What is a Marriage and Family Therapist?
Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are specialists in relationships. They are highly trained mental health professionals that diagnose and treat individuals, couples and families. MFTs generally practice short term therapy with the average approximately 12 sessions. MFTs are solution-focused with specific and attainable goals. They are psychotherapists and healing arts practitioners licensed by the State of California.
Marriage and Family Therapists treat a variety of family type problems. They include:
Couples in crisis Substance abuse users Families of substance abusers Sexual abuse victims Sexual abuse offenders Juveniles with problems with the law Juveniles with emotional disorders Schizophrenia Depression Eating disorders Relationship problems Alcoholism Dementia in the elderly Grief & Loss Divorce & separation
The Federal government has designated marriage and family therapy as a core mental health profession. Included in the mental health core are psychiatry. Psychology, psychiatric nursing and social work. Forty eight states regulate and support the profession by licensing or mandating certification of marriage and family therapists.
What are the qualifications for a Marriage and Family Therapist?
Before obtaining the MFT license, Marriage and Family Therapists must complete a two-year masters or doctoral degree program accredited by a regionally accepted school. They must pass a comprehensive written and oral examination and at least 3,000 hours of supervised experience. The law specifies an integrated course of study that must include “marital and family systems approaches to treatment,” “developmental issues and life events from infancy to old age,” and “a variety of approaches to the treatment of children.” MFTs earn their license through a rigorous education and an intense training and licensing process similar to other mental health professionals. MFTs are well trained and highly educated. A minimum of a master’s degree is required, nearly 20 percent of California’s marriage and family therapists also hold doctoral or other advanced degrees. The average Marriage and Family Therapist has over 13 years of clinical practice in that field.
What is a Clinical Social Worker?
A Clinical Social Worker is a professional counselor who provides services for prevention, diagnosis, and the treatment of behavioral, mental and emotional disorders for individuals, families and groups. Social Workers help people function the best way they can in their environment, deal with relationships and help them solve employment, personal and family problems. Social Workers also help families that have serious domestic conflicts that can involve a spouse or child.
Clinical Social Workers are highly educated and trained. They must have a master’s or doctorate degree in social work. They are required to undergo a supervised clinical field internship and have at least two years of postgraduate supervised clinical social work employment. The internship work includes clinical psycho-social diagnosis, assessment and treatment. Other areas include client-centered advocacy, consultation, evaluation and research. Over 35% of the time shall spent on face-to-face individual or group psychotherapy for clinical social work services.
An Educational Psychologist is a professional that studies how humans learn in educational settings. Duties include educational evaluation and diagnosis with test interpretation to assess academic ability and learning patterns. Educational psychology encompasses instructional design, educational technology, curriculum development, organizational learning, special education and overall classroom management.
Licensed Educational Psychologists must have a minimum of a master’s degree in psychology, educational psychology, school psychology or counseling and guidance. Most states require three years of full time experience as a credentialed school psychologist.
Finding a Therapist
Choosing a Therapist is an important decision. Thus, our goal is to assist you in making that decision.
You may want to begin your search in several different ways:
Ask family, friends, neighbors and/or co-workers. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau for reputable Therapists. Contact your city, county or state medical agencies for names of qualified Therapists. Contact and ask for referrals from local mental health associations, local hospitals and/or medical centers. Contact state and national associations such as the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Contact your health insurance company and ask them for an approved list of therapists.
We recommend that you interview the Therapist and ask the following:
How long have you been in practice?
Is your staff friendly and accommodating?
What are the procedures if we need you in the middle of the night or on a weekend?
Do you have an associate that covers for you when you are not available?
Do you have more than one office and if so, how is your time divided between offices?
What kind of continuing education do you utilize?
Do you accept phone calls during office hours?
How do you stay current on the latest drug prescriptions available and newest treatments?
What types of insurance coverage do you accept?
How do you handle billing? Do you require payment at the time of visit?
Do you specialize in handling certain types of problems. IE: Anxiety Disorders, Drug Abuse, Couples Counseling, etc.?
Discuss your family medical history and particular problems you are concerned about.
