high functioning depression

How to Deal With High-Functioning Depression

How to Deal With High-Functioning Depression

Depression is a severe mental disorder that affects millions of Americans every year. It often manifests as a distorted sense of reality and is worsened by certain health disorders and substances. One in five adults will experience a mental illness of some kind, with high-functioning depression prevalent among students and adults alike.

High-functioning depression is different than other forms of depression in that it has a higher threshold for triggering thoughts and feelings associated with the disorder. It is also often under-recognized or misdiagnosed, like bipolar disorder or another psychological disorder. This is partial because high-functioning depression can often mimic the symptoms of a different type of mental illness.

It is essential for people suffering from this to take steps to combat it. Here we will discuss the signs and symptoms of high-functioning depression and how to deal with it.

Signs and Symptoms of High-Functioning Depression

One of the most common signs of this type of mental illness is a general sense of emptiness. This can be described as an overall lack of motivation or emotion regarding people or events. People who suffer from high-functioning depression also usually report feelings of anxiety, low self-esteem, and hopelessness. While they may not display significant changes in their living habits, their emotional well-being and overall personality will be negatively affected. However, people suffering from it often have difficulty differentiating between real and fantasy.

Second, many people with this depression are said to have a lowered threshold for experiencing symptoms of depression. They may feel perfectly fine at the outset and then suddenly “crash” into a depressive state. Other symptoms of this disease include isolation from friends and family, loss of interest in hobbies or pastimes, and even subtle changes in their diet and sleep patterns.

These signs and symptoms result from a complex mixture of biological and environmental factors. A biological component is present in people with a genetic predisposition to depression, while the environment triggers symptoms. This is also why some people with high-functioning depression can endure periods without experiencing severe symptoms.

Tips to Help Deal With This diagnosis

Healthy behaviors are essential in coping with this diagnsis. Experts recommend that you physically exercise, sleep as much as possible, maintain a regular diet and lifestyle, and engage in social activities. Taking stock of what helps you to stay positive can help you to feel better emotionally. However, not all treatments or therapies will work for everyone suffering from high-functioning depression.

Find a Reputable Psychologist in Virginia

If you suffer from depression, you will probably be concerned about finding a psychologist to treat you. Most people do not change their doctors because they fear being treated poorly or biased reports or recommendations. Find a high-performing and skilled psychiatrist and talk to them about your concerns.

Call to Action

Your health is of utmost importance, and you should always strive to maintain your mental health. If you suffer from high-functioning depression, do not hesitate to seek help. Remember that not all treatments and therapies will work for everyone. If you have trouble finding a reputable psychologist in Virginia, check out highly rated psychologists.

Read More
Work Life Balance

How To Improve Your Work-Life Balance

It can be challenging to effectively manage professional and personal life, which makes work-life balance an essential topic of discussion. According to several statistical reports, over 60 percent of employees in the United States have an unhealthy work-life balance. 

Also, the increase in remote work due to the covid-19 appears to increase the imbalance between work and personal life for most adults worldwide. 

So the question becomes, “how can people improve their work-life balance when they have so much in their lives?” This blog post will enlighten you on all you should know about balancing professional and personal life and why you should. 

What is work-life balance, and why is it significant?

Work-life balance refers to the state of equilibrium between professional and personal life. It is the state of balance where we reasonably meet the demands of our jobs and still enjoy some private time outside work. 

As cliche as it sounds, “too much of everything is bad”. Although most people struggle with accepting it, too much work can have some debilitating effects on our quality of life. Therefore, when work dominates all aspects of living, a healthy work-life balance becomes an effective way to deal with stress

Balancing professional and personal life is vital for maintaining excellent physical and emotional well-being and improving mental health. So, such balance is akin to consuming a balanced diet to maintain optimal bodily functions. 

What causes poor work-life balance?

Generally, the need to succeed professionally pushes most people into a workaholic lifestyle. However, most people with an unhealthy work-life balance are oblivious that a healthy work-life balance improves professional performance. Essentially, balancing work and personal life is critical for career success. 

