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Personality part mental health, wellness

May. 10, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

May is Mental Health Month, when Prestera Center and other organizations celebrate the importance of whole person health and wellness. Whole person health and wellness is more than the absence of disease, it's about mental health as a part of overall health. It's about working to create a balance between physical health, spiritual health, emotional health and mental health in order to lead a productive life and achieve full potential.

One in 5 people in the United States struggles in some way with some type of mental disorder or behavioral disorder sometime in their lifetime (see www.nimh.nih.gov). There is still much to learn about the most complicated organ in the human body, the brain.

Our personality is part of mental health and wellness also. Personalities are formed and shaped from the time we are born until the time we die. Personality traits are some of the least understood functions of the brain. The human brain is magnificent and extremely complex and has about 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses used to process information that scientists are only beginning to understand. There is no complete current understanding of how brains process information and make us who we are.

Personality is that part of everyone that makes up their traits, habits and individuality. How we see the world and our attitudes, our thoughts and feelings are all part of our personality. Personality is formed primarily in childhood. People with healthy personalities are able to handle stress, form relationships and achieve goals.

People with a personality disorder have problems with relationships and trouble relating to other people. People with personality disorders may also seem very rigid, very opinionated, always right and unable to see other points of view. Perceptions or thinking might be impaired to the point of interfering with functioning, like being unable to hold down a job and unable to participate in healthy relationships with others. Personality disorders generally begin in adolescence (or earlier) and continue through early adulthood. By mid-life, most personality disorders become less prominent. There are several different types of personality disorders.

Different types of personality disorders fall into three general categories. In the schizotypal, schizoid and paranoid personality disorders "cluster," the person displays odd or eccentric behaviors. People with these personality disorders can be withdrawn and introverted, emotionally cold, fearful of closeness, untrusting, unforgiving, jealous, secretive, paranoid, or eccentric in dress or speech.

In the borderline, narcissistic or antisocial personality disorder "cluster," the person has developed dramatic, emotional or erratic behavior patterns. People with an antisocial personality disorder typically test the rules, have little respect for others, little or no remorse and usually a history of legal problems. They may use alcohol and other drugs to relieve tension and boredom. People with a borderline personality disorder are unstable in several areas including interpersonal relationships, behavior, mood and self-image. They can be unpredictable, self-destructive and/or suicidal. Most often, borderline personality disorders affect women. People with a narcissistic personality disorder have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and enjoy or even seek out attention.

Personality disorders that include the avoidant, dependent and obsessive-compulsive "cluster" are characterized by anxious and fearful behavior. People with an avoidant personality disorder hesitate to engage in relationships with others and they can be timid and afraid of criticism. They usually do not have any close relationships outside of their immediate family. The person with a dependent personality disorder may rely on others to make decisions, require excessive reassurance and advice, lack self confidence, and fear rejection. People with a dependent personality disorder are more likely to be female. People with an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder can be perfectionists, never satisfied with their achievements, unable to adapt to changing circumstances and paying too much attention to details so that it interferes with completing tasks.

When personality characteristics interfere with functioning at work or at home, an evaluation with a professional is helpful. Personality disorders are mental illnesses that have root causes often in childhood and they are helped by treatment. People get better with the right kind of care. By getting information about personality disorders and other mental illnesses and by seeing them as illnesses similar to other chronic health problems, people will be better prepared to recognize them. You might help yourself or someone you know live a healthier and happier life. For more information on personality disorders, visit www.nimh.nih.gov. For more information about May is Mental Health Month, visit the US President's proclamation message at www.whitehouse.gov.

Professional counseling can help alleviate the symptoms of serious mental illnesses, including personality disorders. In addition to counseling, it may also be helpful to have a psychiatrist prescribe medication. Many psychiatric medications are safe, effective and not habit forming. It is important to stay away from drugs of abuse and manage stress. It is also important to maintain healthy living including a nutritious diet and get plenty of sleep. Professional help and working to stay in treatment with mental health professionals is the single most important step to take toward whole person health and wellness.

Prestera Center offers Putnam County residents access to effective professional mental health and addictions treatment services in Winfield and Hurricane, WV. Offices in Winfield WV are located at 3389 Winfield Road, Suite 8, on the grounds of the Courthouse Complex (304-586-0670). Offices in Hurricane WV are called "Hopewell" and are located at 3772 Teays Valley Road (304-757-8475). The Hopewell offices specialize in serving adults with insurance in need of addiction treatment and mental health problems. Both offices are accepting new clients and scheduling appointments. Walk-ins are welcome Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. at the Winfield location.

Prestera Center offers Putnam County residents access to effective professional mental health and addictions treatment services in Winfield and Hurricane. Offices in Winfield are located at 3389 Winfield Road, Suite 8, on the grounds of the Courthouse Complex (304-586-0670). Offices in Hurricane are called "Hopewell" and are located at 3772 Teays Valley Road (304-757-8475). The Hopewell offices specialize in serving adults with insurance in need of addiction treatment and mental health problems like grief, depression and anxiety or more severe mental health problems. Both offices are accepting new clients and scheduling appointments. Walk-ins are also welcome Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. at the Winfield location.

Kim Miller is the director of Corporate Development at Prestera. She can be reached at kim.miller@prestera.org.

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