depression and alcohol

There are many reasons why individuals suffer from alcoholism, and genetics, environmental factors and mental health issues are just a few explanations. Co-occurring disorders occur when an individual suffers from both a mental health issue and an addiction such as depression and alcohol. Though they are completely treatable, co-occurring disorders are especially delicate and require integrated clinical therapy to achieve lasting results. >/p>

Depression Statistics

Nearly a third of individuals who suffer from major depressive disorder also suffer from alcoholism. Though it can be hard to determine with certainty, in many cases the depression is present before the addiction takes place.

These numbers are compounded by the fact that 10 percent of Americans experience depression, yet more than 80 percent of those who deal with depression go undiagnosed and untreated. In the absence of professional treatment, it’s not uncommon for those suffering in silence to deepen their relationship with alcohol.

Negative Feedback Loops

Whether alcoholism is caused by depression or vice versa varies on a case-by-case scenario, but what remains the same is the impact that the two have on one another. For an individual struggling with alcoholism and depression, the negative feedback loop is self-perpetuating.

A person drinks in an attempt to feel better, only to find that the relief is merely temporary, if at all. This may lead to further attempts to self-medicate by drinking larger amounts with more frequency. Through this process, depression compounds these factors, leading the individual to quickly descend into addiction.

Social Consequences

The seemingly endless cycle of addiction has residual social repercussions as well. Many times people find themselves not caring about anything outside of their addiction. They may be unwilling to speak with others, show up at work or do anything that might interfere with their drinking routine. The inability to listen to reason, combined with disconnection from the world around them, produces a potent fertilizer in which depression, anxiety and addiction can grow.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Quitting cold turkey can not only be ineffective, it can be dangerous. Receiving help from certified professionals through a medically supervised detox program will greatly increase chances of recovery and decrease the dangers that come along with detoxing.

Trained specialists look at the root of the addiction and mental health issue and treat them both from the very start—healing both mind and body. Peoplecan learn new ways to cope with their mental health issues and begin to discover the potential that they may have thought was gone forever.

Types of Therapy

Many dual-diagnosis treatment facilities go beyond conventional individual and group therapy, giving individuals the chance to get to know themselves again through activities like art, yoga, exercise and music. When administered effectively and adhered to, therapy can help resolve co-occurring disorders and give people suffering from addiction the tools they need to overcome obstacles in a healthy and positive way.

Anyone who is suffering from alcoholism or who may be developing a drinking problem shouldn’t wait to treat these issues. The more time that passes, the more difficult it will be to break the negative feedback loop.

ocd and coronavirus

For people who struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) the coronavirus is the perfect storm. While many Americans are striving to practice better hand-washing technique and are judiciously wiping down potential virus contamination everywhere, individuals with OCD may be particularly distressed at this time.

OCD and coronavirus are an unfortunate pairing, for sure. Those who struggle with germ obsessions anyway may experience heightened levels of anxiety and distress, scrubbing and scrubbing their hands, or avoiding public places altogether. People with OCD already battle an obsessive fear of germs, so this coronavirus outbreak may cause serious mental health issues for them.

There is no arguing that Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is a serious health concern. It is impossible to avoid the continuous news coverage or mounting infection statistics that permeate the airwaves. But OCD and coronavirus must coexist, at least for the meanwhile. This means that people with OCD will need to adopt some coping skills to help them through this disturbing time in history.

5 Tips for OCD and Coronavirus Anxiety

With some focused effort it is possible to minimize the emotional distress caused by the pandemic. Individuals with OCD tend to obsess about avoiding potential dangers, including germs that could harm them. Even seeing the empty shelves at the grocery stores, including the last of hand sanitizing soaps and wipes, can induce fear. These intrusive obsessive thoughts lead to irrational compulsions as a way of mitigating the anxiety that results. To help minimize the effect of the virus on daily life, consider these 5 tips:

  1. Limit the news. When something causes us fear, such as during a natural disaster or a military attack, we may find ourselves glued to the news all day long. Learning about the event can sometimes help us manage fear, as knowledge can better prepare us for outcomes. However, with the news media providing round-the-clock coronavirus programming it can keep us in a constant state of anxiety as the case counts mount. According to Shelly Hovick, Ph.D. who authored a study centering on the Zika outbreak in 2016, and who is weighing in now about the coronavirus, “The Zika virus and the coronavirus have important things in common: In both cases, they are shrouded in uncertainty and have received a lot of media attention,” Hovick said. “Our research looks at how people seek and process information when there is so much uncertainty.”
  2. Keep perspective. While the coronavirus pandemic is a historic event like something we have never seen in our lifetimes, it is important to try to maintain a healthy perspective. The mounting case and death numbers are disturbing, but it is helpful to remember that there are 7.7 billion people in the world as a way to keep some perspective when considering those numbers. Also, take care not to look too far into the future, as no one really knows how long it will take for the virus to play out. Focus on getting through one day at a time.
  3. Take rational precautions. Someone with OCD will often go to great lengths to prevent a perceived negative outcome. This is the nature of the disorder, to experience the combination of obsessive thoughts rooted in fear and then to practice obsessive behaviors as a means of reducing the resulting anxiety or risk of the feared event or situation to come to fruition. For someone with a germ-centered obsession the coronavirus is especially daunting. Practice prescribed safety measures without falling into extreme obsessive behaviors. Identify irrational thoughts as anxiety driven while sticking to practical methods for avoiding the pathogen.
  4. Practice wellness. One of the most productive actions to take during the coronavirus is to practice a healthy lifestyle. Although this is more challenging during sheltering orders, we are still able to get outdoors and get some exercise. Walking, running, or cycling offer excellent mental health benefits for reducing stress and anxiety and improving overall outlook. Try to avoid the temptation to eat fatty or sugary foods, and limit or avoid alcohol intake. Get at least 7 hours of quality sleep per night. All of these wellness measures will help to control symptoms of depression or anxiety during the pandemic.
  5. Access your support system. When, in spite of all these efforts, you find yourself becoming increasingly anxious, it is prudent to contact the people in your support system. This can be a trusted friend, a family member, or your therapist. Most psychotherapists and psychiatrists are making themselves available via tele-mental health platforms like Zoom or Skype, or telephone therapy sessions. Do not hesitate to reach out to your mental health provider if symptoms escalate.

About OCD

OCD is an anxiety-related disorder that features alternating obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors repeated throughout the day. OCD can become so disruptive that it can impair one’s ability to function at school, work, or to maintain healthy personal relationships. OCD affects approximately 1.2% of the US adult population, according to statistics provided by the National Institute of Mental Health, and impacts more women than men.

OCD can become so invasive that all aspects of the person’s life are affected. Some who struggle with OCD may isolate themselves in order to avoid triggers that would expose the disorder in public. This particular trait is even more predominant now during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and state after state are imposing lockdowns.