Here are some of the reasons disrupting the balance between work and life for most people:

  • Additional responsibilities at work, like a promotion
  • Other domestic duties like childcare
  • Working extra hours due to financial constrains
  • Remote working.

What happens when you have a disrupted work-life balance?

A disrupted work-life balance is more physically and emotionally damaging than missing out on regular exercise. Additionally, such individuals are prone to higher stress levels and professional inadequacy due to burnout. 

Here are some negative effects on your life when there is an imbalance between professional and personal life:

  • A weak immune system due to higher levels of stress
  • Increased fatigue and exhaustion
  • Increased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Excessive weight loss
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of concentration
  • Decreased sex drive, etc. 

Here is how you know that you could be dealing with a whack work-life balance:

  • Chronic work obsession and working overtime
  • Chronic backache and body pains
  • Irritability and social anxiety in extreme conditions
  • Dysfunctional relationships
  • Disorganized personal and professional space

Benefits of an improved work-life balance

Here are a few benefits you enjoy when you begin to balance work and personal life:

  • Increased productivity at work
  • Increased concentration and mindfulness
  • Better physical, emotional and mental wellness
  • Higher self-esteem and motivation
  • Lower stress levels
  • Higher energy 

What are some effective wayds to improve your work-life balance?

Balancing professional and personal life has no ultimate formula as everyone and every work is unique. However, a little attention to detail, creativity, and commitment to striking this balance will do the magic. Additionally, you might require some introspection to enable you critically examine your situation and discover what works better for you. 

Here is a list of methods you can employ to restore the balance between professional and personal life:

  • Master the art of saying “no” without being rude.
  • Reduce perfectionism
  • Utilize your lunch break at work
  • Create adequate time for exercise and leisure
  • Spend time with family and loved ones
  • Ask your boss for some flexibility with your work schedule
  • Embrace remote working with caution.

Final Thoughts

Balancing professional and personal life is no easy feat, especially when so much is happening. However, it is best not to stress over it. Instead, you should take baby steps to restore the balance you desire. If you find it difficult to establish this balance, you can contact us for a session to balance things out.

 

 

Read More
postpartum depression

Three tips for coping with postpartum depression

Having a child is a great privilege, but childbirth’s enormous responsibility can sometimes trigger postpartum depression in new mothers. Statistically,  about one in seven women experience baby blues yearly. Also, from a scientific standpoint, there is no specific cause for postpartum depression. 

However, there is a valuable strategy for treating women with the disorder. So in this blog post, we will go over several methods to help you cope with postpartum depression. Let’s get started!

What is postpartum depression?

Essentially, postpartum depression is a psychological disorder affecting women after childbirth. It is characterized by severe mood swings and unhappiness with the new state of motherhood, where the mother experiences difficulty bonding with her baby. Depressed new mothers may experience a strong urge to kill their babies and require critical psychological and medical attention in extreme cases. 

Fortunately, the psychological disorder is treatable. One of the first steps is caring for your psychological wellness during pregnancy to forestal postpartum depression. Most people refer to postpartum depression as baby blues. While both terms loosely mean the unhappiness and mood swings new mothers experience after childbirth, there is a slight difference. 

Baby blues are easily treatable and do not last long, while postpartum depression requires compulsory treatment and attention. However, several women do not report their episodes of unhappiness after childbirth and remain untreated.

Three Tips for managing postpartum depression

Postnatal depression does not make you a bad parent and does not require you to struggle in secret with it. Here are effective strategies to help you cope with the disorder.

Endeavor to establish a strong bond with your baby

Establishing a secure bond with your baby is vital for preventing postpartum depression. Some mothers immediately form this bond with their babies, while others require some time to build the bond slowly. 

Sometimes, it can take several weeks to even months to make a significant attachment to your baby. A secure mother-baby bond is beneficial for both mother and child. You can stimulate this bonding by cuddling, kissing, and responding to your baby’s emotional cues. This way, you reassure yourself of your child’s dependability while reassuring your child of your undeniable love and attention.

Take the time to care for yourself.

