alzheimers and addiction

Alzheimer’s disease has no treatment and no means to delay the worsening of the disorder. Fortunately, Alzheimer’s care facilities for seniors are there to assist us towards guiding the needs of our seniors.

There are so many subsets which can be specifically related to substance abuse disorder, whereas dementia can be incurable.

It is because, at such a higher pace than aging alone, medications and alcohol destroy neurons.

One research showed that in middle age, individuals who ingested five or more bottles of alcohol in one session or one glass of wine are three times more probable to experience dementia by some time they reached 65 than individuals who did not consume excessive drink.

While dementia caused by Alzheimer’s and alcohol seem identical, their effects are distinct. That’s why it’s indeed necessary to consider attending senior assisted living homes and facilities to make sure that we get the best support for our seniors. Treatment for alcohol addiction can be done in an inpatient alcohol rehab center before going to a memory care home.

Here are the things that you need to know about Alzheimer’s and Addiction.

What is Addiction and Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer ‘s disease allows the mind of an individual to devolve and inhibits their memory, social control, comprehension, and vision greatly. Alzheimer’s as well as other causes of dementia become primarily known as adverse effects among seniors, often resulting in things like delusions, hallucinations and even something called the Sundowners Syndrome.

That said, some occasions where these conditions are known to be spontaneous and can affect any person despite their maturity level. Various factors including such genetic background as well as environmental influences cause the brain modifications correlated with Alzheimer’s.

The links regarding Alzheimer’s and the misuse of medications or alcohol remains well-known. Individuals who have been abusing insanely addictive drugs for a significant amount of time can induce dementia or speed up Alzheimer’s-related neurological harm.

Signs, Symptoms, and Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease and Addiction

Reliable dementia diagnosis, like Alzheimer’s, necessitates the guidance of a specialist. The preparation and capabilities to fully understand the signs of chronic neurological disease is accessible to medical practitioners.

Alzheimer’s common symptoms are:

  • Short-term difficulties in memory
  • Poor attention and focus
  • A deterioration throughout problem-solving skills
  • Forgetting people, addresses, and experiences
  • Communication and voice problems
  • Physical endurance and balance failure
  • Loneliness
  • Getting caught up even in common locations
  • Perceptible decline in hearing ability
  • Modifications of temperament and attitude
  • Loss of expertise in essential self-care.
  • Ambiguity connected with time
  • Trouble learning or managing new data
  • Aggressive or aggressive answer to caregivers, relatives, and peers.

For drug abuse disorders to be identified, two of the preceding signs have to be recognized. And the condition is considered serious if six signs are known.

  • Increased sensitivity for substances or alcohol, increasing the frequency of use
  • Many initiatives have struggled to limit or discourage alcohol and opioid use.
  • Alcohol or medications are consumed more often, for a longer time and in larger concentrations than originally expected.
  • As a consequence of substance or alcohol misuse, technical and personal obligations are ignored.
  • Substance dependence triggers or worsens behavioral or social problems.
  • It takes a long time to develop, use and recover again from the impact of medications or alcohol.
  • Treasured social or leisure practices in favor of drinking or medications are neglected.
  • Due to various alcohol or substance addiction, mental wellbeing or physical conditions develop; but the addiction still persists.
  • Usage of drugs adds to reckless or harmful actions.
  • Serious and unmanageable cravings for the use of alcohol or medications
  • Strong signs of withdrawal

When an individual does have mental health problems, there are qualified physicians who are able to diagnose drug and alcohol abuse.

Dosage and Side Effects

Physicians typically begin patients with low doses of the medication and steadily raise the dosage depending on how effectively the medication is handled by a patient. There are also some growing evidence amounts of cholinesterase inhibitor prescriptions may help several patients. Nevertheless, the larger the dosage, the more possible the side effects appear.

Patients may be opioid-sensitive in some areas, and before an opioid is initiated, they can be watched. Disclose any troubling signs promptly to the treating doctor. While having any drug, even vitamins and vitamin products, it is essential to obey the doctor’s orders.

Also, when adding certain drugs nor changing them, let the doctor be informed.

Risk Factors

Any of the health conditions that boost the risks of Alzheimer’s and dementia are:

  • Age. The threat of Alzheimer’s disease rises every five years after the age around 65.
  • Genetics. Studies have found that early-onset and late-onset Alzheimer’s can be caused by hereditary gene defects, whereas some hereditary gene variants can raise the risk of a person having the condition.
  • Heart and blood vessel conditions. Both contributing factors for Alzheimer’s involve developing heart disease , diabetes, increased blood pressure, high blood pressure, or even a record of strokes.
  • Brain neurological disorder. In older life, even brain accidents that arise early in life will boost the likelihood of signs of Alzheimer’s.
  • Poor lifestyle. Dozens of research have shown that nutritional changes, daily exercise, reducing stress, avoiding smoking, and eliminating prolonged lack of sleep will shield a person from Alzheimer’s disease.

