Suicide Risk How to Spot a Friend in Crisis
How can you tell if a friend is in trouble or struggling with suicidal thoughts? And how can you support them in finding help? Are you feeling virtually exhausted? Life is always challenging, but the mental fallout of a global pandemic is real. Contributing to the loneliness epidemic is the shifting American lifestyle. More Americans live alone (28%) now than ever before, and fewer have kids. First, let’s acknowledge this is a time of anxiety and worry for everyone. Economic uncertainty, job transitions, grief, and loneliness are a perfect storm for mental stress. Even before the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic mental health was a concerning issue, now it is a relevant topic of crisis. Secondly, anyone can struggle with suicidal thoughts. Those suffering from drug addiction are especially vulnerable. In particular the U.S. is currently seeing a rise in drug overdoses by almost 18% due to the pandemic. Unfortunately suicide is responsible for one U.S. death every 11 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not to mention the millions who think about it, make a plan or attempt it. It is important to remember that suicidal thoughts, plans or intent must be helped immediately. Understanding Suicide Risk To clarify, depression is not a choice. No one wishes for endless days of feeling down, sleepless nights, and feeling as if you are in a dark tunnel. Currently, one in five Americans will experience a mental illness this year. This means one of your friends is struggling, right now. Specifically, consider this: When your body feels pain it talks to your mind. When your mind is suffering who does it talk to? So, how can you tell if a friend is in trouble? According to the National Institute of Mental Health be on the lookout for some depression clues below. Signs and Symptoms of Depression Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism Irritability Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities Decreased energy or fatigue Moving or talking more slowly Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions Signs and Symptoms of Suicide Risk Expressing feelings of hopelessness or having no purpose Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain Talking about being a burden to others Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs Sleeping too little or too much Withdrawing or isolation Displaying extreme mood swings. Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself (Reference: Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) How to Help a Suicidal Friend It can feel awkward to approach the subject of suicide with a friend, but take any of the above warning signs seriously. Other ways you can help are by: Encouraging self-care and making sure they take care of basic needs Listen to their worries without judgement Ask them what they need from you, then follow through with action Let them know they are not a burden Don’t minimize or invalidate their feelings Point them to helpful resources Be their advocate and get them help If someone you know is in a life-threatening crisis situation, call 911 immediately. Suicide Risk Resources: National Suicide Prevention 24/7 Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 Ayuda En Español: (Spanish National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) 1-800-628-9454 Crisis Text Line: Text HOME (or CONNECT) to 741741 to chat with a crisis counselor 24/7 free of charge. The National Alliance on Mental Health: 1-800-950-6264 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: (SAMHSA) 24/7 helpline 1-800-662-4357
4 Fantastic Health Benefits of Being Clutter-Free
The Benefits of Being Clutter-Free Gives you a better sense of well-being. Did you know procrastination is linked to clutter? According to a recent study clutter problems led to less life satisfaction, especially among older adults. Helps you lose weight. Constantly being in cluttered room, office or car can be stressful. All the undone cleaning tasks in the back of your of mind cause stress, which is linked to obesity. Promotes mental health. Having clutter around can make you feel anxious or overwhelmed. This prevents you from truly relaxing or focusing. Saves you money. It’s not a secret that money worries cause stress. According to a Journal of Consumer Research study, you’re more likely to make a purchase when you’re sitting in a messy room compared to a tidy room. Clutter-Free Tips Start with a plan. Make a list of your clutter-improvement priorities and the tasks needed to accomplish each one. Focus on one section of your home per week, so you don’t get overwhelmed. In fact, organizational expert Peter Walsh suggests starting with the easiest room first to gain momentum. Conversely, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" author Marie Kondo suggests organizing by category (for example clothing or books). Experiment with an organizing plan that appeals to you. There are also many helpful on-line calendars you can use as a starting point. Delegate when you can. Include your children and spouse into your plan. Is uncle Bob an electrician? Then get him to swap out your eyesore of a ceiling fan or update an old light fixture. Of course it’s ok to outsource the duties - such as window cleaning or painting - if your budget allows. Buy less. The less you purchase the less you need to store, clean, keep track of, organize or dust. Seems simple, right? Not for everyone. On average we are bombarded with over 4,000 marketing messages a day, not to mention FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when we see our friends posting about their newest toys on their social media feeds. Focus on quality over quantity. When in doubt, throw it out. Still on the fence about what to throw away? Use these declutter decision-making guide questions to help you. Organize Your Health Along with taking care of your surroundings, make a commitment to get up to date on your health checkup and screenings. Preventing an illness is a bargain compared to the cost of a chronic disease. It's also a good idea to go through all of your medications and check the expiration date. Remember to properly dispose of medications. DO NOT flush medications down the drain or toilet, unless the label indicates it is safe to do so.
