Mental Health & Well-Being Services
How FINDcures Can Help
When an individual receives a diagnosis of a neurological disease, it is a deeply emotional experience. Initially, many individuals are numb and unsure how to feel. As the reality and implications of the diagnosis set in, it is not unusual for individuals to become angry, grief-stricken, depressed, and anxious. These feelings are understandable, but they should not be left unaddressed, as they can be deleterious to the individual’s long-term mental and emotional well-being.
Emotional disorders are common in people who are struggling with the challenges presented by a neurological disease. As if the disease wasn’t difficult enough, depression, and emotional disorders, magnify the impact the disease has on the individual, and can seriously strain and erode relationships within the family. Therefore, healthcare providers, family members, and friends of the individual, need to be alert and respond to the first signs of an emotional disorder. If left undetected and untreated, it may increase functional impairment, worsen quality of life, decrease adherence to treatment, and lead to suicide.
When you contact FINDcures for the first time, we begin assessing your needs and match them up with the services provided by our “Perimeter of Hope”. Depending on your unique situation, a team of professionals is assembled to assist you. As it relates to Mental Health and Well-Being, we have a nationwide network of professionals available online and in person that will be incorporated into the team that will assist you and your family. This resource will provide you with 24/7 access to mental health and well-being care, information, and guidance. Their purpose is to provide you and your family with the support necessary to weather the mental and emotional storms brought on by a neurological disease. No matter when or where you need help, the FINDcures network of mental health and well-being professionals are available to assist you and your family.
The Need for an Increased Focus on Mental Health
Often an individual’s mental state and emotional well-being aren’t the primary focus of a treatment plan, and therefore can become an after-thought, or worse, neglected. Discussions regarding the physical symptoms of the disease, possible therapies, and medications and their side effects, all take center stage, while in the background, insidious debilitating mental illness can fester, bringing with it fear and hopelessness. Family members need to be vigilant in monitoring their loved one’s emotional and mental state, and seek help at the first signs of trouble.
Chronic pain or illness takes a toll not only on the individual but on the entire family as well. Watching a loved one struggle with a debilitating disease is extremely difficult, and emotionally draining. Feelings of helplessness, confusion, isolation, and even guilt, can overwhelm family members, and in worst case scenarios, destroy the family unit. However, there are resources available that can help alleviate these negative mental and emotional forces. FINDcures understands the seriousness of these challenges, and is dedicated to ensuring that patients and their family members, have access to professionals that can help overcome them, and live an abundant life in spite of a neurological disease.
The Importance of Communication
The most important factor, in helping a loved one with a neurological disease deal with their mental health and well-being, is to provide them with opportunities for open and ongoing communication. Although they may not be exhibiting any symptoms of emotional or mental distress, asking them how they are feeling, and then attentively listening, provides them with the opportunity to share what’s going on, and how they are dealing with the disease and treatment plan. This keeps the lines of communication open, and can serve as a reality check, and early warning sign, if all is not well.
In addition, individual family members also need to be able to openly communicate and share the emotions brought on by their loved one’s neurological condition. Their mental health and well-being can become neglected, as attention is primarily focused on the needs of the chronically ill individual. The availability of professional counseling and mental health professionals, that they can reach out to, can be an important component in maintaining the entire family’s mental health and well-being.
Early Warning Signs
Of all the emotions that are felt by the chronically ill, and their family members, it is most important that the following be carefully monitored:
- Grief – When a neurological diagnosis is made, grief is usually very common. It is also manifested when the individual has a relapse, or when their ability to function deteriorates.
In the beginning, grief can look a lot like depression, and can be misdiagnosed as such. Feelings of sadness, trouble concentrating, sleeping, eating, and a withdrawal from social interactions, usually accompany grief. However, a key difference between depression and grief is that with grief, the symptoms usually resolve themselves and the individual re-engages with others and the daily activities of life. Although the process may take time, there is a steady progression back to the way one was before.
- Depression and anxiety – When sadness is unrelenting, and is accompanied by loss of interest, feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, and hopelessness, patients and families should be thinking in terms of depression. It is important to note that depression is an unhealthy condition that requires professional attention.
With a depressed mood, life seems not worth living, and thoughts of death and suicide may be unrelenting. Appetite and sleep diminish or increase, it becomes hard to concentrate and think clearly, energy is sapped, and nothing is interesting or pleasurable. Some people suffer from guilt and shame, or become preoccupied with physical symptoms and aches and pains. Difficulty adhering to treatment, moodiness and irritability are not uncommon, nor are social isolation, withdrawal, and self-medication with alcohol and drugs.
Anxiety may co-exist with a depressed mood, or can be a separate disorder. It can be expressed as tension, apprehension or fear, or worry and rumination. Many believe that depression and anxiety are on a continuum. Persistent worry, panicky feelings, and preoccupation with physical sensations can suggest an anxiety disorder. Like depression, anxiety may occur at diagnosis, with relapses, when disability increases, and with job loss or strain in a marriage or family. Both depression and anxiety, if left untreated, pose a significant risk to an individual’s health and well-being.
Tragically, the suicide rate among those with neurological diseases is higher than that of the general population. This is because depression is often underdiagnosed and/or inadequately treated. The risk factors for suicide by individuals with a neurological disease include social isolation, income loss, and increased disability as their condition progresses. In addition to depression, anxiety and substance abuse can also increase the risk of suicide.
Communication is a significant mitigating factor in preventing suicide. Unfortunately, many people avoid discussing the topic, in fear of inciting it. Asking a person if they have been thinking about commiting suicide does not cause them to do so. Instead, talking about suicide is essential to its prevention, and usually brings great relief to the patient and the family.
The “Perimeter of Hope”, developed by FINDcures, begins with Mental Health and Well-Being Services. FINDcures wants to ensure that individuals, struggling with a neurological disease, and their family members, have access to resources that can lessen the disease’s impact on their lives. In addition to mental health professionals, FINDcures provides families with access to a nationwide network of professional physical therapists, life coaches, chiropractors, and lab services.
Well-being is a state characterized by health, happiness and prosperity. Although you and your family may be dealing with a life-altering disease it does not mean that all is lost. You are not alone. Life can still be plentiful and full of meaning. You and your family still have the potential to thrive, not just survive. The entire FINDcures staff, and our affiliated service providers, are here to help you achieve the best that life has to offer.