Treatment and Prognosis for Addiction and Alzheimer’s Disease

While Alzheimer’s care that doesn’t involve addiction can be treated in memory care facilities, a variation of client, group , and family counseling will be used in the treatment services for men and women with substance reliance and Alzheimer’s disease, with all therapy sessions conducted in a relaxed and supportive way in a healthy , supportive setting designed to encourage healing. The speed in counseling will be dictated by the preferences and conditions of a patient, and nothing that brings them undue discomfort or contributes to their distress will never be required to do.

Treatments regarding depression, anxiety and the signs of dementia can be offered in relation to treatment, based on the advice of experts in alcohol and mental wellbeing. Patients who are willing to engage in such programs can be given comprehensive recovery services, like counseling, physical therapy, exercise, acupuncture, and exercise training.

As individuals with Alzheimer ‘s disease have such a diminished desire to handle their lives on their own, therapy programs will be critical for recovery. For those who experience this condition, complete recovery from Alzheimer’s disease can not be realistic, even though their drug abuse disorders are taken under control.

However, with the caring and competent support of skilled caregivers, addiction counselors, and supportive family members who are eager to respond to the healing process in whatever manner they can, changes hence the standard of living will be accomplished.

Bottom Line

For individuals who develop dementia, like Alzheimer’s, recovering from substance or alcohol abuse can be extremely hard. Such disorders cause harm to the vision, memory, and cognitive ability of a person. And then when associated with drug or alcohol misuse, the effects of Alzheimer’s disease intensify.

Even so, amid the difficulties, there are rehab programs that have developed therapy regimens which address the particular demands of patients with Alzheimer’s, including such correlated treatment.

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.

understanding self harm

Self-harm is a difficult topic to grapple with. Many people who have a history of self-harming behavior can explain pretty simply why they do it: it makes them feel better. However, for people who have no history of this behavior it can be hard to understand. Why would someone who is already in pain want to create more pain? This post will answer that question and give you a deeper understanding about self harm.

Other Terms for Self-Harm

Let’s start with something simple and looking at the different terms that are used to talk about self-harm. Maybe you have heard these words and are wondering what the difference is between them. Although many of them are used interchangeably, there are some key differences that distinguish them. Here is a list of words that are often associated with self-harm and their definitions.

Self-Harm: Used generally to describe behavior where someone hurts him or herself intentionally. This term can refer to someone who is harming himself with or without the intention of suicide. However, it is generally used to talk about behavior that is nonsuicidal.

Nonsuicidal Self-Injurious Behavior: This is often the clinical term that is used by doctors or therapists to talk about self-harm. If we break it down a little we can start to understand what it means. The word nonsuicidal lets us know that we are specifically talking about someone who is harming themself without the intention of killing themself. Self-injurious is just what it sounds like, causing injury to oneself.

Self-Mutilation: This term refers to the many different ways that someone can physically hurt themslef. The term self-harm can refer to physical or emotional self-harming, but self-mutilation specifically refers to damage to the physical body.

Self-Cutting: This specifically refers to people who harming themselves’ by cutting the skin.

Self-Punishment: The act of hurting oneself in response to some other unwanted behavior. An example of this might be self-harming in response to overeating.

6 Different Types of Self Harm

There are many different ways that someone can go about hurting themself. People can self-harm both by damaging their physical body and by causing themself emotional pain. Often when people think about self-injurious behavior they think of people who cut themselves. This is with good reason, cutting is the most common type of self-harm. One study found that 70% – 90% of people who injure themselves do so by cutting.

However, people do use other methods. It is important to be familiar with the other methods people use to hurt themselves so that we can get people help who might be exhibiting these behaviors.

How Do People Self-Harm?

Burning – up to 35%
Head Banging – up to 44%
Cutting – up to 90%

1. Self-Cutting

This one was already defined above. To reiterate, it is when someone scratches or cuts the skin. Often people think of cuts on the wrists, but people might cut or scratch themselves anywhere on the body.

2. Head-banging or hitting

When someone engages in this behavior they often bang their head against a wall. They might also hit their fists against their head or use another object to do so.

3. Self Harm Burning

People who do this often burn the skin with a lighter or lit cigarettes. You might see signs of this is someone has visible and repeated burn marks on their skin.

4. Hair pulling

Some people hurt themselves by pulling out their hair. This might include hear on the scalp, the eyebrows, or eyelashes. Hair pulling can also be a disorder in itself called trichotillomania.

5. Skin Picking

People who self-harm by skin picking might pick at small blemishes on the skin. The effects of skin picking can be observed by seeing small circular scars on the skin where it has been picked. Skin picking has been associated with the use of some drugs and other psychological disorder so it is important to differentiate if this is self-harm by itself or part of a larger problem.

6. Mental or Emotional Self-Harm

Some individuals hurt themselves not my inflicting physical pain but rather by causing harm that is mental or emotional. This might include excessively negative self-talk.

Why People Hurt Themselves

Psychological research studies have looked at why people turn to self-injurious behavior. Of all the reasons there is one that is the most common. Hurting oneself for some people helps them to alleviate psychological discomfort ( One of the ways that self-harm can reduce mental stress is by taking attention away from the mental stress.

