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.

 

how to ask for help with depression

I’m fine, how are you?”

This reflexive response to the routine “How are you” question is many times a bold-faced lie. How much easier it seems in the moment to just lie about how we really are rather than deal with our own personal reality. We want to appear normal and happy as we walk through our days, hoping to just blend in and get our obligations checked off the list. Parenting…check. Work…check. Lunch with friend…check. Dinner with family…check. Day in and day out we resolutely put on a false front to detract from the bleak, gray mood that sits right beneath the surface.

Living with depression is incredibly exhausting, and trying to fake our way through the days only adds to the exhaustion. Ignoring the huge elephant in the room eventually takes its toll, however. No one can continuously suppress feelings of hopelessness and despair forever. Eventually, the piper must be paid.

Suicide rates are steadily rising across age groups and demographics. How many of those lives might have been saved had they been more open about their suffering? How many would have gotten help in their darkest hour? Sometimes just asking for someone to sit with you is all the help you might need in the moment, but too often loved ones are unaware of how dire the situation is because the person hesitated to reach out.

Knowing how to ask for help with depression is a learned skill. It requires a leap of faith, as the risk of appearing weak or damaged or crazy is very real. But taking that leap is necessary if we are to ever reclaim our quality of life and our ability to function at an optimal level. Learning how to ask for help with depression is, therefore, absolutely necessary to achieve a restoration of mental wellness and to once again experience joy.

10 Tips How to Ask for Help With Depression

The stigma surrounding mental health issues is one of the most difficult barriers to overcome when in need of help. To remove that barrier takes guts. Here are some helpful tips to help do exactly that, although they usually require vulnerability. Many will learn that exercising these suggestions can open doors and open hearts.

  1. Practice saying the words aloud in front of your mirror, while on a walk, or while driving: I don’t feel well. I am scared. I need to talk to someone. Just uttering these short phrases out loud can prepare you for actually communicating them with a friend or loved one. Practice them until they roll off the tongue.
  2. Don’t buy into the stigma. Resist believing that you are somehow flawed because you are experiencing depression. Understand that mental health is just one aspect of the human system, and is at least as important as our physical health. Acquire a new attitude about the importance of paying attention to mental wellness.
  3. Acknowledge when you are not coping well. The signs may be popping up at work where your productivity has been impacted or your low mood has coworkers worried about you. It could be showing up at home, where your ability to care for the kids or even make a meal is hindered by the depression.
  4. Ask someone for a referral. The idea of scouring pages and pages of mental health providers in your network may be simply overwhelming. Ask a trusted friend for the name of a therapist that they liked, or ask your primary care physician to recommend you to a psychiatrist that they refer their patients to.
  5. Once you find a mental health provider you may be afraid to take that first step. If you resist making the phone call and setting up a consultation, ask a spouse, family member, or trusted friend to sit with you while you make the call. Sometimes you just need some physical support to follow through.
  6. Ask a friend to come over. Even if you are not yet ready to take the next step and get help, having someone in your court is essential. A trusted friend who you feel comfortable sharing with can provide the opening to revealing what is really going on with you. Just invite the friend for a visit and be willing to be real with them.
  7. Get informed. If you suspect you are suffering from clinical depression it can be very helpful to get educated about the diagnostic criteria for this mental health challenge. Go online and read up on the signs of depression and the treatment options. Knowledge is power. Once you recognize yourself in the description of depressive disorder it may be easier to reach out to a doctor.
  8. Know your own limits. We may try to tough out the difficult chapters in life on our own. Many are resistant to asking for help, thinking it is a sign of weakness. But acknowledging the signs of distress—impairment in daily functioning, ignoring hygiene, excessive absences from work, and sleep disturbance—is a call to action. Be aware of your inability to cope and get help.
  9. Join a support group. Maybe you are already being treated for depression and it appears to be escalating. Your mental health provider can refer you to a support group where individuals come together to discuss their challenges with depression and offer mutual support. These participants will recognize your need for a more intensive treatment protocol or even hospitalization if you are suicidal.
  10. Write a letter. Sometimes verbally describing the illness is too daunting. The thought of sitting in front of someone and sharing about the dark aspects of depression can be simply impossible. Try expressing your pain in a letter or email to a trusted friend or family member. Writing can allow for more openness than face-to-face conversation, especially regarding something so sensitive and personal.