Taking care of yourself does more for your mental well-being than you realize. Essentially, most negative emotional responses after childbirth stem from the pressure new mothers feel about having to sacrifice everything continuously. As a result, the new mother subconsciously feels cheated or at a disadvantage, thus triggering a negative emotional response towards her baby. 

Taking a nap while your baby is asleep is one way to begin. Also, you can steal a few hours of sleep to compensate for the lack of sleep every time your baby demands your attention.

Additionally, you should nourish your body with high-quality foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Alternatively, you can engage in light exercise, pamper yourself, go for a makeover, dress shopping, etc. The idea is to give yourself enough attention to avoid feeling drained emotionally, mentally, physically, and otherwise.

Get professional help

Postpartum depression is not a disorder to manage alone and in isolation. You can get professional help by signing up for psychotherapy and counseling sessions. Also, your therapist might add some prescription antidepressants to your sessions to help ease your stress.

Bottom Line

Postnatal depression is normal and doesn’t require much worry. Taking care of your mental health before and during pregnancy will put you ahead of the situation. Furthermore, you get to condition your mind before your baby comes to help you bond better.  

 

    

 

Read More
Wellness

Top Four Effects of Exercise on Psychological Wellness

Believe it or not, exercise is as beneficial for your physical body as it is for maintaining psychological wellness. Several people are familiar with the physical benefits of exercise like weight loss, and increased flexibility/range of motion, including therapy for many illnesses. 

However, recent studies reveal that exercise is vital for psychological wellness and overall mental health. Whether you are a fan of aerobics, weight training, or mind-body exercises like pilates and yoga, this blog post will enlighten you on the mental health benefits of exercise. Now, let’s get started! 

Exercise reduces your anxiety and stress levels

Regular exercise offers one of the most effective ways to deal with stress and anxiety by putting you in high spirits. It creates an emotional buffering system that decreases your response to physical and emotional stressors. The elevated heart rate, sweating, and fast breathing associated with exercise mirror your natural stress response. The difference is in the dominant hormones and neurochemicals. 

While stress and anxiety-inducing situations cause the release of epinephrine, exercise stimulates the release of norepinephrine. In other words, exercise adds to your psychological wellness by counteracting stress agents biochemically.  

It helps psychological wellness by improving your sleep and energy levels

Better sleep is the end product of the stress-reducing effect of exercise. Regular night sleep is highly recommended for proper cognitive skills. Hence the relationship between exercise and better quality of sleep. Also, people who are unable to get some shuteye are prone to several cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure. 

Exercise raises the body temperature to stimulate a resultant cooldown relaxing effect. However, you should beware of exercising close to your bedtime as it can have the opposite effect and keep you awake for much longer. 

Exercise contributes to your psychological wellness by building a sharper memory

The brain is one organ that runs on increased oxygen supplies. When you engage in exercise, your heart pumps more blood, thus enriching your brain’s supply of nutrients and dissolved solute materials. 

Also, the increased blood supply invariably means increased oxygen supply. The reason is that the red blood cells are the oxygen-carrying component of the blood. The mental health benefits of exercise include but are not limited to improved memory, concentration, creativity, and relaxation. 

It balances your mood and boosts your self-esteem Wellness

If you’ve been having mood swings, exercise can be an excellent mood stabilizer the reason is that the brain produces a feel-good hormone called endorphins after exercise. Endorphins also trigger the release of oxytocin and together create the uplifting mood you feel after exercise. 

It is also the reason behind the runner’s high or yogi’s calm you feel after each practice, leading to psychological wellness. 

Studies show that people who engage in regular exercise are less likely to exhibit aggressive and passive-aggressive responses. 

Additionally, exercise bolsters your self-confidence levels. Essentially, you feel good about your creative abilities to move your body at will and perform incredible actions. Since exercise helps with weight loss and management, you are less likely to worry about your body image because of exercise— Talk about psychological wellness!

Bottom Line

There is no overstating the relevance of exercise. Hopefully, this blog post succeeds in exposing you to the benefits of exercise for maintaining psychological wellness besides its physical benefit. 