It isn’t fully understood what causes OCD, however research suggests that there is a connection problem between neural pathways involving the frontal lobe and deeper brain structures. Some progress has been made in understanding OCD through neuroimaging studies. These detailed brain scans reveal how certain areas of the brain are functioning differently in those who have OCD, compared to those without the disorder. As such, it is understood that OCD is primarily a neurobiological disorder that may be influenced by environmental factors.

In addition, there is some evidence that OCD has a genetic component, as the mental health disorder, as do other anxiety disorders, does seem to run in families.

How OCD Manifests

Some of the different ways OCD may manifest itself in daily life include:

  • Contamination obsessions with cleaning compulsions. Obsessions around contamination and germs can lead to compulsions of repeated hand washing or cleaning behaviors.
  • Harm obsessions with checking compulsions. Driven by intense fear of danger or potential harm to oneself or others, this individual will use compulsive checking rituals to relieve this fear.
  • Symmetry obsessions with ordering compulsions. The obsessive desire for order and symmetry drive compulsive behaviors that include ordering, arranging, and counting.
  • Obsessions that have no visible compulsions. These might involve distorted and irrational thoughts involving sexual, violent, or religious themes or fears. Compulsive mental rituals, such as reciting words, prayer, or counting, are not visible to others.
  • Hoarding. Obsessive fear around losing important papers or items drives the hoarding of mail, magazines, containers, clothing, and junk mail.

The most common types of obsessions revolve around:

  • Fear of germs or contamination
  • Fear of some dangerous event, such as setting the house on fire or being burglarized
  • Forbidden sexual thoughts, including perversions, homosexual thoughts, thoughts involving children, or aggressive sexual behaviors
  • Perfectionism, concerning symmetry or exact placement

The most common types of compulsions include:

  • Washing hands, cleaning, preventing physical contact
  • Checking, such as repeatedly checking that the lights are turned off or the oven is off.
  • Repeating routine actions, like going in and out of a door, tapping, touching, blinking, rereading.
  • Placing items in a specific order or arrangement

Living with OCD and Coronavirus

The last thing anyone should do is to allow this coronavirus to cause people to live in perpetual fear. OCD is characterized by a fear of lack of control over something that is regarded as dangerous, making having the disorder especially concerning during the pandemic. Many individuals with OCD have acquired helpful coping skills through a type of therapy called exposure and response prevention (ERP). These techniques will be very helpful during this particular time in history.

It is easy to fall into fear mode, especially when watching news reports. Be proactive and obtain help from a therapist or mental health professional who can help manage the OCD flair-ups. OCD is a manageable disorder, even when the coronavirus crisis further complicates symptoms.

Treatment for OCD

The traditional treatment for OCD strategies involves a combination approach including medication and psychotherapy. The medications most effective for treating OCD include the antidepressants fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, and sertraline. In some cases, an anti-psychotic medication called risperidone can be effective when the antidepressants are not, or might be combined with an antidepressant for better results.

Psychotherapy will focus on behavior changing therapies to assist individuals with responding to the obsessive thoughts in a more productive manner. Some of these evidence-based therapies include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Cognitive behavioral therapy involves training the mind to focus on the actual experience caused by the negative thought and to respond to it in new ways. By helping the individual change the way his or her thoughts are interpreted from negative to neutral, cognitive behavior therapy can alter the disordered behavioral response to them.
  • Habit reversal training. Individuals become aware of the physiological muscle or body sensation that is associated with it by practicing compulsive habit in the mirror, which helps develop awareness for how the urge manifests. The patient then learns a competing intervention that blocks and reverses the disordered compulsive habit.
  • Exposure and response prevention (ERP). ERP can help relieve fear-based symptoms by incrementally exposing the individual to their fears. As the object of fear is introduced, the individual is taught coping skills that help reduce the related anxiety attached to this trigger. As the individual becomes comfortable with ERP, the therapy can help them better manage their response to the triggers when they occur.

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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.

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is addiction a disease or a choice

Is addiction a disease or a choice? That question has fueled countless debates over the years. Though there is solid evidence supporting both sides, the scientific and biological proof that drives the concept of addiction as a disease is paramount.

What causes a person to first pick up a bottle or take a few pills may be a choice, but the deeper issue of addiction is anything but. Like other diseases, addiction is the product of a series of environmental, psychological and biological factors baked together into a dangerous concoction.

What is the Disease Theory?

The disease theory of addiction essentially looks at addiction as a medical illness that can’t be controlled without ongoing treatment. Addiction has been classified as a physical disease due to the cycles of cravings and withdrawal symptoms it produces. It changes the way the brain functions, leading people to do things against their expressed will. This is where choice ends and chronic illness begins.

Addiction and the Brain

Drugs tap into the brain’s communication system and physically change the way the brain processes information. This causes the brain’s reward system to be flooded with feel-good chemicals, sending the user into a state of euphoria. The overstimulated reward system of the brain reinforces the behavior of drug use, leading to the desire to use again.

These pathological changes in the brain result in overpowering urges to use. Even if a person expresses a sincere desire to quit using, they’re drawn to take whatever steps are necessary to obtain their drug of choice. The disease completely overwhelms them—their thoughts, feelings and actions—until the only thing they’re able to focus on is using, as though their life depends on it.

Addiction and Survival Instincts

The survival instinct drives people to seek out resources that will trigger the brain’s reward sensors, i.e., when people eat, they feel full and satisfied. As time passes and behaviors are positively and consistently rewarded, a body begins to make the connection between the act and the feeling of pleasure it produces. Eventually, people start to crave the behavior more and more until it becomes an automated routine.

Addictive drugs evoke patterns of behavior similar to those prompted by natural rewards. As the user falls deeper into addiction, though, that single behavior starts to take precedence over all other instincts, including eating, sleeping, working or even caring for children. Addiction becomes their dominant survival instinct, which is one reason giving it up is so challenging. Their body yearns for it and feels the need to fulfill its instinctual goal.

Treating Addiction as a Disease

It is no secret that treatment can help people quit using, avoid relapse and successfully recover, but finding a treatment center that focuses on treating addiction as a disease may be the most effective option. It focuses on mental health as a whole, digging into a person’s past and exposing events that may have triggered them to start using in the first place . This allows people to heal from the inside out, removing the baggage that has held them down for so long.

Types of treatments used to heal mind and body include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Meditation
  • Art therapy
  • Yoga
  • Group therapy
am i having a manic episode

Feeling a rush of uncontainable energy, you may find yourself racing around the web placing one order after another of items you don’t even really need. Or maybe you feel a wave of adrenaline that causes you to launch a dozen home projects at one, shooting through the rooms of your house like a pinball, and never really finishing a single task. If either of these examples sound familiar you may have asked yourself, “Am I having a manic episode?”

Mania is associated with signs of bipolar disorder, a complex mental health disorder that features unpredictable shifts between manic episodes and depressive episodes. When a manic episode presents itself there can be some serious repercussions that result from the high-pitched energy and euphoria that drive it. This is because along with that sudden boost of energy comes some very erratic and impulsive actions, not to mention intense irritability and insomnia.

