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Here therapists and other professional contributors publish their articles and discuss the issues of mental health. We invite everyone's thoughts on any subjects discussed in our blog and if you are working in the field of mental health and would like to publish your thoughts on Uticopa, why not join us as a contributing member?

Depression is a serious illness that can arise seemingly out of nowhere or shortly after giving birth. When left untreated, depression can continue on for years and even develop into a more serious form of the disease that will only be alleviated through continuing treatments such as therapy and medication. Currently, there has been an increase in the death rate of new mothers in South Africa who researchers believe may have been battling depression.

According to the
article, “South Africa: Depression May Cause Deaths Among New Mothers, Says Expert,” by Sue Valentine, more than half of the new mothers in Hanover Park, a Cape Town suburb suffer from postpartum depression. This fact, coupled with the increasing problems of drug abuse, gang violence and crime in the area make it a dangerous place for women who are struggling with depression after giving birth. This trend continues throughout South Africa where poverty and other life hardships contribute to an increase in maternal depression.

When a new mother lives in poverty, it can become difficult for her to find access to help. Additionally, a life of poverty often means that these women have been witness to violence, or they may even have been a victim of a violent crime at some point during their life. Unfortunately, for many new mothers living in the poverty-stricken areas of South Africa, violence is a constant threat that can contribute to an increase in the amount of stress that a new mother feels after giving birth. This stress, coupled with the normal challenges of caring for a newborn can contribute to the development of depression.

Not only does poverty contribute to the violence that a woman suffers in her lifetime, but it also makes it hard for her to be able to care for herself physically and mentally after birth. This means that a new mother may not have access to nutritional foods, health care or even a wellness center that can check on her mental health
. When a woman’s body becomes worn down, increased pain and fatigue can worsen the symptoms of depression.

In South Africa and other poverty-stricken areas, it is important to ensure that a woman is provided with the support that she needs in order to promote better mental health. Because depression can lead to suicide in new mothers, it is essential to make sure that all women have access to mental health care. By providing treatment centers in which women can seek help for their depression, women will be able to become resilient and begin to make the right decisions for their health and that of their newborn child.

When treating depression, it is important for a treatment center to provide a wide range of services that will provide care for new mothers and women in all areas of their lives. Because depression treatment is often centered on a combination of medication and therapy, counselors and doctors should be available to help a new mom to begin a treatment plan that will help her to begin to cope with her depression. When new mothers begin to have access to the type of care that they need to promote better health, then the entire community will benefit from mothers who are strong and capable of supporting the needs of their newborn baby.


About the Author: Paige Taylor writes for A Forever Recovery to help people find support groups and other recovering communities.

When it comes to dealing with anxiety and panic, men notoriously struggle. In a society where males are supposed to “man up” and take life “like a man,” most men that suffer from anxiety and panic make dozens of different mistakes that only serve to fuel their stresses further. In order to reduce panic attacks and cure anxiety is to avoid mistakes that cause the problems to progress further. Here is a list of the top ten mistakes that men make when it comes to their own panic and anxiety

Male Panic and Anxiety Mistakes:

  1. Ignoring It – The most common mistake men make is the belief that their panic and anxiety issues will simply go away on their own if they ignore them. Men deal with a great deal of stress, pressure and expectations every day. The belief that the best way to deal with a problem is to avoid it is simply not true. Men need to confront their issues if they hope to reduce their panic and anxiety.
  2. Addictive Outlets – Due primarily to the idea that men need to “tough it out,” many men seek out addictive outlets for their anxiety that only serve to fuel the behaviors. Alcoholism and gambling both cost money, affect relationships, and will ultimately lead to more stress and anxiety. Self-medicating through addictive and destructive outlets will only lead to greater problems.
  3. Making No Changes – Often times things like relationships, bad friendships, a hostile workplace, etc., cause men to experience these high levels of anxiety and persistent panic attacks. Yet many men refuse to make changes in their life that would reduce these problems. Instead, they continue to spend time with the same people and stay involved in the same activities, only serving to continue to improve their stress levels.
  4. Health Concerns – For years, panic attacks were misdiagnosed as physical health problems. This belief has created a culture where men believe that things like panic attacks are limited to women, and anytime a man feels a panic attack like experience, they assume it must be something physical, rather than a mental health issue. The result is that they worry about their own health, which leads to even more panic attacks.
  5. Misplaced Values – Society has taught men everywhere to value things that are not achievable for everyone. Money and power are nice, but not everyone can be the alpha male all of the time. Men are often taught that they need to be successful millionaires and providers, and those lofty goals only serve to make anxiety issues worse.
  6. Sexual Prowess Concerns – Anxiety itself is a common cause of sexual dysfunction, both with premature ejaculation and impotency. In today’s society, a man’s sexual prowess is considered part of his identity, and men that fail to perform due to anxiety tend to experience even greater anxiety in their daily life.
  7. Agoraphobia/Loner-ism – When men experience panic attacks and severe anxiety, they often feel like they need to deal with it on their own. Some men start to experience agoraphobia and never leave their house. Others simply become loners, spending little to any time with their friends and family. Since social support is one of the prime tools in reducing panic attacks and anxiety, this causes both of those mental health issues to worsen.
  8. Responding To False Alarms – Often with panic attacks, a small increase in your heart rate due to something normal – like caffeine or exercise – can lead to the onset of another panic attack. Men, especially, tend to focus on their physical responses to stimuli as signs that something is wrong with them, triggering a panic attack and increasing anxiety.
  9. Avoiding the Doctor – Panic attacks and anxiety are mental health issues. But part of addressing your mental health issues involves ensuring there relaxing your mind about your overall physical health. Going to the doctor to ease your own mind about your physical health is an important part of addressing panic and anxiety attacks, and men tend to avoid the doctor any way they can.
  10. Failure to Seek Help – Of course, one of the biggest mistakes men make is not seeking help. Panic attacks and anxiety only get worse if you try to deal with your issues alone. Friends, family, psychologists and trained experts are all there to help you through any of your panic and anxiety issues, and the benefits of talking to others far outweighs any personal embarrassment or guilt about your own anxiety or panic.

Panic and Anxiety in Men

Panic and anxiety problems are both serious considers that affect millions of men all over the world. Yet men have a tendency to make mistakes when it comes to addressing these issues. If you find that you are suffering from panic attacks or severe, persistent daily anxiety, the worst thing you can do is try to deal with it alone.

Over the past few months The Mental Health Foundation has been researching whether or not we are becoming a nation of angry people, and what support there is for those who feel that they cannot control this primal emotion.

Of the 2,000 people surveyed, almost a third said that they knew someone who struggled with anger, and in a similar Government survey more than three fifths said they felt people were getting angrier.

What is quite worrying is that there really is very little help being offered to people who suffer from anger management problems. Anger is seen to be a symptom of a condition such as anxiety or depression and not worthy of "condition" status in itself. As a result, people will not generally be referred to a mental health professional until their anger has actually caused them to commit an aggressive act.

Anxiety is in your genes

Posted by: Uticopa in genesanxiety on

I don't believe it - anxiety is in your genes!

It's what we've always thought. There's a gene to explain our anxiety attacks.  Researchers have now found that certain variations in a mood-altering gene actively influence whether or not we take an anxious or sunny view of the world.

Psychologists from the University of Essex came up with the results after showing 97 volunteers pictures depicting positive and negative images. The participants were shown pairs of pictures selected from 20 pleasant, 20 unpleasant and 40 neutral ones in order to judge which ones grabbed their attention. Those with the longer version of the gene sought the positive images, such as sweets, while others were actually prone to staring at the negative (anxiety-inducing) pictures, like spiders.

The findings show that those of us with a long version of the gene tend to have a ‘sunny disposition', dwelling on positive aspects of life and deliberately downplaying the negatives.  Conversely, those with a shorter version display definite anxiety tendencies, even when there is no obvious reason.

How do I know if I have depression?

Posted by: Uticopa in Untagged  on

A new series begins today on the subject of Depression. Find out all you need to know by following our exclusive articles, each tackling one aspect.

Much has been written in the media lately about the increasing incidence of depression – surely a sign of the stresses and strains of modern life.  But, how do we know if we actually have it?