Diagnosing Depression

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

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or despair
  • Loss of interest in pleasure or activities once enjoyed
  • Mood swings
  • Irrational feelings of guilt or shame
  • Feelings of hopelessness or despair
  • Slowed cognitive and motor functions
  • Sudden weight gain or loss
  • Sleep disturbances, insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Irritability
  • Unable to concentrate or make decisions
  • Suicidal ideation

The psychiatrist may use screening tools to help in diagnosing the depression, such as the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) or the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). A physical exam can help rule out a medical condition or medications as the cause of the depression symptoms. Such health conditions might include diabetes, heart disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, lupus, and multiple sclerosis (MS).

Different Types of Depression

There are different forms of depression within the depression spectrum, each with unique features, including:

  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) (see above symptoms)
  • Dysthymia (Persistent Depression Disorder). This is a type of MDD that persists for more than two years. Someone with dysthymia may experience periods of severe depression alternating with periods of milder depression, but no relief of the depressive symptoms for two years or more.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder. A severe form of PMS that features extreme mood swings, sadness, irritability, and anger.
  • Psychotic Depression. This involves MDD with psychotic features. The individual may experience delusional thoughts or hallucinations in addition to the symptoms of depression. There may be a theme for the illness, such as revolving around a serious illness or poverty, for example.
  • Postpartum Depression. Some women experience serious symptoms of MDD during and/or after giving birth. The symptoms may be so severe that the mother is unable to care for her child, or themselves, and often experience severe fatigue, exhaustion, and anxiety in addition to the profound sadness.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In certain climates individuals may experience symptoms of MDD that are caused by a lack of sun exposure during the winter months, which can lead to a vitamin D deficiency. The individual may experience weight gain, hypersomnia, and isolation behaviors in addition to the symptoms of depression.
  • Bipolar Disorder. This disorder features alternating dramatic and unpredictable shifts between depressive and manic moods. The low mood episodes can last days or weeks.

 

Comprehensive Depression Treatment

When someone experiences feeling lost and depressed to the point that his or her daily functioning is impaired, it is essential that they learn how to ask for help with depression. Depression is highly treatable and should never be ignored. Attempting to ride out the depression may lead to their symptoms worsening, reducing their quality of life, and even risking suicide.

Depression treatment focuses on modulating brain chemistry through the use of antidepressants, and learning new thought/behavior patterns through the interventions of a psychotherapist. Complementary activities round out the treatment protocol:

  • Medication. There are about 30 antidepressants on the market for treating depression, each varying slightly in how they function in the brain. Often, there is a need to trial a few different drugs before the best fit is determined.
  • Psychotherapy. Psychotherapy modalities are selected based on the specific issues underlying the depression. Psychodynamic therapy is a longer-term approach that delves into childhood issues that might be factors in the depression, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help the patient identify irrational thinking that leads to depressive symptoms. There are also exposure therapies for helping those with depression is related to a trauma.
  • Holistic. Incorporating regular exercise, a healthy diet, and stress reduction activities, such as yoga and mindfulness meditation, can enhance the clinical results.

Elevation Behavioral Health Leading Residential Mental Health Center in Los Angeles

Elevation Behavioral Health is a luxury residential mental health program featuring an intimate, home-like environment. Elevation Behavioral treats all forms of mental health disorders, including all types of depression, using a proven integrated approach. If you are struggling with depression, contact our compassionate team at Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

 

is burnout a mental illness

Anyone who has experienced job burnout knows it is awful, but is burnout a mental illness? According to the newest revisions to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Classification of Diseases, or ICD-11, burnout is new recognized officially as a “syndrome.” This has the condition falling into the realm of mental health concerns without officially labeling it as a mental illness. As a syndrome, burnout could result in a mental illness.

This new designation is a welcome one, as it now offers individuals suffering from workplace burnout something they can’t point to in order to explain their symptoms. As workplace pressures continue to escalate, employers need to address the conditions that might contribute to burnout and find workable solutions. This might mean integrating wellness breaks into the workday, such as providing yoga classes or guided meditation. Other solutions might address better time management, prioritizing of projects, and ways to streamline emails and other time zappers.