When struggling with bipolar disorder, it is helpful to learn how to recognize the signs of the impending manic episodes, as well as the depressive ones. Seeing the warning signs can help you take proactive steps to rein it in before it explodes into uncontrollable behaviors that you end up regretting. Asking yourself, “Am I having a manic episode?” can get you in the mindset of preparation, which is all good.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are varying degrees of intensity of these episodes, so for that reason bipolar disorder has four classifications:

Bipolar I: Features both manic and depressive episodes that vary in duration, but at least one manic episode that includes psychotic features must last seven days or longer for the diagnosis to be made. The manic episode may have been shorter but was severe enough to require hospitalization. Mania is more prevalent in bipolar I.

Bipolar II: The individual experiences hypomania instead of mania, which is a less intense form of mania. Diagnosis will depend on the individual having experienced at least one hypomanic episode and one depressive episode. Depressive episodes are more prevalent in bipolar II.

Cyclothymic disorder: The individual experiences a milder form of bipolar disorder, with episodes of less severe mania and depression that resembles moodiness instead of bipolar disorder, and lasts more than two years. Untreated cyclothymic disorder can develop into bipolar disorder.

Unspecified bipolar: This classification involves abnormal mood disorder symptoms that do not fit into a specific pattern.

Approximately 5.7 million people struggle with this serious mental health condition, according to data provided by the National Institute on Mental Illness.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

It is still not fully understood how someone develops bipolar disorder. Some of the factors recognized as potential factors include a family history of bipolar disorder or mental illness, an imbalance in brain chemistry that diminishes emotion regulation, or a history of trauma or abuse. Also, certain substances, such as alcohol, hallucinogenics, benzodiazepines, and some heart or blood pressure medications have been found to provoke the symptoms of a bipolar disorder, if not igniting the disorder itself. Ongoing research is getting closer to understanding the genetic link or brain regulation issue that can cause bipolar disorder.

Brain structure differences themselves are being studied as a possible explanation for the onset of bipolar disorder. It is also thought that particular features in brain structure might predispose someone to bipolar disorder, especially in light of traumatic events or intensely stressful life events that might trigger a bipolar episode.

What Are the Symptoms of a Manic Episode?

The symptoms of a manic episode may come on suddenly and are often very intense. These symptoms include:

  • Euphoric mood, elation
  • Abundance of energy
  • Poor judgment
  • Increased activity levels, hyperactivity
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid speech
  • Irritability
  • Feeling jumpy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Engage in high-risk or impulsive behaviors
  • Take on multiple tasks at once
  • Aggression

How Bipolar Mania Impacts Daily Life

Whether a person spends their days at a job or as a student, a majority of hours will involve contact with other people. Healthy social functioning is essential for succeeding in all realms of life. When manic episodes erupt they will hinder the ability to function optimally in daily life.

Bipolar disorder can stress work relationships. An employee who exhibits mood swings on the job is likely to be viewed as unstable, which can disrupt career aspirations or even result in termination if the mood swings are seen as harmful to other employees. Additionally, the work performance of someone with unmanaged bipolar disorder will suffer as projects and assignments will be late, poorly executed, or missed entirely.

For children, having a parent with bipolar disorder can be confusing and destabilizing. Children will not understand why their parent is really happy and energetic one day and sad and tired the next. This can cause the children to become anxious and tentative, not knowing what to expect from this parent from day to day.

A similar conundrum exists for the significant others involved in a close relationship with the individual. The unpredictable mood swings, and the fallout from the manic episodes, can place so much pressure on a relationship that it is likely to fail.

Bipolar can also result in diminished health. A manic episode may result in getting inadequate sleep over a several day period, adversely impacting health and wellness. Impulsive behaviors can result in high-risk situations that lead to injury or damages.

What Steps Can Be Taken to Manage a Manic Episode?

The symptoms of a manic episode may emerge suddenly and without much warning. When you find yourself thinking, “Am I having a manic episode?” there may be very little time to proactively manage the oncoming symptoms. Seeking out the help of your support system and reaching out to your doctor or therapist can help deflect an episode. Better yet is learning the actions to take prior to a manic episode developing. Some proactive steps include:

  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule
  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Adhere to medication
  • Engage in weekly psychotherapy

In addition, the earlier the individual receives treatment for bipolar disorder the better the outcome. According to the author of an article published in The Lancet, Sameer Jauhar, Ph.D., “As a consultant psychiatrist this is something I see again and again. People who are identified early and get effective treatment quickly are able to avoid further episodes and achieve extraordinary things, while others who the system doesn’t serve so well can get stuck for years.”

Psychiatric Intervention for Bipolar Disorder

Management of bipolar disorder begins with first stabilizing the mental health condition. Bipolar disorder can lead to extreme acting out that may put the individual or others in harm’s way. A residential mental health setting will provide the acute stabilization services and 24-hour monitoring, followed by an individualized treatment plan.

Generally, bipolar disorder will be treated and managed by both medication and therapy. The medications might include lithium, antidepressants, or anticonvulsants. A period of trialing the medications and making necessary adjustments can fine tune this important treatment element for bipolar disorder management.

Psychotherapy includes a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, which will assist the individual in identifying distorted or irrational thought patterns and change them, along with interpersonal and social rhythm therapy. This type of therapy is useful in helping the bipolar patient learn how to predict an oncoming manic or depressive episode and better manage them. In addition, IPSRT emphasizes the importance of maintaining key relationships, of establishing healthy routines, and of managing stress.

Learning How to Relax

When you find yourself spinning out of control, wondering, “Am I having a manic episode?” that is the time to take the initiative and employ some effective relaxation techniques. Being familiar with these holistic activities can provide an arsenal of healing tools that will come into play when a manic episode threatens. These relaxation activities include:

  • Deep breathing. Breathing becomes shallow when we are irritable or filled with adrenaline. Slowly drawing in the breath, holding it, and then fully releasing it is a quick way to alleviate feelings of anxiety. Deep breathing exercises can be done anywhere at any time.
  • Meditation. Meditation can be as individual as the person engaged in it, but will usually involve a period of quiet time to reflect or pray. Some may benefit from accessing a meditation app that provides guided imagery that increases the sense of peace and wellbeing.
  • Yoga. Yoga is an ancient practice that uses slow, purposeful movements and poses that can help open up energy flow. Combined with meditation and focused breathing, yoga can induce peace of mind.
  • Aromatherapy. Essential oils are made from plant and flower parts and distilled into a potent form of oil. These are used in aromatherapy, or breathing in the essence of particular oils that can boost mood and calm the mind.
  • Working out. A moderately rigorous workout of 30-60 minutes can help induce emotional stability due to the production of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
  • Mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness helps to center the individual in the present moment. This can be particularly helpful during a manic episode, as it helps to rein in distracting thoughts and forces the individual to pay attention to the rhythm of their breathing.
  • Art therapy. Working through emotions using an art medium can be very relaxing, as well as a great outlet for expressing feelings. Art therapy can involve painting, drawing, sculpture, or crafts.
  • Acupuncture. Acupuncture is an ancient Eastern medical practice that opens up blocked energy flow in the body by inserting tiny needles in particular regions. This can induce relaxation and improve overall mood.