After you have consulted a few Therapists, you should have a good idea which one you felt most comfortable with and who best answered your questions.
How Mental Health Professionals Were Selected
Consumers’ Research Council of America has compiled a list of Top Mental Health Professionals throughout the United States by utilizing a point value system. This method uses a point value for criteria that we deemed valuable in determining the top specialists.
The criteria that was used and assessed a point value is as follows:
Each year they have been in practice
Education and Continuing Education
Membership in Professional Associations and Organizations
Completing an approved internship program and passing a rigid examination on that specialty
Simply put, mental health professionals that have accumulated a certain amount of points qualified for the list. This does not mean that practitioners that did not accumulate enough points are not good psychologists/therapists, they merely did not qualify for this list because of the points needed for qualification.
Similar studies have been done with other professions using a survey system. This type of study would ask fellow professionals who they would recommend; we found this method to be more of a popularity contest. For instance, professionals who work in a large office have much more of a chance of being mentioned, as opposed to a professional who has a small private practice. In addition, many professionals have a financial arrangement for back-and-forth referrals. For these reasons, we developed the point value system.
Since this is a subjective call, there is no study that is 100% accurate. As with any profession, there will be some degree of variance in opinion. If you survey 100 patients from a particular specialist on their satisfaction, you will undoubtedly hear that some are very satisfied, some moderately satisfied and some dissatisfied. This is really quite normal.
We feel that a point value system takes out the personal and emotional factor and deals with factual criteria. We have made certain assumptions. For example, we feel that more years in practice is better than less years in practice; more education is better than less education, etc.
The Top Mental Health Professional list that we have compiled is current as of a certain date and other mental health professionals may have qualified since that date. Nonetheless, we feel that the list of Top Mental Health Professionals is a good starting point for you to find a qualified specialist.
No fees, donations, sponsorships or advertising are accepted from any individuals, professionals, corporations or associations. This policy is strictly adhered to, ensuring an unbiased selection.
Over 25% of American adults will experience a mood disorder over the next twelve months. Mental illness is among the most common healthcare conditions in today’s society. There are many theories on causes of mental illness but many researchers feel that serious mental illness is caused by complex imbalances in the brain’s chemistry. Environmental factors, stress, tragic and emotional events can also play a part in mental illness. Two of the most common mood disorders are Depression and Bipolar Disorder, also known as Manic-Depressive Illness. Mood disorders can be treated with a high degree of success.
Depression is an uncomfortable mental state often thought of as being an extreme state of sadness. Normal sadness is part of being human and is a typical reaction to painful and upsetting circumstances. Depression is on a much larger scale with actual physical symptoms. Sadness is a temporary state-of-mind that will pass. The sad person continues to cope with life and day-to-day situations. A depressed person may feel overwhelmed and symptoms can last for weeks, months and even years.
Almost ten percent of adults living in America will experience depression at some point in their lives. Depression is the most common of all mental illnesses; it affects all people regardless of race, sex, age and income levels. It is evidenced that women are two-to-three times more likely to suffer depression than are men. Experts are uncertain why this is; some feel that it is more related to physical conditions such as hormones, and others feel it is from the pressure that women experience in our society.
A person who suffers from depressed mood disorders will experience many of these symptoms:
Depressed mood for the majority of the day
Fatigue, tiredness, loss of energy
Substantial weight changes, plus or minus five percent of normal body weight
Hypersomnia (much more sleeping than normal)
Little interest in pleasurable activities
Difficulty thinking and concentrating
Feeling of worthlessness
Excessive amount of guilt
Significant decrease in appetite
Significant increase in appetite
Decreased sexual drive
Not all of these symptoms occur in each individual that becomes depressed. For purposes of therapy, a person is considered to have experienced a depressive episode if they have experienced four or more of these symptoms for a period of two weeks or more.
Depression generally does not just “go away” and needs to treated. The most common forms of treatment are antidepressant drugs and Psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Another form of treatment is called Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). This form of treatment is for extreme cases of severe depression that do not respond to other forms of treatment. It has been nicknamed the derogatory term “Shock Treatment”. Results of this treatment are impressive, resulting in dramatic improvement in 80 to 90 percent of patients.
