extreme anxiety

Living with extreme anxiety is exhausting. So much energy is gobbled up just trying to function like a normal person. Imagine something as mundane as going grocery shopping being a gargantuan task if you suffer from intense anxiety. The effort it takes, for someone with extreme anxiety, to muster up the courage to enter the store and complete the shopping excursion is mind-boggling.

When you struggle with this level of anxiety you would give anything to feel good again. However, if you are hoping for an overnight cure to your anxiety disorder it is best to let that dream go as learning how to manage anxiety, even with the guidance of an excellent therapist, is a process not an endpoint. Thought distortions that keep you trapped in a state of fear must be overcome. Old dysfunctional thought patterns must change. New relaxation methods need to be learned. In all, recovering from extreme anxiety symptoms will take some time.

That said, an anxiety disorder is highly treatable, even severe anxiety. While it is possible to obtain valuable support and guidance from a private practice psychiatrist, the residential treatment program offers a much higher level of care for someone with significant impairment. Your mental health provider is the best person to determine the appropriate level of care for treating your particular anxiety disorder.

What is Anxiety?

With approximately 40 million Americans experiencing some form of anxiety disorder each year, more people struggle with anxiety that any other mental health condition. Most of us experience events that stir up intense feelings of fear or worry. The difference between an occasional bout of anxiety and an anxiety disorder is the persistence of the anxiety and the level of impairment the symptoms can cause. Within the anxiety disorder spectrum, there is a wide variance of severity of symptoms and different ways anxiety is manifested. Extreme anxiety is usually associated with panic disorder, agoraphobia, or PTSD.

Anxiety has a physiological root cause, and that is the inborn fight or flight fear response built into every human being. When encountering a situation, person, place, or object that triggers the fear response, the brain immediately begins producing the stress chemicals called adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol. These chemicals cause us to experience a heightened awareness and burst of energy, like being on high alert in anticipation of a threat. When we have an anxiety disorder, this fear response is triggered constantly, leading to maladaptive responses such as substance abuse, compulsive behaviors, or isolation in hopes of avoiding the triggering situations.

Anxiety can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Genetics
  • Brain chemistry
  • Personality traits
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Undeveloped coping skills
  • Chronic stress
  • Certain medications

The Different Kinds of Anxiety:

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): When someone experiences excessive and irrational fear and worry that is disproportionate to the situation it can result in shortness of breath, irritability, heart palpitations, fatigue, sweating, dizziness, and headaches and stomach problems, and sleep disruptions.

Social anxiety disorder: Intense fear of being judged or rejected by others, causing public humiliation or embarrassment, can cause sweating, blushing easily, muscle tension, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and lightheadedness. Because people with social anxiety try to avoid situations where they could be judged, it often leads to isolation and loneliness.

Specific phobia: When someone has an extreme and irrational fear related to a specific object, place, person, or situation, they may go to great lengths to avoid it. Agoraphobia is an example of this, as these individuals have an intense fear of being trapped in a crowded or tight space with no way to escape, so they just stay home in order to avoid these situations.

Panic disorder: Panic disorder features unpredictable panic attacks that cause chest pain, trembling, shortness of breath, nausea, a sense of doom, and dizziness. These symptoms are very similar to a heart attack, so many who have a panic attack rush to the emergency room fearing they are having a heart attack.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): When someone has a prolonged response to having experienced or witnessed a traumatic event that does not resolve after a month, then it is referred to as PTSD. Symptoms include irritability, flashbacks, insomnia, nightmares, detachment, hyper-arousal response, substance abuse, and avoidance behaviors.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): Someone with OCD experiences a pattern of alternating obsessive fears and the compulsive behavioral responses to that fear. Common OCD patterns include fear of germs, so the individual might wash their hands dozens or even hundreds of times a day, or fear of burning the house down, resulting in obsessive checking rituals to make sure appliances are turned off before leaving the house.

How Does Living with an Anxiety Disorder Affect Your Life?

Because the core feature of all anxiety disorders is fear, living with extreme anxiety can be very difficult. Fear can hold us back from going after our goals and dreams, or even from building relationships. When we wrestle with an anxiety disorder, it holds us hostage by tricking us into thinking we aren’t good enough, smart enough, or attractive enough to be worthy of those goals and dreams. As a response to the irrational fear, we might avoid anything that we perceive as stress inducing, which can lead to isolation. The isolation often leads to loneliness and depression, which can result in maladaptive behaviors, such as substance abuse.