When some kind of acute harm is being caused it can take all of the person’s attention away from what is going on in the mind. For a moment, the brain is overwhelmed by this new and important event so it stops thinking about other things. Some people who self-harm might have some very difficult that is chronically on their mind. This can include trauma, anxiety, depression, or many other things. So, hurting themselves can be a few moments of a break from thinking about these very difficult things.

The Myth of Wanting Attention

You have probably heard somewhere from someone that people who hurt themselves are only doing it as “a cry for help” or because they want attention. However, psychology studies find over and over that when people are asked why they self-harm they very rarely say it is because they want to get attention.

This could be because people do not want to admit that they self-harm for attention. However, it could also be that people really do not self harm for attention as much as we thought they do! The consistent finding is psychological research is that people self-harm to reduce emotional pain.

Stories of Self-Harm from Real People

It is important to listen to people when they express what function something serves. The people who do self-harm are the ones who know the most about why they do it, so let’s listen to what they say. All of the names have been changed to respect the privacy of the individuals who bravely shared their stories with us.

“I started cutting myself a little when I was about 12 years old. My parents got divorced and I was really sad but I didn’t have anyone that I could talk to. I used the razor that was in my bathroom and I made some cuts on my wrist. It hurt but it also made me feel better for a minute. For just a second I didn’t have to think about my parents getting divorced anymore. The school caught me cutting so I had to go to therapy. For a while I just started cutting my ankles and inside my thighs where no one could see. But after I went to therapy I felt better and I just kind of stopped.”
~ Katie, age 14

“I’ve been banging my head for pretty much as long as I can remember. I asked my parents recently and they said that I started doing it when I was a little kid. I had something bad happen to me when I younger but I didn’t really know about it until this year. I just know that I always had thoughts that were so brutal and I couldn’t stop thinking about them. When they kept coming into my head I would start hitting it against a table or a wall and then it would make them stop for a little bit. When I got older I also started drinking and doing drugs. That also helped me feel better too. But now I have been sober for a few months and I haven’t been hurting myself as much either.”
~ Brendan, age 22

“Ever since I got help I have been thinking a lot about why I used to self-harm. At first, I really thought that I was just overreacting to things that were happening in my life. During my last year of high school all of my friends just dropped me out of the blue and started spreading all kinds of rumors about me. I felt so alone. It was this time that everyone was having fun and going to parties and literally no one would even talk to me. I started self-harming and it kind of made me feel better. Now that I am in therapy I don’t think I was overreacting I just think that I didn’t really have a better solution for feeling depressed and lonely.”
~ Cassandra, age 19

Who is at Risk?

Adolescents are generally thought to be at higher risk for self-harm than adults. One study found that the prevalence of self-harm for adolescents is around 8%. The same study found that adolescent girls were at slightly higher risk than adolescent boys. About 9% of girls cut themselves compared to 6.7% of boys. According to another study the prevalence for adults is significantly lower at 5.9%. These researchers found that the average age of onset was 16 years old.

Additionally, people who have a diagnosed mental disorder might be more likely to exhibit self-injurious behavior. For example, self-harm is a common symptom among people with borderline personality disorder. However, this does not mean that just because someone hurts themself they have a diagnosable disorder.

Help is Available

If you know someone who is hurting themslef the best thing you can do for them is to try and get them help. This might mean talking to helping professional who might be able to guide you and let you know what to do. It might also mean talking to your friend directly. Self-harm can be physically and psychologically dangerous so it is important to take it seriously.

If you are struggling with self-harm, you are not alone. Please reach out for support so that you do not have to do this by yourself. You can always contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. You can also call us 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:


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.


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.

fitness helps improve mental health

Mental health can be referred to as a level of physiological and psychological wellbeing which entails functioning at a satisfactory standard of emotional and behavioural adjustment in society.

A good mental health means you’re living a relatively healthy and happy life. Maintaining your mental health is of utmost importance since the rigours of human life can take a toll on your psyche. How you create a balance between your daily tasks, efforts and your societal relationships gives an idea of your mental framework.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness* (NAMI), one in five adults in the United States experience mental illness each year. One in six U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental disorder each year. 50 per cent of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14 and 75 per cent by age 24. These statistics reflect the importance of having a strong mental health and how real its issues are. Coupled with a balanced diet, and a steady exercise routine would do wonders to people who are battling mental issues. Online programs like Total Shape offer thorough charts to help you work out the best you can to build your physique and feel strong mentally.

A healthy body equals healthy mind

One of the major ways in which you can improve your mental health is by physical activity or maintaining fitness levels. Switching to a physically active lifestyle and maintaining the right fitness levels help a great deal in not just coping with mental issues but also help improve your state of mind. We will study these in detail.

Fitness Helps Fight Depression

Depression is one of the most common forms of mental illness. As per WHO*, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression globally. However, regular exercise is a very potent remedy to fight depression. A good workout helps the body release endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals. Even if you are not doing a high-intensity workout daily but are keeping good fitness levels by doing some form of physical activity regularly through the week, it is good for your mental health. Neuroscientists say that exercising regularly supports nerve cell growth, improving nerve cell connections that relieve depression.