Herbal therapies have become popular over the past few years. For many years in Europe they have used an herbal supplement called “St. John’s Wort” to treat anxiety and depression. As with many herbal products, long-term controlled trials are lacking and this herbal remedy can not interact with certain prescription medications.
Bipolar Disorder, sometimes called Manic-Depressive Illness, is when a person’s mood swings back and forth between Depression and Mania. Bipolar Disorder is believed to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Many experts feel that this disorder is hereditary since many people who suffer from this malady have relatives with a similar depressive condition. The mood swings can last days, weeks, months and even years in some cases. It is common for symptoms to start in the late teens or early twenties.
The keys to identifying Bipolar Disorder are the mood swings and the presence of a hypomanic or manic episode. Listed below are some common symptoms of a manic episode:
Decreased need for sleep, Insomnia
Larger-than-normal ego, grandiosity
Very talkative, speaking quickly
Disorientation, hallucinations, delusions
Heightened sexual drive
Inappropriate laughing and humor
Spending too much money, poor judgment
Denial that anything is wrong
A skilled therapist will conduct a medical evaluation in order to rule out any other mental or physical disorders. Once diagnosed, a Psychiatrist can begin to treat the ailment. Over 80% of patients who have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder can be treated effectively with medication and psychotherapy. There are three mood stabilizers that are commonly prescribed for bipolar disorder, which are Lithium Carbonate, Carbamazepine and Valproate.
Mood Disorder Medications
Antidepressant drugs are one of the most common treatments for Depression. Over seventy percent of the patients treated respond to these antidepressant drugs. Antidepressants fall into three major classes: Tricyclics, Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors, and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. It is common for these medications to take two to three weeks to take effect.
Treatment with antidepressant drugs requires a process of adjustment, which means that the patient may have to switch to another medication. In 1988 a serotonin-inhibiting drug, Prozac, soon became the most widely used antidepressant medication. Many patients have found this type of medication extremely effective in lifting depression. Some patients claim that it actually increases their self-confidence, energy level and optimism.
Patients who are diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder are often prescribed Lithium Carbonate. This medication is classified as an Anti-Manic drug. Lithium is a natural mineral salt, taken during times of normal moods to delay or possibly prevent future mood swings. Patients who take Lithium should drink 10 to 12 glasses of water each day to help prevent dehydration.
There are many different types of eating disorders that involve food, eating and weight. Anorexia and Bulimia are some of the more common disorders that we hear about frequently. Only about 10% of people with Anorexia or Bulimia are male. Some people feel that this reflects the way our society puts different expectations on females than their male counterparts. Men are supposed to be big, strong and powerful and women are supposed to be tiny, dainty and thin. Little girls grow up playing with Barbie* dolls and think that being tall and thin is what is required to be beautiful and attractive.
Anorexia is most common among teenage girls but can also affect teenage boys and adults of both genders. People with anorexia believe that they are fat even when they are very, very thin. They are simply obsessed with being thin and are terrified of gaining any weight. Anorexia is viewed as only a problem with food and weight but goes deeper by using those items to deal with emotional problems.
Warning signs of anorexia include:
Fear of gaining weight
Weight is 85% or less than it should be for age and height
Refusal to eat
Denial of hunger
Menstrual periods irregular or absent
Self perception of being fat
Feeling cold all the time
Many people with Anorexia believe that there is nothing wrong them, which makes treatment very difficult. Treatment generally involves much more than just changing a person’s eating habits. A person with Anorexia often needs counseling for over a year so they can work on changing the feeling that are causing these eating problems. Counseling would focus on their weight, self-esteem and family problems. Medicine is prescribed when issues of depression are evident.
Bulimia is a psychological eating disorder. Bulimia is best defined as episodes of binge-eating followed by inappropriate purging methods of weight control. These inappropriate purging methods include:
Excessive use of laxatives
People with Bulimia can look perfectly normal, with normal weight. It is difficult to determine if someone suffers from bulimia because the binge eating and purging are done in private. People who suffer from Bulimia can consume huge quantities of food. Some Bulimics will consume 15,000 to 20,000 calories of food in one sitting. The foods most common for this type of binge-eating are smooth, sweet foods like ice cream , cake, pastries and donuts.