Anxiety also has a negative impact on our physical health. Chronic worry causes the stress hormones to remain at elevated levels. This can lead to increased health risks, such as weight gain, heart disease, digestive issues, and sleep disturbance. In addition, consistently elevated cortisol can damage the immune system and leave us vulnerable to illnesses.

How is Anxiety Disorder Treated?

When someone seeks professional guidance for treatment of an anxiety disorder they will learn that anxiety is a complex disorder with various causes and often co-occurring disorders involved. Because of this complexity, treatment for the anxiety can be varied. The features of the person’s particular anxiety condition, and any coexisting conditions such as depression, will factor in to the treatment plan. Here are the mainstays for treating anxiety disorder:

Medication. In recent years it has been found that antidepressants prescribed for depression also helped manage the symptoms of a co-occurring anxiety disorder. For this reason, more and more doctors are now treating anxiety patients with antidepressants, in particular the SSRI and SNRI category of these medications. Other medications used to treat anxiety include the benzodiazepine class of drugs. The sedatives help to quickly reduce many of the anxiety symptoms, however they do have a drawback, as benzodiazepines are highly addictive. Other drugs used for anxiety treatment include beta-blockers and off-label options such as buspirone.

Psychotherapy. Therapy helps individuals learn new ways of responding to anxiety triggers, things that can include thought distortions, phobia triggers, and other stressors such as public speaking. Evidence-based psychotherapies that are effective for helping individuals with anxiety include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT helps individuals change their thinking and behavior patterns. For example, irrational thoughts can lead to overreacting to stimuli, which can result in isolating behaviors. CBT can help the person shift their thoughts to be more logical and rational.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy. DBT is related to CBT but focuses on psychosocial aspects and utilizes actions like practicing mindfulness and emotion regulation techniques.
  • Exposure therapy. For individuals with panic disorder or trauma-based anxiety, exposure therapy can help to reduce the emotional impact of the traumatic memory or situation by introducing increasing exposure to it over time.
  • Peer support. Group therapy helps foster peer support between participants who are encouraged to discuss their own personal experiences with anxiety disorder, while a therapist introduces coping skills.

Alternative. Some individuals might benefit from transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a brain stimulation therapy that can alter neurotransmitters. Others might find hypnotherapy to be a useful technique for addressing stress triggers.

What is Holistic Anxiety Treatment?

Holistic solutions to managing anxiety are increasingly included in the treatment plan and aftercare activities. These are natural therapies that help to reduce stress while increasing relaxation. Some holistic anxiety treatments include:

  • Yoga. Yoga has been shown to decrease blood pressure and induce relaxation by combining certain physical poses with focused breathing and aspects of mindfulness.
  • Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a type of meditation that helps the individual train their mind to pay attention to the present moment instead of getting caught up in distressing thoughts.
  • Deep breathing. Deep breathing techniques can quickly reduce heart rate, blood pressure and invoke a sense of calm.
  • Massage. Therapeutic massage provides deep relaxation effects by reducing muscle tension and toxins.
  • Herbal supplements. Once discussing the option of using herbal remedies for anxiety treatment, consider kava, St. John’s Wort, and chamomile.
  • Diet and exercise. A strong relationship exists between getting regular exercise and emotion regulation and mood. Nutrition is also important, as it has been shown that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can aid in mental health.

Recovering from extreme anxiety will involve utilizing a multi-pronged approach. By adhering to the treatment recommendations and aftercare activities, anxiety is indeed highly treatable.

Elevation Behavioral Health Residential Anxiety Treatment

Elevation Behavioral Health is located in a peaceful and tranquil setting, just the type of environment to help someone suffering from extreme anxiety. Our compassionate team of mental health experts is devoted to providing the utmost in mental health treatment while you enjoy every creature comfort of the luxury accommodations. If you seek to overcome debilitating anxiety, do not hesitate to contact the team at Elevation Behavioral Health for assistance. We are here for you and we want to help. Call us today at (888) 561-0868.

 

Paralyzed with Fear and Anxiety

If you have ever experienced a panic attack you know what it means to feel paralyzed with fear and anxiety. Panic attacks are like a tsunami of intense fear that appear out of nowhere, often without provocation, and sweep you up in a torrent of uncontrollable anxiety. As unpredictable as they are frightening, a panic attack might even feel life threatening.

So what exactly are these over-the-top manifestations of fear? The panic attack is a sudden and unforeseen wave of extreme fear that literally takes over the body. Although the panic attack usually lasts only about 10 minutes, to the one suffering attack it may feel like an hour.