The combination of these stress-reducing activities with cognitive behavioral therapy and possibly antidepressants can help effectively manage bipolar disorder and improve the quality of life.

Elevation Behavioral Health Offers Integrated Bipolar Treatment Program

Elevation Behavioral Health is a residential mental health program that provides comprehensive treatment for individuals with bipolar disorder. Elevation Behavioral Health elevates mental health interventions to a more intensive and focused level of intensity. At Elevation Behavioral Health, patients find themselves in a compassionate, nurturing environment that promotes emotional healing. Interventions are designed to help stabilize the severity of the mood swings, to learn new ways to recognize and manage oncoming symptoms, and to teach relaxation techniques. If you have been wondering, “Am I having a manic episode?” please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

 

sleeping too much

When you feel sad all the time, sleeping becomes an opportunity for relief. Depression depletes your energy anyway, only adding to the desire to lie down and drift off to sleep. When your depressive state leads to sleeping too much, this condition is called hypersomnia, or the opposite of insomnia.

Excessive sleeping is a common symptom of major depressive disorder. Escaping emotional pain through sleeping more hours than usual may be a means of self-managing the depression, or the sleeping too much may be a physiological effect of the reduction of neurotransmitters common among depression patients.

When the symptoms of depression, such as hypersomnia, are so significant that they undermine your quality of life, it is time to seek professional help. Depression is a serious mental health condition that may lead to a daily impairment that can undermine all areas of life. When excessive sleeping has impacted your career or job security, your relationships, or your overall wellbeing, proactive steps to improve psychological health are in order.

Some Basic Facts About Depressive Disorders

Depression is the second most common mental health disorder experienced by Americans. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 17 million Americans are afflicted with this debilitating condition each year. Additionally, 2.3 million adolescents struggle with depression, further defining depression as a serious mental health threat today. In fact, suicide is now the second leading cause of preventable death among young people aged 10-34. These statistics underscore the importance of getting professional help for managing this serious mental health condition.

There are several different types of depression, with each type expressing unique features. Treatment for depression will be based on which particular type of depression is presenting. These types of depressive disorder include:

Major depressive disorder. MDD is the most widely diagnosed form of depression. A diagnosis of MDD results when five or more of the following symptoms are present for two weeks or longer:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, despair, or emptiness
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Difficulty making decisions or concentrating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Changes in eating habits, weight changes
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

Dysthymia. Dysthymic, or persistent depressive disorder, is a type of depression that persists for more than two years. Someone with dysthymia may experience periods of severe depression alternating with periods of mild depression symptoms for more than two years.

Postpartum depression. A woman who experiences serious symptoms of depression during and/or after giving birth has postpartum depression. The symptoms may be so severe that the mother is unable to care for her child or for herself. They may experience severe fatigue, exhaustion, and anxiety in addition to the intense sadness.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder. PMDD is related to a woman’s hormonal cycle, and features intensified PMS symptoms, such as angry outbursts, hopelessness, irritability, hypersomnia, excessive crying, and sensitivity to rejection.

Seasonal affective disorder. Climates further from the equator may lead to depression symptoms that are caused by a lack of sun exposure during the winter months. The individual may experience the symptoms of sleeping too much, weight gain, and isolation behaviors in addition to other depression symptoms.

Bipolar depression. This type of depressive disorder features alternating dramatic and unpredictable shifts between depressive and manic moods. The low mood episodes are classified as bipolar depression

What Causes Depression?

Depression is an extremely complex mental health disorder. Why is it that some people seem to manage serious life events, such as the death of a loved one, a job loss, divorce, or other traumatic events, while others succumb to depression? To date, science has not yet determined the exact causes or factors related to depression, although ongoing research continues to offer new clues.

For example, a recent study out of Japan reveals the action of certain protein signaling that may affect mood. The authors, Kobayashi et.al., state, “Taken together these findings suggest that RGS8 participates in modulation of depression-like behavior through ciliary MCHR1 expressed in the CA1 region.” Some of the factors that have been also been identified as contributing to depression include:

  • Genetics. A family history of depression is one of the biggest predictors of the disorder. Individuals with a close relative who suffers from depression will increase the probability for other family members.
  • Brain function. The neural connections, brain cell growth, and brain chemistry are factors in mood regulation. There is some scientific evidence that chemical imbalances in the brain may contribute to the onset of depression.
  • Temperament. Personality traits, such as how excitable or how sensitive we are by nature can factor into depression.
  • Stressful life events. People respond in their own unique way, often based on temperament, to stressful life events. Grief and loss, trauma, abuse, and many difficult life events can result in sustained and chronic depressed mood.
  • Medical conditions. Some health conditions can contribute to depressions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus, stroke, HIV, Parkinson’s disease, and erectile dysfunction in men. Some medications can also cause depression as a side effect of the drug.
  • Substance abuse. Alcohol or drug abuse may precede the onset of depression. The negative consequences that follow a substance use disorder may overwhelm the individual and depression can develop as a result.

How Depression Impacts Daily Life

Living with depression on a day-to-day basis can have a significant impact on quality of life. In addition to the low mood and persistent feelings of sadness, depression can leave the individual feeling unwell. This combination of symptoms will often result in reduced functioning at work and at home.

Sleep disruptions, including sleeping too much or sleeping too little, will wreak havoc with concentration, energy and stamina, memory functions, appetite, and can further intensify feelings of despair. When depression causes a person to literally not want to get out of bed all day it can cause a domino effect in all other realms. Hypersomnia may even lead to excessive absences at work and declining work performance overall.

Excessive sleeping also has a negative impact on the family dynamic. When mom or dad is holed up in bed the children who are depending on the parent may not have access to the care they deserve. This places more pressure on the well parent to take up the extra burden, which can have an effect on the relationship. Eventually, the impact of depression will touch all aspects of life.

Getting Help for Depression

The fundamental treatment protocol for depression involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy:

  • Psychotherapy. One-on-one talk therapy sessions allow the therapist to guide the individual toward resolving unaddressed emotional issues that may be contributing to the depression. These may involve past trauma, childhood abuse, grief and loss, divorce, and other painful life events. Cognitive behavioral therapy is useful for helping to guide patients toward established more self-affirming thoughts that lead to positive thought/behavior patterns. Group therapy sessions, such as a depression support group, can also be beneficial to individuals being treated for depression.
  • Medication. Antidepressant drug therapy is the industry standard for depression treatment. There are dozens of antidepressants on the market today. These include SSRIs, SNRIs, MAOIs, and tricyclic antidepressants. The drugs vary in how they impact brain chemistry, and dosing adjustments or even changing to a different drug is common when trying to find the best fit for each patient.

