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.

anxiety makes me feel like i am losing my mind

Anxiety can be absolutely debilitating, keeping you in a state of constant fight-or-flight mode at the slightest little trigger. You may attempt to reason with yourself, that this or that stress-inducing trigger is no big deal, but your brain chemistry is locked and loaded to take you through the spectrum of anxiety symptoms—sweaty palms, racing heart, shallow breathing, palpitations—you cannot seem to escape this cycle.

Many who approach a therapist with the complaint, “Anxiety makes me feel like I am losing my mind!” are suffering greatly. They want to find ways to manage the anxiety so they can live a normal, productive life, and that is entirely possible with the right treatment plan. Anxiety treatment is often very effective at greatly reducing the daily struggle with stress that has held you captive.

Help! Anxiety Makes Me Feel Like I am Losing my Mind

Anxiety disorder is a broad category of mental health disorders, each with the commonality of excessive worry or fear driving it. Anxiety disorders are very common, with 40 million people struggling with one each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. An anxiety disorder is different from the common temporary fear experienced before having to make a presentation or trying out for something. We all experience those very normal sensations when we are out of our comfort zone. Anxiety disorders, however, are very intrusive, often becoming so difficult to manage that it impacts one’s lifestyle.

When someone suffers from anxiety something will trigger a cascade of symptoms, with each type of anxiety disorder having its own unique features. Generally, however, anxiety symptoms include:

  • Feelings of dread and apprehension
  • Being perpetually on alert for danger
  • Racing heart or palpitations
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Hyperventilating
  • Shortness of breath, holding one’s breath
  • Stomach upset, diarrhea
  • Feeling jumpy or restless
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches

Different Types of Anxiety Disorders

The anxiety spectrum of disorders includes:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder: Features constant excessive worry for much of the day, resulting in headaches, muscle tension, nausea, and trouble concentrating.
  • Panic disorder: Sudden and unpredictable feelings of overwhelming terror, causing heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, and dizziness. May lead to social isolation to avoid having an attack.
  • Social anxiety disorder: Intense and irrational fear of being judged or critiqued. Fear of being humiliated in public. Causes social isolation or minimizing social interaction.
  • Specific phobias: Irrational fear of a specific thing, place, or situation. To manage this fear, the individual goes to great measures to avoid triggers.
  • Trauma disorder, PTSD: Unresolved trauma can lead to avoidance of people, places, or situations that trigger memories of the traumatic event. Flashbacks, nightmares, or repeated thoughts of the trauma stoke anxiety symptoms.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Obsessive worries about such things as germs, causing harm, or a need for order drives compulsive behaviors that attempt to manage the symptoms of anxiety caused by the obsession.

How to Manage Anxiety

When the symptoms of anxiety have you saying, “Anxiety makes me feel like I am losing my mind,” it is time to meet with a mental health professional. At the initial meeting, a therapist will evaluate what type of anxiety you are suffering from and design an individualized treatment plan to help manage symptoms. Treatment is usually an integrated approach involving psychotherapy, medication, and stress-reducing holistic activities.

Psychotherapy for anxiety disorders will be determined based on the type of anxiety, but cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been effective in helping individuals identify distorted or irrational thoughts and the maladaptive behavioral response to them. CBT then guides the individual toward replacing those with positive self-messaging resulting in constructive, productive behaviors.

Medication for anxiety disorders may involve benzodiazepines (Ativan, Valium, Xanax), drugs that swiftly produce a sedative response to calm nerves. In some cases, antidepressants are used to treat anxiety as well.

Holistic Therapies That Help Manage Stress

Including holistic therapies in the treatment plan is becoming more and more common. This is because these mostly Eastern-inspired activities are excellent complimentary interventions to the traditional psychotherapy. Some of the holistic activities accessed for treating anxiety include:

  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Guided imagery
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Equine therapy

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Effective Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Elevation Behavioral Health is an upscale residential mental health treatment center in Los Angeles. If you recognize that declaration, “Anxiety makes me feel like I am losing my mind,” then seek the treatment you deserve to regain your quality of life. When outpatient care is not providing the results you desire, or your anxiety disorder worsens, consider a residential program where you can focus all of your attention on healing. Treatment is much more intensive and focused in a residential program, and by taking a break from the usual stressors or triggers in your everyday life, a stay at Elevation Behavioral Health can produce a significant and sustained reduction in anxiety symptoms. For more information about our program, reach out to Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

symptoms of severe ptsd

Anyone who has suffered through a traumatic event knows the lasting impact it can have on your mental state and your daily life. When a trauma occurs, such as the sudden death of a loved one, a serious accident, physical or sexual assault, living through a natural disaster, or a trauma related to combat, it imprints deeply on the memory and the soul. While most people will eventually process the painful emotions and move forward, others may remain stuck in the distressing memories and pain of the trauma.