*Barbie is a registered trademark of Mattel, Inc.
Over 19 million American adults are affected by anxiety disorders. Anxiety is the fearful anticipation of further danger or problems accompanied by an intense unpleasant feeling, with or without physical symptoms. People that have this disorder are overwhelmed by anxiety and fear. Everyone experiences some nervousness, such as when on a first date, speaking in front of a group of people, or hundreds of other situations that can cause anxiety. An anxiety disorder is when the apprehension is much more than just a temporary feeling; it is chronic, relentless and can get progressively worse if untreated.
Some common anxiety disorders are as follows:
Panic Disorder affects over 2.5 million Americans, with women proving to be twice as likely to suffer from this disorder than men. People that have this disorder have feelings of terror that strike suddenly, without any warning. Sufferers don’t know when an episode will strike and tend to worry about the next one that will occur. Panic attacks can even happen during sleep.
Panic Disorder is commonly accompanied by other serious conditions such as drug use, depression and alcoholism. It is a treatable disease that responds well to medications and focused Psychotherapy.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is much more intense than the normal anxiety experienced in day-to-day living. People that suffer with this illness worry continually about possible disasters, family, work, school, health, loved ones health, financial issues and overall safety. These stressful worries tend to be accompanied by physical symptoms, fatigue, sweating, headaches, shaking, trembling, twitching, hot flashes, difficulty in swallowing, lightheadedness, and overall tension.
GAD affects over 4 million people, but can be treated with medications and Psychotherapy. Women are afflicted with this two-to-one over their male counterparts.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that follows a terrifying event, affecting over 5 million people. Women develop PTSD more often than men and can materialize in people at any age, even children. Day-to-day events can trigger “flashbacks” of a bad experience. These flashbacks are triggered by an image, sound, smell or even just a feeling.
PTSD is also accompanied frequently by depression, drug use and alcoholism. People who develop this disorder usually show symptoms within three months of the traumatic event. PTSD can be treated with medications and well targeted Psychotherapy.
A Phobia is a persistent, irrational fear of an object, activity, person or situation that compels a person to avoid it. It causes distress and inability to function as that person would normally. Common Phobias include fear of flying, heights, being in closed and small spaces, water, insects, snakes and injuries that involve blood.
Phobias affect over 7% of the population. Symptoms include profuse sweating, impaired motor skills, rapid heart rate, trembling, feeling of weakness and extreme anxiety. Phobias are very common among children but are considered normal for that age. Phobias range dramatically in severity, but generally can be treated with medication and therapy.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention Deficit Disorder is a neurological syndrome. ADD has a subgroup which includes hyperactivity, called ADHD. Approximately 5% of the population are affected by these disorders. Boys with ADD tend to outnumber girls by a ratio of 3 to 1. Some of the symptoms of ADD/ADHD sufferers are as follows:
Often loses or misplaces things
Is easily distracted
Has a hard time following instructions
Bounces from one activity to another
Has poor listening skills
Has difficulty in paying attention
Has difficulty remaining seated
Blurts out answers to questions
Cannot sit still; fidgets and squirms frequently
Is unable to concentrate
Has difficulty in organizing tasks
Makes careless mistakes
Has difficulty waiting in line or for their turn in a game
There are different theories on the causes of ADD/ADHD, but there has not been one conclusively proven. The primary theory seems to be that the disorder is genetic or hereditary. Experts feel that there is the strongest correlation with this theory as evidence supports. Other theories are that the afflicted person had experienced head trauma either before, during or after birth. Women that had experienced labor for over 13 hours were twice as likely to have a child with ADD/ADHD. Other theories include food allergies and neurobiological brain differences.
