Asperger Syndrome is an Autism Spectrum Disorder (or Pervasive Developmental Disorder) characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviors and interests. Those with Asperger Syndrome, or AS, may exhibit a lack of empathy for their peers, clumsiness, and atypical use of language, though none of these symptoms are required for a diagnosis.1
The pain of coming to terms with having Asperger's is still very real for me right now. There is a tremendous sense of grief. Grief for all that I suffered through to try to be "normal" and grief for how short of "normal" I always have been. There is also great relief to know that I am not crazy and that not everything can be traced back to an abusive past in the sense that some of what I experience is not choice/emotional but neurons/physical. The greatest challenge I face right now is trying to figure out which is which. This is not easy.
One of the most common side effects of a number of antidepressant medications is loss of sex drive. I could forgive our friends at fine companies such as Eli Lilly, Bristol Meyers Squibb, and Pfizer if dry mouth, irritability, disrupted sleep patterns, loss of appetite, sloth, and social phobia were the sole issues related to the medications I take on a daily basis. However, it is the sex thing I find most challenging.
Anhedonia is the technical term for the inability to experience joy. When people are in the depths of depression, nothing touches them, not the most intensely pleasurable activities, not the most familiar comforts. They are emotionally frozen. In this state, people either have to get professional help or simply wait for weeks or months until the depression lifts by itself; nothing is going to make them feel better.
Schizophrenia is a mental illness which affects one person in every hundred.
Depression is perhaps the most common of all mental health problems, currently felt to affect one in every four adults to some degree. Depression is a problem with mood/feeling in which the mood is described as sad, feeling down in the dumps, being blue, or feeling low. While the depressed mood is present, evidence is also present which reflects the neurochemical or "brain chemistry" aspects of depression with the depressed individual experiencing poor concentration/attention, loss of energy, accelerated thought/worry, sleep/appetite disturbance, and other physical manifestations. When this diagnosis is present, the individual will exhibit at least five of the following symptoms during the depressive periods:
There are a number of steps that you can take to prevent a relapse with most mental illnesses. These include medication management, lifestyle habits, environmental control, and recognition of signs and symptoms.
Medication management includes taking the right dose, at the right time. If you miss a dose, do not double up your next dose. Doing so can be harmful to your system. If you miss more than two doses, you should generally notify your physician. If you need help in remembering to take your medication, enlist a family member or friend to help you. There are weekly pillboxes available with up to 4 doses per day in them. These are useful in that you are able to set up a full week worth of medication, take a single dose at a time, and always know if a dose has been taken. Medication should be stored in a cool, dry place, not kept in the hot places such as the car or bright sunlight for extended lengths of time. Understand what the medication is supposed to do for you, and the side effects of your medication. Your pharmacist and doctor can both explain these to you. You and your support system can watch for these effects so you can accurately report back to your doctor.
Lifestyle habits are an essential part of maintaining good mental health. There are obvious choices we can make such as not drinking alcohol and not taking street drugs. There are less obvious choices in the meals we choose to eat. The more balanced and healthful our diet, the more healthy our bodies will be, and the more energy we will have, which can positively impact our mental health. In addition, caffeine is a stimulant that can affect the mental processes and affect the medications which we are on. It should be taken in moderation. Daily exercise, from walking to more vigorous aerobic activities that we engage in, releases the body's natural endorphins which stimulate better mental health. Adequate rest or sleep, without excess is also a necessary component of our daily lifestyle. Too little sleep can tend to make a person with bipolar disorder manic, for instance, while excessive sleep can make it difficult for a depressed person to climb out of the well of depression. Finally, take time out for yourself in the form of relaxation, whether it be reading, meditating, yoga, warm baths, or any other quiet activity.
You can control your environment, to some extent. Daily structure is essential, from a schedule of time to get up to meals to productive activities to relaxation - don't schedule large blocks of time with nothing to do. Even small tasks are useful when first recovering. While scheduling your day, attempt to keep the stimulation around you to a level which is comfortable. This stimulation comes in the form of literal noise, of numbers of people around you, of tasks to do, of emotions you experience (from a heart-wrenching movie for example). You need a certain amount of stimulation, but not too much so as to overwhelm yourself.
Finally, learn your own signs and symptoms of relapse. Charting is the ideal way to do this. Through learning your own signs and symptoms, you are able to begin to see when you are starting to slide into a relapse. Your beginning signs, once you have them mastered will not change much, and are very good indicators to you that you need to take proactive steps to prevent yourself from a full relapse.
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