Positive Effects of Antidepressants

One of the most significant medical developments in the past thirty years has been the emergence of antidepressant drug therapy. Antidepressants were the breakthrough intervention for the treatment of depression since the 1980s, and have been found to be efficacious for many other mental health disorders as well. Antidepressants are a cornerstone treatment element for depressive disorders, prescribed alongside psychotherapy and other interventions for best results.

About Antidepressants

Antidepressant drug therapy mitigates symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other mood disorders, and personality disorders. These drugs help alleviate distress by balancing chemicals in the brain called the neurotransmitters. Nearly 13% of Americans aged 12 and older are on antidepressants, based on data provided by the Centers for Disease Control.

Among those prescribed antidepressants, the highest prevalence was among adults aged 65 and older. Regarding possible over-prescribing of antidepressants for older adults, Dr. Donovan Mause, M.D., M.S. who specializes in geriatrics at the University of Michigan states, “Many patients are given antidepressants for non-depression diagnoses, such as anxiety, sleep, and neuropathic pain.”

When a doctor decides to prescribe an antidepressant, he or she will take into consideration the benefit versus risk ratio. This simply means that the overall benefit to the wellbeing of the patient is balanced against potential side effects. For many individuals diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or a mood disorder, an antidepressant regimen offers significant benefits that offset the possible adverse effects. For those who find side effects intolerable, alternative treatments for treatment are then explored.

There are five categories of antidepressants. These include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are designed to modulate how serotonin is processed. These drugs increase the level of serotonin in the brain and block the reabsorption, or reuptake, of serotonin, making more serotonin available for transmitting messages between the neurons. Drugs in this class include Prozac, Lustral, Cipramil, Faverin, and Seroxat.
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). A newer type of antidepressant, the SNRIs work by blocking both the norepinephrine and serotonin neurotransmitters. These drugs include Cymbalta, Effexor, Fetzima, and Pristiq.
  • Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). Only one drug is represented in this class, which blocks reuptake of both dopamine and norepinephrine, Wellbutrin.
  • Tetracyclics. These are drugs that work by preventing neurotransmitters from binding with specific receptors on the nerves. These drugs include Ludiomil, Remeron, and Asendin.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants. Tricyclics block the reabsorption of serotonin and epinephrine into nerve cells after being released into a synapse. Tricyclics include Elavil, Tofranil, Pamelor, and Norpramin.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). MAOIs work by blocking the effects of an enzyme called monamine oxidase, which breaks down serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine. Drugs include Nardil, Marplan, Emsam, and Parnate.

While the positive effects of antidepressants are well established, the list of adverse side effects somewhat taints the reputation of these medications. Fortunately, with about thirty different antidepressants on the market a doctor can trial a patient on a few before finding the best therapeutic fit with the least amount of side effects. Each trial may last 4-6 weeks, after which the psychiatrist can adjust dosages or switch the patient to a different antidepressant if the trial is unsuccessful.

What Are the Positive Effects of Antidepressants?

When antidepressants are combined with psychotherapy and holistic treatment approaches they can help the individual struggling with a mental health disorder achieve a better quality of life. Being considered one prong of a three-pronged wellness approach, antidepressants play a big role in managing difficult symptoms which otherwise cause impairment in daily functioning.

While antidepressants can take several weeks before noticing a meaningful difference in symptoms, the accompanying interventions—therapy and holistic activities—can provide some relief in the meantime. When the antidepressant does become effective, the individual will experience a leveling out of the distressing symptoms to varying degrees, including some that achieve full remission.

Once the mental health disorder symptoms are under control, the individual will be able to be more productive and present in their jobs and their relationships. This in turn leads to improvements across the range of daily life, including career, family, physical health, and relationships.

These Mental Health Disorders May Benefit from the Positive Effects of Antidepressants

While commonly associated with an essential treatment method for depression, it is true that antidepressants are also efficacious in the treatment of a range of mental health conditions. Such disorders may call for a combination drug therapy that includes both antidepressants and another psychotropic drug, such as antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications, or mood stabilizers. Antidepressants have been shown to be helpful for the following conditions:

Depression

Depression is a common mental health disorder that impacts over 17 million Americans annually. There are several sub-types of depression, including seasonal affective disorder, dysthymia, postpartum depression, and bipolar depression. Major depressive disorder is diagnosed when at least five of the following symptoms persist for more than two weeks.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Low mood, persistent sadness, feelings of despair and hopelessness
  • Fatigue
  • Change in eating habits
  • Sleep disorders
  • Loss of interest in daily life
  • Sluggish cognitive functioning or movements
  • Inappropriate feelings of guilt or shame
  • Thoughts of suicide

Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health disorders in the US, with approximately 40 million adults struggling with anxiety. There are several different types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, phobia, panic and disorder.

Symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Irrational worry and fear, feelings of dread
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Nausea

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is classified as a mood disorder, and has four types, including bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic, and non-specified bipolar.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder include:

  • Intense mood swings between mania and depression
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Engaging in high-risk behaviors
  • Substance abuse
  • Intense irritability
  • Hyper sexuality
  • Rapid speech
  • Increased energy
  • Suicidal ideation

Personality disorder

There are several different personality disorders, including antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and dependent personality disorder, not all of these will benefit from antidepressants although some definitely do.

There are several personality disorders, each with unique features and symptoms. Generally, someone with a personality disorder might experience:

  • Distorted sense of self
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Emotional instability
  • Impaired relationships
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Delusional thinking

Binge Eating Disorder

Among the eating disorders, only binge eating disorder appears to benefit from the use of antidepressants. Possibly that is due to the relationship between the disorder and coexisting depressive disorder. Other eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, do not seem to benefit from antidepressants.

Symptoms of binge eating disorder include:

  • Continual eating even when full
  • Stockpiling food, hiding food
  • Inability to stop eating
  • Gorging in isolation
  • Feelings of numbness while bingeing
  • Never feel sated, or satisfied after eating
  • Low self-esteem

What are the Negative Effects of Antidepressants?

Now that we have covered the positive effects of antidepressants, it is helpful to also mention the limitations or negative effects of antidepressants. This is important, as antidepressants are usually effective in 50%-70% of individuals who are prescribed them for managing a mental health disorder. The balance are individuals who are diagnosed as treatment-resistant, either due to a lack of successful mitigation of symptoms or side effects that caused the individual to suspend treatment.

Antidepressant side effects might include:

  • Weight gain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Blurred vision
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

Treatment for Depression and Anxiety is a 3-Pronged Approach

  • Medication. There is a wide selection of antidepressants on the market for treating depression and also for treating anxiety. Each type of antidepressant varies slightly in how they function in the brain, making certain types best for treating depression and others better for anxiety or other mental health conditions.
  • Psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a behavioral approach that is very effective for treating depression or anxiety. CBT helps the patient identify irrational thoughts that leads to depressive symptoms or anxiety responses. The CBT therapist will guide patients toward developing more rational thought patterns. There are also exposure therapies for helping those with depression or anxiety that is related to a trauma.
  • Holistic activities. Acknowledging the powerful mind-body connection, establishing healthy habits that promote physical wellness and help to regulate stress is essential. Incorporating regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and stress-reduction activities helps round out the treatment approach. Some activities that help reduce stress and promote calm include yoga, deep breathing techniques, practicing mindfulness, guided meditation, acupuncture, massage, and aromatherapy.