Recent studies and evidence appear to indicate that ADD/ADHD is a permanent condition, although it is believed that some children will outgrow the hyperactivity portion of ADHD. Untreated, the potential long-term effects are staggering, as these statistics show:
Over 75% of people with ADD get divorced
Over 50% stay behind a grade
Over 46% get suspended
Over 10% get expelled
Over 2 ½ million school kids have it
There are medications that have been used to treat ADHD. These medicines do not cure the disorder, they temporarily control the symptoms. There are three medications in the class of drugs known as stimulants that seem to be the most effective in both children and adults. They are Ritalin, Dexedrine (or Dextrostat) and Cylert. Many people treated with these see dramatic results quickly. These drugs improve the person’s ability to focus, work and learn. These medications may also increase the person’s physical coordination, with improvements noticed in handwriting and sports.
Ninety percent of children improve with one of the three drugs mentioned. It is generally advised that if one doesn’t work, the others should be tried. Before your physician changes the drug type, they will try adjusting the dosage. If your child falls into the ten percent that fail to respond to stimulants, there are other medications that can still be effective.
Other treatments include psychotherapy. This type of therapy gives a patient a chance to discuss different ways to handle their emotions and self-defeating behavior patterns. The therapy’s objective is to make the patient understand how they can change, some alternate ways to handle their emotions, and to help them gain control of symptomatic behavior.
Addiction is the constant repetition of excessive behavior where a person is unable or unwilling to stop. Addictions can be created for any activity or behavior which allows people to escape from life and its problems. Many people automatically think of drugs and alcohol when they hear of addictions but they encompass many other areas of our lives. Other addictions include shopping, spending, gambling, food, weight loss, sexual activities, pornography and sometimes other people. People who are addicted will continue their behavioral patterns despite harmful emotional and physical consequences. Addiction is always considered harmful.
It is estimated that over ten percent of the adult drinking population in America is considered to be alcoholic, or to have experienced drinking problems to some degree. Alcohol drinking is on the rise in our country as it is in many other countries. For unknown reasons, more males are affected than females. Alcoholism is on the rise for young teenagers and women.
Alcoholism is a progressive illness that involves the excessive and inappropriate drinking of alcoholic beverages. It is believed that alcoholism starts from a wide range of physiological and psychological, social and genetic factors. This illness creates an emotional and often physical dependence on alcohol that many times leads to mental and physical health problems, including brain damage and even early death.
A psychological and sometimes physical state with a compulsion to use drugs to experience its effects, drug addiction involves physical dependence which makes it very difficult to stop. The process of withdrawal produces many symptoms such as profuse sweating, shaking, shivering, vomiting, increased heart rate, difficulty in breathing, crying, yawning, anxiety and irritability. In severe cases a person withdrawing can experience convulsions, respiratory failure and even death.
Treatment in the therapeutic community requires a drug abuser to take full accountability and responsibility for their problem. Whatever type of drug the user has abused, it is the goal for the user to never use it again or substitute it for another. There are many rehabilitation facilities available and we recommend researching to find out which one would best suit individual needs. Some rehabilitation plans focus on helping people that have abused certain types of drugs, while other programs are determined by the severity of the addiction. Some rehabilitation groups meet a few times a week, and others actually house abusers for periods ranging from six months to one year.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder , commonly called “OCD”, is a disorder which causes a person to have frightening, disturbing intrusive thoughts which cause a person to do things repeatedly. They usually perform certain rituals to guard them against danger. OCD is an anxiety disorder which affects approximately five million people in the United States. Some symptoms and behavior that commonly occur are as follows:
Obsessively arranging things in an extremely orderly fashion
Checking things repeatedly, IE: locks, doors, windows
Having to do things a certain amount of times
Constant counting outwardly or in one’s head while performing tasks
Repeating nonsensical words and phrases in one’s mind
Collecting and saving objects with no apparent value
Abnormal fear of contamination, fearing excessively over germs and touching normal everyday objects
Generally overwhelmed with anxiety and suffering from depression.
Researchers do not know what causes OCD but many believe that it is caused by a low level of serotonin, a chemical in the brain. OCD is a treatable disease and responds well to proper medications and therapy techniques.
