Sleep depravation linked to divorce

A survey conducted by Channel 4 links sleep deprivation to divorce, with one in three divorced parents saying a lack of sleep caused by their children was a factor in their break up.

Caring for a child who is a problem sleeper often leads to sleepless nights for the parents, causing extreme tiredness and constant irritability. This can put a huge strain on any marriage. According to the survey, not getting enough sleep was a big factor in divorce for a third of couples.

The poll revealed that the average parent surveyed got less than six hours sleep a night. Three in 10 divorced couples admitted that a lack of sleep since having children was a factor in their separation. On top of this, almost 45% of respondents said they had fallen asleep in places they shouldn’t have, with one in 20 admitting they had dozed off at the wheel of a car.

Parents said that trying to get children to sleep and dealing with them as they woke up throughout the night was another important issue. Almost half of the 2,000 people surveyed admitted that trying to get their children to sleep at a consistent time each night is a constant battle.

About 11% of respondents said they often pretend to be asleep in the night, forcing their partners to deal with the crying child.

Psychologist Tanya Byron says children’s sleeping problems should not be blamed on parents; rather that family downtime is being reduced due to work demands and new technologies, which results in sleep loss.

Read the original article from the Guradian

Self poisoning cases double in last decade

Hospital admissions for people who have deliberately poisoned themselves have almost doubled in the last decade.

New figures  released by the NHS show that during 2011 there were more than 114,000 cases of self-poisoning in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (figures for Scotland are not available). In 2001 there were just 79,000 cases reported.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, self-poisoning is the most common form of self-harm treated in hospitals.

Read the original BBC article

There are numerous reasons for self-harm, but it is ultimately a coping mechanism and provides a temporary release or relief for whatever emotional or psychological problem the person may be experiencing.

It is seen as a coping mechanism to deal with other problems, offering distraction, a chance to exert control over the body, and a way of releasing and expressing emotions.

Some feel self-harm is calming when they feel overwhelmed, helping them to focus, slow their emotions down and regain control of a situation. For others it is part of a ritual that helps them feel safe.

Many use it to help bury thoughts or feelings, flashbacks or nightmares, numbing the emotions. Others see it as a form of punishment to deal with feelings of shame and guilt.

Mental illnesses such as personality disorders, depression or substance abuse can trigger self-harm.

There may be long-term or short term psychological factors that lead to self-harm. Suffering abuse, whether it be in childhood or later relationships, can often cause suppressed emotions, and self-harm can be regarded as a release for these emotions. Short-term physiological issues can include a recent bereavement, a relationship breakdown, or social factors including unemployment and poverty.

Self-harm myths

There are two common misconceptions about self-harm. The first is that self-harm is a suicide attempt. This is not the case – in fact many people self-harm as an alternative to suicide. The second is that those who self-harm are seeking attention. Again, the opposite is true. Self-harmers often go out of their way to hide and cover-up their injuries.

Getting help for self-harm

As with many mental illness, the person suffering from it needs to recognise that their behaviour is not healthy, and want to do something about it.

Self-harming is a cyclical pattern of behaviour. In order to stop someone self-harming the cycle needs to be broken. There are many methods to help someone who self-harms change the behavioural pattern themselves.

For those close to someone who is self-harming, it can be a very difficult idea to understand, and even harder to realise that the person will only change their behaviour when they are ready to. It is important to remember that the person self-harming is not doing so to punish, annoy or anger anyone else. It is a behavioural response to a particular emotion.

Confiding in someone is the first step on the road to recovery from self-harm. It doesn’t matter who the person is, but taking the first steps to breaking the self-harm cycle is far easier with someone onside

Counselling, offers an environment where the individual can talk through their problems, and establish what is at the heart of their need to self-harm. It provides a non-judgemental, completely confidential atmosphere.

Prescribed medication, such as anti-depressants, may also be given by a GP to help regulate the emotions that cause the self-harm, particularly if it is linked to a wider state of depression.



Obsessive compulsive hoarding – reclassified as a psychiatric disorder

Since appearing on the Channel 4 documentary Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder, Richard Wallace has become Britain’s (if not the world’s) most famous sufferer from a condition that is said to affect up 3 per cent of the population.  The 63 year old has made great strides in his recovery, storing far less junk than he used to. His large garden now only holds 16 cars, surrounded by trolleys, chairs and walking frames, while a marquee stores 36 years worth of newspapers and magazines.