For patients with depression who do not respond to antidepressant drug therapy, there are some alternative approaches that may be helpful. These include brain stimulation techniques such as TMS therapy, vagus nerve stimulation, and deep brain stimulation.

Antidepressants remain the centerpiece of depression treatment protocols. While these medications do not work for everybody, the positive effect of antidepressants experienced by the majority of depression patients reinforces them for essential treatment of depressive disorders. Depression is a serious mental health disorder that should be diagnosed and treated to limit impairment. Giving antidepressants a trial run is a prudent step in stemming the impact of the symptoms on one’s life.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Luxury Residential Mental Health Treatment

Elevation Behavioral Health is an upscale residential mental health program based in Los Angeles that features an intimate, home-like environment. Elevation Behavioral Health treats a comprehensive list of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, personality disorder, mood disorder, and more, using a proven integrated 3-pronged approach including medication, psychotherapy, and holistic methods. If you are struggling with a mental health condition, contact our compassionate team at Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

Chronic Fatigue and Anxiety

Anxiety can leave us feeling perpetually wound and on edge. In fact, it is common to picture someone with anxiety as super high strung and irritable, ready to pounce. In reality, living with an anxiety disorder can be absolutely draining. Chronic fatigue and anxiety, therefore, often go hand-in-hand.

If you find yourself on fumes much of the time, it is important to consult first with a physician. The symptoms of chronic fatigue can be caused by a medical condition all on its own, such as chronic fatigue syndrome. However, fatigue may also be a symptom of a medical condition, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, or a side effect from a medication. These possible explanations for the chronic fatigue and anxiety should be ruled out first through a physical examination. If no health condition is present, however, the fatigue and stress being experienced may be due to an undiagnosed anxiety disorder.

About Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, is the most common of the anxiety disorders. Nearly 7 million adults, or 3.1% of the adult population, struggle each year with GAD, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The symptoms of GAD include:

  • Excessive worry
  • Feelings of fear or dread
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Racing heart
  • Chest pain
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sweating
  • Short-term memory problems

GAD is just one type of anxiety disorder. Within the spectrum of anxiety fall several more types, including:

  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Specific phobia
  • Agoraphobia
  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Selective mutism

Other mental health disorders that share traits with anxiety disorder include obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Why Does Anxiety Cause Chronic Fatigue?

Living with anxiety, regardless of the specific type within the spectrum of anxiety disorders, can be utterly exhausting. Anxiety churns so much energy on worry and fear, constantly elevating the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. This leads to physical and mental fatigue.

When the body is in the fight or flight mode it activates the stress response. This is how human beings are hardwired, fulfilling an innate survival instinct in response to a perceived threat. Someone struggling with an anxiety disorder can experience this stress response over and over in a given day, depleting the body’s energy reserves and resulting in the state of fatigue.

What are the Signs of Chronic Fatigue and Anxiety?

These piggyback disorders tend to manifest in a variety of ways that can lead to impairment in daily functioning. This is due to the unrelenting fear response that never allows the individual to replenish their emotional reserves. The term that applies to this condition is “stress-response hyperstimulation.” Anyone who has ever experienced a panic attack understands this. While in the grip of a panic attack event the body is experiencing a collection of involuntary responses, such as hyperventilating, racing heartbeat, nausea, sweating, chest pain, and headache which all require expended energy. After the panic attack has passed, the person feels emotionally and physically spent.

Some of the signs of the connection between anxiety and chronic fatigue include:

  • Sleep disturbances. Someone with an anxiety disorder may find themselves struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, or feeling exhausted even after getting plenty of sleep. Tossing and turning while worrying about work, finances, children, or relationships can keep your body in an emotionally hyper-aroused state, leading to symptoms of chronic fatigue.
  • Loss of Appetite. The body needs a certain number of calories and consistent good nutrition to function optimally. When in constant stress mode you may experience a diminished appetite, which then in turn causes you to feel fatigued. Lack of appetite as a result of anxiety can lead to chronic fatigue symptoms.
  • Brain fog. When we are emotionally taxed beyond our ability to manage the situation or demands of daily life we may find ourselves shutting down. Brain fog is a classic symptom of an anxiety disorder, due to the over-exposure to stress and issues that feel overwhelming.
  • Burnout. Mental burnout is very common in this fast-paced society. When the individual feels overwhelmed and overworked, they may find themselves nodding off at work or needing to take naps. Chronically elevated anxiety may be a contributing factor to the burnout and fatigue.
  • Mood swings. Mood swings are a common symptom of anxiety disorders. Moodiness can zap energy as well as lead to other interpersonal drama, all of it causing emotional strife and stress. This can contribute to the symptoms of chronic fatigue.
  • Even caffeine doesn’t help. One sign that anxiety may be stealing your energy and leaving you chronically fatigued is when you do not get a boost from an energy drink or a cup of coffee as you had in the past.

Using Holistic Therapies to Help Manage Chronic Fatigue and Anxiety

Stress can have a powerful impact on our physical and mental wellness, potentially contributing to health complications and mental health disorders. Relying on some stress-reducing holistic therapies can help calm the mind and reduce both chronic fatigue and anxiety. Some effective stress-reducing techniques include:

  • Mindfulness. Mindfulness involves practicing a type of meditation where the individual trains the mind to focus on the here and now, to remain in the moment.  By reining in distracting or disturbing thoughts, it is possible to redirect attention to the body’s sensations, such as breathing, as well as what you hear, touch, or see. This can help diminish anxiety, thus reducing fatigue.
  • Yoga. Yoga classes are offered in a variety of disciplines, so experiment with the different types of yoga at a local gym or via YouTube videos or apps. Yoga can benefit the individual in achieving deep mental and physical relaxation while also controlling anxiety levels, which can help reduce feelings of chronic fatigue.
  • Massage. Therapeutic massage can be beneficial for releasing symptoms of anxiety in the body by releasing the toxins that stress causes. Massage also relieves muscle tension caused by stress and worry by decreasing levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. At the same time, a relaxation massage can produce the feel-good hormones, neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
  • Guided imagery meditation. Another excellent form of meditation that helps combat anxiety is guided imagery. These recordings, apps, or YouTube videos offer a guided journey using visual descriptions or prompts that help lead the individual toward achieving relaxation and inner calm.

Evidence-Based Therapy for Anxiety Disorder

Individuals struggling with anxiety disorder may find that outpatient psychiatric services provide adequate tools to help manage the disorder effectively. However, for those who notice their anxiety disorder worsening over time, including further impairment in daily functioning, a residential anxiety treatment program may be the most appropriate treatment option.

