Archive for Depression

Understanding Emotional Wellness and Suicide Prevention

Guest article by Melissa Howard. See more articles from

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Life can be difficult.  Many people endure dark times, and for some, those periods of darkness can become overwhelming.  They can reach a point it becomes unbearable.  We offer this important information on suicide, emotional wellness, and stepping back from the edge. 

Who is at risk?  Suicide can touch any segment of the population.  For example, according to statistics, 14 out of every 100,000 Americans committed suicide in 2017.  People from all walks of life may be victims of suicide, regardless of age, background, social or economic standing. 

Emotional wellness.  Emotional wellness refers to your ability to accept a broad variety of emotions, both in yourself and in others.  According to some scholars, emotional wellness is necessary for people to be able to manage and express how they feel, to develop healthy self-esteem, and to engage in satisfying, healthy relationships.  It’s important to engage in relaxation techniques and a healthy stress-management program to maintain emotional wellness. 

If you are unsure about your own emotional wellness, Princeton University offers an online emotional wellness self-assessment tool to gauge your status and choose a plan for improvement.

Suicide warning signs.  Warning signs mean someone is harboring thoughts about suicide, and a crisis may be imminent.  Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

recommends being alert to the following warnings signs:

  • Extreme mood swings, including rages.
  • Acting recklessly, such as hazardous driving.
  • Abusing substances.
  • Talk of being a burden to others.
  • Talk of a desire to die or end one’s life.
  • Seeking methods for suicide.
  • Talk of hopelessness or lack of purpose.
  • Talk of unbearable pain.
  • Talk of feeling trapped or without relief.
  • Anxious or agitated actions.
  • Withdrawing or isolating oneself.
  • Talk of vengeance.
  • Sleeping inadequately or excessively.

The American Psychological Association also notes those considering suicide may show signs of preparing for death.  This may take on a variety of appearances, such as giving away possessions once held dear or making funeral arrangements. 

What to do.  If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please get help.  Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at any time of the day or night.  The number for the hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  It’s a free service to connect those in crisis with help.  Experts recommend adding the hotline to your cell phone in case of an emergency, as well as the number for a trusted relative or close friend.  Also, don’t hesitate to seek out a counselor or therapist if you feel you need to speak with someone.  Many insurance policies cover this type of therapy, and seniors who are enrolled in Medicare have access to an annual depression screening through their primary care physician.  Additionally, those seniors with a Medicare Advantage plan, such as one from UnitedHealthcare, can take advantage of counseling services and prescription drug coverage.

If someone is in immediate danger, you can call emergency services.  Also, include the non-emergency number for the local police department in your phone.  

There is hope.  No matter how difficult life becomes, remember that tomorrow is a new day.  If you or someone you love is suffering, reach out.  No matter how dark it seems, things can be better.

Giving Thanks with Mental Illness

The holidays can be a time of happiness for some but also a time of stress and sadness for those of us coping with mental illness. Sometimes it feels impossible to feel thankful at Thanksgiving. Here are a few tips to cope with the Thanksgiving holiday this year.


Gratitude and Depression

The Psychological Importance of Gratitude and Gratefulness

Thanksgiving, Gratitude and Mental Health


10 Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving with the Dysfunctional Family

How to Avoid a Family Disaster at Thanksgiving: Plan for a Holiday that’s Just So-So

10 Survival Tips for Thanksgiving Family Gatherings


Healthy Tips & Recipes to Read Before Thanksgiving

Five Tips to Staying Healthy During Thanksgiving

Nutritional Psychiatry: Here, Eat This. It Will Make You Feel Better


If you are struggling with the holidays, you are not alone.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Including online chat 

Suicide Help

Recently we heard the tragic news of KC native and fashion designer, Kate Spade. She was believed to have lived with bipolar disorder and is noted to have sought help numerous times. It is not known that this is the reason of her suicide. According to the CDC there are many factors other than mental health that contribute to suicide including relationship problems, substance abuse, crisis, physical health problem, loss of housing, and job/financial problems. As suicide rates are on the rise, it is important that we raise our level of knowledge and understanding of suicide as well. This will help promote suicide prevention. 

CDC’s Preventing Suicide Fact Sheet

World Health Organization’s Suicide Prevention Initiative 

CDC’s Understand Suicide Fact Sheet   

Kansas Suicide Prevention Resource Center – Including an online chat option

Missouri Suicide Prevention Resource Center

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Including online chat 

National Suicide Text Hotline

SAVE : Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

Suicide Prevention | SAMHSA

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Most importantly – Please Remember You Are Never Alone


Isolation and Mood Disorders

In January, I ended up in the hospital for my depression. My experience there changed a lot of things for me. One of the really important realizations it led to: isolation is probably my biggest trigger for depression. A couple of things happened that let me see this. First, my doctor told me he didn’t want me to be alone. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Second, the social worker held a “family meeting” for me, where my loved ones and I discussed what I needed to be okay after I got out. We planned for me to spend alternating weeks with my partner and my sister’s family. It wasn’t until I had to spend a week alone that I realized what a difference this was making. My depression started coming back immediately; I didn’t have any motivation to get out of bed. I remembered what the doctor had said. Maybe there was something to not being alone.