Employees are at their peak performance when a healthy life-work balance exists. The fast-paced, ever changing workplace cultures of today can make achieving that balance very challenging. But companies that make their employee’s mental health a top priority will benefit with a more productive, positive work environment.

What is Burnout?

It is understood that most every job description involves a certain amount of drudgery or an occasional sense of being overwhelmed by demands. Tasks that revolve around mind-numbing, rote, and often boring functions that sap energy and decrease job satisfaction. When the weight of these mundane tasks begins to prevent someone from completing their core job functions in a given workday, long hours, weekends, and disruption of private time can ensue. Not only are these functions providing no personal growth or financial gain, but they are demanding so much time that pressure just continues to build when attempting to keep up with the workload.

The opposite situation can also lead to workplace burnout. Some bosses pile on so much demanding work that performing to expectations feels impossible. Maybe the skills required to successfully complete projects have not been adequately taught, leaving the employee feeling completely stressed and incompetent.

Burnout is the physical and mental exhaustion that results from keeping up with relentless routines for an extended period of time. Work-related projects then bleed into personal family time, which then prevent the employee from engaging in the activities and hobbies they enjoy in their time off. This is where work-life balance becomes skewed, as the demands of the job exceed the rewards and little time is available for pleasure.

Signs of Burnout

When chronic workplace stress causes frayed nerves, anxiety, and intense fatigue, is it any wonder that one might wonder is burnout a mental illness. In a way, yes, burnout is a mental illness, although not yet defined as a mental health disorder in the DSM-5. As a syndrome, burnout has the ingredients that can evolve into an anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder. The symptoms of burnout include:

  • Depletion of energy, fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of detachment toward job
  • Somatic symptoms, such as chronic digestive issues, headache, or physical weakness
  • Reduced work performance
  • Negative emotions such as cynicism or hostility towards job, management, fellow coworkers
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Stress on relationships
  • Substance abuse

Feeling overworked and stressed out is a normal part of being a working adult. But when there is no relief and one’s personal health and mental wellness begins to suffer, burnout then becomes a very real possibility. When burnout occurs, the individual may no longer have any energy left to give. They may feel indifferent and detached and basically stop caring.

How Burnout Can Lead to Serious Mental Health Conditions

Back in the day, when someone had reached maximum burnout and completely melted down it was termed a “nervous breakdown.” Is burnout a mental illness? No, but left unchecked burnout can have dangerous consequences, both psychological and physical. This is due to the perpetually elevated levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, keeping the person in a constant state of fight or flight and reducing immunity to illness. Over time, it may reach a critical peak that can result in the following conditions:

  • Depression. Someone who is burned out can become listless, sad, hopeless, and detached. Other depression symptoms include changes in sleeping and eating habits, fatigue, irritability, difficulty making decisions, and suicidal thinking.
  • Anxiety. Generalized anxiety disorder features feelings of being out of control while experiencing excess fear, worry, or dread. Anxiety also features insomnia, palpitations, sweating, shallow breathing, restlessness, and racing thoughts.
  • Sleep disorders. Hypersomnia, or excessive sleeping and insomnia, or an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, can have significant adverse mental health effects, as well as negatively impact physical health and wellbeing.
  • Coronary heart disease. A large study out of Israel followed 8,800 employees for over 3 years. They found that among those who scored in the top 20% of the, 79% had an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

What Causes Burnout?

Anyone can go through difficult stretches in their career when expectations and demands were so high that the workload and stress burden seems unsurmountable. However, some people have particular personality traits that may make them more susceptible to workplace burnout. They are, in a way, prewired for burnout. These traits include:

  • Perfectionism. Some individuals set such a high standard for excellence that they can place an inordinate amount of undue stress upon themselves. The added stress of constantly striving for perfection throughout the workday can result in burnout.
  • Unwilling to delegate. A desire to control the outcome of every task and assignment can result in an unwillingness to let go and trust the team’s abilities to help manage various aspects of the projects. This means the individual is perpetually engaged in every step of an assignment which can lead to burnout.
  • Being a martyr. Some employees may sacrifice their health or mental wellness for the sake of being a high performer who delivers results. This means that their lives revolve around the adulation and positive strokes of work, and that they will throw themselves on the sword to make sure everything is successfully completed on time. These individuals also ignore self-care and work-life balance
  • Poor time management skills. Undeveloped organizational skills can lead to wasted time in completing tasks. Not prioritizing can allow mundane activities to swallow up vast amounts of time leaving insufficient time for getting the higher-level tasks completed on time.