One of the biggest challenges facing mental health specialists in addressing depression is accurately diagnosing it in the first place. This is because depression can present vague and confusing symptoms so it is easy to see why a diagnosis can be missed. A depressed person might present a variety of non-specific physical and emotional symptoms and a doctor must be very thorough to determine a correct diagnosis of depression. In addition, the difficulty in accurate diagnosis is further compounded by the fact that many medical problems share the same symptoms of depression and in fact, some of these may directly be causing the depression.

Bullying can happen at any age

Posted by: Uticopa in bullyingabuse on

Bullying can be a problem at any stage of your life. For the hapless victim it causes serious distress and can affect mental health for decades to come.

The mindsets of the people doing the bullying are often similar, whatever their ages. It's when the ancient ‘tribal' instinct of terrorising a perceived ‘enemy' comes into play.  And who is the supposed enemy?  It's anyone who is seen to be different in some way from the rest of the peer group.  The instinct of the bully is to chastise and taunt the person seen to be ‘different' so that, by so doing, the bully is made to feel somehow more confident and ‘king' of his domain.

The bullying victim at school

In today's world of rush, rush, rush, there's often no time to say goodbye to a loved one when they die.  Yet, our priorities must change. Dying is a part of life. It can't be avoided, however much we wish it, and must be accepted and dealt with. 

Let's say it's been two years since your father died and your mom still won't go out socially or stop talking about wanting to join him. Similarly, perhaps you can't shake a sense of meaninglessness into your life as the anniversary approaches of the death of someone close to you. This is exactly what prolonged grief disorder is all about.

Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD), previously called complicated grief, has now become a recognized mental disorder. Researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston developed and tested standard criteria for identifying the condition, based on the input of a team of experts in bereavement and mood/anxiety disorders. It is shortly to be included in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DMV-5), the psychiatric care bible for diagnosing problems. The research was done with widows and widowers but is also applicable to the general population.

Do these symptoms sound familiar to you? Fatigue. Insomnia. Loss of appetite. Aches and pains. Most of us with these symptoms usually assume we're suffering from an ailment that's physical. Sometimes we're right. But, how often do we realise that what is really wrong is depression?

Even in good times, there are millions of new cases of depression every year. Yet many of those people - more than a third, according to a recent report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - never receive treatment. This is despite the fact that nowadays there are more ways than ever to get help.

One reason is simple confusion over what the illness feels like. The common idea that depression means ‘feeling sad' has a lot of truth to it. Other symptoms could be emotional numbness, a sense of worthlessness, hopelessness, even thoughts of suicide. But for many people, the experience is a bit more blurry - a series of changes affecting them not just emotionally but also physically and mentally.

Historically, British people have always ignored the effects of our poor, wet weather. The heavy rain has always been there, so most carry on regardless. However, as the world shifts towards global climate change, water-related problems are arguably the most imminent and most personal. As Britain's temperature rises and weather patterns become more extreme, will our health be compromised by a lack of clean water and diseases spread by polluted floodwater? 

And what of our mental health?  Will our stoic disregard for the weather turn to mental depression or worse?

Health professionals, until now noticeable only by their absence in the climate change debate, will become increasingly important in helping us to understand and adapt to problems and in promoting behavioural changes that might avert the greatest threats.

When Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote that disturbing 19th-century novella called 'The Yellow Wallpaper', she could hardly have known that it would later become a classic of feminist fiction.  Even less could she have realised that at its heart was a pioneering portrait of the trauma of postnatal depression.
As the book is being reissued by Virago this year, it is interesting to note that, unlike her heroine, the author herself managed to break free from the oppressive shackles of her mind.

But, what was it about Gilman's short story that so evoked the mental anguish of women a century ago?  And, could vestiges of how men saw women in days gone by still linger on even today? She wrote the story in part to escape the mastery of male doctors and to become the mistress of her own destiny.

First of all, let's look at what led to Gilman conceiving the story in the first place. For many years the author suffered from a severe and continuous nervous breakdown tending to what was then termed melancholia. This led her to consult a noted specialist in nervous diseases. This ‘wise' man put her to bed and applied the rest cure, to which her still good physique responded so promptly that he concluded there was nothing much the matter with her at all. He therefore sent her home with solemn advice to live as domestic a life as far as possible, to ‘have but two hours' intellectual life a day', and ‘never to touch pen, brush or pencil again' as long as she lived. This was in 1887.

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