If the severity of the depression is becoming concerning it is appropriate to seek a residential mental health program to receive the highest level of mental health support. Although most individuals struggling with depression realize it is likely a temporary condition that will eventually pass, some may begin to believe things will never change. This can cause some to consider harming themselves. A residential mental health program will offer constant support and monitoring, as well as a more intensive and individualized approach to treating depression.

Holistic Activities Complement Depression Treatment

Psychiatry has begun to embrace holistic therapies as complementary to traditional treatment modalities for depression, as these activities can help reduce stress and induce feelings of calm. Some of the holistic treatment elements include:

  • Yoga. Yoga involves slow, purposeful physical poses with a focus on breathing. Yoga is known to promote relaxation and reduce stress while also strengthening and stretching muscles, and reducing blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Acupuncture. Acupuncture uses tiny needles to open up energy paths in the body thought to assist in the improvement of mind-body connectedness and wellness.
  • Meditation. Mindfulness meditation is also helpful in training the brain to focus purposefully on the present moment, taking in the various sensory stimuli and focusing on rhythmic breathing.
  • Exercise. The positive effects of getting regular exercise are caused by the release of brain chemicals, such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine.
  • Aromatherapy. Certain essential oils have been found to relieve symptoms of depressed mood. These include jasmine, citrus oils, bergamot, and chamomile oils.
  • Nutritional counseling. A diet rich in lean proteins, nuts and seeds, fresh vegetables and fruits, oily fish such as salmon, beans, and whole grains can significantly contribute to mental stability.

Depression is a manageable mental health disorder. When the symptoms of depression lead to impairment in daily functioning, obtaining the support of a mental health professional is essential to recovery.

Elevation Behavioral Health Residential Depression Treatment

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Los Angeles-based residential program that offers intensive mental health treatment for depression. When outpatient interventions have been ineffective in improving quality of life, you may benefit from a more targeted treatment protocol. With deluxe accommodations and a highly attentive clinical staff, Elevation Behavioral Health strives to make the client’s stay a comfortable and healing experience. Elevation Behavioral Health offers a full daily schedule of therapies and adjunctive activities to help individuals struggling with depression reclaim their joy and return to healthy functioning. For more information about our program please contact us today at (888) 561-0868.

warning signs of bipolar meltdown

Bipolar disorder is a complex and destabilizing mental health disorder that requires specialized interventions and psychiatric expertise to adequately manage. Those individuals living with bipolar disorder struggle daily with the challenges related to this confounding and unpredictable mental health condition.

There are different types of bipolar disorder with unique features, but the prevailing characteristics revolve around intense mood swings, shifting from manic episodes to depressive episodes. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong diagnosis, but with expert care and medication compliance it is possible to achieve normal functioning.

That said, there is a high degree of instability associated with bipolar disorder. Mood swings can escalate to such a degree that they become debilitating. When the disorder becomes so disruptive to daily functioning it may constitute a psychiatric crisis. Knowing the warning signs of a bipolar meltdown can help prevent such a crisis.

About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder features extreme shifts in mood that are unpredictable and often disruptive to daily functioning. Changes in sleep patterns, eating habits, emotions, and behaviors accompany the mood swings. Individuals with bipolar disorder shift from manic to depressive episodes periodically, often without any predictable pattern. In most cases, bipolar disorder emerges in the teen or early adult years, and affects approximately 5.7 million people, according to statistics provided by the National Institute on Mental Illness. Of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder, more than 80% will have a severe form of the mental health disorder.

It is not yet totally understood how someone develops bipolar disorder. Some of the factors that are recognized as potential causes include a family history of bipolar disorder or mental illness, a problem in brain chemistry that affects mood regulation, a history of trauma or abuse. Certain substances, such as alcohol, hallucinogenics, benzodiazepines, and certain heart and blood pressure medications have been found to provoke symptoms of bipolar, if not the illness itself. Ongoing research is getting closer to understanding the genetic link or brain regulation issue that can cause bipolar disorder.

Manic episode:

  • Elated, euphoric mood
  • Abundance of energy
  • Increased activity levels
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid speech
  • Irritability
  • Feeling jumpy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Engage in high-risk behaviors
  • Take on multiple tasks at once

Managing a manic episode

At the outset of a manic episode the individual may find their symptoms getting out of control. Abnormal energy levels may prevent someone from sitting still and completing assignments at school or work. Minimal sleep over several days can impact health and wellness. Impulsive behavior can result in high-risk situations that lead to injury or material damage.

When the symptoms of a manic episode emerge there may be a very short window to proactively manage the oncoming symptoms, which is why it helps to recognize the warning signs of a bipolar meltdown. Seeking out the help of a support system such as a doctor or therapist can help prevent an episode from becoming full-fledged. Taking these proactive steps might help prevent a manic episode:

  • Medication compliance
  • Avoiding alcohol and drugs
  • Using relaxation techniques
  • Continue with outpatient therapy

Depressive episode:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, empty
  • Very low energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Decreased activity level
  • Forgetful
  • Overeating or under-eating
  • Excessive worry
  • Lack of joy or pleasure
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Thoughts of suicide

Managing a depressive episode:

Possibly a stressful or sad event has triggered the episode, but many times it is just a characteristic of bipolar disorder to experience these sporadic bouts of depression. Because bipolar depression can be extreme, it is essential to identify the signs as early as possible that a depressive disorder is emerging.

As with the prevention of a manic episode, being aware of the signs of depression is a proactive response to identifying a bipolar depressive episode. When the patterns emerge, such as sleep problems, extreme fatigue, a change in eating habits, and persistent feelings of sadness, it is important to see the doctor, and also avoid alcohol and drugs. The doctor may make a change in medications or prescribe additional CBT therapy.

Different Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are four different types of bipolar disorder with varied features in terms of which mood episode is predominant. These types include:

Bipolar I Disorder. Bipolar I is the most common and most severe form of bipolar disorder, characterized by manic episodes that last for at least seven days or with manic symptoms so severe that acute stabilization in a hospital setting is necessary. The depressive episodes may last two weeks or more.

Bipolar II Disorder. Bipolar II is defined by a pattern of manic and depressive episodes, but not to the same severity of Bipolar I.

Cyclothymic Disorder. Cyclothymic Disorder, or cyclothymia, is features repeated periods of manic symptoms and depressive symptoms lasting at least two years, however the symptoms do not reach the diagnostic criteria for manic or depressive episodes.

Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar Disorders. This category includes bipolar disorder symptoms that do not fit into the above categories.

What to Expect in Residential Bipolar Disorder

Even knowing the warning signs of a bipolar meltdown, some individuals with this disorder may find that their efforts to manage it through outpatient practitioners are unsuccessful. Deteriorating bipolar disorder can become debilitating, with serious impairment in daily functioning and a significant reduction in quality of life.