How to Prevent Burnout and Manage Stress

Being cognizant of the dangers of slipping into burnout means having a healthy respect for maintaining balance in life. This means being proactive about how your time is spent and protecting wellness by establishing healthy boundaries. Many well-meaning supervisors are simply not aware of the pressures they are placing on staff members or that the tools for them to succeed have not been provided. Employees need to understand that it it falls on them to communicate openly with supervisors regarding the nees for support or tools that will allow them to succeed.

Burnout prevention can involve the following actions:

  • A change of perspective. Instead of seeing work demands as impossible to complete, view them as challenges to embrace and conquer. Ask yourself how you can shift a negative attitude toward one of positive productivity.
  • Prioritize self-care. In the whirlwind of life, no one will carve out opportunities for self-care for a person. It falls directly on each individual to incorporate wellness activities and balance into the workweek.
  • Have outlets for stress. It is essential to have a network of support in one’s life, whether that is a spouse, a best friend, a support group, or a therapist. These individuals can provide a safe place to vent and share frustrations, while acquiring helpful tips for better managing stress.
  • Identify time-wasters. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies when it comes to feeling overwhelmed. Over use of social media during the workday, spending too much time socializing at work, or refusing to delegate routine tasks all sap time that could better be used towards productive endeavors.

Treatment for Burnout

When stress levels remain perpetually high and daily functioning becomes impaired, it is important to seek out the professional help needed to reclaim wellness and balance in life. Depending on the degree of burnout or whether there is a mental health disorder involved, the individual has the option of receiving treatment in an outpatient setting or a residential setting. Generally, the longer the mental health disorder has endured, and the more it has impaired functioning, a residential program offers the best venue for treatment. An outpatient approach is fine when the problem is less entrenched.

Treatment for burnout can involve the following elements:

  • Psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) provides a short-term evidence-based approach that helps the individual examine dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns that lead to burnout.
  • Medication. In some cases, antidepressants or sedatives may be warranted for helping to managing the symptoms of burnout or accompanying depression or anxiety.
  • Addiction treatment. When excessive stress and burnout has resulted in a substance use disorder the individual will benefit from progressing through a dual diagnosis addiction recovery program.
  • Holistic therapy. Learning how to regulate stress is integral to treatment for burnout. These activities include deep breathing, yoga, meditation, massage, and other relaxation inducing activities.

Elevation Behavioral Health Treats Burnout and Related Mental Health Disorders

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Los Angeles-based residential wellness center that offers a diverse array of customized therapies for individuals suffering from burnout. The intimate, private residential program offers luxury accommodations and amenities in a highly desirable setting. The expert psychiatric staff provides the best blend of evidence-based therapies and holistic therapies to guide the individual back to a balanced state of wellness. For questions, such as is burnout a mental illness or more information about the program, please contact our team at (888) 643-7135.

 

 

how to stop self destructive behavior

Men and women who carry out self destructive behavior demonstrate the habit over and over again without repose. These behaviors include every aspect of life, from work to family to romantic relationships; the list literally goes on forever. These behaviors have negative impacts on their lives, which serves them with rejection, disappointment, and failure to find happiness. Subsequently, the ramifications of these self destructive behaviors form a downward spiral to various levels of suffering. The unintended consequences of such behavior have negative impacts not just for the victim themselves, but also for those around them. Each behavior can be stacked on another and lead to a complex layering of social dysfunction.

Often, the individuals suffering from these routines or involuntary behaviors are aware of the situation, but are either unwilling or unable to rectify the urge to self-sabotage. Sometimes the behaviors themselves have a positive feeling, but that feeling eventually degrades over time. This may lead to the individual seeking more damaging behaviors to fill the void of the initial issue that started it all. How to stop self destructive behavior becomes important when it reaches a level that threatens safety, well-being, or life in general. That is why it is important to understand the generation of such self-defeating rituals and what they are.