Mental Health Problems Among the Elderly
Delirium is a state of mental confusion that develops quickly and usually fluctuates in intensity. It is a state in which the thoughts, expressions, and actions are wild, irregular, and incoherent. Delirium involves a rapid alternation between mental states—for example, from lethargy to anxiety and back to lethargy—with attention disruption, disorganized thinking, disorientation, changes in sensation and perception, and other symptoms.
These states most often result from physical or mental illness and are usually temporary and reversible. Factors that are associated in a higher risk of delirium are alcohol dependence, diabetes, cancer, sensory impairment (blindness or poor hearing), malnutrition, and a history of delirium. Infections such as urinary tract infections or pneumonia may trigger delirium in individuals with pre-existing brain damage—like prior strokes and dementia.
Depression is a biologically based brain disorder that affects one’s thoughts, feelings, behavior, and physical health. It is a normal emotional experience to feel sadness, grief, loss, or passing mood states; however, depression is extreme and persistent and can interfere significantly with an individual’s ability to function. Depression is not a normal part of aging.
Depression affects more than 4.5 million of the 35 million Americans who are 65 years or older. Most older people with depression have been suffering from episodes of the illness during much of their lives. For others, depression has a first onset in late life, even for those in their 80s and 90s. Depression in older persons is closely associated with dependency and disability and causes great suffering for the individual and the family.
Elderly people who are depressed are more likely to commit suicide. The risk of suicide is a serious concern among elderly patients with depression. Elderly white men are at greatest risk, with suicide rates in people ages 80 to 84 more than twice that of the general population.
Dementia is not a specific disease. It is a term for a collection of symptoms that can be caused by a number of disorders that affect the brain. Some of the diseases that can cause symptoms of dementia are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, Huntington’s disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. People with dementia have significantly impaired intellectual functioning that interferes with normal activities and relationships. They also lose their ability to solve problems and maintain emotional control, and they may experience personality changes and behavioral problems, such as agitation, delusions, and hallucinations. While memory loss is a common symptom of dementia, memory loss by itself does not mean that a person has dementia. The severity of dementia depends on the number and location of brain cells that are damaged or destroyed.
The frequency of dementia increases with rising age from less than 2 % for the 65-69-year-olds, to 5 % for the 75-79 year-olds and to more than 20 % for the 85-89 year-olds. And over 30% of people who are 90 years of old suffer from moderate or severe dementia.
There are many disorders that can cause dementia. Some, such as Alzheimer’s disease or Huntington’s disease, lead to a progressive loss of mental functions. But other types of dementia can be stopped or reversed with treatment. People with moderate or advanced dementia typically need round-the-clock care and supervision to prevent them from harming themselves or others. They also may need assistance with daily activities such as eating, bathing, and dressing.
All About Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks the brain and results in impaired memory, thinking and behavior. It is the most common form of mental decline, or dementia, in older adults. Alzheimer’s disease is more severe than the mild memory loss that many people experience, as they grow older. Alzheimer’s disease also affects behavior, personality, the ability to think clearly, and the ability to carry out daily activities. Close family members usually notice symptoms first, although the person affected also may realize that something is wrong.
Alzheimer’s disease is the fourth leading cause of death in adults after heart disease, cancer, and stroke. An estimated 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. The number of people with Alzheimer’s disease has doubled since 1980 and will continue to grow. By 2050, the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease could reach 16 million people. Men and women are affected equally. Rate of progression varies from person to person. The average survival time is eight years, but could range between 3 to 20 years
There is no signal test to identify and diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. A comprehensive evaluation is needed: complete health history; physical examination; neurological & mental status assessments; medical tests and procedures such as x-rays, EKG, CT scan, etc. Conformation of Alzheimer’s disease requires an examination of brain tissue during an autopsy.
Though we do not yet fully understand what causes Alzheimer’s disease, there probably is not one single cause, but several factors that affect each person differently.
Age is the most important known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. The number of people with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.
Regarding heredity, your risk of developing Alzheimer’s appears to be slightly higher if an immediate family member has had the disease.