 

Read More
mind

Top Three Strategies for keeping your mind young and sharp

Even though your brain changes with time, especially as you get older, you can certainly keep your mind young and sharp. Essentially, your brain is not limited in function and ability as it can adapt and evolve—that’s why we have neuroplasticity. 

Since good health is not exclusive to maintaining physical vitality, keeping your mind young and sharp is a significant milestone for maintaining overall health.

So whether you want to live forever young or want to improve your mental health on a general level, this blog post has you covered. 

Eat healthy to keep your mind young and sharp.

We will never be able to overemphasize the relevance of good food for a healthy and functional mind. Essentially, your brain derives all its energy from one food nutrient—glucose. The glucose needed for your brain to function comes from your digestible food. As a result, when the brain is short of glucose, your body breaks down your glucose reserves through a metabolic pathway called gluconeogenesis to supply glucose for your brain to carry on. Therefore, you should ideally eat what the earth naturally provides for you and avoid most processed foods. The reason is that processed foods contain trans fats, sodium, sugar, and empty calories. In contrast, natural organic foods are nutrient-dense and supply the essential vitamins, minerals, macros, and micros that your brain needs to stay young and sharp.

Daily exercise keeps your mind young and sharp.

As much as exercising keeps your physical body young and strong, it affects your brain. When you exercise, you engage your muscles and your mind. Also, while you exercise, your heart pumps more blood around your body, flushing away neurotoxins from your brain and supplying more oxygen and nutrients. As a result, the first part of brain regeneration—neuroplasticity, occurs, leaving the second part for when you engage your mind in learning and experiencing new stuff. Ideally, the average person should be getting not less than 30 minutes of cardio every day. However, a regular daily exercise as brief as 10 minutes daily will do, provided you are consistent.

Engage your mind

If you sit quietly for a moment, you will observe that your mind keeps being busy. Some schools of thought, like the students of Zen philosophy, affirm that the mind is like a chattering monkey. It extensively proves that your mind needs engagement. Mental stimulation is a vital process for keeping your mind young and sharp. You can take or sign up for new courses, online courses, or read many books. You can also learn new skills like playing instruments, painting, knitting, dressmaking, baking, etc. There is no end to what you can learn and do to keep your mind super engaged. 

Final thoughts

Good food, exercise, and new experiences are three critical ways to keep your mind young and sharp. But, more importantly, neuroplasticity which is the formation of more neurons by your brain, takes place during learning and exposure to new experiences. 

 

 

Read More
Two seniors on a stroll

How to maintain your mental health as a Senior

Maintaining golden-age health and vitality can be pretty challenging. Even more, your mental health, especially as more and more seniors suffer from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, muscle dystrophy, etc.

Nonetheless, taking care of your mental well-being in your golden age can be fun and less burdensome if you know the right tips. This blog post will enlighten you with four essential tips for maintaining your mental health as a senior. So read on to learn more!

  • Eat more golden-age friendly foods

Good nutrition is essential for maintaining overall health, your mind inclusive. The reason is that your brain needs energy from food to function effectively. Essentially, your brain derives its primary nutrients from glucose, a metabolic byproduct of carbohydrate digestion. As a result, your diet should include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, lean meat, and healthy fats.

Additionally, you should avoid highly processed foods and trans fats as you age. The idea is to eat more natural foods for a healthy mind while in your golden years.

  • Stay properly hydrated

Your body is made up of 75% water. Also, it would help if you had more water and fluids in your system to maintain your inner transport or circulation. When poorly hydrated, you predispose your brain to shock, leading to a coma. It helps to know that your mind is an integral part of your body. Your mind is what makes you, you. 

Suppose you find plain water unpalatable. There are other ways to spice up your drinking water so that you’re more motivated to drink more. You can add fruit slices to flavor your water. Alternatively, you can consume more tea and eat more citrus fruits. That way, you’re indirectly hydrating without dealing with the bland taste of plain water. 

  • Keep your mind engaged in your golden years.