Read More About 4 Fantastic Health Benefits of Being Clutter-Free
Social Connections: Why They Benefit Your Health
Some days a chat with a friend is all you need to feel better. Why? Because humans are social beings. Although we have more technology than ever at our fingertips, sometimes we may still feel left out or disconnected. Dr. Buddy Coard, Ed.D., Psychologist at the Stacie Mathewson Behavioral Health Addiction Institute at Renown, discusses the importance of social connections and tips on how to keep connecting, warning signs of loneliness and how to feel less lonely. Why are Social Connections Important? Dr. Coard points to significant research on the topic of loneliness and social connections. He uses the findings below to detail how social connections affect our overall health. In a recent survey 40% of participants reported they sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful and that they feel isolated. Surprisingly, this survey suggests Generation Z (18-22 years old) is the loneliest generation. Another study associates loneliness as a risk factor for early death. It indicates lack of social connection heightens health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, or having alcohol use disorder. In fact, loneliness and social isolation are twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity (Perspectives on Psychological Science, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2015). A 2018 study investigated several standard measures of social isolation, including marital status, frequency of religious service attendance, club meetings/group activities and number of close friends or relatives. The findings revealed race as a strong predictor of social isolation. In particular, black men and women were more likely to be lonely than were white men and women. Loneliness also switches on your body’s long-term “fight-or-flight” stress signaling system, which negatively affects your immune system. People who feel lonely have lower immunity and more inflammation than people who don’t. Dr. Coard recommends the following tips for those who feel lonely. Tips to Increase Social Connection Get outside. More and more nature prescriptions are common. In fact even a 10 minute walk can elevate your mood and get your blood flowing. Develop a schedule of activities to accomplish in a week, setting realistic goals. Monitor your technology. Of course, watching the 24/7 news cycle can be depressing. Turn off the TV and listen to music or read a book instead. Even better, use technology to connect with family members by having a virtual game night or book club discussion. Write it out. When was the last time you sent a good old-fashioned letter or card? Or even wrote in a journal? Try to brighten someone’s day with snail mail. Writing down your hopes and fears also helps you to get worries off your mind and process your emotions. With this in mind, there are also volunteer opportunities to support others by sending a handwritten letter to others battling depression. De-clutter your surroundings. Go through those old photos and put them in an album. Clean out a drawer, cupboard or closet. You will feel a sense of accomplishment and can donate items you no longer need that others can enjoy. Increase your joy by reducing your clutter. Warning Signs of Chronic Loneliness One size does not fit all when it comes to loneliness. For this reason, loneliness can be different depending on your particular situation and your unique personality. However, if you feel some (or all) of the following symptoms, chronic loneliness may be affecting you: Lack of ‘best’ or close friends. You connect with others on a surface level, but feel no one truly understands you. People are n your life, yet you are not connecting on a deep, intimate level with them. You feel lonely even when people are around. This means feeling disengaged or not part of the group when around others. You feel less than enough. You often doubt yourself or don’t feel good enough when comparing yourself to others. And social situations feel exhausting. What Can Someone Do to Feel Less Lonely? Dr. Coard offers the following suggestion for those with a lack of social connections: Talk with your doctor, psychologist or another healthcare professional. Sometimes chronic loneliness relates to longstanding negative beliefs that an individual has about themselves. Engage in behavioral activation. For example, being more active and involved in life by scheduling activities which can potentially improve your mood and decrease feelings of isolation. Initially behavioral activation can be very challenging due to lack of motivation, but setting a reasonable schedule of activities is a good start. Pay attention to your sleep. Sometimes when people become lonely they experience significant changes in their sleep cycle. Frequently they sleep too much, or too little. Make sure to maintain a normal, healthy sleep/wake cycle, following good sleep hygiene recommendations.