A residential anxiety treatment program is beneficial for many reasons. By residing at the treatment center for a specified period of time, the individual is able to separate from the usual triggers that elicit the stress response and focus their energy on learning how to better manage these responses. A much more focused treatment approach allows for a deeper look into the issues that may be impacting the anxiety. Upon intake, a thorough evaluation of the anxiety disorder will provide important information, such as a detailed medical and psychiatric history and a review of medications, which allows the psychiatrist to diagnose the specific features of the anxiety disorder. Using this as a template, a customized treatment plan is designed.

A comprehensive treatment approach includes a variety of therapeutic elements throughout the day, including:

  • Evidence-based psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help individuals who struggle with anxiety by helping them identify irrational thoughts that may fuel the stress response. Exposure therapy and other trauma-focused psychotherapies can help individuals confront past traumatic experiences that could be contributing to the anxiety disorder.
  • Medication. Some individuals may benefit from medications that help minimize anxiety, such as benzodiazepines and mood stabilizers.
  • Group support. Small support groups made up of others struggling with anxiety and led by a licensed therapist can help participants process the past traumas or recent situations that provoke anxiety.
  • Family therapy. Family-focused group allows family members to learn more about their loved one’s struggle with anxiety and how to be supportive of their efforts to manage it going forward.
  • Holistic therapies.Therapeutic activities that promote relaxation include mindfulness training, deep breathing exercises, yoga, aromatherapy, and art therapy.

The Role of Diet and Exercise in Managing Chronic Fatigue and Anxiety

Restoring overall health through diet and regular exercise is an essential aspect of managing anxiety. In addition to sticking with a healthy Mediterranean diet, there are actually certain foods that can help quell feelings of anxiety, including:

  • Yogurt
  • Whole grains
  • Salmon and other fatty fish
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Eggs
  • Tumeric
  • Dark chocolate
  • Chamomile tea
  • Green tea

Getting regular physical activity is another positive lifestyle tweak in combating anxiety and fatigue. Cardio-focused activities, such as walking, running, swimming, cycling, and dance can help reduce cortisol levels while releasing endorphins and stimulating dopamine. Together these biochemical responses help regulate emotions while improving sleep quality and elevating mood.

Elevation Behavioral Health Los Angeles Residential Anxiety Treatment

Elevation Behavioral Health provides upscale residential mental health treatment, addressing the full spectrum of anxiety disorders. The intimate size of our holistic and evidence-based program provides a more attentive clinical staff that will partner with you, guiding you toward healing and recovery from this challenging condition. Our personalized treatment plans allow our clinical team to target the specific features of an individual’s anxiety disorder. For more information on how to overcome anxiety, please contact our team at (888) 561-0868.

 

 

holiday stress

We might enter the holiday season feeling wistful. We remember beautiful memories of holidays past, and have lots of ideas to make this year an amazing season. No matter how sincere our intentions are to be festive and jolly at Christmastime, it somehow doesn’t usually go that way. Partway through December the wheels come off as the To-Do list explodes and the calendar gets tighter and tighter.

All the efforts we make to participate in the seasonal fun can often turn south on us. We become overwhelmed as stress ratchets up, threatening to spoil the mood of the holidays. Stress and anxiety can become so intensified during this busy season that we might even find ourselves sidelined completely. Learning how to manage holiday stress is essential if we are to not only survive the holiday madness but also enjoy ourselves a bit, too.

Why the Holidays Stress Us Out

When we are little kids the Christmas season was all about waiting for Santa to bring us presents. Once we hit adulthood and have a family of our own, it comes as a bit of a shock how much work our parents must have done to make those holiday festivities so special. The season is rife with demands to shop and wrap gifts, plan holiday parties, decorate the house, and attend holiday events. It is exhausting.

When we feel overwhelmed, as if there are not enough hours in the day or enough energy in our bodies to keep up with the long list of holiday errands and demands it can lead to anxiety. Stores are more crowded, distracted drivers pose dangers on the road, and the closer Christmas looms the edgier people seem to be. Anxiety symptoms run amok as we begin to feel a loss of control over our lives and incapable of keeping up with expectations. Part of the dilemma is that we place excessive expectations on ourselves, attempting to manage all the spinning plates.

About Anxiety Disorder

We all feel stressed out from time to time, the normal response to situations that can push us out of our comfort zones or cause emotional distress. But when the symptoms of irrational worry and dread take over, even impairing daily functioning, it is time to discuss the symptoms with a mental health professional. Undiagnosed anxiety disorder can become more serious as time goes on, threatening to derail careers, relationships, and even cause health problems. With an array of treatment options available, there is certain to be one that fits the individual’s needs.

Anxiety disorder is the umbrella term for a collection of mental health disorders that share core symptoms:

  • Excessive worry or fear
  • Feelings of dread and apprehension
  • Being perpetually on alert for danger
  • Racing heart or palpitations
  • Shaking
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Hyperventilating
  • Shortness of breath, holding one’s breath
  • Stomach upset, diarrhea
  • Feeling jumpy or restless
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Trouble concentrating, mental confusion, short-term memory problems
  • Headaches

The predominant trait of all anxiety disorders is a sense of having no control over the fear-inducing situation.

Different Types of Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety can manifest in different ways. Any of the anxiety disorders can cause symptoms that can impair the ability to function in daily tasks. The types of anxiety that are included in the anxiety disorder spectrum include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD features intense and inappropriate worry for the situation at hand. The exaggerated and chronic worrying can result in impairment at basic daily functioning, as well as somatic symptoms, or chronic physical ailments, such as headaches, digestive problems, and muscle tension.
  • Panic Disorder. Panic disorder is characterized by unpredictable and intense physical symptoms that resemble a heart attack, such as chest pain, racing heart, nausea, shallow breathing, dizziness, and heart palpitations. Because the attacks come on suddenly without warning, people begin to isolate themselves to avoid a panic attack, which could result in agoraphobia.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD is characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety related to an irrational fear. In response to the fear, individuals adopt compulsive behaviors to help manage the anxiety that the irrational obsession induces. Examples are fear of contamination or germs, fear of angry, aggressive, or sexual impulses, or an obsessive need for orderliness, cleanliness, or symmetry.
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is related to the intense feelings of anxiety that follow experiencing or witnessing a trauma. An unresolved traumatic event, whether witness or experienced personally, leads to nightmares, hyper-arousal, and unwanted memories, which can lead to avoidance of any situations or people that might trigger the traumatic memories.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder. Social anxiety is caused by a deep fear of being judged or harshly criticized, or publically humiliated. Social anxiety is characterized by sweating, trembling, shallow breathing, nausea, feeling faint or dizzy, and heart palpitations, which may lead the individual to avoid all types of social interaction and events. This can lead to social isolation and loneliness, as well as negatively consequences to career and relationships.
  • Phobia. Specific phobias pertain to the intense and exaggerated fear of a person, place, or thing. The object of fear can lead to irrational and obsessive behaviors as the individual attempts to avoid encountering or triggering the extreme fear that it provokes, leading to avoiding any potential exposure to the specific phobia.
  • Agoraphobia. Agoraphobia involves intense fear that is triggered when the individual feels they are trapped, helpless, or may be publicly embarrassed, while on a train, bus, plane, in an elevator, or on a ship. This type of anxiety disorder may result after a series of panic attacks, and can lead to social isolation.

