routine in a lot of aspects of life such as sleep and food.

 

TOP TIP: Try eating three meals a day, every day for 7 days. Try to eat foods that are nutrient rich and make sure the meals are of a standard size while leave the snacks in the cupboard. Your body will thank you for giving it a set routine and you should start to feel hungry approaching meal times and satisfied in between.

 

Self- esteem

 

Many people don’t like certain parts of their bodies, it’s normal. However, these feels can often be accentuated in individuals with mental health conditions. A healthy diet can help individuals to feel better about themselves and can help to boost self-confidence.

 

This being said, there are some conditions where diet can be used in a way that can harm the individual. If you notice damaging dietary behaviours in yourself or others, such as restricting food, disappearing to the toilet after eating or any other behaviours that you are worried about, please contact someone who can help. We are here to support you no matter what.

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