Since his first appearance on TV, Mr Wallace has been receiving help from a psychologist and from Andy Honey, his friend who lives next door with his wife and two children. With Mr Honey’s help, more than 100 tonnes of jumble has been removed from the house and garden, while therapy has helped him turn a crucial corner.

“The biggest progress that I have made is that I am not collecting on the same scale as I was,” he explains. But the hoard is not going down as fast as Mr Honey would like. “Richard is looking at a five-year programme,” Mr Honey said. “But I’d like to think it will be under control in another 18 months. He doesn’t need to clear every single room, but I would like to see the things that he needs become accessible to him and the papers stored in a way that he can get to them.”

Dr Stephen Kellett, a psychologist from Sheffield University, says that the recent reclassification of the illness may bring more research and funding. “No one knows the answer to what causes it,” he says. “There is some evidence about the role of childhood trauma – loss, neglect, separation – and to some degree there is a genetic component there.” But there is no hard evidence to quantify its prevalence. “It tends to be seen as treatment-resistant,” Dr Kellett says. “Normally outcomes are not brilliant; levels of relapse are very high.”

Read the original Independent article

Are you a hoarder?

1. Do you fid it difficult to use your rooms because of clutter?

2. Do you find it hard to disregard, recycle or give things away other people would normally get rid of?

3. Do you collect things you can get for free, or buy more than you can afford?

4. Do you experience any emotional distress because of the clutter?

5. Is your clutter and/or inability to throw things away having an adverse effect on your social life or relationships?

If you have answered yes to these questions and think you may have an issue with hoarding, speaking to a counsellor could help you uncover the cause and work on reducing the compulsion.

Job applicants with schizophrenia facing discrimination

A report by the Work Foundation has found that tens of thousands of people with schizophrenia are being denied the chance to work because of “severe discrimination”.

Only eight per cent of people with schizophrenia are in paid employment, compared with 71 per cent of the general population, although many more would like a job, states the report.

Seven out of 10 people with schizophrenia feel that they experience discrimination because of their condition. The report blames a lack of understanding, stigma, fear and discrimination towards people with schizophrenia and calls for urgent government action to prioritise work as part of the recovery for those with mental illnesses.

People with schizophrenia in paid employment are over five times more likely to achieve remission from their condition than those who are unemployed or in unpaid employment, according to the report, Working with Schizophrenia.

Read the original article from the Independent

Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder, affecting the sufferer’s ability to think clearly and decipher fantasy from reality. The disorder may develop gradually and it may therefore take a while for the individual, or their family, to realise anything is wrong. Schizophrenia seems to develop at an earlier age in men (late teens to early twenties) than women, who are generally affected in their twenties to early thirties.

Most people suffer either chronically or episodically from the disorder throughout their lives, enduring terrifying symptoms such as hearing voices that others cannot hear and believing others are plotting against them and reading their thoughts.

Early warning signs of schizophrenia

The following list is not exhaustive and none of these symptoms alone constitute the disorder. However, if several signs are present and behaviour has changed and persisted over a few weeks then proffessional advice should be sought:

Difficulty concentrating, suspision, fearfulness, unusual emotional reactions, isolation and withdrawal, difficulty sleeping, lack of social relationships, lack of personal hygiene, gazing, staring, difference in words or language structure, unordinary behaviour.

The causes of schizophrenia

Causes of schizophrenia are still not known. However research is continuing and scientists have found that brains of people with schizophrenia differ, as a whole, from the brains of people without the disorder. These differences are quite subtle and are not characteristic of all people with schizophrenia, nor do they appear only in those with schizophrenia. Thus further research is crucial to develop our understanding of the disorder.

As with many other medical illnesses, the result of genetic, environmental and behavioural factors are also thought to play a role in the cause of schizophrenia

Treatment of schizophrenia

Although there is currently no known cure, anti-psychotic medication and counselling/psychotherapy are used to control and manage the positive symptoms of Schizophrenia. Full recovery may occur but should not be expected, as most people with schizophrenia continue to suffer with some symptoms throughout their lives. However, some people do just get better on their own.

“Angry young men” lack optimism

A study of youth attitudes has raised concerns about young men in the “squeezed middle” who are deeply pessimistic about their future chances.

Among these young men – from families of skilled or semi-skilled workers – more than two-thirds never expect to own their own home, says the Youth Matters survey, carried out for the O2 telecommunications company, and analysed by Prof Chapman of Durham University.