How to Cope with Holiday Stress and Enjoy the Season

We can still relish the joy of reuniting with friends and family over the holidays by relying on some helpful tips for dealing with holiday stress:

  1. Simplify the season. We tend to want to do it all, and then find ourselves struggling with stress overload trying to accomplish all the self-imposed goals. Whittle down the expectations to a few core things that make the season meaningful instead of trying to cram everything in.
  2. Remember the meaning of the season. It is nice to take note of the spiritual meaning of the holiday season and focus on that when stress threatens to overwhelm you. Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas for inspiration.
  3. Exercise. Keeping active during the holidays is a great way to manage the stress of the season. Exercise increases production of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, both of which can help regulate stress.
  4. Limit sugar and caffeine. As tempting as it is to overindulge in sugary treats and rich coffee beverages during the festive season it is wise to limit these. Sugar and caffeine can cause heightened energy, which can make you jumpy, irritable, and restless.
  5. Change up the traditions. Even though we love holiday traditions, no one has to abide by a set script during the holidays. To help stave off excess stress, try changing things up this year. Maybe this year you pass on hosting the usual holiday party and pass the torch to someone else.
  6. Practice self-care. The demands of the season can exact a toll on wellness. Get enough quality sleep on a regular basis to be up for the challenges of the holidays. When stress ratchets up, go get a nice massage or taking a hot bath.

The Holidays Can Stroke Depression, Too

Even with all the holiday music and merriment, the season can cause some to become very depressed. Those who have suffered a recent loss in the family may be emotionally raw, and the season only reminds them that their loved one is no longer here. Others may suffer from feelings of loneliness and despair, as the season can make it appear that everyone has a loving posse surrounding them.

Depression symptoms include:

  • Loss of interest in activities usually enjoyed
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent sadness
  • Slowed thinking and movement
  • Changes in eating habits and weight
  • Sleep problems such as insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Feelings of shame or guilt that are inappropriate
  • Trouble making decisions or concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you are experiencing 5 or more of these symptoms for at least two weeks, it is possible you have major depressive disorder. It is important to be assessed by a mental health professional who can provide medication and therapy to help you stabilize.

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

When holiday stress generates ongoing anxiety symptoms it is helpful to benefit from psychological support. Generally, anxiety is treated using evidence-based therapies that target dysfunctional thought-behavior patterns. Psychotherapy can help us identify disordered thoughts that lead to excess stress, and learn how to reshape those thoughts. Examples of evidence-based approaches include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)

Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines or antidepressants, can also aid in the management of anxiety symptoms. Medications are usually provided as adjunctive to psychotherapy and holistic therapies, and are not always necessary for managing anxiety.

Holistic therapies are ancient practices that can help relieve the symptoms of depression and anxiety naturally. Using holistic methods to help achieve a state of relaxation can augment the overall therapeutic effects, and can be incorporated into daily life. Some examples of holistic therapies include:

  • Mindfulness
  • Deep breathing techniques
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Guided meditation

Taking control of your life again is possible through the use of a multi-modal anxiety management protocol. When signs of crippling anxiety threaten to derail your holiday season, reach out and get some psychological support.

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Elevation Behavioral Health offers evidence-based mental health treatment in a luxury residential setting in Los Angeles. At Elevation Behavioral Health you can focus your energy and attention on learning new ways to manage anxiety. For more information about our program, please contact Elevation today at (888) 561-0868.

constant panic attacks

Panic disorder can be a very debilitating condition, to the point where staying in the safety and comfort of one’s home seems like the best solution. But isolating oneself in order to avoid the potential panic attacks only leads to more impairment, negatively impacting career and relationships, as well as possibly leading to depression in addition to the anxiety disorder.

A panic attack can be a highly distressing experience. In fact, those who experience panic attacks describe them as feeling like they are having a heart attack. Because of the severity of the symptoms, many will seek emergency medical care.

It is understandable why, when experiencing constant panic attacks, it seems like the best thing to do is just stay away from anything that might inadvertently trigger a new one. But the difficulty with that strategy is the nature of panic disorder itself. Typically, the attacks are not predictable and may not follow any usual trajectory. This means that a trigger could be just about any thing, any person, or any situation.

With this in mind, should an individual be attempting to avoid the constant panic attacks that render them hostage to the disorder, getting professional treatment is the appropriate path to take. Mental health providers can offer solutions in either an outpatient or residential setting, with the decision as to which is best resting on the severity of the panic disorder.

About Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is one of the mental health disorders within the anxiety disorder spectrum, and affects 2.7% of the adult population in a given year, and 4.7% over the course of a lifetime.  Panic disorder features unpredictable and intense physical symptoms and is more prevalent in women, with double the number of women experiencing this debilitating disorder than men.

Untreated panic disorder can be highly disruptive to daily functioning, with the constant fear or dread of the next potential panic attack. This is because it is very hard to predict when a panic attack might be forthcoming, which causes those who suffer from panic disorder to remain in a place where they feel safe and in control. About 50% of those with panic disorder have symptoms of agoraphobia. This can have devastating impact on the individual’s quality of life, placing significant limitations on normal functioning.

Signs and symptoms of panic disorder may stem from past traumatic events, a family history of anxiety disorders, a major life event, such as divorce or sudden loss of a loved one, and major life stressors. However, in many cases there is no known cause or trigger for the onset of the attacks. Symptoms of a panic attack might include:

  • Chest tightening, chest pains
  • Racing heart
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Hot flashes
  • Feeling out of control
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling very weak or faint
  • Shortness of breath
  • A strong feeling of terror or doom
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and fingers
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Fear of death

To meet the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for panic disorder the individual would experience the persistent worry about impending panic attacks for at least one month, would experience significant impairment in functioning, and cannot be related to a substance use disorder or a medical condition.

What Causes Panic Disorder?

At present, the exact cause of panic disorder is still unknown. According to the Mental Health America website, research has identified a connection between panic attacks and a “suffocation alarm mechanism” in the brain, which causes the individual to feel their life is in peril. There are, however, some identified factors that could contribute to the disorder. These include:

  • Biology. Panic disorder may run in families, primarily when there are family members who have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder
  • Environmental factors. This can include stressful life events, loss of a loved one, exposure to trauma, history of abuse
  • Personality traits. Some people possess certain personality traits that may contribute to an exaggerated reaction to a stimuli.
  • Stress regulation malfunction. This is a chemical issue in which the individual’s production of cortisol and adrenaline are easily triggered and difficult to manage once triggered.

