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Mental Health and Alcohol Use Screenings 

Take a free and confidential on-line screening

 Take a free and confidential on-line screeningScreening for Mental Health

National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) is an annual event to raise awareness and educate the public about mental health, especially depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.   

The Allegheny County Department of Human Services sponsors a self-administered on-line screening tool for unlimited use. Screenings can be done in the privacy of your own home and all information provided is confidential. An evaluation and response is immediate and contact information is provided for assistance and resources.  

Click here to take a free, confidential, on-line screening to assess your mental health.  

Anonymous Mental Health Screening for In/Active Members of the Military
Designed specifically for member of the armed forces, these free, self-administered, on-line screenings can help determine if behaviors related to mood or anxiety levels might be related to a mental health concern and/or indicate that a professional consultation could be helpful. Other helpful resources are also available on this site.

The information below is taken from the Screening for Mental Health website. More information is available on that site.

Depression   
There are several types of depression -- major depression, dysthymia, bipolar depression, and Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Clinical depression or major depression is a serious and common disorder of mood that is pervasive, intense and attacks the mind and body at the same time. Current theories indicate that clinical depression may be associated with an imbalance of chemicals in the brain that carry communications between nerve cells that control mood and other bodily systems. Other factors may also come into play, such as negative life experiences including stress or loss, medication, other medical illnesses, and certain personality traits and genetic factors.

Symptoms of depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or empty mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities
  • Decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Inability to sleep or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Dysthymia is a milder form of depression that lasts two years or more. It is the second most common type of depression but because people with dysthymia may only have two or three symptoms, may be overlooked and go undiagnosed and untreated.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that follows seasonal rhythms, with symptoms occurring in the winter months and diminishing in spring and summer. Current research indicates that the absence of sunlight triggers a biochemical reaction that may cause symptoms such as loss of energy, decreased activity, sadness, excessive eating and sleeping.

Bipolar Disorder   
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depression, is a type of mental illness that involves a disorder of affect or mood. The person's mood usually swings between overly "high" or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, with periods of normal mood in between.

Symptoms include:

  • Extreme irritability and distractibility
  • Excessive "high" or euphoric feelings
  • Increased energy, activity, restlessness
  • Racing thoughts, rapid speech
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers
  • Increased sexual drive
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Reckless behavior such as spending sprees, rash business decisions, or erratic driving
  • In severe cases, hallucinations and loss of reason

Mental health specialists refer to bipolar disorder by type: Type I bipolar disorder involves extreme upswings in mood (mania) coupled with downward spirals. In Type II, the upward swings are more mild (hypomania), but the frequency and intensity of the depressive phase is often severe. Since the elevated mood states of Type II are relatively mild, they are often missed and the bipolar nature of the illness goes undiagnosed.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)   
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive, unrealistic worry that lasts six months or more. In adults, the anxiety may focus on issues such as health, money, or career. In addition to chronic worry, GAD symptoms include trembling, muscular aches, insomnia, abdominal upsets, dizziness, and irritability.

Symptoms include:

  • Excessive worry about everyday things that interferes with daily functioning
  • Physical symptoms such as sweating, nausea, clammy hands
  • Associated with higher risk for suicide
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)  

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a complex health condition that can develop in response to a traumatic experience - a life-threatening or extremely distressing situation that causes a person to feel intense fear, horror or a sense of helplessness.

Symptoms include:

  • Re-experiencing the event through intrusive thoughts or dreams
  • Avoiding conversations or situations that remind the sufferer of the eventv
  • A sense of detachment
  • Irritability, anxiousness, hypervigilance
  • Outbursts of anger

Intervention and Treatment Information
Persons with concerns about their or their loved ones' mental health are encouraged to consult the DHS pdf.gif Where to Call booklet for intervention and treatment information.

Related Publications

Harmful Interactions: Mixing Alcohol and Medications
Alcohol: A Women's Health Issue 
Drinking and Your Pregnancy 
Make a Difference: Talk to your Child about Alcohol 
Alcohol in the Workplace 
A Family History of Alcoholism 
List of SAMHSA alcohol publications 

NIAAA Sponsored Sites

Drinking Among College Students 
Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free 
Middle School 
Alcohol Policy Information System 

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Take a free and confidential on-line screeningAlcohol Use Screening

National Alcohol Screening Day (NASD) is an annual event to raise awareness and educate the public about alcohol use and related health concerns.

The Allegheny County Department of Human Services sponsors a self-administered on-line screening tool for unlimited use. Screenings can be done in the privacy of your own home and all information provided is confidential. An evaluation and response is immediate and contact information is provided for assistance and resources.

Take a free, confidential, on-line screening to assess your use of alcohol

"How much is too much?"

For most adults, moderate alcohol use causes few, if any, problems. But for some, any alcohol use may lead to significant health problems. Alcohol affects your body differently at different times in your life. To protect yourself, it is important to know the facts about alcohol and pay attention to how, when and why you drink. - Screening for Mental Health

Helpful Facts and Information
from Screening for Mental Health Fact Sheet: Alcohol  

A Standard Drink
A standard “drink” contains about a half fluid ounce of pure alcohol. This is the amount of alcohol in the following beverages.

  • 12 oz. beer or cooler
  • 8-9 oz. malt liquor
  • 5 oz. table wine
  • 3-4 oz. fortified wine
  • 2-3 oz. cordial, liqueur or aperitif
  • 1.5 oz. brandy or spirits

The safe amount of alcohol consumption per day
Alcohol should be consumed with care. The following are generally agreed upon as “safe” amounts.

  • Pregnant women: no amount is safe
  • Anyone younger than 21 years: no amount is safe
  • Anyone driving or operating machinery: no amount is safe
  • Anyone diagnosed with alcoholism or alcohol use disorder: no amount is safe
  • Anyone on medication: consult your physician
  • Anyone with medical conditions: consult your physician
  • Adults 65 or older: 1 drink/day
  • Adult women: 1 drink/day
  • Adult men: 2 drinks/day

Types of Alcohol Problems  

  • Risky consumption includes relatively low levels of alcohol consumption that may increase risk for motor vehicle crashes, medication interactions, fetal effects, strokes caused by bleeding, and certain cancers.
  • Alcohol use disorders include alcohol dependence (known as alcoholism) and alcohol abuse.
  • Alcohol abuse is characterized by clinically significant impairment or distress but does not entail physical dependence.
  • Alcohol dependence (alcoholism) is characterized by 10 diagnostic criteria according to the DSM-IV. These criteria include: impaired control over drinking, tolerance, withdrawal syndrome when alcohol is removed, neglect of normal activities for drinking, and continued drinking despite recurrent related physical or psychological problems

pdf.gif 10 Tips to Cut Down on Your Drinking  

  1. Write your specific reasons for changing your drinking habits
  2. Set a realistic goal and time frame
  3. Keep a drinking diary
  4. Drink slowly
  5. Designate certain non-drinking days
  6. Practice drink-refusal skills
  7. Avoid temptation and pressures to drink
  8. Don’t drink when you are emotionally upset
  9. Get support and stay active
  10. Don’t give up

Intervention and Treatment Information
Persons with concerns about their or their loved ones' consumption of alcohol are encouraged to consult the DHS pdf.gif Where to Call booklet for intervention and treatment information.

QuitAlcohol.com - The Dangers of Drinking and Driving
Helpful information about the consequences of combining driving with drinking alcohol.