Residential treatment provides a space for healing. In this setting, the individual will be free from external triggers that agitate the disorder, allowing them to attain a sense of calm while receiving specialized treatment. Treatment for bipolar disorder includes the following:

Medication: Mood stabilizing medications, such as antipsychotics and antidepressants, are the most commonly prescribed drugs for treating bipolar disorder. The specific type of bipolar disorder will dictate the medications. Lithium is the predominant medication prescribed for controlling bipolar disorder, in addition to anticonvulsants and SSRIs. Medication compliance is essential for maintaining emotional stability.

Psychotherapy: Thoughts can influence behaviors, and negative thoughts can lead to self-destructive behaviors. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used form of psychotherapy for treating bipolar disorder. CBT therapists will guide the individual to identify thought distortions or triggers that lead to the disruptive behaviors, and help them change these destructive thought patterns.

Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy.  IPSRT provide life skills that helps the patient learn how to better predict and manage the bipolar episodes. This therapy focuses on the importance of maintaining a consistent daily routine, in addition to improving interpersonal relations and stress management.

Holistic: Experiential and holistic therapies can aid in the healing of severe bipolar disorder symptoms and promote overall wellness. These activities might include massage therapy, yoga, deep breathing techniques, practicing mindfulness, guided meditation, and aromatherapy.

Lifestyle: Because establishing a healthy routine is an essential aspect of managing bipolar disorder, inpatient treatment centers will counsel patients on diet and exercise. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule, getting regular exercise, eating nutritiously, and managing stress are all intrinsic to achieving stability and reducing the probability of a relapse.

Minimizing Bipolar Disorder Relapse

Although there is no cure for bipolar disorder, the condition can be managed using a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle adjustments. By being vigilant and proactive with these interventions, an individual can expect to enjoy more stability and overall wellness while living a productive life.

Following residential treatment, it is helpful to continue to integrate the holistic methods introduced there into daily life. These practices help to regulate stress, which is a trigger for bipolar. In addition to the relaxation methods, using the new thought and behavior patterns learned through CBT training becomes a foundational coping mechanism. Continuing to receive ongoing outpatient therapy is another aftercare effort that should be included following inpatient treatment.

Bipolar disorder doesn’t only impact the individual, but also affects those within their orbit. Bipolar support groups can be very helpful to both the individual with the disorder and their loved ones, as these groups offer helpful tips and strategies for family members managing life alongside someone struggling with bipolar disorder. Not only with the family support help the family better understand their loved one’s BPD, but it can help to foster a calmer and better functioning family dynamic.

An important aspect of maintaining quality of life following treatment is learning how to spot the warning signs of a bipolar meltdown. Even the most diligent adherence to ongoing continuing care efforts, a relapse is still a possibility. In fact, according to a study published in the Iranian Journal of Psychiatry, at least 75% of those with bipolar disorder will experience relapse. Some warning signs include sleep disturbance, increasing irritability, restlessness, trouble concentrating, isolating behaviors, feeling “flat,” and suicidal thoughts.

Can Bipolar Disorder Become a Disability?

In severe cases of bipolar disorder, where the individual is so impaired by the disorder that they are unable to function effectively on the job, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits may be available. There are various considerations the Social Security Administration will review prior to approving benefits, but knowing that a bipolar disability may warrant SSDI benefits provides peace of mind to individuals with extreme cases.

The SSA Blue Book details the evaluation criteria that will determine whether the person meets the eligibility threshold. Generally, benefits will be considered if impairment exists in the work environment after a history of consistent manic and/or depressive episodes resulting in two of the following three restrictions:

  • Severe limitation of daily activity
  • Inability to interact normally with coworkers or management
  • Deterioration of mental health despite treatment that helped previously

Regardless of whether the applicant for SSDI meets the above criteria, they can still qualify if they have a medical history that documents a minimum of two years with a diagnosed affective (mood) disorder, including bipolar disorder.

Elevation Behavioral Health Treats Bipolar Disorder

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Los Angeles-based residential mental health center that offers a wide array of services for individuals in need of more intensive intervention for bipolar disorder. Using a blend of evidence-based and holistic treatment methods offers a more comprehensive approach. The beautiful private facility offers upscale accommodations and spa-like amenities, which enhance the overall treatment experience. For more details about our treatment program for bipolar disorder, please reach out to Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

 

i feel hopeless

It feels like a weight on your chest, depression does. That heavy feeling that zaps your energy and motivation, and stealing your quality of life. When battling depression, you struggle to find something, anything, to be grateful for, but usually find yourself saying to yourself, “I feel hopeless,” instead.

The idea of being hopeless is a total absence of the feeling that circumstances will improve with time. When in the pit of depression, it truly feels like that, as if all hope is lost. Depression is mysterious and complex, incomprehensible even. Why does it strike? What brings it on?

For individuals telling themselves daily, “I feel hopeless,” there is not always a clear path to recovery from a depressive episode. Some simply live their days out by suffering in silence, others retreat into isolation, and some begin to abuse alcohol or pills as a means of self-medicating depression. Most just wish they could snap out of it.

Knowledge is so important when it comes to understanding this mental health disorder, as it provides the key information that could give the person suffering a pathway out of the darkness of depression. Learn about the signs and symptoms of major depressive disorder, and about treatment options for managing it.

Understanding Depression

If you are struggling with depression you are in good company. More than 17 million Americans are affected by major depressive disorder annually, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. To date, science has not yet discovered the specific root cause of depression, however the following are known risk factors for developing the mental health disorder:

  • Family history of depression
  • Faulty mood regulation due to brain chemistry imbalance
  • Stressful or distressing life events, such as the unexpected death of a loved one, divorce, job loss, serious health challenge
  • Medical conditions, such as diabetes, MS, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Medications that have depressive side effects

The DSM-5 criteria for diagnosing depression involves five or more of the following symptoms have been present most of the time for more than two weeks:

  1. Persistent depressed or sad mood
  2. Deep fatigue
  3. Recent unexplained weight gain or loss
  4. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  5. Slowed movements and cognitive functioning
  6. Lack of interest in the activities once enjoyed
  7. Persistent feelings of hopelessness and despair
  8. Irrational feelings of guilt or shame
  9. Thoughts of suicide

Treatment for Depression

What may have begun as a bout of the blues becomes concerning if the symptoms persist for more than two weeks. Symptoms of depression can be very disruptive to daily functioning, impairing job performance, parenting duties, academics, and relationships. If an individual is contemplating self-harming behavior such as a suicide it constitutes an urgent condition that should be acted on immediately. If no such acute event is present, then a visit to one’s medical primary care provider is a good first step. The doctor will conduct a thorough physical exam and order blood tests that will usually identify whether a medical condition is at the root of the depressive symptoms. If there is no related health problem, clinical intervention is appropriate.