Treatment for Panic Disorder

Treatment for panic disorder will range from outpatient care through a private mental health provider to inpatient or residential care in a mental health treatment center. The level of care is dependent on various factors, such as the severity of the symptoms, the degree of daily impairment in functioning, the length of time with the disorder, and whether there are co-occurring mental health disorders present.

Outpatient. Outpatient treatment is available in several formats, including a private psychiatric practitioner, an outpatient treatment center, or a partial hospitalization program, often referred to as a day program.

Residential. A residential program will involve an extended stay at a mental health treatment center. These may be a private care facility that is in a home setting with a small number of patients, or a larger mental health treatment facility. The residential setting allows for a more intensive, customized treatment protocol based on the specific features of an individual’s panic disorder diagnosis. Also, in a residential setting there is more flexibility in trialing different combinations of treatment elements and therapies.

Treatment elements for panic disorder include:

  • Psychotherapy. Using evidence-based psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (using the panic control treatment protocol), virtual-reality CBT, prolonged exposure therapy, and panic-focused psychodynamic psychotherapy (PFPP)
  • Eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Group therapy, including skills-training group and support groups
  • Medication, including tricyclic antidepressants, MOAIs, SNRIs, and benzodiazepines
  • Relaxation techniques using holistic therapies

Holistic Methods for Managing Anxiety

When someone is besieged with constant panic attacks—some up to several attacks per day—it is wise to access holistic therapies to help manage the anxiety. These practices can significantly reduce chronic anxiety symptoms that may underlie the panic disorder. Incorporating at least a few of these into a weekly routine will go a long way toward regulating anxiety in general:

Yoga. Yoga uses movement and breathing focus to bring about deep relaxation, as it helps release muscle tension.

Mindfulness. Mindfulness helps us to reduce stress by focusing our thoughts to the present moment instead of becoming distracted by worries or past events.

Massage therapy. Massage can help release toxins from the body, resulting in muscle relaxation and a calm mind.

Aromatherapy. Several essential oils used in aromatherapy induce relaxations, such as lavender oil, bergamot, rose, ylang ylang, and German chamomile.

Exercise. Regular physical movement, especially cardio activities, can help promote a happier state of being while also reducing stress and aiding in better sleep quality.

Nutrition. In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, there are certain foods that help anxiety in particular, including Brazil nuts, eggs, fatty fish, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, yogurt, green tea, and chamomile tea.

How to Manage a Panic Attack

When a panic attack strikes it is very helpful to have some proven coping skills at the ready. It is wise to get familiar with these strategies by practicing them in advance. Tips for managing a panic attack include:

  • It will pass. Remind yourself that it is temporary, not life threatening, and try to stabilize your self at the very outset of the event. A grounding technique involves observing your surroundings and finding five items you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one item you can taste. This pattern helps to distract from the feelings of fear being experienced.
  • Deep Breathing. Concentrate on slow, deep breathing. Deep breathing technique should be practiced on a regular basis so it becomes second nature when needed during an attack. Deep breathing involves breathing in through the nose slowly for 4 or 5 seconds, filling both the lower lungs and upper lungs, allowing the chest to expand. Hold the breath for 4 seconds, and then slowly exhale through the mouth for 5 seconds, pushing the air out entirely. Repeat this pattern several times until you feel your body begin to relax.
  • Go with it. Try not to fight the panic attack, but instead accept you are having one and reassure yourself it will soon pass. Use positive self-talk, such as telling yourself, “I have survived these before,” or “This too shall pass,” or “I am going to be fine, everything will be okay.” These affirming thoughts can override the sense of fear while helping you feel you are in control.
  • Get help if needed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if it is just to have someone accompany you so you can get outside in the fresh air. Sometimes, just taking a short walk, alone or with a friend, can help you get through the panic attack. If you fear the panic attack is out of control, ask someone to get you to the hospital for an evaluation.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Residential and Outpatient Treatment for Panic Disorder

Elevation Behavioral Health is a private mental health provider located in a luxury home setting in Los Angeles, California. The intimate setting nestled in a beautiful hillside location offers the healing environment so helpful to individuals suffering from constant panic attacks. At Elevation, a compassionate and knowledgeable staff will nurture the individual while teaching new techniques and coping skills that will help them manage panic disorder going forward.

The program is integrative, meaning that treatment involves a blend of evidence-based psychotherapies, adjunctive therapies, medication, and holistic therapies. The goal is to help each individual reclaim a sense of control over their world and to enjoy a better quality of life. For more information about the program, please reach out to our team at (888) 561-0868.

hair pulling anxiety disorder

Impulse control disorders come in many forms. These behavioral disorders involve an involuntary compulsion to engage in a behavior, such as gambling, binge eating, reckless high-risk acts, skin picking, or stealing. Another type of impulse behavior is hair pulling.

So, what is hair pulling anxiety disorder? Hair pulling disorder, referred to clinically as trichotillomania, involves the irresistible urge to pull one’s hair, from the scalp, the face, or other areas on the body. This repeated hair pulling can result in embarrassing bald spots on the head, or missing eyebrows. Even though the disorder is very distressing to the individual, they are unable to stop pulling out their hair.

Trichotillomania is classified as an anxiety disorder, so treatment measures are aligned with others that help individuals who suffer from anxiety, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. This impulse control disorder can be modified and managed using therapeutic interventions, although it is a chronic condition.

What is Hair Pulling Anxiety Disorder?

This mental health condition features an inexplicable urge to pull hair from one’s head, face, or body. The severity of hair pulling anxiety disorder can range from a mild form that is manageable, to a more severe compulsion that can lead to an overwhelming need to continue pulling the hair.

The resulting patchy bald spots or missing eyelashes or eyebrows can be a source of embarrassment and self-consciousness. Some individuals with hair pulling anxiety disorder may go to great lengths to cover their missing patches of hair. Some may become so distressed about how they appear, or by being unable to control the compulsion, that they avoid social situations entirely.

Trichotillomania can result in hair and skin damage over time. The constant picking at the scalp and pulling the hair out can lead to infections and can permanently scar the scalp. Hair picking disorder can also result in the inability for the hair to grow back.

Usually the hair pulling itself is done in private, when the urge can be controlled. The behavior may be intentional, as a method of relieving stress, or the individual may be unaware that they are pulling their hair. Individuals with hair pulling anxiety disorder may also struggle with similar compulsions, such as picking at the skin, chewing the lips, or biting fingernails.

Symptoms of Trichotillomania

The signs and symptoms of hair pulling anxiety disorder include:

  • Pulling out the hair on the head, eyebrows, eyelashes, or other body areas
  • Constantly twirling or tugging at the hair
  • Pulling the hair between the teeth, chewing on the hair
  • Constantly checking the roots of the hair
  • Eating pulled out hair
  • Playing with pulled out hair, rubbing in across the face
  • A sense of stress or anxiety prior to pulling the hair, or when resisting the urge
  • A sense of relief after the hair is pulled
  • Attempting to stop pulling the hair, but unable to do so
  • Experiencing social, school, or workplace distress due to the hair pulling disorder

What Causes Hair Pulling Anxiety Disorder?