About Panic Disorder

In some cases, panic attacks become more frequent, and are not associated with any specific triggering event. This condition is diagnosed as panic disorder. Panic disorder is one of the mental health disorders within the anxiety disorder spectrum. Panic disorder impacts about 6 million U.S. adults, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and affects twice as many women as men.

When not treated, panic disorder can be highly disruptive in daily life, with the constant dread or fear of the next attack. This is because it is very hard to know when a panic attack might be forthcoming, which inhibits sufferers from leaving a place where they feel safe and in control. Panic disorder can have a devastating impact on someone’s quality of life.

The symptoms experienced can include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Racing heart or palpitations
  • Trembling
  • Sense of choking
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Nausea and diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Sweating
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Feeling that you have no control over it
  • Fear of dying

The exact cause of panic attacks remains a mystery, although there is a tendency for these attacks to run in the family. Severe stress attributed to negative life events such as divorce, loss of a job, sudden death of a loved one, or any major life transition can set up conditions for panic attacks. Certain medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, hypoglycemia, or a heart condition called mitral valve prolapse may also be behind the panic attack symptoms.

Actions to Take if You Experience a Panic Attack

What should you do if you are paralyzed with fear and anxiety? Here are 4 helpful tips for navigating a panic attack:

  1. Acknowledge the panic attack instead of trying to deny it is happening. Make pronouncements aloud, such as “I am only having a panic attack and I will not die from this,” or “I feel like I am having a heart attack, but my heart is fine.” Talk yourself off the cliff with realistic self-talk that helps ground you, telling yourself that it is a difficult but temporary event.
  2. Focus on your breathing during the attack. Make a conscious effort to practice slow and deep breathing—which may be easier said than done if the panic attack causes hyperventilation. Mindful breathing is a powerful relaxation technique that can quickly help the body normalize the respiratory physiology. Breathe in slowly and deeply to a count of 5, hold the breath for a count of 5, and release the breath for a count of 5. Repeat this pattern several times.
  3. Find a comfortable place to sit and practice meditation or guided meditation. A short impromptu meditation can be extremely helpful in diffusing the attack. Using visualization helps distract yourself from the symptoms and help you regain a sense of control. Whether you go to your “happy place” or use a mantra to help unwind the fear, a brief meditation session can be helpful.
  4. Sip some chamomile tea. Just taking the proactive steps to prepare a cup of chamomile tea can help distract you from the event. The tea itself has relaxation effects that can help. Sip the tea while deep breathing with eyes closed and meditating thoughts, and it will take the edge off the attack. Closing the eyes reduces stimuli and allows you to concentrate on your breathing.

Try These Tips to Avoid or Reduce Anxiety

Rather than allowing this mental health condition to run away until you feel paralyzed with fear and anxiety, why not adopt some of the many accessible methods at our disposal for managing anxiety when it crops up:

  • Get moving. Multiple studies have confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt the power of exercise to improve mood and reduce stress and anxiety. Just being outside in the fresh air for a short daily walk will net both physical and mental health benefits. Selecting an activity that makes you smile, like taking a Zumba class or hiking along to an energetic playlist, can make the time spent moving your body even more enjoyable.
  • Get organized. So much of the daily stress we experience is due to feeling out of control. With never-ending tasks, appointments, and errands gobbling up our time it is easy to feel like you are drowning in the demands of the day. Jotting down a quick to-do list in the morning helps put a sense of order to the day and alleviates that feeling that you will forget something important. Practicing better time management and organizational skills can go a long way to minimizing anxiety.
  • Nutrition. Skipping meals or eating a diet heavy in junk food and sugars will exacerbate your feelings of anxiety. The brain needs lean proteins, fresh veggies and fruits, nuts and seeds, and whole grains for peak functioning. Instead of defaulting to candy bars and chips when you feel hungry, have a handy stash of almonds, walnuts, or peanuts on hand that you can grab. A banana is a great choice for a quick snack, and so is a chunk of beef jerky.
  • Unplug. Recent studies show that social media is responsible for ramping up stress and anxiety. Feelings of insecurity resulting from the sense that everyone else’s life is superior to your own can result in social anxiety and low self-esteem. The freeing feeling of unplugging, even for just a day, will remind you that real life is way more interesting that those filter-enhanced photos on Instagram.
  • Get better sleep. Sleep deprived people do not manage stress well. Humans need at least 7 hours of sleep per night to be able to face the demands of the day. Begin winding down with a cup of herbal tea an hour or two before bed. Take a bath with aromatherapy-infused Epsom salts for a boost of magnesium, a natural stress-reducer. Put a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillowcase, and purchase a white noise machine if you need to block out sleep distractions.
  • Practice mindfulness. Once you train yourself to access awareness of the present moment you will quickly notice how helpful the practice of mindfulness is in managing anxiety. When something upsetting or stress-inducing is happening, force your thoughts to focus only on your breathing and your senses. This purposeful attention immediately results in a calm state of being. You can practice mindfulness anywhere and anytime that anxiety strikes.
  • Journal. It’s great to have a best friend and confidant to share your fears and worries with, but writing in a journal about struggles, conflicts, and worries can promote relaxation when a friend is not around.This is because while jotting down your concerns or hurt feelings over this or that you are processing emotions and thoughts. Just the process of writing itself can be like dumping all that worry out onto paper, and that takes away its power.
  • Resolve conflicts. Nothing can stoke anxiety like unresolved conflicts. You sit there ruminating about someone insulted or offended you, and then all the things you wished you had said. In reality, mulling over the events in your head is self-defeating and a big time waster. Why not practice timely conflict resolution? The easiest way is to either a) apologize for any role you had in it, or b) tell the offending party that you would really like to put it away and move forward, or c) forgive them.
  • Be constructive. When things are bothering you, get up and do something about it. For example, if you are having financial troubles, sit down and make a budget for the month. Note the ways you might be squandering money and commit to some cost cutting measures. In like manner, if you are worried about work, make a plan to improve productivity or your job performance instead of sitting there worrying about losing your job. Take constructive action, take control, and watch stress melt away.

If you experience an occasional panic attack, ensure yourself that the intense surge of fear and resulting physical symptoms will soon pass. Incorporating regular stress-reducing practices, such as yoga or mindfulness exercises, can go a long way to training your mind to cope more effectively with anxiety-provoking stimuli in daily life. A skilled psychotherapist can work with you in developing the techniques that can assist you during a panic attack, as well as helping to prevent them in the first place. If outpatient counseling isn’t effective in taming your anxiety, you might consider a higher level of care such as a residential mental health center.

Elevation Behavioral Health Evidence-Based Mental Health Treatment for Anxiety

Elevation Behavioral Health is located in a serene setting that is perfect for individuals struggling with severe anxiety. Our compassionate team of mental health experts strives daily to provide a safe, healing space to guide our guests back to wellness. If you are feeling paralyzed with fear and anxiety, do not hesitate to contact the team at Elevation Behavioral Health for assistance. Call us today at (888) 561-0868.

i feel empty

One day, just like that, it dawns on you. Suddenly you realize, “I feel empty.” For weeks you may have tried to valiantly push through your days, but the grip of anxiety and depression offered much resistance. Nothing can deplete your spirit quite like depression and anxiety together. These two mental health disorders seem to conspire against you when they co-occur, which, unfortunately, they often do.

We might go about our daily lives feeling under the weather and not really understanding what is causing thoughts such as “I feel empty.” You might initially assume you are fighting a bug or some other medical issue, when in reality dual mental health conditions are at fault. So, get to know the signs of depression and anxiety disorder. In recognizing the symptoms of these disorders, hopefully you will be prompted to reach out to a mental health provider who can guide you back to wellness.

About Co-Occurring Depression and Anxiety

It is eye opening how many of us struggle with mental health conditions, especially anxiety and depression. Separately, these two mental health disorders impact over 56 million Americans each year. When both depression and anxiety are present together it compounds the negative effect, as each disorder will trigger or intensify the other.

Symptoms of anxiety. Anxiety disorder consists of a spectrum of mental health disorders that share certain features, but also are divided into separate disorders under the anxiety disorder umbrella. There are several distinguishing features that help the clinician determine which type of anxiety disorder is present:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder. GAD features excessive worrying, feelings of dread and fear, muscle tension, irritability, nausea, insomnia, trouble concentrating.
  • Panic disorder. Panic disorder is characterized by sudden and unpredictable feelings of overwhelming fear, heart palpitations, chest tightness or pain, shallow breathing, dizziness.
  • Social anxiety. Social anxiety involves the intense and irrational fear of being humiliated, criticized, or judged publicly. People with social anxiety tend to isolate themselves as a result.
  • Specific phobia. With phobias, a person exhibits an irrational and intense fear of a thing, place, or situation, resulting in avoidant and isolating behaviors.
  • Agoraphobia. When someone is agoraphobic they have intense anxiety symptoms when feeling they are in an unsafe place and do not perceive a way out.
  • Trauma disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder features prolonged symptoms after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, substance abuse, and avoidant behaviors.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD is characterized by irrational worries that are followed by compulsive or repetitive behaviors as a method of quelling the anxiety caused by the worry.