Usually, your mind is the first recipient of the golden-age call. A big part of enjoying your golden years is when your mind remains active. As a result, you should get into the habit of learning. Read books, watch worthwhile videos, learn a skill, a game, etc. For example, if you like music, you could play an instrument. 

The more new things you know, the more neurons your brain develops through a process called neuroplasticity. This way, you keep your mind young and sharp. So join that chess club today!

Alternatively, you can engage in helpful conversations with others and maintain an active social life. What’s more? Several young people will be interested in learning from your life’s story.

  • Get adequate golden-age physical exercise.

Physical exercise is not exclusive to professional athletes and younger people who want to look sexy. Exercise is beneficial to everyone regardless of their age. As a result, getting older doesn’t stop you from getting adequate training. 

Additionally, you should engage more in golden-age exercise to ward off bone diseases, like arthritis and other golden-age-related diseases. Exercise also puts you in a great mood because it lifts your spirit. Several methods exist for seniors to get plenty of exercise like walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, dancing, etc. 

Conclusion

Getting older is both a privilege and a blessing. As a result, a sharp mind will assist you in looking back through life and passing on your wisdom and experiences to the younger generation. While there are other methods to keep your mind sharp as you age, we hope this article gives you an excellent head start.

 

Read More
Pregnancy

Tips for improving mental wellbeing during pregnancy

Many expectant mothers experience pregnancy blues which significantly affect their mental wellbeing. The reasons for the emotional roller coaster when expecting is not specific. However, there are effective strategies that you can apply to keep you upbeat during pregnancy.  

Whether it is your first pregnancy or not, there is no telling how your body and mind respond to this significant physiological change. As a result, this blog post will enlighten you on the top tips to improve your mental wellbeing during pregnancy. Here they are:

Never underestimate the efficacy of support

Everyone needs a support system, especially when you feel you can’t hold it all together. While the prenatal hormones might sometimes wreak havoc on your emotions, support groups help walk you through it. You can associate with other expectant mothers to talk about their journeys. 

Additionally, have your family close. The love and support of your partner and loved ones are always comforting. Essentially, having someone or people to talk to is all you need to build the right support system. 

Practice healthy eating for better mental wellbeing

During pregnancy, your body’s dietary needs increase. As a result, you may experience increased cravings. However, it is essential to pay attention to the foods you consume. Eat more foods the earth naturally provides and cut down on fast foods or processed foods.

Sure, there will be those days when you have a violent ice cream or cake craving. However, while it’s okay to indulge occasionally, you should be careful not to make a habit of it. You could check in with your nutritionist to work on meal plans so that your body is getting the required nutrition to care for the baby.

Get plenty of rest

Several women suffer from increased blood pressure during pregnancy because the body is pretty vulnerable at this time. However, knowing how to deal with stress is essential for your prenatal mental health. Also, whether or not you are working-class, women tend to overdo it–with career and home management. As a result, getting plenty of rest is critical to securing your mental and emotional wellbeing during pregnancy.

Generally, doctors recommend adequate sleep for the expectant mother and may sometimes place you on bed rest if things get out of hand. Alternatively, you can also engage in other activities like meditation, mindfulness, or reading to help you relax. The whole idea is to, as much as possible, slow down your heart rate and put you in that restful state of being. 

Boost your mental wellbeing by staying physically active

Physical exercise is another pregnancy essential to improve your mental health. The reason is that exercise helps release the feel-good hormones, which act as powerful natural antidepressants. Yes, pregnant women need exercise too! You can engage in prenatal yoga, swimming, dancing, and even light running. Whatever exercise strategy you choose to follow, always check in with your health care professional before beginning. 

Medical health helps your prenatal mental wellbeing

You will most likely give birth in the hospital under the careful supervision of a healthcare professional. As a result, it is vital to get registered in a hospital or health center when you realize that you are expecting. That way, you have access to antenatal classes and medication which you should never skip.

Final thought

Although pregnancy can be stressful, it doesn’t have to be for you if you actively take steps to secure your mental wellbeing. Before making any lifestyle changes, talk to your healthcare professional, as pregnancy is a highly delicate stage in life.