Exercise Reduces Stress

Stress is something that causes a chain of events in our body. In stress, the hormone adrenaline is released which increases your blood pressure after rising breathing and heart rate levels. Exercise is a great way to manage and reduce stress levels. Aerobic exercise is a proven way to have a calming effect that curb stress-related illnesses. A 150-minute-per-week fitness program is usually recommended to remain mentally healthy. The types of work out include walking, yoga, tai chi, cycling, swimming, dancing and zumba etc.

A Good Work Out reduces Anxiety Levels

Worrying at length becomes a harsh problem for our bodies. Anxiety causes physical and emotional side-effects. While proper medication is advised to deal with anxiety, exercise helps cut down its ill effects. Anxiety is linked to heart rate.

If you’re someone who is new to the gym routine, chances are that your heart rate will rise rapidly after your first run on the treadmill. However, when you work out in between short breaks, your heart rate becomes consistent and your fitness levels improve in the long run.

Fitness increases Memory Power

Staying physically fit helps improve your memory power and thinking ability. Anxiety and stress can cause cognitive impairment and doing physical exercise helps the brain function properly by increasing cell development in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

Exercise enhances sleep cycles which aid in better memory power and thinking ability. A good morning cardio helps process new information in the day and better response to complex situations. Weight training can be a good remedy to those who are recovering from insomnia.

Exercise Builds Self Confidence

While improving your brain function, regular exercises help you gain a high-level of accomplishment. Whether it is betting your score at a 100-meter dash or the weights you lift at the gym, working out will lift your spirits and prompt you to do better each time. Working out to tone your body fat will increase your self-esteem when you see the positive results day after day. You will feel more confident when your body image improves.

Fitness Helps Create a Positive Mind-set

Exercise helps create positivity within you. Exercising relieves worry and aids the mind to focus on other things. Working out is one of the best ways to overcome negative thinking. Be it gardening, washing your car, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking or cycling to work, you will feel positive about these practices that will help you stay mentally strong and agile.

Working Out Helps Deal with Addictions

Addiction has an adverse effect on your body. Seizures, strokes and joint infections are few of the problems that come from severe addiction. Walking and jogging is believed to have helped lessen peoples’ cravings for substance. Exercise is often recommended as an added measure to psychotherapy while dealing with drug abuse.

An active outdoor workout can increase dopamine levels during treatment of addicts. Many recovery and rehab centers include yoga in their daily activity plan as it helps deal with stress, which can trigger a relapse and sends you into a state of medication. Part-taking in team sports activities help in building camaraderie and competitive spirit, both are good ways to welcome the addicts back into society.

Juggling your work, responsibilities, hobbies and health all at the same time can be a tedious ask. Here are a few suggestions that can help you find that perfect balance.

Now that you’ve understood the importance of maintaining high mental fitness levels and the ways exercise helps you keep your mind healthy, go ahead and choose your physical activity, create a daily fitness plan, work out a routine and stay positive. You can do it, build those muscles, burn that fat, you’ll see your pain turn into gain!

relationship with yourself

For many of us, our addiction is filled with thoughts and behaviors that cause harm to ourselves and those around us. Part of the difficulty we face getting sober is that often we beat ourselves up for our behavior, past and present. We are incredibly harsh on ourselves, sometimes treating ourselves worse than we would ever treat others. Although it is beneficial to push ourselves to grow, we must find a way to change our relationship to ourselves. Our habits of self-resentment and self-blame can cause quite a bit of suffering in our lives, and bringing forgiveness, compassion, and acceptance into our sober lives can help us recover.

The Blame Game

We often play the blame game in our using and early recovery. Unfortunately, the nature of addiction is that we often hurt those we care about, including ourselves. These realities can be hard to face when our minds clear and we don’t have drugs or alcohol to subdue the thinking mind. Whether we are recovering from an addiction, a mental disorder like depression, or a co-occurring disorder


Self-forgiveness is one of the first steps toward a healthy relationship with ourselves. Self-forgiveness is the ability to let go of resentment toward ourselves for something in the past. Perhaps Lily Tomlin said it best when she said, “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.” Forgiveness is allowing ourselves to move forward. The Vietnamese Buddhist monk and author Thich Nhat Hanh reminds his students the forgiveness requires us to forgive ourselves for not being perfect.

“Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.”
-Lily Tomlin

It’s important to note that forgiveness is not an act of giving ourselves permission to behave poorly in the future. We can forgive ourselves for causing harm without endorsing the behavior or allowing it to happen again. When we work on forgiveness, it becomes a constant attitude, not just a one-time effort. Developing a working attitude of forgiveness can be greatly beneficial in our recovery.

So how do we jump into a state of self-forgiveness? It takes time. We can’t suddenly change the way our minds work just by making a decision. However, we can start on the path of forgiveness right away. Try noticing how you’re talking to yourself during the day. What happens when you think of your past or when you make a mistake? You don’t need to push down any harsh thoughts. Instead, just notice them and try to bring a little bit of kindness to the thoughts. You don’t have to buy into each and every thought you have!