Read More About Social Connections: Why They Benefit Your Health
How to Spot Depression in Men
Has a male in your life been affected by depression? It could be your father, husband, or son. Or maybe your brother, a friend – or even, your co-worker. They all have one thing in common, they’re men and they may not always be able recognize when they need help. Here’s how you can support the men in your life by understanding their unique signs of depression. Dr. Coard, Ed.D., Psychologist with Renown Behavioral Health, weighs in on the topic of depression and the warning signs. More than 6 million men are diagnosed with depression each year, and surprisingly, depression in men can differ from women. The signs of depression are not easily recognized and it’s common for men to be in denial about what they’re going through. They can demonstrate anger and aggression instead of sadness – making it difficult for loved ones, or even their providers, to recognize. Behavioral Signs of Depression in Men High levels of the hormone cortisol are released during stressful situations affecting the neurotransmitter, serotonin (a feel good hormone), contributing to depression. You can identify depression or suicidal tendencies by paying close attention to the following behavioral changes: Anger, irritability, or aggression Avoiding family or social situations Losing interest in family responsibilities, passions and hobbies Lack of sex drive Becoming controlling/abusive in relationships Risk-taking behavior such as; unsafe sex, overspending or gambling Not being able to concentrate or remember details Excessive drinking or drug use Having frequent thoughts about death Talking about suicide Attempting suicide Factors That Lead to Depression in Men Life Events Work stress or long-term unemployment can be huge contributing factors relating to depression. This type of life event can be overwhelming, making it impossible for a man to cope. Changes in Relationships The loss of a relationship can be a significant contributing factor to the emergence of depressive symptoms and past experienced physical, sexual, or emotionally abusive relationships. With this in mind, counseling can often help individual to overcome this type of trauma. Grief and Loss Overwhelming sadness due to the loss of a loved one can trigger depression. Although normal, each person goes through their own grieving period. For example, normal responses to death are insomnia, poor appetite and loss of interest in activities. Pay attention if grief seems prolonged or out of the ordinary. Health Problems In particular, depression coexists with medical conditions. As men age, this can be passed off as normal aging, but it could be more serious. In addition, illnesses such as thyroid disorders, Addison’s disease and liver disease can cause depressive symptoms. Diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or Parkinson’s disease can affect any age, thus triggering or worsening depression. Some older men also feel like they may be suffering from dementia because of difficulties with memory this may be a symptom of depression. A trip to the doctor may be in order to help alleviate concern and worry. Depression in Men and Suicide Frequently the emotional pain occurring with depression can distort a man’s ability to see a solution beyond suicide. Individuals with depression become very rigid and constricted in the way they solve problems. The statistics below speak for themselves, helping us understand the need to reach out to those who need our support. Male suicide rates are on rising – men die by suicide 3.53 times more often than women, accounting for 70% of all suicides. Sadly, every day 129 men commit suicide. White males accounted for 69.67% of suicide deaths in 2017. In 2017, firearms accounted for 50.57% of all suicide deaths. Middle aged Men who are middle aged have the highest suicide rates. 40% of those identifying as transgender have attempted suicide in their lifetime. Males who are guy or transgendered are at an increased risk for suicide attempts, especially before age 25. Veterans often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, and are more likely to act on a suicide plan. How You Can Help Now that you can identify some of the warning signs of depression, here’s how you can help: Talk about your concern and communicate that you’re there to help him. Let him know depression is a medical condition and will usually get better with treatment. Suggest professional help from a Primary Care Provider, Psychologist or Therapist. Help set up appointments and offer to accompany him – let him make the decision, but make it clear you’re there for him, no matter what he decides. If you feel he is in a dire or life-threatening situation, contact 911. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to talk to a trained counselor. Call the Veteran’s Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) and press “1”
Combating Burnout for a Healthier Work Environment
At Renown Health, we often discuss the importance of both healthcare – how we treat people when they are sick or injured – and health – how we keep people well in their mind, body and spirit. This conversation is as important for the patients we serve as it is for our healthcare providers. It’s well known that the medical field can impose challenging and even unhealthy expectations for healthcare workers. Long hours and physically and emotionally demanding work can lead to burnout. Yet, until recently, these issues were rarely discussed openly. Because the role of healthcare providers is to care for other people, they may feel uncomfortable asking for help themselves. The good news is that more and more physicians and professional associations are talking about burnout. Hospitals are also taking action to address concerns like mental and emotional fatigue. We need our workforce to be healthy in mind, body and spirit. That’s why we support our team by educating them on the warning signs of burnout. Renown Health also trains management-level employees to care for those who need help. We encourage employees to talk openly about these challenges and encourage them to access the many services available to our employees that can help them live well. Caring for people is central to Renown Health’s mission. We believe this applies to both our patients and our teammates.
Read More About Combating Burnout for a Healthier Work Environment