Symptoms of depression: Similarly, depressive disorders also encompass a collection of different presentations of depression based on the unique features:

  • Major depressive disorder. MDD features prolonged feelings of sadness or despair, fatigue, sudden weight changes, loss of interest in usual activities, change in sleeping habits, trouble concentrating, and suicidal thoughts.
  • Persistent depressive disorder. Also termed dysthymia, this disorder features a milder version of MDD but one that lasts more than two years.
  • Postpartum depression. This type of depression affects a mother with feelings of sadness, intense irritability, insomnia, loss of appetite, mood swings, and thoughts of harming baby or self.
  • Seasonal affective disorder. Regions that are further from the equator are more prone to people getting seasonal depression when the days are short. Lack of sun exposure can lead to vitamin D deficiency, which is one of the key symptoms behind the depression.

There are many reasons to seek out help for depression and anxiety. For example, someone with co-occurring depression and anxiety are more susceptible to substance abuse. A substance, such as alcohol or prescription drugs, may be misused in an effort to mask the mental health symptoms being experienced. Also, undiagnosed and untreated mental health disorders can result in job loss, damaged relationships, poor health, and isolation.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

One serious mood disorder that has elements of both anxiety and depression is bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by intense shifts in mood that are often unpredictable. Moods alternate between mania and depression, and can be very destabilizing. There are four different ways that bipolar disorder presents. These include:

  • Bipolar I
  • Bipolar II
  • Cyclothymic disorder
  • Otherwise unspecified bipolar

Treatment for bipolar disorder is essential. Medications such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers are prescribed for this disorder, along with psychotherapy. In therapy, the individual will learn how to better recognize the signs of an impending episode, learn ways to promote relaxation, and to better manage the oncoming symptoms.

Treatment for Co-existing Anxiety and Depression

Comorbid anxiety and depression present a more complex diagnosis than either one of these disorders on its own. In fact, individuals with both anxiety and depression will usually have a more enhanced severity of symptoms, more functional impairment, and a longer recovery period.

Treating anxiety and depression will rely on foundational methods, such as psychotherapy and medication, as well as adjunctive therapies and lifestyle modifications. During the initial intake interview with a therapist or psychiatrist a thorough evaluation of the presenting issues and symptoms will be conducted. The interview itself can often provide valuable information to assist the therapist in assessing which disorder, the depression or the anxiety, is predominant. Diagnostic criteria provided by the DSM-5, as well as other assessment tools, and any accompanying features help the clinical staff arrive at an accurate diagnosis.

When treating both anxiety and depression it is important that both mental health disorders are treated simultaneously for the best treatment outcome. Treating just one or the other will not be effective, as the remaining disorder will sabotage any gains made in managing the other disorder.

Treatment interventions for individuals with depression and anxiety who say, “I feel empty” will encompass a variety of therapeutic activities. These include:

Medication

The core treatment protocol for depression and anxiety continues to center on antidepressant drug therapy. These are antidepressants that have been found to help the symptoms of both disorders. In addition, benzodiazepines can be useful in managing panic disorder.

Psychotherapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the evidence-based approach most often used for treating anxiety and depression together. CBT helps individuals better cope with stressors, and guides them toward making positive shifts in their thought patterns. If depression and anxiety is the result of a traumatic experience, then prolonged exposure therapy is also beneficial.

Holistic activities

Learning methods to self soothe when experiencing anxiety are key to better symptom management. There are several complementary activities included now in mental health treatment programs that teach patients to do exactly that. These may include learning how to practice mindfulness, yoga, and deep breathing techniques.

Diet and Exercise

Nutritional counseling is often included in residential mental health programs, as there is a direct connection between what we eat and our mental health and brain functioning. Exercise is also included, as physical activity can reduce stress and elevate mood.

Sleep quality

Patients are taught that regulating the circadian rhythm is essential for improving overall mental wellness and functioning. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule helps the body create a predictable pattern for rest. A minimum of 7 hours of sleep is optimum.