Science has not yet determined what causes trichotillomania. However, there are some risk factors that have been identified. These include:

  • Genetics. This disorder may be more prevalent within families.
  • Stress. Traumatic or highly stressful events or situations can trigger trichotillomania.
  • Age. The usual age of onset is between the ages of 10-13.
  • Coexisting disorders. The individual may have a co-occurring depressive or anxiety disorder.

Treatment for Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is diagnosed following an examination and interview with a physician or mental health practitioner. The doctor will assess the level of hair loss and ask questions about what leads to the hair pulling behaviors. This may include questions about feelings of stress or anxiety that precede the hair pulling, and then how the individual feels after they have pulled the hair out. The doctor will also want a mental health history, to determine is there are coexisting mental health disorders involved.

Treatment for hair pulling anxiety disorder involves therapies that will help the individual change their thoughts and behaviors around this compulsive behavior. Therapies might include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Habit reversal training
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy

In some cases, medication may be included in the treatment plan. An antidepressant such as Anafranil has been shown to help patients with trichotillomania. Zyprexa, an atypical antipsychotic, is also prescribed to treat this disorder.

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Luxury Residential Mental Health Center in Los Angeles

Elevation Behavioral Health provides upscale residential mental health services, and treats hair-pulling disorder. The intimate size of our holistic and evidence-based program provides a more attentive clinical staff that will partner with you, guiding you toward healing and recovery from this challenging condition. If you are wondering about hair pulling anxiety disorder, and whether it can be effectively treated, please contact our team for more information about our program at (888) 561-0868.

Anxiety about going to work

The feelings of anxiety do not begin with the morning alarm bell. Nope, the anxiety about going to work is felt throughout the night with fitful, restless sleep. The mere idea of entering the workplace triggers waves of stress that threaten to undermine any effort to be productive and engaged at work, and often result in calling out sick.

Workplace phobia, according to a definition published in Psychology, Health & Medicine, is defined as “a phobic anxiety reaction with symptoms of panic occurring when thinking of or approaching the workplace.” Considering the serious consequences of having anxiety about going to work, this particular phobia can be particularly devastating to not only one’s professional life, but their personal life as well. Being unable to keep a job due to this type of phobia can have far-reaching and deleterious consequences.

This specific source of this type of anxiety has often been lumped in with various other disorders. These include obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia, specific phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder. This is due to the features of the workplace phobia disorder, which can be recognized in these other forms of anxiety disorder. Finding a remedy is critical, and will likely involve a combination of therapies to help the individual overcome the dread and fear of going to work.

About Workplace Phobia

Individuals who have anxiety about going to work may exhibit a higher level of psychosomatic symptoms. These are the physical symptoms that can accompany a mental health condition, including gastrointestinal distress, migraines, pain, headaches, and fatigue, and often result in excessive absenteeism due to sick days. In fact one 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that 10% of patients with chronic mental health conditions who sought sick leave authorizations for their physical symptoms suffered from workplace phobia.

Identifying workplace phobia is essential in turning the ship around and overcoming a disorder that is negatively impacting quality of life. Employers also benefit from gaining an understanding of this type of anxiety, as loss of productivity related to paid sick days, having to hire temporary workers, and the impact on fellow coworkers are added costs to the business.

Intense irrational fear emerges when the individual thinks about or attempts to go to work. The triggering stimuli, such as encountering the supervisor or colleague, can cause symptoms like those of a specific phobia, such as:

  • Sweating
  • Hot flashes, chills
  • Trembling
  • Choking sensation
  • Inability to face the trigger (enter the workplace)
  • Chest pain, tightness
  • Dry mouth
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Intensive fear when approaching or considering the workplace
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sensation of butterflies in the stomach
  • Mental confusion, disorientation
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Reduction of symptoms when leaving or avoiding the workplace

When exposed to the workplace trigger, the symptoms are so uncomfortable and frightening that the anxiety about going to work can result in avoidance behaviors, thus the high rates of sick leave.

According to an article published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, There are several subtypes of work phobic, including:

  • Work-related anxiety
  • Work-related panic
  • Work-related social phobia
  • Work-related phobia
  • Work-related generalized anxiety
  • Work-related PTSD

What Causes Workplace Phobia or Workplace-related Anxiety?

Workplace phobia, also referred to as ergophobia, can have various causal factors. Aside from the existence of a disorder such as social anxiety, which can feature work-place anxiety or phobia features, other risk factors might include:

  • Having had a prior work-related experience that was traumatic, such as sexual harassment or bullying
  • Performance-based fears
  • Fear of required oral presentations
  • Ongoing interpersonal issues and conflicts with a superior
  • Family history of social anxiety or phobia
  • Multiple traumas or significant negative life events lead to coping or stress-management issues at work

How to Treat Workplace Phobia

Treating work-related anxiety will revolve around changing the thought distortions that lead to the avoidant behaviors or panic symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that helps patients identify the dysfunctional thought-behavior patterns and guide them toward reframing thoughts to eventually be able to cope when confronting the work-related trigger. Combining CBT with exposure therapies that help desensitize the patient to the triggering event or situation can yield positive results.

Medication also plays a role in treatment for workplace phobia or anxiety. Drugs that reduce anxiety, such as benzodiazepines or beta blockers, may help improve the individual’s ability to function in the workplace once again.

Certain holistic strategies can assist in the reduction of stress or anxiety symptoms. These might include yoga, guided meditation, deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, getting regular exercise, and reducing caffeine intake.

Elevation Behavioral Health Treats Workplace Phobia and Workplace-related Anxiety

Elevation Behavioral Health is a luxury residential mental health program located in Los Angeles, California. The team at Elevation has crafted a highly effective treatment protocol for treating workplace phobia or anxiety, using an integrative approach. This includes the evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy, adjunctive therapies, such as EMDR, and holistic therapies that provide additional coping skills through mindfulness training and meditation. For more information about our program, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

Anxiety and Inability to Focus

Anxiety disorder can profoundly impact our lives, beyond the common symptoms of sensitivity to stress. One of the ways anxiety can disrupt our daily lives is through impaired cognitive functioning. Anxiety and inability to focus at work or school appear to be interconnected. As anxiety symptoms escalate, the mind struggles to stay on task.  Short-term memory functions are affected by anxiety as well, causing difficulty in remembering tasks or projects that are due, only adding to the work performance challenges.

Nearly one in five American adults are affected by anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Learning techniques that can help manage the symptoms of anxiety and inability to focus is an essential strategy for individuals struggling with an anxiety disorder.

About Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The most common type of anxiety is called generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, with about 3.1% of the population, or nearly 7 million adults, struggling with this mental health disorder. GAD is characterized by pervasive worrying, so much so that it can impair daily functioning. The energy expended worrying about coulda, woulda, shouldas all day can be very taxing, impacting both energy levels and mental functioning. Individuals with GAD tend to ruminate over events that have already occurred, second-guessing themselves, or they may dwell on upcoming events and worry incessantly about anticipated outcomes. Fear and worry drive this disorder, with symptoms that include:

  • Excessive worry
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sweating
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Short-term memory problems

How Anxiety Can Affect Concentration

Individuals who struggle with anxiety often experience symptoms of mental confusion, foggy thinking, forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating. While these symptoms may ebb and flow depending on the day and the stress load, they can be very frustrating for those with anxiety disorder.

Persistently elevated stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, are the cause of the brain fog that plagues individuals with anxiety disorder. This stress response has an adverse effect on cognitive functions, such as anxiety and inability to focus and short-term memory functioning. Poor concentration and lack of focus are common symptoms of anxiety disorder.

5 Steps to Help Manage Anxiety Symptoms

Understanding how anxiety can affect cognitive functioning is the first step in creating a strategy for managing the anxiety and inability to focus. By accepting that you will have to make some adjustments to work or study habits, you can begin to put into practice these new methods and begin to improve your mental focus, leading to more productivity and a boost in self-confidence. Some tips for improving cognitive functioning at work include:

  1. Take short breaks often. Instead of attempting to plow through a large block of focused work time, which will lead to wandering attention and loss of interest in the task, break up the work into smaller segments with short breaks in between.
  2. Make a to-do list. Start each day with a list of items that must be accomplished during the day. Allow for free time during the day as well, to intersperse enjoyable activities that will help keep you from burning out.
  3. Practice mindfulness. Training yourself to stay in the moment can help improve focus and concentration on the project at hand. When the mind begins to wander, rein it back in and refocus on the present moment.
  4. Switch tasks. When you begin to find yourself spacing out and losing focus, switch to a different task. Alternating your attention between the two tasks can help relieve boredom and stimulate better concentration.
  5. Mind your own business. Anxiety can lead to excessive worrying about things outside your control. Too often the mind wanders to unproductive worrying that stokes anxiety and inability to focus. Keep your mind on the task at hand.

Residential Anxiety Treatment for Intensive Therapy

For many people with anxiety disorder, outpatient psychiatric services may provide the means to manage the disorder effectively. Some, however, may find their anxiety disorder worsening over time. When reaching the point where relentless worry causes impaired daily functioning due to anxiety and inability to focus at all, a residential anxiety treatment program may be the best treatment option.

The residential anxiety treatment program can take a deeper look into the issues that may be impacting the anxiety using a more focused approach. Upon intake, a thorough evaluation of the anxiety disorder will provide information, such as a detailed medical and psychiatric history and a review of medications, which can allow the psychiatrist to diagnose the specific features of the anxiety disorder. Using this as a template, an individualized treatment plan can be crafted.

The comprehensive treatment approach will involve several therapeutic sessions during the day, such as individual psychotherapy, group therapy, life skills, family therapy, mindfulness training, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and other relevant therapies. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help individuals who struggle with anxiety and inability to focus by identifying disordered thoughts that may fuel the anxiety.

Anxiety Aftercare Services

It is important to continue to receive aftercare services following a residential program in order to reinforce the new strategies learned in treatment. Outpatient therapy is recommended on a weekly basis, which provides the ongoing support needed as the individual transitions back to their regular daily life. These sessions provide the necessary “tune-ups” when new stressors emerge that can trigger anxiety and psychological setbacks.

Finding a support group is also a beneficial aftercare activity. Being able to discuss daily challenges with others who struggle with anxiety disorder provides valuable peer support and creates a sense that one is not alone with these challenges. Group participants can also learn new techniques from each other for managing daily stressors and improving the quality of life.

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Leading Residential Mental Health Center in Los Angeles

Elevation Behavioral Health provides a proven, evidence-based treatment for the full spectrum of anxiety disorders in a residential setting. Elevation offers a warm, intimate escape from the stressors of daily life that keep your mental health reeling. At Elevation Behavioral Health you can focus your energy and attention on learning new ways to manage anxiety and improve focus. For more information about our program, please contact Elevation today at (888) 561-0868.

severe emotional trauma symptoms

Each of us has a unique and personal emotional history, a story unlike anyone else’s. Not only is our life experience our very own, but so is our temperament or personality, which influences in a significant way how we will respond to the presenting stressors in our lives. When we encounter a traumatizing event, how we as individuals process that experience will draw from our own psychological backdrop.

This means, for example, that if we have a childhood history of sexual abuse, we will respond differently to a sexual assault in adulthood, with deep roots of emotional memory attached to the experience. This compounded trauma may result in a sustained trauma disorder, referred to as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Someone without an emotional scar from childhood may also experience trauma disorder, however they may not suffer the severe emotional trauma symptoms, and they may be able to process through the traumatic experience at a faster pace.

Because of the individualized response to witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event, it is important to know that seeking psychological support is always helpful. When a trauma has the effect of paralyzing the individual, seriously disrupting daily life and impairing functioning, a residential mental health program would be an appropriate level of care.

Understanding Psychological Trauma

A traumatic event is something that is witnessed or experienced firsthand that creates a sense of deep fear and lack of control over the situation. Examples of traumas might include:

  • Physical assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Atrocities related to military combat
  • Serious auto accident
  • Sudden death of a loved one
  • Serious health event or diagnosis
  • Natural disaster
  • Terrorism

The traumatic event is often something that was unexpected, sudden, unpredicted. The individual experiencing the event may feel powerless, which adds to the severe emotional trauma symptoms. But even life events that evoke a sense of fear of the unknown or a feeling of having no control over the outcome can also be considered traumatic. These might include a divorce, having to relocate suddenly, a parent’s health issues, or loss of a job and other major financial setbacks.

Severe Emotional Trauma Symptoms

Individuals struggling with the aftermath of experiencing a trauma may exhibit a range of symptoms, including psychological and physical. These symptoms may include:

Psychological symptoms of trauma

  • Detachment
  • Emotional numbness
  • Depression
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Nightmares, flashbacks
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Withdraw from friends and family
  • Obsessive/compulsive symptoms
  • Anxiety

Physical symptoms of trauma

  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Change in eating and sleeping habits
  • Vague symptoms of aches and pains
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Muscle tension
  • Hyper-arousal, easily startled
  • Fatigue

The symptoms that follow a trauma may emerge immediately after the event or may be delayed, even by weeks or months. In some individuals the symptoms continue to worsen over time, culminating in a PTSD diagnosis.

Types of Treatment for Trauma Disorder

Treatment for trauma disorder relies on a blend of therapies and activities as well as medication when indicated.