Since that time, experience has reinforced that isolating myself is indeed my worst trigger. The support of my partner and my family members is vital. I’m employed again and living on my own again, but I make it a point to spend as much time as I can with my supporters, even – or especially – when I don’t feel like it.

Check out this article by Good Therapy to learn more about emotional and social isolation.

It’s Spring now, why am I not happy?


Many of us are accustomed to relating seasonal affective disorder with the dark, cold winter months. Once spring hits and it becomes April, that should all just go away, right? It turns out April can be just as hard on SAD as the winter months. Therese Borchard, a columnist for Everyday Health, offers four different theories on why April can actually make depression and anxiety levels raise in her article 

April Is the Cruelest Month: Why People Get Depressed and Anxious in the Spring

  1. Change
  2. Hormones
  3. Memories
  4. Allergies and toxins

For more explanations be sure to check out the link above. She also has an article on how rainy weather, like we have had in KC for some time now, can affect depression.

Weather and Mood: Rainy With a Chance of Depression

In this article she links to some interesting studies relating weather and mood. 

So, if you just aren’t feeling it yet this month – you are not alone!

Stressless Self Care

To be the best you for others, you also have to be the best you for yourself. Many of us put other’s needs before our own, but in the long run the stress of doing so takes it toll on everyone. Sometimes the thought of adding self care seems stressful all in it’s own. We struggle to come up with ideas that don’t require getting something special or spending money. Here is a list of ideas that I have used to take away some of the stress. I have recently added #10 to my daily care routine. Not perfectly by any means, but enough to feel a little more put together. I was amazed at how much it helped. 

Simple Electrocardiogram Can Determine Whether a Patient Has Major Depression or Bipolar Disorder, Study Finds

Bipolar is often misdiagnosed as major depression. Antidepressants without a mood stabilizer can inadvertently trigger a manic episode. Studies are being conducted at Loyola University to help find a noninvasive procedure to help doctors diagnose bipolar versus major depression. Read more about this study from

Wellness Strategy Exercise

The Wellness Journey

If we think of wellness as a journey, we’ll need three things to get started.

A Destination

Where do you want to go?

What is my wellness goal?

A Map

What’s the best route to take?

What steps do I need to take to reach my goal?

A Means of Travel

Do I drive or fly?

What is my strategy for reaching my goal?


Wellness Goal

Have a better relationship with my partner.

Steps Needed

I need to improve communication and spend more quality time with my partner.


Write down thoughts before discussing an important topic.

Practice active listening.

Schedule time to have fun together.

Wellness Strategy Exercise

This exercise is going to focus on the strategies people use to meet their wellness goals and what those strategies help them accomplish.  We’ll explore two questions:

Question 1:  What is something you do to stay well?

Question 2:  How does that help you reach your wellness goal?

Even though we come from different backgrounds, have different experiences, and face different challenges, we also have many things in common. The definition of wellness is different for everyone, but as we think about what wellness is, we can fit our definitions into a few broad categories, e.g., physical health, relationships, self-esteem, self-improvement, financial security, career, etc.

Likewise, many people use similar strategies to accomplish their goals. These may include journaling, exercising, getting rest, mediation, and many other strategies.


What it does

Take a walk every night after dinner

Reduces stress

Allows for quality time with spouse


Enhances self-understanding 

Provides an outlet for frustrations rather losing my temper

Aids memory

Get sleep, exercise,  eat right

Makes me physically well

Read a lot about my illness

Helps me be active in my treatment

Helps me discuss my illness with others

Create your own list of strategies or view a sample of strategies created by our past conference attendees.

Personalized Approach to Medication for Depression

A new study is linking personalized bio markers to antidepressant effectiveness. This is another step towards ending the trial and error approach to prescribing antidepressants.

“The future of psychiatry is in a precision, personalized medicine approach to refining diagnosis and tailoring treatments accordingly. This study demonstrates that currently available markers are poised to improve patient outcomes without introducing new costs. Markers such as BMI are likely to complement others being developed out of neuroimaging and genomics,” added Dr. Williams.

Read the full story here

*Elsevier Health Sciences. (2017, May 1). Personalized psychiatry matches therapy to specific patients with depression. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 3, 2017 from

Royal Advocates for Mental Health

Even being part of England’s Royal family doesn’t make a person immune to emotional distress. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry of Wales are really opening up about all sorts of emotional topics, including new motherhood and the son’s loss of their mother, Princess Diana. The televised discussion is part of the Heads Together campaign to raise awareness and fight the stigma of mental health issues. Their latest video express that it’s #oktosay what’s going on emotionally. 

To watch the video and learn more about the Heads Together campaign, click here