“These are neither the most deprived, who get quite a lot of attention, nor are they affluent enough to be on a conveyor belt to university,” says Prof Chapman, who has examined the views of 1,500 young people.

“These are a group of young people who are caught between these positions,” he says.

These youngsters are aware of the advantages of their better-off middle class counterparts, he suggests, but have diminishing expectations of gaining them for themselves.

And it is particularly the young men rather than young women who have the bleakest expectations.

“They have skills and ambitions – but they have a fatalistic sense that there are barriers that make it pointless to try in the first place,” says Prof Chapman.

Only 30% of these young men ever expect to own their own home in their lifetime – compared with 39% among their counterparts in poorer families.

Even at this early stage in their working lives, almost a quarter of these young men expect never to have a fulfilling job – a much more negative outlook than their female counterparts.

Almost a third of these young men say they “feel unhappy” when they think about their future – much more than women.

Prof Chapman describes these youngsters as coming from “respectable” families with “strong aspirations” – but now facing increasingly insecure job prospects.

Read the full BBC article

One in ten young people cannot cope with daily life

A recent survey conducted by the Prince’s Trust highlighted the difficulties faced by 16-25 year olds, especially those not in work, education or training (so called Neets).

The annual youth index, which questioned 2,136 young people, found that 52% of Neets often or always felt depressed. Many of those in work (27%) also cited that they often or always feel down or depressed.

The survey, now in it’s 5th year, also found that 22% did not have someone to talk to about their problems.

More on this story

The symptoms of depression can be mild, with a low mood that soon picks up, or it can be a consistent low mood that lasts for several weeks or more. This can prevent a person from functioning to their full ability and is not something that can be changed overnight.

Depression can be a particularly devastating illness that affects the body, mood, behaviour and thoughts. If treatment does not occur, symptoms can be present for many years. Particularly concerning is the potential for suicidal thoughts.

A range of psychological interventions are recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of depression including: cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling, interpersonal therapy, behavioural activation, behavioural couples therapy, and psychodynamic psychotherapy.

Mental health & domestic violence

A new study published in the journal PLoS showed that both men and women may be more likely to experience domestic violence if they have mental health disorders.

Investigators from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, in collaboration with the University of Bristol found that females with depressive disorders are around two and a half times more likely to have experienced domestic violence than those without mental health issues.

Using data from 41 studies around the world to collate their findings, the results showed women with anxiety disorders have a three-and-a-half times greater risk of such experiences and those with post-traumatic stress disorder are around seven times more likely to be involved in this behaviour.

It was also found that men with mental health disorders are at increased risk of domestic violence, as are women with other conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Professor Louise Howard from the Institute of Psychiatry at the learning institute said: “Domestic violence can often lead to victims developing mental health problems and people with mental health problems are more likely to experience domestic violence.”

Dr Victoria Tischler, a Chartered Pyschologist from the University of Nottingham, comments:
“Mental health problems make individuals vulnerable to poor levels of social support and difficulties in social interactions therefore experiences of domestic violence and being subject to violence more widely is not uncommon.
“In my research with women experiencing homelessness, three-quarters of whom had mental health problems, most had been subject to domestic violence with other types of violence, for example from neighbours. Concerningly, many of these individuals had experienced abuse in childhood as well and had dependent children who had witnessed recent domestic abuse.
“This suggests an ongoing pattern of dysfunctional relationships in some vulnerable groups which requires urgent intervention. In particular we should provide additional support to those experiencing mental health problems and promote positive social relationships, for example through educational problems, befriending and mentoring, to enhance social inclusion and break the cycle of abuse.”

Types of domestic violence
Domestic violence can take many forms, from physical to emotional:
• Criticism/verbal abuse – shouting, name calling, verbal threats, criticising, mocking.
• Pressure – removing communication devices, taking the children without informing, lying to others, making threats.
• Harassment –constant checking where the victim is and who they are with, following/stalking.
• Threats – violent threats, intimidating, brandishing a weapon, carrying out violence on inanimate objects.
• Physical – punching, kicking, pushing, burning, slapping etc.
• Sexual – using force, rape, degrading marks about sexuality.
• Breaking trust – lying, withholding information, breaking promises, lying to others.