This is likewise a powerful way in which we can change our relationship with ourselves. Humans, especially those struggling with addiction, have a tendency to dislike unpleasant emotions and experiences. Rather than feeling what is present, we push the feeling down or take ourselves away from the situation. Of course, this can be beneficial if we are in serious danger. However, we often respond with aversion when we are actually rather safe.

Maybe you have a painful thought about some harm you caused a loved one. In the past, you may have taken a drink or used drugs to keep this thought away. Without substances to push these thoughts down, we may turn to process addictions, sleeping, or any number of other behaviors. Instead of finding another way to not feel, we can try responding with some self-compassion. By caring about our pain, we can learn to be with our experience without needing to use drugs or other experiences to run away. A 2007 study by Neff, et. al. found that increased self-compassion led to increased psychological well-being, suggesting there is some truth the power of compassion.

Like we may do with self-forgiveness, self-compassion takes repeated effort. It is not our habit to respond to pain with care and attention, so we may benefit from letting go of expectations. We can forgive ourselves for not being perfectly compassionate! Here’s a practice to try: When you notice that you’re having an experience of pain, offer yourself a phrase of kindness such as “I love you” or “I care about you.” This simple act of trying to care about ourselves can really help retrain the mind to respond with care when we’re in pain.
relationship with yourself


It feels sometimes like we’re so often focusing on the difficult experiences when we get sober. We do an inventory in twelve-step programs, talk about difficulties in therapy, and have to deal with some wreckage of our past. These are all incredibly useful pieces of recovery, but we mustn’t forget to tune into the happy moments as well. When we experience joy in early recovery, we glaze right over it or feel unworthy. Dr. Mario Martinez has done research on this, finding that joy releases cortisol, the stress hormone, in the brain. If we feel unworthy of the joy, the body physically becomes stressed when happiness is present.

To grow happier, we have to learn to be with the moments of happiness and appreciate the joy we experience. In any given day we go through a number of emotions, pleasant and unpleasant. We unfortunately tend to focus on the unpleasant experiences, and they stick in our minds with more weight. Bestselling author Dr. Rick Hanson points out that we can help ourselves by pausing when joy is present and really taking it in. Whether you’re noticing a beautiful sunset, grateful to be sober, or proud of yourself for the work you’re doing, take a moment and really allow yourself to appreciate yourself and your joy!

The journey away from self-hatred and toward self-love isn’t easy. It takes time and persistence. We don’t just wake up one day with unconditional kindness toward ourselves. What we can do is hold the intention to respond with more forgiveness, compassion, and appreciation, and make an effort to take action to cultivate these new states of being.

Fulfill Your Basic Needs

If you have ever taken a psychology class you have probably learned at least something about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In case you can’t remember or need a little refresher, here is what it’s all about: you need to fulfill your basic needs before you can fulfill your more complex needs. He created a pyramid with the most basic needs being at the bottom and the more complex needs at the top. Here is what they are (going from bottom to top)

  • Physiological
  • Safety
  • Love or Belonging
  • Esteem
  • Self-Actualization

While I am sure that many of us would like to skip to the top and go straight to self-actualization, that is not how it works. We have to make an effort to meet the needs at the bottom of the pyramid before we can work our way up.

Many people who struggle with addiction have a very difficult time meeting these basic needs. Often addiction takes over all of the other things we would usually do to take care of ourselves. Behaviors that seems so fundamental like eating and sleeping fall away. For people in early recovery it is vital to re-establish these healthy self-care behaviors. Here are some ways you can start to meet those basic needs so that you can start to move up that pyramid.

Eat Well

Eating well can mean different things to different people. There is no blanket diet that is good for all people. However, there are some basics that have been researched. The NIH ( recommends emphasizing vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. It can also be beneficial to eat lean meats and proteins. You should try to limit sugar intake and control portion sizes in general. Following these simple recommendations can help you get your diet back on track. Dietary counseling has become common at many holistic treatment centers, as it’s a crucial piece to investigate if we are going to recover.

Drink Water

Contrary to what many bottled water companies would like you to believe, you don’t need to drink a ridiculous amount of water in order to stay hydrated. In fact, research has shown that just 2 cups of water per day can be enough for healthy adults. It is of course important to meet this minimum so that you aren’t dehydrated. Drinking water can help reduce stress, help us focus, and of course keeps our physical bodies running smoothly.


Get Your Sleep

Sleep needs tend to change for people over the course of the lifetime. For anyone who is chronically sleep deprived you probably know first-hand the negative effects it can have on the body. People who are sleep deprived tend to have worse concentration and memory. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to obesity and cardiovascular disease. Just like the water tip above, you do not need some crazy amount of sleep in order to meet your needs. But, if you are feeling tired you probably could use some more. Listen to your body and investigate for yourself what the right amount of sleep is for you.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise has been linked to a whole host of positive outcomes. According to the CDC it will boost mood and has positive mental health benefits as well as being beneficial for your physical body. Getting even a little exercise regularly will be hugely beneficial. Exercise has proven effective in increasing mood, helping treat depression, and helping people focus more on daily tasks.

