So Depressed Can't Function

Anyone who has ever suffered through a bout of intense, prolonged depression can attest to how depleted it makes you feel. In what seems like an instant, you are reduced to a shadow of yourself, so depressed, can’t function, and unable to accomplish even the most mundane tasks. Depression is a potent, often complex mental health disorder that can take even the most high-functioning adults right down into that dark rabbit hole of despair.

Eventually, the effects of the major depressive episode will touch all aspects of life. Coworkers will complain that you are not pulling your weight, significant others will feel they are being neglected, and your general health will begin to suffer as well. Depression is a serious mental illness that should not be ignored.

Crawling out of that rabbit hole takes effort, something you might not feel you have the ability to muster up. But with expert psychiatric intervention, treatment compliance, and lots of patience, daily functioning will be restored along with your quality of life.

What Causes Depression?

Why do some people manage to cycle through emotional setbacks, such as loss and grief, divorce or relationship breaking up, job loss, or financial devastation, while others get stuck and sink deeper and deeper into the grip of clinical of depression? Science is still unclear about the exact cause of major depression. Clinical studies are going, seeking answers through the study of brain chemistry, gut health, and genetic markers.

There are, however, some identified factors that can contribute to the development of depression. These include:

  • Genetics. Family members who also struggle with depression is a strong indicator that you may also.
  • Abuse. Past history of physical or sexual abuse
  • Trauma. Witnessing or experiencing a highly traumatic event
  • Loss. Sudden unexpected loss of a loved one
  • Medical conditions. Certain health issues such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, thyroid conditions, multiple sclerosis, HIV, and stroke
  • Medications. Certain drugs list depression as a side effect
  • Personality. Coping skills and personality type
  • Substance abuse. Depression can coexist with alcohol or drug addiction

The Symptoms of Depression

When you notice that you are so depressed, can’t function at even the routine daily tasks in a given day, you may indeed be experiencing a major depressive episode. According to the DSM-5, when the following symptoms (a cluster of five or more) persist for more than two weeks it is indicative of major depressive disorder. The symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of sadness and despair persisting most of the time
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Slowed motor and cognitive functioning
  • Sleep dysfunction, either hypersomnia or insomnia
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Loss of interest in things once enjoyed
  • Inappropriate feelings of guilt or shame
  • Difficulty in concentrating or making decisions
  • Persistent thoughts of dying or suicidal ideation

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide along with at least four other symptoms for more than two weeks, you should seek professional psychiatric support as soon as possible.

How is Depression Treated?

When someone is feeling so depressed, can’t function, and is becoming hopeless, all they care about is getting better. Becoming whole again. The traditional treatment protocol for major depression includes a combination of antidepressant drug therapy and psychotherapy. The medication can help stabilize or adjust serotonin levels in the brain chemistry, although several drugs may have to be trialed before finding the one that is most effective in minimizing depression symptom and side effects that are tolerable.

Psychotherapy modalities are selected based on the underlying issues. There are exposure therapies for helping those who have experienced trauma, psychodynamic therapy is a deeper dive into childhood issues that might have set up the depression, and cognitive behavioral therapy can help the patient identify irrational thinking that leads to maladaptive behaviors.

Adjunctive therapies are a valuable component of depression therapy as well. TMS therapy uses magnetic fields to stimulate underactive brain cells common in depression patients. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) can assist with trauma-based depression. Holistic therapies, such as mindfulness training, can help individuals can help reduce stress and promote relaxation by shifting thoughts from negative ruminating toward being in the present moment.

Lifestyle changes are also an important element in treating depression. Getting regular exercise helps produce endorphins and dopamine, natural mood enhancers. A healthy diet that is high in lean proteins, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and fresh vegetables and fruits is also beneficial to overall mood.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Comprehensive Depression Treatment

Elevation Behavioral Health is a residential mental health program based in Los Angeles. At Elevation, our dedicated clinical staff treats each patient with dignity and respect as we partner with them to help alleviate the symptoms of depression. Using an integrated approach that involves both traditional and experiential treatment elements, Elevation has helped many individuals segue from being so depressed can’t function toward restoring a fully functioning life. For more information about our residential program, please connect with Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

anxiety makes me feel like i am losing my mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

Different Types of Anxiety Disorders

The anxiety spectrum of disorders includes:

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

How to Manage Anxiety

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

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

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

Holistic Therapies That Help Manage Stress

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

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

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Effective Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

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

trauma counseling

A traumatic experience can remain deeply troubling for a period of time, impacting daily life and overall wellness. Having witnessed or personally experienced a traumatic event may leave psychological wounds and a heightened sense of emotional arousal that can cause impaired functioning, ill health, or relationship problems. While most people who experience trauma will eventually process the fallout, some may go on to develop pot-traumatic stress disorder, a prolonged and more severe form of trauma disorder.