 

Read More
mental health

Top Five Tips to Improve Your Mental Health

 Tips to Improve Your Mental health

In today’s fast-paced society, a formidable headspace- mental health is an asset. According to the world health organization, health is not just the absence of disease but a complete physical, psychological and social wellbeing. Therefore, your mental health constitutes a significant aspect of your overall health as an individual and should be taken seriously. This blog post will expose you to the top five tips to help you improve your mental health to boost your general health and wellbeing. Therefore, if you seek tips to lead a more prosperous, fuller life by enhancing your mental health, keep reading to learn more.

What is mental health?

Mental health is the overall wellbeing of the emotional, psychological and social faculties of the human mind. Essentially, it involves how well human beings can perceive and relate to existence’s physical and abstract aspects.

Why should you care about your mental health?

Sometimes, physical illness might not be the least of your problems, which is why psychosomatic diseases are real. Essentially, the mind can affect the health and functionality of the body gravely. As a result, it is essential to care about your mental health, mainly to prevent stress-induced illnesses. Therefore, well-managed mental health status is critical to the general functionality of the individual.  Now that you know the benefits of caring about your mental health, here are five top tips to help you improve your headspace.

Five Top Tips to improve your mental health

Build and maintain healthy relationships

You don’t necessarily need to lead an active social life to make your mental wellbeing. All that is required is to connect with people, share ideas and experiences, and live life. Also, it is pointless to attempt to use technology to replace human interaction.

Engage in physical activities

The human body is designed to move. As a result, engaging in a healthy dose of physical exercise does more than keeping the excess weight away. It stimulates the production of feel-good hormones for a better mood. As a bonus, it boosts our self-esteem.

Learn new things or build new skills

Nothing improves the mind like learning. Whether it is a new skill, a language, or a professional course, the mind always wants to be engaged. Additionally, you will feel good about yourself with your newly acquired skills.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment as you navigate through life. The benefit of mindfulness cannot be over-emphasized as its effect on the mind is massive. You can ward off elevated blood pressure and maintain a good mood for a clearer headspace by practicing mindfulness. There are many ways to practice mindfulness besides regular meditation, and the internet is replete with such information to get you started.

Learn how to give to others

Practicing kindness by giving to others is essential for your mental health. It does more than elevate your self-esteem by also keeping those around you happy. Thanksgiving is a great time to practice the act of gift-giving, likewise other festive days. The world will be a lot better with a little bit of kindness and compassion.

Final Thought

Mental health is an individual need. As a result, it is up to you to safeguard your headspace for health and happiness, no matter what. That way, you can enjoy the best part of living. We hope that this article has helped guide you in your pursuit of better mental health.  

 If you need to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to contact us. 

Read More
PTSD

A Clinical And Forensic Look Into PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition triggered by a traumatic event that is either experienced or witnessed by an individual. The event is perceived as too overwhelming and terrifying, and causes symptoms that affect one’s normal way of life. PTSD is often misdiagnosed or dismissed by healthcare professionals. This is the reason why many people with PTSD are usually untreated. 

Symptoms often vary from person to person, but usually develop immediately after the trauma. However, they can also develop years later. As a result, people are often taken by surprise with smothering and irrational emotions. Consequently, significant problems occur in all areas of life. In addition, they profoundly interfere with our daily activities and peace of mind. PTSD affects people of all ages. 