Treatment for domestic abuse
Domestic violence can be very difficult to recover from. The victim may have issues learning to trust again, be dealing with post-traumatic stress, flashbacks, nightmares, or feel they are constantly living in fear. It is very common that the victim may experience long-term stress or anxiety issues. Depending on the nature and severity of the abuse, the victim may also need to recover from physical injuries.
Counselling is an important tool for the victim to help overcome the trauma, recover and rebuild their life. It provides a safe environment where the victim can work through their issues, helping to get their life back on track and be able to move on.
Counselling can also be helpful for abusers. If someone is able to recognise that their behaviour is becoming unacceptable, counselling can help them to find were the emotion is coming from, and help change their behaviour.

Eating disorders on the increase

Hospital admissions for eating disorders rose by 16% in England between 2011 and 2012. Eating disorder experts have said that these figures are “just the tip of the iceberg” and it is estimated that about 1.6million people across the UK are affected by an eating disorder.
Further details on this story can be found here.

The main characteristic of an eating disorder is the individual’s obsession with their weight; these obsessive thoughts can lead to severe consequences in both their health and their actions.
Research has shown that females are much more likely to develop anorexia and bulimia than males. However, this is not the case with binge-eating disorder, which seems to develop in almost as many males as females.
Common symptoms of eating disorders

  • dramatic weight loss or gain in a fairly short period of time
  • an obsession with weight
  • obsession with calories and fat content of foods
  • experiencing low self-esteem
  • experiencing suicidal thoughts or attempting suicide
  • obsessing about food and body image
  • isolation and fear of eating while others are around
  • unusual food rituals and secretive eating patterns
  • hiding food in strange places to avoid eating or to eat secretly at a later time
  • feeling anxious, lonely or depressed

The three main types of an eating disorder:
Anorexia nervosa: an obsession with weight loss resulting in refusal to eat or irregularity in eating patterns. It is not a loss of appetite but a serious perception disorder.
Further details.

Bulimia consists of an individual binge eating (compulsively eating a much larger amount of food than normal). This is not because the person is really hungry but more to comfort themselves from other issues such as stress or depression. The foods consumed during this binge eat are usually comfort foods, such as sweets, cakes and chocolate with high values of sugar and lots of calories or high carbohydrate foods. The sufferer then feels appalled and thinks they have to relieve themselves by getting rid of the food, usually by vomiting shortly after the binge.
More information.

Binge eating can be characterised in a number of ways,, such as eating the food quicker than usual, eating secretly in places where no-one is around, feeling full up but continuing to eat, consuming foods that are seen as naughty and feeling they cannot control their habit. This is usually followed by intense feelings of regret and guilt. Research has shown that this disorder is more common in women than in men.
More details on binge eating and it’s treatment can be found here.

The impact of postnatal depression

The tragic case of Felicia Boots, who killed both her children in May 2012 highlights the importance of getting treatment for postnatal depression. As professor Louise Howard writes in a recent article in the Telegraph “A new baby can turn your life upside down – sleepless nights, endless feeding and nappies – suddenly your life is no longer your own and you feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility for this new addition to the family.”
Symptoms of postnatal depression include:
• Difficulty sleeping even when your baby is
• Bouts of feeling low and emotional highs
• Lack of enjoyment or interest in things you previously enjoyed
• Extreme fatigue and tearfulness
• Irritability
• Anxiety
• Negative thoughts and a sense of hopelessness about the future
The original article by professor Louise Howard:

Depression has soared by 500,000 since 2010

Recent analysis of NHS data suggests the number of people living with depression in England has risen by almost 500,000 since 2010.
The data, analysed by firm SSentif, showed that there was also a big surge in prescriptions for anti-depressants. However, charities think this number is only the tip of the iceberg, as many people living with depression remain undiagnosed.
SSentif managing director Judy Aldred said: “We have to remember that the real numbers are likely to be much higher as many people do not seek GP support.”
Signs of Depression can include:
• changes in sleeping patterns; broken nights or over-sleeping
• changes in eating patterns: loss of appetite or overeating
• overwhelming feelings of guilt and worthlessness
• tiredness and loss of energy
• headaches, stomach upsets or chronic pain
• persistent thoughts of death or suicide
More details can be found in the original BBC article.

Counselling is effective in treating mild to moderate depression, and is often combined with medication in more severe cases, which is sometimes known as clinical depression.

Understanding depression and its triggers it can be helpful for sufferers trying to manage the condition. A counsellor can help address low self-esteem, or relationship issues or persistent negative thinking.