Treatment of major depressive disorder follows a specific protocol involving antidepressants and psychotherapy:

Antidepressants. There are four categories of antidepressants on the market, including SSRIs, SNRIs, tricyclic antidepressants, and MAOIs. With about 30 different antidepressants available, the doctor will attempt to select the one that is best aligned for the patient’s specific diagnosis. There are various types of depressive disorders and each one may correspond to a particular type of antidepressant. Generally, antidepressants take about 4 weeks to begin alleviating the depression symptoms. It is common for a patient to trial 2 or 3 drugs before finding the right fit with the least side effects.

Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is prescribed alongside the antidepressants to provide an opportunity for the patient to work through any contributing emotional or psychological issues, such as grief and loss, a history of trauma or abuse, or relationship struggles. A therapist often employs the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in depression treatment, as this type of short-term therapy can help patients reshape their thought patterns toward more positive self-talk.

Holistic therapies. Complementary therapies can enhance the effects of the traditional therapies by helping the individual achieve a more relaxed and peaceful state of mind. Psychiatry has begun to add holistic therapies to the treatment plan, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, acupuncture, massage, gardening therapy, equine therapy, and art therapy.

Brain stimulation technology. Antidepressants are effective in up to 70% of depression patients, leaving a significant number of individuals in need of an alternative treatment route. One of the most promising alternative depression treatments is TMS therapy, a brain stimulation technology that helps normalize brain chemistry in the limbic region. TMS is usually prescribed for a 4-6 week period. TMS therapy is considered safe, with few side effects.

When a Higher Level of Care should be Considered

If chronic feelings of hopelessness are becoming concerning it is appropriate to seek a residential mental health program. Although feelings of despair are just temporary and will eventually pass, sometimes in the thick of if it may seem as if things will never change. This can cause some to consider harming themselves.

When this is the case, it is important to receive the highest level of mental health oversight. A residential mental health program will offer constant support and monitoring, as well as a more targeted approach to treating depression. The length of stay in a residential program is determined by the severity of the condition and whether there is a co-occurring substance use disorder. The residential setting provides a safe place to detach from daily life and focus all attention on getting well.

The residential rehab for depression treatment program will include a review of and adjustment of medications, intensive psychotherapy, and holistic activities. Treatment plans are individualized based on a careful intake process that includes psychological assessments, interviewing the individual, and reviewing mental health and medical history.

Moving Beyond Black or White Thinking

The mind is very powerful, with the potential to make substantive changes in our mental outlook and attitude. Negative, self-defeating thought patterns can keep us stuck in a hopeless place. Hopelessness involves thought patterns that are disordered. The individual suffering from depression might see their circumstances through a black or white lens; that nothing will ever improve if it hasn’t yet. These are the if-then thoughts—“If I don’t get that job then I will lose my home”—that limit our potential and trap us. These polarizing types of thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies, almost as if you are talking yourself into that dark corner of hopelessness.

In depression recovery it is important to soften the hard lines of these kinds of thoughts. Look for the gray area, or create it. Instead of thinking, “I feel hopeless,” why not shift that negative self-talk to something more constructive such as, “I might have felt hopeless lately, but I know that things will change eventually.” This small adjustment offers the reintroduction of the concept of hope, and hope is what gets us out of bed each morning. Instead of replaying that false narrative in your mind, the self-limiting story that you have convinced yourself is real, why not challenge that narrative? Break it down, analyze it, and then rewrite your story.

Be Kind to Yourself

Another aspect of depression recovery involves self-care. Depression can take a heavy toll on a person. Lack of sleep, fatigue, and unhealthy eating habits can leave us feeling depleted both physically and mentally. While in recovery, it is important to restore wellness by taking time to care for ourselves.

Getting daily exercise offers significant benefits to overall wellness. Physical activity produces the feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which can lead to elevated mood. Exercise also increases the production of certain neurotransmitters, serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, all which help regulate stress and improve mental wellbeing.

Another important aspect of self-care is getting quality sleep. Keeping a regular sleep schedule is key to regulating the circadian cycle for a quality night’s sleep. Always aim for a minimum of 7 hours, with 8 hours being optimal. To help achieve quality sleep, practice additional self-care activities such as taking a warm bath before bedtime, using lavender essential oil aromatherapy, and avoiding heavy meals and caffeine late in the day.

Indulge yourself occasionally with a therapeutic massage. Massage can help detoxify the body and lymphatic system while reducing muscle tension and stress. In addition, massage provides human touch and a sense of connection and comfort.

Feelings of hopelessness are transient, if we allow them to be. Instead of fixating on self-defeating thoughts, be kind to yourself and seek affirmations, comfort, and hope through the aid of holistic depression treatment.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Integrated Depression Treatment

Elevation Behavioral Health is a luxury residential mental health treatment center in Los Angeles County. Elevation Behavioral Health provides an intimate setting for individuals in need of a peaceful place to heal from depression. This mental health and wellness program for depression is based upon a foundation of proven therapeutic modalities, such as CBT and DBT. Added to that are holistic therapies, such as yoga, mindfulness training, and meditation, to offer a fully integrated approach for treating depression. If you find yourself stating, “I feel hopeless,” it is time to see the support compassionate therapists who can guide you toward wellness. For more information, please contact 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.

What are the early warning signs of psychosis

If you or a loved one is experiencing the signs of a psychotic episode it can be an extremely frightening experience. Psychosis refers to a loss of contact with reality, when perceptions are altered to the point that it is difficult to know what is real or a figment of the imagination. A psychotic break often constitutes an urgent psychiatric event that necessitates acute stabilization within a hospital setting.

Psychosis is a symptom of a mental or physical illness, trauma, or substance abuse, and not an illness itself. In most cases, there are symptoms that precede the psychotic episode. There might be gradual changes in the individual’s usual behavior or demeanor that foretell the onset of the psychosis. So, what are the early warning signs of psychosis?

What Are the Early Warning Signs of Psychosis?

In most cases, psychosis does not just appear out of the blue one day. There are certain warning signs, although non-specific at first that usually precede a psychotic episode or psychosis. These include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Inattentive to personal hygiene
  • Social withdrawal, isolating behaviors
  • Decline in functioning at work, at school, or in self care
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Feeling uneasy around others
  • Difficulty communicating thoughts
  • Having strong inappropriate emotions or no emotions at all
  • Fatigue, decreased motivation
  • Difficulty managing daily stress

While these symptoms are not necessarily specific to the onset of psychosis, they do provide an opportunity to see a doctor so further evaluation can be conducted. If wondering what are the early warning signs of psychosis, and recognizing them here in this list, it is appropriate to be assessed.