The Past Revisited

PTSD is characterized by constant and painful memories of the traumatic events of the past. This includes:

  • Intrusive and distressing flashbacks of the traumatic experience
  • Frequent and recurrent nightmares about or relating to the trauma 
  • Paralyzing fear when confronted by a situation similar to the event. These situations are referred to as “triggers” which can be visual or auditory triggers.
  • Reliving and re-experiencing the terrifying ordeal

Emotional and Behavioral Changes

PTSD is also characterized by negative thoughts and emotions that cause negative changes in mood and behavior. This includes:

  • Mood swings, anxiety and depression
  • Feelings of hopelessness and a negative outlook
  • Irrational fear, phobias, and distrust of people
  • Lack of interest in social activities
  • Problems maintaining close and intimate relationships
  • Detachment with friends and family
  • Avoidance of anything that can be a reminder of the trauma
  • No concrete plans for the future 
  • Easily startled and chronic nervousness
  • Irritability and aggression
  • Suicidal thoughts

Physical Changes

  • Insomnia or poor sleeping habits
  • Anorexia and loss of interest in food
  • Inability to focus or concentrate, leading to  poor academic and job performance
  • Chronic aches and pains
  • Medication abuse
  • Substance abuse
  • Lack of energy 
  • Regression in children by bedwetting and tantrums

Not all traumatic experiences lead to PTSD. This depends on many factors such as age, severity of trauma, and coping abilities of the individual. Many associate PTSD with war veterans. However, this condition has expanded in modern times. It is now a worldwide phenomenon that affects millions of people in a variety of ways.

These traumas of the mind and body result in powerful emotional episodes in those with PTSD. Furthermore, these events are usually life threatening and something rare. The rarity of the event creates trauma that enters deeply into the psyche. The events range from accidents, to natural disasters, to wars, witnessing a crime, or being a victim of a crime. 

PTSD in Victims of Crime

PTSDThere is a much higher incidence of PTSD among victims of crime. Moreover, researchers looked at 80 different types of disasters and compared severity of trauma from them. Not surprisingly, mass violence was the most traumatizing of all. Consequently, 67% of people exposed to mass violence developed severe trauma. Natural disasters usually cause a slightly higher amount of trauma (42%) when compared to technological disasters (34%).

According to the PTSD Alliance, the estimated risk of developing PTSD among crime victims are: rape (49%), physical assault (31%), sexual assault (23.7%), shooting and stabbing (15.4%), and witnessing a murder (7.3%). Studies also show very high rates of PTSD among children. As a result, 100% of the victims of parental homicide develop PTSD. In addition, PTSD forms for around 90% of sexually abused children,  77% exposed to shootings, and 35% exposed to community violence.

PTSD in Crime Offenders

PTSD is often used to as an insanity defense for a crime offender. But this is rare, as these types of defenses are difficult to win. Insanity pleas have a high failure rate and account for only 1% of criminal pleas in the United States. Furthermore, out of that 1%, only 25% successfully get an NGRI verdict (Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity). 

An NGRI states that a person cannot be held criminally responsible if the act was committed because of mental disease. Meaning, the offender isn’t of a sound mind during the criminal act. For this reason, PTSD is highly criticized as a defense for crime. However, a few successful cases exist.

The Role of A Forensic Psychologist

Forensic psychologists apply their knowledge to criminal behavior in order to accurately assess a case. Therefore, bridging the gap between psychology and law. It is the application of psychological principles in the legal world. A forensic psychologist evaluates PTSD in offenders and victims. They are highly trained in psychological assessment and forensic evaluations. 

Crimes, disasters, and tragic events do not discriminate. They can happen to anyone. And when they do, the consequences are life changing. Oftentimes, survivors are left to deal with the aftermath on their own. As a result, anxiety, depression and even rates of suicide can increase. If you or a loved one is a victim of crime or a traumatic event, please get help before it is too late. Forensic psychologists can provide counseling and therapy for victims of PTSD. 

 

Sources:

PTSD and Crime Victimization

Mental Health Issues

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Forensic Examinations And PTSD

PTSD Within the Forensic Arena

 

Read More
insanity assessment

Insanity Assessment: When A Guilty Mind Is Absent

THE JUROR STANDS IN THE COURTROOM. Everyone is silent and is seemingly holding their breaths. After a few seconds that lasted more like minutes, the juror declares in a loud voice, “We find the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity”.  Scenes such as this are highly popularized and dramatized in TV shows like Criminal Minds, CSI, or Law And Order. And like any avid fan of crime dramas, we think we know what it means. But do we?