Go to the Doctor

When we are kids most of us go to the doctor pretty regularly because our parents take us. For many young adults they don’t get to the doctor as often as they probably should. People struggling with addiction sometimes avoid seeing doctors for fear that their addiction might be found out. For people in early recovery it is crucial to get back into the habit of seeking medical help regularly and as needed. Duke Health recommends that healthy people under 30 get a physical every 2 or so years. They also recommend that women who are sexually active get see a gynecologist regularly. Taking care of your physical health in this way can really help your mental health.

Practice Meditation

This might seem like one of those things that isn’t a “basic need”. However, meditation can really help you meet some of your most basic needs for mental health. Meditation has been shown to reduce cortisol levels thereby reducing stress levels ( Being that stress is one of the biggest triggers for most mental health issues this can be truly foundational to well-being. If you are looking to start a regular meditation practice there are a number of easy apps and breathing techniques that can be done regularly with very little time commitment.

Speak up for Yourself

This tip is one that moves from Maslow’s bottom tier of physiological needs up to safety. It can be really difficult for people to ask for their needs to be met. It can also be very difficult for people who are newly sober or trying to get sober to ask for help when it is needed. Speaking up for yourself even when it is hard can be a great way to increase your sense of safety. Doing so will allow you to lean on others for support and safety and have you needs met by the people close to you.

Establish Good Boundaries

This tip also addresses your basic need for safety. Part of addiction is very blurry boundaries. This might mean people who are enabling or codependent, it can also mean having people around who are too demanding. One of the best ways to start keeping yourself safe in recovery is to establish good boundaries with the people around you. Sometimes this means cutting off friends who just enable using or saying “no” to people who demand too much.

Remember to Have Fun

It is hard to meet your basic needs if there isn’t some time for breaks and fun. It is important in early recovery to start to care for yourself in all of these ways but also to be gentle with yourself and enjoy the process. The best way to motivate yourself to meet your basic needs is to enjoy the time you spend doing it. Maybe you pick one of these like exercise or nutrition that becomes a hobby for you. Whatever you do, remember that it is hard to meet complex needs like happiness and friendship when you aren’t being taken care of in basic ways.

stigma of mental illness

Long before recovery, rehabs, and relocating to California, I suffered from crippling depression. I used to ask myself constantly, “Can a person go to rehab for depression?” As a child, sometimes getting out of bed seemed impossible. I remember summers spent indoor, watching as the rest of the world seemed to be in a frenzy; jumping from excitement to excitement while I stayed in bed until well after noon. The patterns of this would carry into my adult life, making tasks like work or school seem just as unlikely as going outside as a kid.

Eventually, through enough trial and error with drugs, alcohol, and failed attempts at getting a grip on my own mental health, I found a doctor whom I trusted and in turn listened to. I was prescribed a few different medications for depression before one finally helped. It was a slow process, but eventually I noticed a difference in my mood and my quality of life. I was skeptical of medication, and I was skeptical that there could be any underlying issues other than drug and alcohol abuse. For many alcoholics and addicts, there’s usually what is referred to as a co-occurring disorder, or a separate issue that may add to the symptoms of another disorder or disease. Quite often, Alcoholics and drug addicts self medicate with drugs or alcohol as a way to treat the symptoms of a different disorder; like anxiety or depression.

The stigma associated with mental illness is still alive and well today. Unfortunately, most addicts and alcoholics suffer from some form of mental illness. Whether it’s bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, or depression, mental illness is an underlying issue for most addicts and alcoholics.

What is Mental Illness?


Much like a physical illness, a mental illness can develop as either hereditary or from environmental factors like abuse or neglect. A mental illness is any disorder that affects the range of thoughts, mood, or behavior. Most commonly, anxiety and depression account for the majority of mental illnesses in recovery. When first diagnosed, this may seem like a shock or perhaps appear to be a mistake. After all, this doctor doesn’t know you, right?

Accepting A Diagnosis

It’s important to be honest while meeting with your doctor. Ideally, a diagnosis would be made after having been off of drugs for at least a month. However, there are patterns related to certain disorders and illnesses that are common characteristics of that particular illness. Only you will know in your heart whether or not the diagnosis seems correct. In any case, a mental illness diagnosis is not the end of the world. In fact, most artists and musicians have suffered from some form of mental illness at one time of their lives. Mental illness and drug addiction usually go hand in hand, as the addict and alcoholic seemingly try to self medicate with drugs and alcohol. Much like the first step of addiction, the first step in recovery from a mental illness is accepting the diagnosis.


Asking your doctor questions about your mental illness is extremely important also. From medication management to avoiding stressors, your doctor is the best person to ask and develop a plan of recovery with to insure that you can lead a happy and healthy life. When I was diagnosed with major depression, I didn’t know that exercise and a healthy diet along with medication could actually help me to avoid depressive swings. Minor things like blood sugar and releasing endorphins that seem so obvious we’re a world away until I asked my doctor whom I trusted. Meditation also became a regular practice of mine, as recommended by my therapist.