The next level of early warning signs of psychosis include:

  • Acquiring odd beliefs or expressing magical thinking. This can include claiming to experience déjà vu frequently, thinking that others can read their thoughts, or thinking that a dream is actually reality.
  • Being suspicious and mistrustful of even of friends, family members, teachers, thinking they are out to get you or are watching you
  • Going off on tangents in conversation, odd speech patterns, talking in circles, talking to self
  • Perceptual incongruence. This includes claiming to see shadow people, sounds seeming louder that usual

When these “attenuated” symptoms worsen over the course of a year there is a possibility that the person is at risk of developing psychosis.

Symptoms of Psychosis

While psychosis encompasses a wide range of symptoms, two primary characteristics define it. These include

Hallucinations: A hallucination is the experience of hearing, seeing, or feeling something that is not actually there. This can include hearing voices, seeing glimpses of people or objects that are not really there, or feeling strange sensations.

Delusions: Delusional thinking involves having strong convictions and beliefs that are inconsistent with the individual’s cultural identity, and are likely to be false. This includes such things as thinking some external power or force is controlling behaviors and thoughts, or that the individual him or herself has special powers, or believes that they are God.

Psychotic Disorders

When a mental health condition has psychosis as a primary symptom, it is then classified as a psychotic disorder. About 3.5% of the population will experience psychosis at some point, according to an article published in JAMA Psychiatry. Although psychotic disorders are among the most complex mental health disorders to treat, with a comprehensive approach to treatment, an individual with a psychotic disorder can learn to manage many of the symptoms in day-to-day life.

The different types of psychotic disorders include:

  • Schizophrenia, which may involve hearing or seeing things that are not there, delusional thoughts, erratic behavior, angry outbursts, moodiness.
  • Schizophreniform disorder is like schizophrenia but is a temporary disorder lasting one-six months in duration, and tends to affect teens and young adults.
  • Schizoaffective disorder, which combines features of schizophrenia with a mood disorder involving depressive or manic episodes.
  • Delusional disorder is characterized by false beliefs that the individual truly believes are true, such as thinking someone is out to murder you or your spouse is having an affair, for example, which lead to impairing behaviors.
  • Brief psychotic disorder is a short-lived disorder that is sometimes triggered by a traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one or a car accident that lasts less than one month.
  • Shared psychotic disorder is one that involves two people who both believe in a delusional situation, such as a husband and wife who both believe the same absurd delusion.
  • Substance induced psychotic disorder is the presence of hallucinations or delusions occurring as a withdrawal symptom for several drugs, including alcohol, LSD, opioids, cocaine, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, and PCP.

What Causes Psychosis?

Psychosis is still being studied therefore the exact cause of the condition is still unknown. However some factors are thought to increase the risk of developing psychosis, including:

  • Mental illness. Psychotic features are present among the mental health disordered listed above.
  • Health conditions. Some illnesses, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumors, strokes, HIV, and traumatic brain injuries may cause psychosis.
  • Substance abuse. Hallucinogenic substances such as LSD, marijuana, and PCP can cause psychotic reactions and may increase the risk of psychosis in some individuals. Amphetamines and some prescription medications can also have these side effects.
  • Trauma. Some traumatic events, such as a sudden death, sexual or physical assault, or military combat can possibly contribute to developing psychosis.

A psychotic episode or psychotic break refers to the onset of the prevailing symptoms of psychosis, such as delusions and hallucinations.

How is Psychosis Treated?

Treatment for psychosis is multidimensional. If the individual experiences a severe psychotic break, hospitalization will be necessary in order to subdue the individual with acute stabilization procedures. In this event, the patient is segregated from other patients and may need to be restrained initially to reduce the risk of harm to self or others.

Most individuals with the symptoms of psychosis will likely be treated through their mental health provider. Private practice interventions include medications, such as antipsychotic drugs. These include risperidone, olanzapine, ziprasidone, zotepine, sertindole, clozapine, aripiprazole, and amisulpride. These medications help to tame the overt symptoms of the condition.

The individual will also benefit from outpatient therapy that focuses on managing thoughts and behaviors. Psychotherapy might include cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and psychoeducation efforts.

Living with psychosis can be challenging, as it impacts relationships, daily functioning, and the quality of life. There are some specialized services available, such as Early Psychosis Intervention Clinic (EPIC) that can significantly improve functioning.

Residential Treatment for Mental Illness

If outpatient treatment options have not managed the symptoms adequately, or the symptoms continue to worsen, it is appropriate to consider a higher level of care. This becomes evident when the individual is struggling to perform even basic functions, has become isolated, has developed a co-occurring substance use disorder, or is vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, or suicide. Residential treatment provides the more intensive and targeted treatment protocols within a safe, structured setting.

Residential treatment encompasses the following interventions:

Medication management. Medication will be prescribed depending on the specific diagnosis. In many cases medication will include antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers. For some individuals with a psychotic disorder, these medications will necessary to help manage the disorder on a daily basis, and will likely be prescribed for a lifetime.

Psychotherapy. While in a residential treatment the individual will be involved in various types of psychotherapy. The focus for therapy involves helping the individual recognize irrational thoughts and behaviors and to replace those with healthy thought-behavior patterns. Types of psychotherapy suited for psychosis include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Cognitive enhancement therapy
  • Social recovery therapy

Family psychoeducation. Family-focused therapy can assist family members by guiding them toward forming healthy boundaries, learning more effective communication techniques, and generally teach the family how to resolve conflicts and solve problems together.

Holistic therapy. Holist therapies are often utilized as complementary treatment for psychosis or other mental health disorders with psychotic features. Activities such as yoga, mindfulness training, guided meditation, acupuncture, and massage therapy are helpful in controlling stress and promoting relaxation. Patients can learn how to initiate mindfulness exercises on their own at any time of day, which is helpful when sudden symptoms emerge.

There are intensive case management programs that offer community support and transitional housing to help individuals with a psychotic disorder to integrate back into the community following residential treatment. Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) is a treatment approach that uses a team of mental health professionals and specialists who help the individual in a variety of areas. Another approach that also provides assistance for individuals with mental illness is called Assertive Community Treatment (ACT). Services include:

  • Case management
  • Psychotherapy
  • Family support and medication
  • Support groups
  • Help with education and employment
  • Teach patients how to manage daily problems proactively
  • Help encourage patients to take their medications

CSC can offer someone a well-rounded source of adjunctive support over and above medication and psychotherapy for the best possible outcome for living with a psychotic disorder. Early detection and intervention will lead to a more positive clinical outcome, so if you or a loved one are experiencing the early or attenuated symptoms of psychosis, make an appointment with your doctor to be evaluated.

Elevation Behavioral Health Residential Mental Health Treatment

Elevation Behavioral Health is an upscale, private residential mental health treatment center serving Los Angeles, California. In this luxury, intimate setting, individuals experiencing psychosis will receive the most effective therapeutic interventions within a compassionate and nurturing environment. Elevation Behavioral treats all forms of mental health disorders, including psychotic disorders, using a proven integrated approach. If you are wondering what are the early warning signs of psychosis, contact our compassionate team at Elevation Behavioral today at (888) 561-0868.