Establishment of Guilt

insanity assessmentIf someone accidentally hits another person with their car, is the driver guilty of a crime? If a person kills in the act of self defense, will that person be held liable for taking a life? What if the perpetrator is mentally insane? What happens when a guilty mind is absent?

There are three elements of a crime, and these elements come together to establish guilt or criminal liability. Every crime involves an act (actus reus), state of mind (mens rea), and causation. Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI) revolves around the second element, mens rea. Mens rea is the qualification that a person had the required state of mind during the commission of the crime. Examples of this would be premeditation, recklessness, or negligence. If this qualification is absent, a guilty verdict cannot be found. Under this framework, an NGRI  plea proposes that a defendant is not guilty because of insanity.

Insanity Assessment

Insanity is not just a psychiatric term. It is actually a legal term. In a legal perspective, insanity goes around the premise that the defendant was not of sound mind when a criminal act was committed. However, an NGRI does not apply to every mentally ill defendant. This is because suffering from a mental disorder does not necessarily prove insanity. 

Insanity assessment helps to determine if a person should be granted an NGRI verdict. Contrary to what we see in TV crime shows, insanity pleas have a high failure rate. Only 1% of criminal pleas in the U.S. are NGRI. And within this diminutive percentage, only 25% successfully establish insanity. 

Certain criteria need to be met to validate insanity. And this is no easy feat. The courts rely on the judgement and expertise of a forensic psychologist or psychiatrist in establishing a defendant’s mental state at the time of the crime. These experts use certain guidelines when performing insanity assessment on an individual. They determine legal insanity by applying one or more of the following guidelines:

M’Naghten Rule

insanity assessmentEstablished by the English House of Lords in the 19th century, the M’Naghten Rule determines that a person cannot differentiate between right and wrong when committing the crime. Moreover, the person did not possess the mental capacity to understand the nature and quality of the crime. This rule is also known as the right-or-wrong test. 

The rule was established in 1843 in England following the trial of Daniel M’Naghten, who killed the prime minister’s secretary, thinking he was the prime minister Robert Peel himself. M’Naghten harbored a delusion that the government was conspiring against him. He was acquitted of murder and was institutionalized for the rest of his life.

Durham Rule

The Durham Rule is another insanity assessment tool used to evaluate the validity of an insanity claim. With this rule, a defendant cannot be held criminally responsible for a crime if the act was a result of a mental illness. This rule requires the jury to establish whether or not the defendant suffers from mental illness, and if there exists a causal relationship between the disease and the crime. 

This rule was adopted by the United States Court of Appeals in 1954. It was established following the case of Monte Durham, a 23 year old convicted of housebreaking in 1953. Durham had been in and out of mental institutions prior to his conviction. The Court of Appeals overturned his conviction, giving rise  to this new rule for insanity assessment. 

Irresistible Impulse Test

One problem that arose with the M’Naghten Rule was the establishment of insanity among individuals who understood right from wrong, and yet could not control impulses due to mental illness. The Irresistible Impulse Test addresses this problem. Under its parameters, a defendant may be found not guilty due to the inability to control impulses leading to the commission of a crime. This test is suitable for mental conditions like manias and paraphilias. 

The Model Penal Code

This rule states that an individual is not responsible for a crime where, due to mental disease, he or she did not have the “substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law.”

The courts adopted this rule in 1972 in an attempt to improve existing frameworks for insanity. It is broader, more comprehensive and encompassing of the complexities involved with insanity assessment. But like the previous rules, it is not without flaws. 

When dealing with an insanity assessment, a forensic psychologist must possess the necessary skills and training for such a critical task. If you want to gain more insight about forensic psychology, check out our post, “Differences Between Therapeutic Psychology and Forensic Psychology”. 

 

Sources:

Forensic Psychologists in Determining Insanity and Competency to Stand Trial

Logical Model of Guilt as a Part of a Structure of Crime

AAPL Practice Guideline for Forensic Psychiatric Evaluation of Defendants Raising the Insanity Defense

Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

Insanity defense

Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity

What are The Elements of a Crime?

Criminal Law

 

 

Read More