Talk About It

From group and private therapy to Emotions Anonymous meetings, whatever you’re going through doesn’t have to be done alone. In fact, the World Health Organization states that over 350 million people in the world suffer from depression. Although it might seem like a dark diagnosis, there are many other people who have gone through similar experiences. As you’ve learned in recovery from drugs and alcohol, you don’t have to go through anything alone anymore.

Don’t Give Up

If you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness, you aren’t alone. This isn’t a death sentence or a prison stint. There are precautions you can take to protect yourself from severe episodes and there are people everywhere who are going through a similar experience. While medication can have side effects, working with a doctor or care team that you trust is a great step in protecting yourself from having your mental illness get out of control. The stigma around mental health is outdated and currently only a screen to protect the accusers from being found that they or their loved ones suffer from the same disorders. The biggest stigma is against untreated mental health disorders, and is both sad and preventable. By looking after your mental health with the same compassion as you would a sick child, you may begin to see just how strong you are and how manageable life is with a mental illness when the proper measures are taken. The stigma of having a mental illness is one that comes from fear and a lack of insight. By educating yourself, trusting your doctor, and talking about it, you’ll in time shed light on something that is totally manageable and treatable, much like alcoholism and drug addiction.

If you’re diagnosed with a mental illness of any sort, knowing that there is treatment and support available can seem like a huge safety net. Many of us in recovery have a duel diagnosis, and many of us lead happy, healthy, and successful lives. Talk to your doctor and therapist about what treatment and support options are available for you. Education is the best defense against a mental illness, as it will open up various doors for treatment and support groups. There’s nothing wrong with having a mental illness, as many of us in recovery have had to battle our demons at one point or another. Please contact us if you or your loved one is suffering from a mental illness.

psychiatric hospital

When a serious mental health condition results in significant impairment it is appropriate to explore therapeutic solutions that offer a higher level of care than outpatient care. A residential mental health program provides an alternative to the psychiatric hospital treatment environment. While a psychiatric hospital offers the highest level of care, with 24-hour monitoring provided for individuals whose personal safety is at risk, these settings are for short-term acute stabilization, after which the individual will transfer to a residential treatment program.

What is not well known is that some residential mental health centers also provide the same acute stabilization services as a psychiatric hospital, which can eliminate the need to transfer the individual from setting to setting. Once stabilized and evaluated, the patient care shifts to rehabilitation within the residential setting. This smooth transition is less stressful for the individual, and allows them to stabilize in a comfortable home setting versus a sterile hospital environment.

Residential mental health care is highly individualized, so the individual will receive targeted treatment protocols that align with their specific psychiatric needs. All aspects of treatment will conform the unique features of their diagnosis for optimum efficacy. Residential programs often feature multi-modal integrative approaches that combine evidence-based and holistic elements for a more comprehensive treatment intervention. If your loved one is in need of a higher level of mental health care, consider the residential mental healthcare setting to accommodate all their needs.

Levels of Care Defined

Mental health disorders impact nearly 44 million Americans every year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Many people live with serious mental illness, not knowing how to go about finding help or simply avoiding treatment due to the perceived stigma attached to psychiatric disorders. Knowing how to guide a loved one toward appropriate treatment is essential.

Inpatient psychiatric care is available in two general levels of care:

Hospital facility

Generally, a hospital setting is reserved for the more severe psychiatric cases, with the primary goal of stabilizing the patient. A hospital setting is sterile and regimented, and freedoms are restricted to protect the safety of the patient, the staff, and other patients. The mental hospital environment offers 24-hour oversight of the patient and usually involves secluding the patient from others. The hospital setting is indicated for individuals who are on suicide watch or experiencing a psychotic break.

Residential facility

The residential treatment setting has a more home-like feel, providing a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere and more personal freedom. Residential programs are considered a step-down from an inpatient hospital program, and are a good option for treating individuals with escalating mental health disorders that have not yet responded adequately to treatment. Residential programs may offer holistic therapies and recreational activities to complement core treatment methods.

If unsure about which level of care is most appropriate for your loved one, possibly the private practice psychiatrist can guide this important decision.

When is Residential Mental Health Treatment Indicated?

When someone is struggling with a persistent mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety, that isn’t improving with current interventions, the next level of treatment may involve enrolling in a residential program. The residential setting can offer intensive, focused treatment included within a more comprehensive treatment plan than an outpatient program can provide.