Head injuries are another possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Boxers, football players, or people in general who are involved in physical activities that require a lot of head-pounding are a lot more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
How to prevent Alzheimer’s disease
There’s no way to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, but there are some ways to reduce the risk of this disease. They include:
Maintaining mental fitness may delay onset of dementia. Lifelong mental exercise and learning may promote the growth of additional synapse—the connections between neurons—and delay the onset of dementia. Exercising the brain can help prevent the disease. Being involved in cognitively stimulating activities—like crosswords puzzles—will help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Exercise and Eat Right
Some research indicates that taking steps to improve your cardiovascular health, such as losing weight, exercising and controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol, may also help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Some studies have also suggested that eating a low-fat diet, as well as consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acid, such as fatty fish, may be helpful. Also, eating foods rich in antioxidants, such as blueberries, help prevent the disease.
Cholinesterase inhibitors increase the level of a brain chemical called acetylcholine. People with Alzheimer’s disease have decreased brain levels of this neurotransmitter. Increasing the amount of acetylcholine appears to slow mental decline in people with Alzheimer’s disease. These medications help the brain cells work better, but they cannot reverse the destruction of brain cells. They do not prevent the disease from getting worse but may slow the progression of symptoms.
Memantine, a FDA approved drug that is prescribed for moderate to severe Alzheimer’s, protects the brain’s nerve cells against glutamate, which is released in excess amounts by cells damaged by Alzheimer’s disease. Glutamate over-stimulates the NMDA receptors and contributes to neurodegenerative disorders. Memantine blocks glutamate by filling the NMDA receptor sites.
Coping With Loss
We all know that death is a part of life. Death gives meaning to our existence because it reminds us how precious life is. The loss of a loved one is life’s most stressful event and can cause a major emotional crisis. After the death of someone you love, you experience bereavement.
When a death takes place, you may experience a wide range of emotions, even if the death was expected. Many people report feeling an initial stage of numbness after first learning of a death, however, there is no real order to the grieving process.
Some emotions that one may experience:
Disbelief Denial Confusion Sadness Anger Humiliation Despair Guilt
These feelings are normal and common reactions to loss. Some people may not be prepared for the intensity and duration of your emotions or how fast your moods can change. You may even begin to doubt the stability of your mental health. These feelings are healthy and appropriate and will help you come to terms with your loss. It takes time to fully absorb the impact of a major loss. You will never stop missing your loved one, but the pain eases after time and allows you to go on with your life.
Here are five ways to cope with loss:
1. Talk about your loss and express your feelings
Your ability to openly talk about your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust will decrease the chance of your emotions becoming bottled up and showing up in inappropriate and potentially destructive ways. For some people, keeping a personal journal nearby can give you an opportunity to write your thoughts and feelings down when you are alone or if you don’t feel like talking. Journaling also allows you to monitor your progress during the recovery process.
2. Stay connected to those who can offer their love and support
When feeling overwhelmed by emotional pain it can be tempting to withdraw from the people and activities that are normally a part of your life. During times of grief, it is more important than ever to maintain contact with friends and family. Knowing that you are not alone in your grief and receiving comfort and support from those you are closest to can be significant sources of encouragement during difficult times.
3. Avoid masking the pain
In an attempt to escape the pain of loss, many people turn to unhealthy and potentially destructive behaviors—Drugs, alcohol, over eating, excessive hours spent at work. These are all common ways in which people attempt to cover up their emotional pain. Remember, emotions that are masked or hidden never die. Dealing with your pain up front, and in healthy ways, will likely spare you from having to face an even greater depth of heartache down the road.
4. Take care of yourself physically
One of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself during your time of grief is to not neglect your physical well-being. Getting plenty of rest, eating a healthy diet and staying physically active will help provide you with greater emotional and psychological strength.
5. Be willing to ask for help
You may find that the depth and duration of your pain is getting in the way of your ability to effectively function on a day-to-day basis. When this happens it can be very beneficial to seek help from a psychiatrist or therapist.
Remember, with support, patience and effort, you will cope with a loss. Someday the pain will lessen, leaving you with memories of your loved one.