  • Individual psychotherapy is very beneficial, especially behavior therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy.
  • Group therapy, including family therapy, is also helpful as it allows trauma victims to share about their experience and express their emotions in a safe, supportive setting.
  • Exposure therapy helps reduce the impact of the traumatic memories by incrementally desensitizing the individual to the event by exposing them to triggers.
  • Psychodynamic therapy helps for deep-seated childhood traumas, as this type of therapy explores early experiences to see how they are impacting present life.

Other Therapies for Treating Psychological Trauma

Holistic therapies, such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, massage therapy, hypnotherapy, and guided imagery can be useful in helping the individual overcome the fear-based stress that follows a trauma. These activities all promote relaxation while providing relief from stress.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, or EMDR, is useful for helping to desensitize the individual from the impact of the traumatic memories. In an 8-part program the therapist asks the individual to use their eyes to follow an object or finger back and forth while they discuss the trauma with the person. By focusing their attention on the stimulus it helps to reduce the impact of what they are discussing.

Keeping a journal is also helpful in resolving the pain of a trauma. Just writing down the thoughts, fears, memories, and emotions regarding the traumatic event can help sort out the issues around the trauma while diffusing some of the potency of the memories.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Residential Treatment for Trauma Disorder

Elevation Behavioral Health is a residential mental health treatment center in Los Angeles. Elevation treats severe emotional trauma symptoms using an integrated approach that includes conventional evidence-based therapies, medication, EMDR, and holistic therapies. Each individual patient’s unique trauma history will dictate the customized therapy he or she will receive. For more details about our residential program, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

holistic depression treatment centers

Depression continues to be one of the more vexing mental health disorders, keeping mental health professionals continually seeking out new treatment methods, clinical study results, and brain imaging research to better understand how to tackle it. While the standard treatment protocol for the 16 million individuals diagnosed each year with depression continues to revolve around antidepressant drug therapy, disappointing results with SSRIs has inspired alternative approaches.

Holistic depression treatment centers are becoming more desirable in the wake of some questioning of the efficacy of antidepressants as the primary method of treating this complex mental health disorder. A number of adverse side effects make these drugs difficult to tolerate, and may only add to the individual’s distress. Now mental health practitioners are embracing holistic therapies and experiential activities, as well as alternative treatment methods, to compliment the traditional treatment interventions.

Who Is Likely to Suffer From Depressive Disorder?

Depression is the second most prevalent mental health disorder affecting Americans, second only to anxiety disorders. While depression can impact people of both genders and all ages, women are predominantly affected. Women experience depressive disorders at a rate of nearly double that of men, according to the National Institute on Mental Health, with rates of 8.5% for women versus 4.8% for men.

It is thought that the role of hormones is a factor in the much higher rates of depression among women. The hormone estrogen seems to play a significant role in some women developing depression. In fact, there are specific depressive disorders that are specific to hormonal functioning, including:

  • Premenstrual Depressive Disorder
  • Postpartum Depressive Disorder
  • Post-menopausal Depression

Other interesting facts about depression include that the highest prevalence of depression is among the young adult demographic, between the ages of 18-25, and is surprisingly high among adolescents, with 9% of all teens aged 12-17 experiencing a depressive episode.

How is Depression Diagnosed?

The DSM-5 has listed specific symptoms related to depressive disorder, and stipulates that a cluster of 5 or more symptoms that persist for more than two weeks. These include:

  • Sadness that persists for most of the time
  • Loss of interest in pleasure or activities once enjoyed
  • Mood swings
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Feelings of hopelessness or despair
  • Slowed cognitive and motor functions
  • Sudden weight gain or loss
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Unable to concentrate or make decisions
  • Thoughts of suicide

The psychiatrist may use an assessment or screening tools to help in diagnosing the depression, such as the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) or the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). A physical exam can help rule out a medical condition or medications as the cause of the depression symptoms.

About Holistic Depression Treatment Centers

Holistic depression treatment centers place an emphasis on treating more than the diagnosis. Where the traditional response to treating major depressive disorder might be through antidepressants and psychotherapy, a holistic approach will be more focused on overall wellness using integrative therapies that can enhance the traditional methods. The idea is that the human being is composed of mind, body, and spirit, and when one of those aspects of our being is out of balance or has unaddressed needs, no amount of medication is going to provide wellness.

Going hand-in-hand with this holistic treatment approach is a focus on nutrition and exercise. A diet that contributes to optimum brain health will include plant-based foods such as fresh vegetables and fruits, seeds, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. Lean proteins, such as fish, lean beef, and turkey, omega-3 fish oil, eggs, and fermented foods are also beneficial to brain health.

Getting regular exercise helps elevate the production of endorphins, the “feel good” brain chemical that can lift mood, improve sleep quality, energy level, and concentration. An array of physical health benefits contributes to general wellbeing, or the “body” component of mind, body, and spirit.

The spiritual component is addressed through a variety of holistic activities that can lead to introspection and inner peace, which can result in new emotional breakthroughs in the treatment of the depression.

Integrated Treatment for Depression

Holistic depression treatment centers utilize a comprehensive blend of both traditional evidence-based therapies as well as experiential and holistic activities. Treatment elements include:

  • Psychotherapy. Individual talk therapy sessions allow the therapist to guide the individual toward resolving unaddressed emotional issues that may be contributing to the depression. These may involve past trauma, childhood abuse, grief and loss, divorce, and other painful life events.
  • Group sessions. Small groups discuss topics introduced by the therapist and engage in sharing their personal feelings and experiences. This provides a sense of connection with others who are also struggling with depression.
  • Medication. Because antidepressants do help about half of the patients with depression antidepressant drug therapy is still a core treatment element.
  • Adjunctive therapies. If past trauma is a contributing factor to the depression the patient may benefit from eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), an exposure therapy that involves the patient following a stimulus back and forth while discussing the trauma with the therapist. TMS therapy is a brain stimulation therapy that has shown to be helpful in correcting neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain and improving depression symptoms. TMS is often used when antidepressants stop working or do not work for an individual.
  • Holistic activities. A variety of holistic and experiential activities are found to enhance relaxation and reduce stress. These include yoga, mindfulness training, massage therapy, acupuncture, equine therapy, deep breathing exercises, art or music therapy, journaling, guided imagery, gardening therapy, and sound therapy.

Lifestyle Changes that can Help Depression

Improving sleep quality has a positive effect on mood. To achieve sounder sleep the individual should attempt to keep a regular sleep schedule, avoid alcohol after 6pm, avoid caffeine after 3pm, avoid meals after 7pm, avoid exercise after 6pm, and avoid screen time (cell phones, tablets, laptops, television) one hour before bedtime.

Elevation Behavioral Health Los Angeles Holistic Depression Treatment Centers

Elevation Behavioral Health is a full-spectrum mental health center providing diagnostic services, residential mental health treatment, transitional housing, and outpatient services. Elevation Behavioral Health believes in a holistic approach to treating depression, and offers core evidence-based therapies, medication management, and holistic activities for a well-rounded program. For more details about our depression treatment program, please reach out to Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.