If I wasn’t so partial to “One Wave at a Time”, I might change my motto to “Intervention Matters”.
And by ‘intervention’ I mean diagnose and treat. And by ‘matters’ I mean is life changing (or as a comedian would say “a BIG F****** deal”).
My personal adventure with mental illness demonstrates this, as well as a study from the child mind institute I heard recently regarding the progression of anxiety disorders in children. I will be simplifying and summarizing this study, but I realize you all have other things to do then read my blog all day!
Part One: Child Mind Institute Study
Stage One: Between the ages of 5-9, anxiety disorders in children often manifest themselves first in the form of obsessive thoughts and compulsions.
Stage Two: Around middle school, if the disease has been left untreated the stress of the disorder on the brain progresses, results in other anxiety disorders, most commonly generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder.
Stage Three: Again, if left untreated, the stress on the brain results in bipolar 2 in high school and early college. This is when depression is most likely to show as well.
Stage Four: If left untreated, the individual might progress to bipolar 1 or experience some other form of emotional breakdown that results in a hospitalization.
You might have noticed that I continually used the phrase “if left untreated”. This was intentional, not just a lack of vocabulary on my part. See, the key part of the finding was that if diagnosed and treated the child is 30-50% less likely to progress to the next stage.
Note: I apologize I cannot find the link to this podcast…my professors would give me an “F” for plagiarizing since I do not have the source, but I’m hoping you’ll cut me a bit more slack!)
Part Two: My Story
You’ve read about a lot of my different symptoms and experiences, so I’m not going to rehash them here. Long (15 year long!) story short; my symptoms got progressively worse until the age of 21 when I was diagnosed.
I’m blessed that I don’t have a dramatic breaking story. Instead, the summer after graduating from undergrad I was living at home before I started a graduate program at IU. I spent abnormal amount of time crying and my mom asked me if I wanted to go talk to someone. I have no doubt I would likely have a much uglier story if I had not lived at home that summer and had her intervene.
I began a medication regime and started therapy. Neither of which I was particularly happy about at the time, but really who is?
As you all know, I still have bad days (and unfortunately bad weeks), but I also have seen a tremendous amount of improvement and progress.
So as you can see—in my life a diagnosis and treatment (intervention) changed my life (matters).
Now that I’ve convinced you intervention matters—the question becomes, “What is intervention?” but more importantly “What is SUCCESSFUL intervention?”
As an adult, we notice the girl in our class is more moody than most, the boy on our soccer team is more aggressive than expected, we suspect our daughter is struggling with more than teenage angst—now what? As the adult and often times decision maker—what treatment options do we pursue? What type of intervention do we seek?
That is the question is nearly impossible to answer—but research is trying. I found a great study I’m going to address in the next few posts. But what are your opinions? Either as a consumer or advocate—what is the first course of treatment you suggest or encourage?
Oh and by the way
Hope you all had a