Signs of Self Destructive Behavior

How to stop self destructive behavior? First, you must identify those behaviors, so you can deal with them accordingly. These include:

  • Self Mutilation or Injury (NSSI)
  • Substance Misuse or Abuse
  • Alcoholism
  • Vaping or Smoking
  • Eating Disorder (IE: Bulimia, Anorexia)
  • Hermit Syndrome
  • Abusive Relationship Seeking
  • Cell Phone/Tablet Addiction
  • Gambling
  • Unsafe Sexual Practices
  • Sleep Escapism
  • Suicide Attempts
  • Violence Towards Others

Many of these behaviors tend to appear together or replace each other when going untreated. Addictions form and patterns emerge that cause pain and suffering for those afflicted. Many times, these signs are hidden in plain sight under social conventions that are considered acceptable in society. For instance, social drinking or smoking can seem harmless from the casual observer, but might be a gateway into more harmful behaviors.

The Environment Becomes Us

Human beings are complex animals with intricate social, cultural, and religious traditions, which are triggered, shaped, and exploited by mechanisms of an economic system. The environmental pressures and stresses truly impact the development of human beings throughout their lives. Often, the human psyche is too weak to thwart the advancement of pressures in advertising and social networks. These networks include childhood groups, cliques, and teams, as well as family and work relationships. Everyone is pulling and picking at everyone else in some form or another, which is why peer pressure can trigger certain behaviors early in development.

How to stop self destructive behavior that originates in childhood is one of the first aspects that must be addressed. Many studies suggest that adults that suffer from self destructive behavior and habits have histories of childhood trauma in their early developmental years and throughout adolescence. These moments of disruption, chaos, or even abuse build the foundation of poor choices and bad habits. Verbal, physical, and sexual abuse contribute to the likelihood of severe outcomes for those involved, which may include life threatening, self-harming types of behaviors. Issues will also arise due to neglect or psychological abuse by parents or guardians, which may be another source of these negative behaviors. This is why it is important for family, teachers, and neighbors to intervene when these problems become apparent. Society, as a whole, must take responsibility for everyone in the community rather than just themselves if we are truly to tackle these social ills.

Changing the environment is usually helpful when dealing with issues that may be triggered or enhanced by a place where these behaviors originated. This sometimes means taking drastic measures and removing the individual from the environment that created the original trauma. It is necessary to retreat from negative spaces that contain triggers and enabling factors, so one can separate from the places the toxic behavior manifests. Safe spaces or even places of solitude should be considered when dealing with behavior issues.

Meditation and Mindfulness as Treatment

If you struggle with self destructive behaviors, the practice of mindfulness meditation has the potential to release the sufferer from the attachment to the behavior. The process of detaching oneself and perceiving your actions with a nonjudgmental attitude creates a shift in perspective. This perspective can lead a person to discover themselves as the object of awareness, rather than a victim of an experience. Taking this step back, this practice can remove the ego and replace it with a sense of observation that can be used to dismantle the negative behaviors that have taken over the individual. This newly acquired and practiced discipline, if harnessed, can have life changing results.

There are other aspects of mindfulness involving diet and exercise that can help pull the afflicted from the behaviors by replacing the old routines with new, healthier ways. Yoga and exercise in general can stimulate healthy endorphin production that can ease the transition away from the unhealthy emotional chemical dependencies. Adding swimming to someone’s routine can also promote a state of equilibrium and renewal. Bringing fresh and nutritious fruits and vegetables to one’s diet can also help reinforce the transition with necessary vitamins and fiber for a healthy gut biome. The gut biome is very important in the production of amino acids and other building blocks of a healthy immune system that promotes general well-being.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Self Destructive Behavior Programs

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Los Angeles-based residential recovery program that offers behavior corrective services and comprehensive trauma and self harm treatments for individuals with destructive behaviors ranging from substance abuse to suicidal tendencies. Our luxury accommodations in beautiful and serene settings help provide a comfortable and healing environment while patients engage in comprehensive treatment programs geared towards their recovery.  For more information about the program, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 643-7135.

constant panic attacks

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

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

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

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

About Panic Disorder

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

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

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

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

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

What Causes Panic Disorder?

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

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

Treatment for Panic Disorder

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

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

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

Treatment elements for panic disorder include:

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

Holistic Methods for Managing Anxiety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Manage a Panic Attack

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

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

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Residential and Outpatient Treatment for Panic Disorder

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

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

signs of mania bipolar

Hypomania and mania represent the manic episodes that come with bipolar disorder. While the signs of mania bipolar may at first seem to be a pleasant diversion from the dark depressive episodes that represent the opposite side of the disorder, the manic phase can also be destabilizing and self-destructive. The feelings of invincibility can lead to delusions of grandeur that result in behaviors that are regretted once the manic episode subsides.