Trauma counseling is a key element in the process of healing after experiencing a shocking or distressing event. A trauma therapist is trained to use specialized therapies that help take the edge off the traumatic memory, allowing the individual to become less sensitive to the memories of it, or the people, places, or situations that may trigger the memories. Trauma counseling, and adjunctive therapies that compliment the counseling, allow the individual to gradually move forward in their lives.

Trauma Defined

So how is a trauma different from any other upsetting event? A traumatic event tends to cause an intense psychological response when the individual feels they are in a dangerous or life-threatening situation. Traumatic events might include a natural disaster, military combat, a serious car accident, a violent physical or sexual assault, or the sudden unexpected death of a close loved one. Trauma often makes the individual feel a loss of control over their safety.

Signs of Trauma Disorder

Living through a traumatic event can shake someone to the core. Trauma symptoms include:

  • Shock
  • Anger
  • Denial
  • Mood swings
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia or sleep disturbance
  • Persistent feelings of sadness and despair
  • Headache, intestinal problems
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Emotional detachment
  • Feeling isolated
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Trust issues
  • Loss of interest in usual sources of enjoyment, withdrawing from friends and family
  • Substance abuse

What Is Trauma Counseling and How Does It Work?

When an individual is struggling to overcome the effects of the trauma to a point where it is negatively impacting daily functioning and quality of life, it is appropriate to seek treatment. Goals of overcoming trauma include reclaiming one’s personal power, to shift focus from the past to the present, and to reduce the impact that the trauma has on one moving forward.

Mental health professionals use a variety of modalities to help individuals overcome the intense effects of the trauma. These might include:

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  TFCBT is designed for helping individuals overcome trauma by reshaping the thoughts associated with the trauma that led to the negative emotions and behaviors. By helping the trauma victim express their feelings about the experience, the therapist will show them how those thoughts have led to withdrawal, guilt, loneliness, anxiety, etc. By encouraging the individual to examine the negative thoughts and reframe them in a more productive manner, the trauma loses potency.

Psychodynamic Therapy. This is a longer-term therapy that delves into childhood experiences and how they may relate to issues in their adult life. The insights gained during psychodynamic therapy can help the individual develop a new perspective on those childhood experiences, as well as dysfunctional adult interpersonal relationships, how to rise above them and not allow them to negatively impact their present daily life anymore.

Exposure Therapy. This is a short-term behavioral therapy that helps individuals become less sensitive to the memories or triggers of the trauma. By encouraging discussion of the event and gradually exposing them to the triggers within a safe environment, the impact is gradually reduced over time. This helps with the avoidance behaviors they may have acquired following the trauma.

Adjunctive Therapies for Treating Trauma

In addition to the various traditional psychotherapies used, there are some excellent alternative therapies that compliment and augment those therapies. These include:

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is a type of therapy that helps individuals by desensitizing them to the disturbing memories of the trauma. EMDR is an 8-phase program that focuses on the past, present, and future. The therapist will have the client follow an object or finger back and forth with their eyes while discussing the disturbing memory, the related emotions and beliefs, which has the effect of reducing the impact of the trauma over the course of the sessions.

Neurofeedback. Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback where the individual’s brain wave patterns and activity can be modified through a computer software program, training the individual to be calmer when thoughts of the trauma arise.

Holistic Activities. Holistic practices can help promote relaxation while reducing stress, which can help in the response to thoughts of the trauma. Managing stress through deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, guided imagery, yoga, massage therapy, and acupuncture can benefit the individual as they heal from the trauma.

