Police Mental Health Officer

Mental Health Monday #MHM #TBI

Traumatic Brain Injuries or TBI’s 

Hi all,

Sorry, I have not written anything in a few, but I am generally busier than I wish I were. That said, let’s talk about a different kind of brain issue than my norm. Let’s discuss “Traumatic Brain Injury” or “TBIs.”

TBIs are in the new frequently these days because of the frequency of incidents with our military men and women encountering IEDs and other concussive type mechanisms of injury. However, there are many numerous causes of TBIs that we here in in the US could encounter. In Texas, more than 144,000 people sustain a traumatic brain injury each year, and an estimated 440,000 Texans have a disability related to a traumatic brain injury.

In the US, the number of people who are diagnosed with a brain injury each year is more than the number of individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and ALS….combined.

So why is it important to address this issue?

Well, NOT protecting our brains can leave us with lifelong consequences. While some effects can be overcome, some are not. Everything we are, think, know, remember, believe, do, see, hear, taste, etc.… it’s all controlled or stored by our brain. The human brain is not designed to withstand impacts so we need to do what we can to try to avoid injuring it. We could change our very personality by not doing so.

So what are the number one cause of TBIs? Falls. Falls account for 40% of TBIs. Some other reasons are:

  • concussion
  • violence
  • blast injury
  • struck by or against something
  • motor vehicle crash
  • abusive head trauma
  • shaken baby syndrome
  • sports injuries

Who is principally at risk?

  • Children ages 0-4 and Adolescents ages 16-19: most likely to have TBI-related ED visit or hospitalization. (This is due to falls or general risk taking.)
  • Older adults age 75+: have highest rates of TBI-related hospitalizations and deaths among all age groups. (This is due to falls because of declining mental and physical attributes.)
  • Domestic Violence Survivors: Studies estimate the prevalence of TBI in domestic violence survivors is over 35%.
  • Athletes: Over 1.6 million sports and recreation-related concussions occur in the U.S. each year.

Moreover, how do we avoid a TBI?  Follow these tips to reduce the risk of brain injury:

  • Seat belts and airbags. Always wear a seat belt in a motor vehicle. A small child should always sit in the back seat of a car and be secured in child safety seats or booster seats that are appropriate for his or her size and weight.
  • Alcohol and drug use. Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications that can impair the ability to drive.
  • Wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, skateboard, motorcycle, snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle. Also wear appropriate head protection when playing baseball or contact sports, skiing, skating, snowboarding, or riding a horse.
  • Preventing falls

The following tips can help older adults avoid falls around the house:

  • Install handrails in bathrooms
  • Put a nonslip mat in the bathtub or shower
  • Remove area rugs
  • Install handrails on both sides of staircases
  • Improve lighting in the home
  • Keep stairs and floors clear of clutter
  • Get regular vision checkups
  • Get regular exercise
  • Preventing head injuries in children

The following tips can help children avoid head injuries:

  • Install safety gates at the top of a stairway
  • Keep stairs clear of clutter
  • Install window guards to prevent falls
  • Put a nonslip mat in the bathtub or shower
  • Use playgrounds that have shock-absorbing materials on the ground
  • Make sure area rugs are secure
  • Don’t let children play on fire escapes or balconies

However, say something happens, and someone you know ends up with a possible head injury. Here’s what to look for:

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS:

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Blood or clear fluid draining from nose or ears
  • Weakness, numbness, or tingling in limbs
  • Trouble walking
  • Slurred speech or vision issues
  • Seizure

Symptoms may not appear until days, weeks, or even months after the injury.

Continue to monitor for signs and symptoms even if you do not observe any immediately. See a doctor if you notice any of these changes after the injury.

COGNITIVE:

  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Changes in Work/school performance
  • Delayed thinking and understanding

BEHAVIORAL/EMOTIONAL:

  • Changes in personality and behavior
  • Irritability/Aggression
  • Depression/Anxiety

PHYSICAL:

  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Sleep disturbances or fatigue
  • Ongoing headaches or neck pain
  • Sensitivity to light and noise

And finally, consider downloading a wallet card at the link below if you have a brain injury that has left you with permanent symptoms that may complicate your normal life, including an interaction with a police officer. Some symptoms, because of a lack of knowledge about your history, might appear to indicate intoxication or alcohol or another substance. Having a wallet card with easy to understand information may help mitigate a situation.

I hope this information helps. Head injuries are not something we “rub some dirt on and walk off.” It is something to take them all seriously until you are confident it not.

Sources:

https://hhs.texas.gov/services/disability/office-acquired-brain-injury

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/traumatic-brain-injury/basics/prevention/con-20029302

https://hhs.texas.gov/services/disability/office-acquired-brain-injury/disaster-precautions-preparedness/wallet-id-card

-Officer C. Morgan #622

Mental Health Peace Officer

North Richland Hills Police Department

(817) 427-7092

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & SnapChat! 

www.facebook.com/nrhpd     |     @NRHPD

#MHM Borderline Personality Disorder

Hello again,

Today I wanted to discuss the struggles that come for those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). The symptoms of BPD cause huge struggles for those with the diagnosis, their family, friends, and loved ones.

While women are more frequently diagnosed with BPD than men are (3 to 1), both genders can suffer from it, and the symptoms may manifest themselves differently.