Possibly the individual has been treated for an extended period of time through outpatient providers, but their condition is deteriorating. Even so, it is hard to know at what point to take the step to obtain a higher level of care.  Some of the signs that a higher standard of care is needed include:

  • Impairment in functioning. Impairment occurs when the mental health issue becomes debilitating, such as when major depression is so severe that the individual is has become suicidal or when anxiety causes such fear that the person is afraid to leave their house.
  • Non-compliant with medication. If the individual has become unable to continue taking necessary medications per the prescribed schedule, thus endangering psychiatric stability.
  • Dual diagnosis. Escalation in severity of a dual diagnosis, which is the coexistence of two mental health disorders simultaneously, such two co-occurring mental health disorders or a mental health disorder and co-occurring substance use disorder.
  • Sleep disturbances increase. When insomnia or other sleep disturbances prevent the individual from achieving quality sleep, which causes the mental health condition to worsen.
  • Severe mood swings. Mood swings that have become more intense in nature, to the point that the person is a risk to their own safety.
  • Dissociative behaviors. When the individual exhibits signs of detachment and lack of emotion.
  • Risk to self. Becoming a danger to self or others, such as by displaying violent behavior, talk of suicide, or suicide attempts.

When the symptoms of a mental health disorder become chronic and steadily worsen, it is time to seek more specialized treatment such as residential treatment.

Types of Mental Health Disorders Treated in Residential Settings

Living with a mental health disorder can present unpredictable developments from day to day. One day the individual is feeling stable and optimistic, where the following day they might be contemplating suicide. Mental illness is complex and does not progress in a straight line. Even the most closely monitored disorders can suddenly take an extreme turn for the worse.

Residential treatment centers are staffed with psychiatrists and therapists that are trained in treating a wide array of mental health disorders. These conditions might include:

Anxiety disorders. The anxiety disorder spectrum features a variety of ways that anxiety can manifest in dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns. The common thread in all anxiety disorders is the expression of irrational fear and worry, which drive the associated symptoms in each different type of anxiety disorder, including phobia, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety.

Depression. Depressive disorders feature a persistent low mood, fatigue, sleep disruption, slowed motor and cognitive functioning, sudden weight change, loss of interest in usual activities, and thoughts of suicide. There are different types of depressive disorder, such as major depressive disorder, postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Trauma disorder. Features prolonged emotional suffering following witnessing or experiencing a highly traumatizing event. When the symptoms persist for more than a few months it is diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Mood disorders. Mood disorders are complex mental health disorders and feature abrupt shifts between moods to varying degrees. These include bipolar disorder I, II, and cyclothymic disorder.

Personality disorders. Personality disorders involve established patterns of behavior that are considered to be out of alignment with societal expectations, such as borderline, narcissistic, antisocial, histrionic, or paranoid personality disorders.

Psychotic disorders. Psychotic disorders, or psychosis, refer to mental illness that features a break from reality. Symptoms might include hallucinations, delusional thoughts, and paranoia.

Eating disorders. Disordered eating patterns can result in serious health conditions and even death if not stabilized. These include anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

Each residential mental health program will have a specialty area that the program focuses on, so not all residential programs treat all of the above mental health disorders.

What to Expect in a Residential Mental Health Center

Treatment at a residential mental health facility includes interfacing with the psychiatrist, psychotherapists, social worker, and other mental healthcare providers as needed.  Various forms of therapy are available to augment the psychotherapy, including occupational therapy, art and music therapy, and recreational activities.  Some residential facilities also include complementary holistic therapies, such as massage, meditation, and yoga to promote overall mental and physical wellness.

Residential treatment interventions include:

  • Medication. A broad list of medications are available that help manage the symptoms of a particular mental health disorder. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, antianxiety medications, and mood stabilizers are prescribed together with psychotherapy other treatment measures.
  • Psychotherapy. There are different types of psychotherapies for treating various mental health disorders. The most commonly used are cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, interpersonal therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, solutions-focused therapy, exposure therapy, and attachment therapy.
  • Adjunctive therapies. Therapeutic activities that compliment the psychotherapy and enhance treatment results. These can be such therapies as eye movement desensitization (EMDR) or neurofeedback.
  • Recreation and fitness. Exercise offers both psychological and physical benefits and is integrated into the treatment milieu. These activities might include swimming, participation in sports such as tennis or golf, gym workouts, hiking, or walking.
  • Experiential or holistic therapies. To further augment the effects of the traditional therapies, experiential activities such as mindfulness meditation, yoga classes, art and music therapy, and deep-breathing techniques, are often included in the treatment plan.

When a loved one’s mental health condition has escalated to the point where a higher level of care is necessitated, residential mental health facilities can provide a comprehensive approach to treatment and healing.

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

Elevation Behavioral Health is a luxury residential mental health treatment center in Los Angeles, California. Nestled in a tranquil canyon above Malibu, Elevation Behavioral Health provides an intimate setting for individuals in need of healing, versus the cold, institutional psychiatric hospital setting. The spacious and beautiful private home features unmatched luxury in both the interior appointments and exterior grounds.

This mental health and wellness program is built upon a foundation of proven therapeutic modalities, such as CBT and DBT. Added to those are holistic therapies, such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness training to offer a fully integrated approach to mental health treatment. When a mental health condition becomes debilitating, finding healing in a serene, relaxing environment with compassionate therapists and upscale accommodations can be a godsend. For more information about our residential program, please contact the team at Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.