As a result, some of these individuals may find themselves turning to alcohol or drugs to help them relieve the emotional pain, depression, and anxiety that they live with. Some may find that they struggle to function at work or struggle socially due to the lingering effects of the trauma. These individuals are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Thankfully, there are highly effect treatment strategies that can help manage the symptoms of severe PTSD.

About Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a mental health disorder within the anxiety disorders spectrum. It can result after experiencing or witnessing a deeply traumatizing event. After being exposed to the trauma, those with PTSD continue to experience troubling after effects for a period lasting more than a month afterward, or will experience the symptoms of PTSD as a delayed response, sometimes months later.

For many years, it was thought that PTSD only pertained to veterans who had experienced horrific events in combat, coming back emotionally scarred. While veterans have higher rates of PTSD, with rates ranging between 10-30% depending on the war itself, PTSD is an anxiety disorder than impacts about 8% of the population at large, according to the National Institute of Health.

Symptoms of Severe PTSD

Symptoms of severe PTSD generally include four categories:

  • Intrusive memories. Unwanted thoughts or memories of the trauma are experienced repeatedly thought flashbacks, vivid memories, or nightmares.
  • Avoidance. In order not to trigger the distressing emotions of a past trauma, someone with PTSD will avoid any people, situations, or places that might trigger the disturbing memories. They will avoid discussing the trauma as well.
  • Hyper-arousal. The individual will be jumpy, easily irritated, is quick to anger, easily frightened, has an exaggerated startle response, and may suffer from insomnia. Substance abuse may be used to self-medicate these anxiety symptoms.
  • Negative thoughts. People suffering from PTSD may display a sense of hopelessness and negativity in their demeanor, and talk down about themselves. They may exhibit negative emotions such as anger, guilt, shame, and fear. They may struggle with relationships.
  • PTSD and a Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder

    A dual diagnosis is present when the PTSD, as a stand alone mental health disorder, is coexisting with a substance use disorder. The use of alcohol and benzodiazepines is a common method of self-medicating the distressing symptoms of severe PTSD. Unfortunately, as tolerance to the effects of the substance increase and consumption increases with it, addiction can develop. This only creates a more complicated treatment picture for individuals who are already struggling with PTSD.

    When a dual diagnosis exists, it is important to seek the professional help of a treatment provider that specializes in dual diagnosis. Both the PTSD and the substance use disorder should be treated simultaneously to effectively treat the individual and obtain a successful recovery result.

    How is Severe PTSD Treated?

    PTSD is treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs can help mitigate the intensity of the PTSD symptoms. These drugs can ease the fight-or-flight response that is so common in PTSD as well as allow for more restful sleep. Antidepressants used to treat PTSD include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and Effexor. Anti-anxiety medications are from the benzodiazepine group of drugs and may include Ativan, Xanax, Klonopin, or Valium.

    Psychotherapy can be very effective in helping individuals with PTSD, especially cognitive processing therapy (CPT), cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and prolonged exposure therapy. These types of therapy help the individual systematically process the traumatic event over a course of treatments while also working through the associated emotions and fears that are present.

    Adjunctive therapies have also proven effective in enhancing the effects of the psychotherapy. Eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) involves the individual following a moving object with their eyes while discussing the traumatic event is discussed and processed. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a brain stimulation technique that has demonstrated promising results for treating people with TMS. Some experiential therapies, such as equine therapy, mindfulness exercises, or guided meditation have also been helpful for those with PTSD.

    How Lifestyle Changes Can Help PTSD

    Lifestyle changes can also be effective in helping individuals with PTSD. Reducing stress by making a career change or moving on from a dysfunctional relationship can help with the anxiety symptoms. It is important to recognize what areas in one’s life are contributing to excessive stress or anxiety, and to make a change.

    Getting regular exercise, especially cardio workouts, can help reduce stress and induce relaxation and improved sleep quality. These might involve a brisk daily walk, hiking, a spin class, dance cardio workouts, jogging or running, swimming, or cycling.

    Practicing stress-reducing activities, such as taking yoga classes or enjoying massage therapy, can also help improve overall mood and wellness. Eating a nutritious diet is also important in PTSD recovery. Limiting caffeine, sugar, and starchy foods can help regulate blood sugar and jittery behaviors. Eating a diet rich in lean proteins, green leafy vegetables, whole grain breads and pasta, and nuts and seeds will provide the body and brain with essential nutrients for optimum mental health.

    Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Effective Treatment for PTSD

    Elevation Behavioral Health is a leading dual diagnosis and mental health treatment provider in Los Angeles, California. Elevation Behavioral Health is an inpatient, private treatment facility overlooking the beautiful Agoura Hills landscape. In this luxury, intimate setting, individuals with PTSD or a dual diagnosis will receive the most effective therapeutic interventions within a compassionate, nurturing environment. For more information about how Elevation Behavioral Health can help you overcome PTSD, please call us today at (888) 561-0868.