For women, the symptoms may include(1):

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
  • Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior, such as cutting
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Having stress-related paranoid thoughts
  • Having severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality

For men, the symptoms might be the same or a little different and include(2):

  • Aggressively thin-skinned
  • Controlling through criticism
  • Irrational jealousy
  • Possessive but detached
  • Rejecting relationships
  • Holding grudges
  • Using sex to relieve insecurity
  • Substance abuse

These symptoms are difficult to live with both as the one with the diagnosis and others living in the tempest. The person with BPD may cycle rapidly through, “I love you! I hate you! Please don’t leave me!” and all involved struggle to be able to deal with the emotions this cycling causes. The person with BPD is terrified of abandonment and tries so hard to prevent it and in turn, cause it.

Because of this “hole” in their lives, those with BPD often turn to other people and actions to fill the void. They might go on wild spending sprees, have affairs or engage in unsafe sex, or self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.

Sadly, because the amount of “drama” and disarray that BPD brings into their life, people with BPD have a high rate of suicide.

“About 70% of people with BPD will make at least one suicide attempt in their lifetimes. In addition, between 8 and 10 percent of people with BPD will complete suicide; this rate is more than 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population.”(3)

Though this diagnosis is notoriously difficult to deal with without therapy or treatment, there is hope. While there are no medications recommended to treat BPD, there are some talk therapies that can help a BPD sufferer better cope with their beliefs or feelings and temper their responses. These therapies include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

There are also several books that come highly recommended. Do some research and read some reviews to see if one of these might help you understand what is happening and how to go forward on dealing with it.

Borderline Personality Disorder Survival Guide

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook

I Hate You — Don’t Leave Me

Loving Someone With Borderline Personality Disorder

References:

  1. NIMH:   https://goo.gl/A6zK4w
  2. Psychology Today: https://goo.gl/xJGAU0
  3. VeryWell.com: https://goo.gl/kKnmiQ

 

I sincerely hope this brief article helps you, or someone who loves you, get help to lead a happier life.

As always, feel free to contact me at (817) 427-7092 to get help finding resources or treatment.

All the best!

Officer C. Morgan #622

Mental Health Peace Officer

North Richland Hills Police Department

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & SnapChat! 

www.facebook.com/nrhpd     |     @NRHPD

The Impact of Suicide on Others #MHM

With recent events, I felt it was timely and important to discuss the impact of suicide on the survivors, such as friends, siblings, parents, and children.

(I want to note that, as of the time of this writing, the cause of death for Mr. Loncar is undetermined. I’m not privy to exclusive information and I’m not any more informed about what happened that the public in general. The incident was simply the catalyst for writing this article.)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Suicide is tragic for everyone involved. We can all agree that it is terrible that someone can reach a point that their ability to cope has been exceeded and they believe the only escape is suicide. But suicide has significant direct and indirect impact on others as well.

People mourning a friend or family who committed suicide, or died suddenly, are 65% more likely to attempt suicide. 80% are more likely to drop out of school or quit work.

Children (< 18) who lose a parent to suicide at an early age are three times more likely to commit suicide. They are also twice as likely to be hospitalized for depression and this applies to other family members as well.

Parents who lose a child to suicide have double the rate of depression for the two years after the death. They also have a 40% increase in anxiety disorders and a 60% increases in other disorders.

“Suicide contagion” is also very real. Analysis shows that at least 5% of youth suicides were influenced by the suicide of someone else, even when they weren’t well known by the person whether someone else at school, work, or a famous person. Some studies showed up to a 12% rise. In one incident, where a fictional subject on a soap opera committed suicide by overdose of acetaminophen, there was a 17% uptick of attempts of real world suicide by overdose using acetaminophen the following week.

Not only are there mental consequences but there are physical consequences as well. Incidents of cardiovascular disease, COPD, high blood pressure, and diabetes all go up. They are 18% more likely to get a divorce. Even that divorce can trigger suicide rates three times higher than average.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

As we can see, suicide has a significant impact on everyone and lasting effects on the people left behind. During these hard times, keep an eye on your loved ones for signs that they aren’t coping well. Here is an easy mnemonic device to help you remember what to look for:

Here’s an easy-to-remember mnemonic:

IS PATH WARM?

 I  Ideation
Substance Abuse

Purposelessness
Anxiety
Trapped
Hopelessness

Withdrawal
Anger
Recklessness
Mood Changes

 

As always, we’re here to help and if there is something we, or I, can do to help please don’t hesitate to call us at 911 in an emergency, 817-427-1000 in a non-emergency, or call my office directly at 817-427-7092.

 

All the best,

Officer Morgan

 

Resources:

  • http://www.sprc.org/sites/default/files/resource-program/Survivors.pdf
  • http://www.jordanharrisfoundation.org/ for parent survivors

 

References:

  • http://www.medicaldaily.com/suicide-bereaved-self-destruct-371022
  • http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/children_who_lose_a_parent_to_suicide_more_likely_to_die_the_same_way
  • http://www.medpagetoday.com/psychiatry/generalpsychiatry/36399
  • http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/14/upshot/the-science-behind-suicide-contagion.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copycat_suicide
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207262/