Difficulty Communicating Due to Mental Illness? A Speech Language Therapist Can Help

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Statistics show that approximately 21% of the Canadian population will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives, with the majority related to anxiety or depressive disorders. Part of what makes living with a mental illness so devastating is how it impedes upon an individual’s ability to communicate their thoughts and emotions – in many cases causing them to feel isolated and alienated by their peers.

The good news is that most people with a mental illness can recover and lead fulfilling lives when they receive proper, ongoing treatment and support. However, less than half of depressed adults seek professional help. At Simone Friedman SLS, registered speech language therapists specialize in helping mentally ill individuals improve their communication skills, and address setbacks triggered by their disorders.

In major depressive disorder, symptoms include reduced interest in pleasure seeking activities, decreased self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, and tiredness. If depressed, especially in severe cases, the sufferer has difficulty learning and remembering information, finding the words or the will to find the words that will express their thoughts clearly. They also have a tendency of responding to negative feedback in inappropriate ways. This can impair their performance at work or at school, and their ability to participate or be present in relationships.

Sufferers of bi-polar disorder exhibit different symptoms – although bi-polar individuals experience bouts of depression, they also experience periods of mania. The time they spend in high, euphoric states affects their attention spans, ability to process language, remember information, and solve problems. Our speech language pathologists will approach both these mood disorders with care, kindness, and patience as a recovery plan for training cognition and communication is developed.

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Speech therapists working at private clinics (such as Toronto’s Simone Friedman SLS) can also help individuals suffering from schizophrenia, a brain disorder that prevents sufferers from distinguishing reality. It causes complete breakdowns in communication, and is characterized by paranoid thoughts, hallucinations, and incomprehensive speech or writing. Although there is no evidence of a cure, we can help individuals work within their realities to make their speech more fluent, find the vocabulary to express their truth, and improve their social skills.

Finally, speech therapy at Simone Friedman SLS can help those diagnosed with anxiety disorders, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The former is characterized by excessive worrying for what is often no apparent cause – sufferers experience great distress that impacts their ability to function in day to day life, particularly in social settings or in high-stress environments that require concentration. The latter, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an acquired disorder proceeding a traumatic event that posed threat of harm or death to an individual, or to those close to them. In the moment when the sufferer is reliving the trauma, it is difficult for them to remember information, speak, or finish thoughts.

At Simone Friedman, clinicians offer clients one on one services in their home, work-place, or school depending which environments they are having the most difficulty in. Treatment focuses on setting goals in contexts that are meaningful. For example, if you are having trouble completing assignments because you are having a hard time concentrating, they will provide you with a set of tools to help you recognize your difficulty, access your focus, and ask for assistance when needed. This way, when you are on your own, you will carry with you a set of strategies to help you navigate your vulnerabilities and foster positive outcomes.

This article is for educative purposes only and not to be substituted for professional medical advice.


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