People with undiagnosed bipolar disorder will find its symptoms disruptive to all areas of their life. The extreme mood swings will not only impact one’s career, relationships, and psychological wellbeing, but can also affect anyone closely associated with the individual. The signs of mania bipolar can result in family financial problems, incomplete work projects that affect coworkers, and dangerous behavior that can result in injury to others.

Diagnosis of the disorder will begin the process of treating these disruptive symptoms and thereby improve daily functioning. Managing the bipolar disorder will involve ongoing therapy and medication. By adhering to the treatment plan, and continuing to work on psychosocial skills, individuals with bipolar disorder are able to live a productive, fulfilling life.

About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, formerly referred to as manic-depressive disorder, is a mood disorder that involves intense mood shifts, alternating between manic and depressive episodes. The depressive episodes feature feelings of sadness, fatigue, loss of interest, slowed movements, changes in eating and sleeping habits, and suicidal ideation. The manic episodes feature extremely elevated mood, lack of sleep, loss of appetite, impulsive or risky behaviors, and excessive talking.

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

Bipolar I: The individual experiences both manic and depressive episodes that vary in length, but at least one manic episode that includes psychotic features must last seven days or longer for diagnosis. 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. Hypomania is a less severe 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: This classification involves abnormal mood disorder symptoms that do not fit a specific pattern.

What are the Signs of Mania Bipolar?

The manic episodes involved in bipolar disorder are characterized by an intensely elevated mood state. A manic episode may last a few hours or several days, and may involve psychotic symptoms. The signs of mania bipolar include:

  • Abundant energy
  • Intense euphoria
  • Racing thoughts
  • Excessive talking, rapid speech
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating or staying on task
  • Highly distracted by multiple stimuli
  • Impulsivity
  • Feelings of grandiosity
  • Restlessness
  • Disjointed thoughts
  • Intensified senses, light, sounds, colors
  • Engage in risky behaviors
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia

People experiencing mania may require hospitalization if symptoms include psychosis, or when episodes last several days.

How to Manage the Signs of Mania Bipolar?

When a manic episode ensues the individual may find their symptoms getting out of control. Abnormal energy levels may prevent someone from completing assignments at school or work. Exaggerated self-esteem may come off as a sense of superiority, and seen as off-putting to coworkers and friends. Minimal sleep over several days can impact health and wellness. Impulsive behavior can result in high risk situations that lead to injury or damages.

When the symptoms of a manic episode emerge there may be a very short window to proactively manage the oncoming slate of symptoms. Seeking out the help of a support system and reaching out to one’s doctor or therapist can help prevent an episode from becoming full-fledged. Better yet is taking the steps prior to seeing the signs of an upcoming manic episode. These proactive steps might include:

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Learn how to manage stress using relaxation techniques
  • Adhere to medication
  • Continue with outpatient therapy

How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

Treatment for bipolar disorder will involve a combination of medication and psychotherapy. In more severe cases, electroconvulsive shock therapy (ECT) may be utilized. Holistic activities, such as taking yoga, getting regular exercise, mindfulness training, and maintaining a healthy diet can also be beneficial for individuals with bipolar disorder.

Medications: Depending on the class of bipolar disorder the medications may include antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers

Psychotherapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most 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 the change the destructive thought patterns. In addition to CBT, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy and family-focused therapy are helpful as well.

When the symptoms of bipolar disorder are not improving through outpatient mental healthcare, it may indicate that more intensive approach is warranted. A residential program offers more focused and integrative interventions in an environment that is free of the usual triggers or stressors that can result in the mood swings. This allows the clinical team to give the individual more targeted and individualized attention that can benefit them significantly after they complete the program.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Luxury Residential Mental Health Services

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

 

hair pulling anxiety disorder

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

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

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

What is Hair Pulling Anxiety Disorder?

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

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

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

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

Symptoms of Trichotillomania

The signs and symptoms of hair pulling anxiety disorder include:

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

What Causes Hair Pulling Anxiety Disorder?

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

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

Treatment for Trichotillomania

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

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

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

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

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

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