Levels of Care for Treating Depression and Anxiety

When recognizing that the co-occurring anxiety and depression is causing impairment and harming your quality of life, it is helpful to understand the different levels of care available. Mental health treatment generally falls into two categories, outpatient or residential care:

  • Outpatient treatment. When you find yourself struggling emotionally, you may first seek out help from your doctor. Mental health conditions often cause physical symptoms, such as fatigue, edginess, sleep problems, or intestinal distress. After the doctor has ordered labs and conducted an exam, he or she may find there is no medical condition present. This is when a referral to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist is made. The mental health provider will then help manage the symptoms by prescribing medication and talk therapy. If the condition worsens and more intervention is needed, the mental health professional might refer you to an outpatient program where you will participate in support groups, individual psychotherapy, and psychosocial education classes for a more intensive approach.
  • Residential treatment. A residential mental health program offers a higher level of care than any of the outpatient options. The residential treatment setting allows someone to focus on learning how they can better manage their condition. Without the usual distractions or stress-inducing triggers, the person feels safe in the residential setting. Because the individual will reside at the center for a specified period of time, they will be receiving a higher degree of attention and support. Treatment plans are highly tailored to address the person’s specific mental health needs. Residential programs for depression and anxiety usually provide acute stabilization services for individuals experiencing a psychiatric emergency, such as psychosis or a suicide attempt. Following discharge from the residential program, the individual might step down to an outpatient day program.

Whether receiving outpatient or residential treatment, the objective is the same, to restore mental health functioning and improve quality of life.

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Premier Los Angeles Residential Mental Health Center

Elevation Behavioral Health offers an intimate setting located in a beautiful, tranquil location that allows someone accustomed to saying, “I feel empty,” to find their way back to the fullness of life. Elevation provides a fully customized treatment program that is designed specifically to the individual’s needs. Using a blend of evidence-based therapies and holistic elements, Elevation addresses all aspects of a person, healing mind, body, and spirit.

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 fear work 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.

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 anxiety and fatigue. 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 fatigue, 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.

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.

Holistic Meditation

Every morning, the clients of Elevation engage in mindful meditation to start out the day with calmness and mental clarity. In recent years, practicing this mindfulness has become a mainstream practice, and for good reason. According to Mayo Clinic, physicians recommend meditation to help their patients manage the symptoms of a wide range of conditions, from cancer to asthma and heart disease to insomnia.

What Exactly is Meditation?

When someone thinks of meditation, images of people sitting cross-legged on the floor chanting “ohm” may come to mind, but the truth is, it is simply the act of quieting the mind and focusing your attention on the present moment, and it can be done anywhere and in any position.

During meditation, when conscious thoughts arise, they’re simply acknowledged and then sent along like a leaf floating downstream. the practice has a number of far-reaching benefits for people in recovery.

Meditation and Stress, Anxiety and Depression

It’s understood that stress and mental illnesses like anxiety and depression are major factors for substance abuse and relapse.

Meditation is a potent stress reliever, according to Journal of Substance Abuse. The study found that practicing the holistic method reduced incidents of stress-related relapse among participants in an outpatient addiction treatment program. Meditation also helps the brain and body respond better to stress in general, further mitigating stress as a factor in relapse.

A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that mindfulness helps ease anxiety and depression, which are also associated with substance abuse and relapse. Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, notes that mindfulness helps people recognize unhealthy thoughts and mindfully replace them with those that are healthier.

Becoming free of negative thought patterns is a major consideration in addiction treatment, because negative thoughts foster negative behaviors. Clarity of thought gained through mindfulness is associated with making better choices that positively impact life in recovery.

Meditation and Cravings

Regular meditation can have a big impact on cravings as well. Increased mindfulness leads to fewer negative automatic responses to cravings as practitioners learn to listen to their body and mind and respond to its cues and sensations with mindful awareness and deliberateness. As they learn to accept thoughts and feelings without judgment, evaluate their attitude and quiet the mind’s chatter, it becomes easier to respond to cravings and other negative experiences in healthy and productive ways.

Meditation as Part of a Holistic Approach to Treatment

A large body of research points to the range of benefits of mindfulness in recovery. A high-quality treatment program that takes a holistic approach to treatment offers the best chances for long-term recovery.

Beating an addiction isn’t easy, but a holistic program that addresses issues of body, mind and spirit through various traditional and non-traditional therapies like meditation can lead to real and meaningful change and a better chance of successful long-term recovery.

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.

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.

Elevation Behavioral Health Offers Upscale Residential Mental Health Treatment

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.