When a Higher Level of Care is Appropriate for Trauma Disorder

When efforts to relieve the symptoms of trauma are not successful using outpatient services, it may be necessary to consider a higher level of care. Individuals whose trauma disorder is seriously impacting their daily life and their relationships may benefit from a more focused approach at a residential treatment center. This safe, supportive setting allows the individual to fully focus on getting better without the daily distractions and triggers that have so far impeded that effort. Customized treatment plans will provide the most tailored, intensive treatment approach to healing from the traumatic event and getting one’s life back.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Trauma Counseling in a Residential Setting

Elevation Behavioral Health is a residential mental health program in Los Angeles, California. Trauma victims who have not yet been able to move through the residual emotional pain find that the safe, supportive setting of a residential program helps them heal. Leaving the reminders or triggers of the trauma by residing at Elevation Behavioral Health for a period, patients find much needed solace. Individualized treatment plans incorporate a combination of relevant interventions to allow patients to move past the painful memories and regain control over their lives within a compassionate environment. For more information about trauma counseling and treatment options, please reach out to Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

difference between bipolar and manic depression

When wondering what is the difference between bipolar and manic depression it can be a bit confusing. These two terms are still used interchangeably, leaving the impression that they are two distinct mental health disorders. In reality, manic depression is the same disorder as bipolar disorder, but happens to be an outdated label. In 1980, the DSM-3 officially reclassified this particular disorder as bipolar disorder.

Individuals who struggle with bipolar disorder understand why it was once called manic-depressive disorder, as it manifests itself with features of both clinical depression and mania or hypomania. There are different degrees of severity of the disorder, leading to a total of four types of bipolar disorder to be listed in the DMS-5. Since there is no difference between bipolar and manic depression, let’s push past the labeling and talk about bipolar disorder.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health disorder that is considered a “mood disorder,” and features extreme shifts between moods and energy levels. Someone with this challenging condition may find that it can impair daily functioning, career stability, and relationships. According to Mental Health America, approximately 3.3 million adults in the U.S. struggle with this mental health disorder in any given year.

The intensive mood swings between mania and depression can be very disruptive in daily life, although there may be long periods of calm that separate these mood shifts. While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, there are methods and medications that help individuals manage the symptoms and enjoy a productive life. In most cases, bipolar disorder is first diagnosed in the teen years or early adulthood, although there are cases of it being diagnosed in later years as well.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

To date, science has not yet been able to identify the exact cause of bipolar disorder. However, there are strong indications that there is a genetic component, as chances of developing the disorder are enhanced if a close family member has the condition. But even so, when studying identical twins there may be one twin with the disorder and the other who never develops it.

It is also thought that particular features in brain structure might predispose someone to bipolar disorder, especially in light of traumatic events or intensely stressful life events that might trigger a bipolar episode.

What Are the Symptoms of Mania?

The symptoms of mania include:

  • Very little sleep
  • Easily distracted
  • Irritability
  • Excessive energy, hyperactivity
  • Intense euphoria
  • Overly ambitious undertakings
  • Exercising poor judgment
  • Impulsivity
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Aggression
  • Psychosis

Hypomania is a less severe form of mania, with symptoms lasting four days or more but which do not cause severe impairment in daily functioning as mania does.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

The symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent sadness, feelings of despair
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in weight
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Physical symptoms such as chronic digestive problems or headaches
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Suicidal ideation

Types of Bipolar Disorder

When an individual is being evaluated for bipolar disorder they will first undergo a physical exam to rule out any medical reason for the symptoms. Then using the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria and various assessments, the mental health practitioner can pinpoint the specific type of bipolar disorder According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness there are four types of bipolar disorder. These include:

Bipolar I. Bipolar I disorder involves one or more manic episodes, with or without depressive episodes occurring. The mania must be severe enough that hospitalization is required and last a week or longer.

Bipolar II. Bipolar II disorder is characterized by the shifting between the less severe hypomanic episodes and depressive episodes.

Cyclothymic disorder. Cyclothymic disorder involves chronic mood shifts between depressive and hypomanic lasting more than two years. There may be periods of normal mood as well, but those periods last less than 8 weeks.

Unspecified bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder not otherwise specified is present when the symptoms do not fit the other three diagnoses, but still involve episodes of unusual manic mood.

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

While there is no difference between bipolar and manic depression labeling, both the mania and the depression must be managed. Once the particular type of bipolar disorder is diagnosed, a treatment protocol will be created for the individual. In most cases, a combination of medication and psychotherapy is the first line of treatment. For those who have bipolar I, admission into a residential treatment program or hospitalization is the appropriate level of care.

Medication: Psychotropic medications are prescribed according to the predominant features of the bipolar disorder. These may include antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and anti-psychotic medication.

Psychotherapy: Talk therapy and group therapy helps individuals process the disruption that their bipolar disorder causes in daily life and find solutions for managing relationships and other stressors better. CBT can assist the individual with shifting pessimistic thoughts that drives irrational behaviors to more optimistic thinking.

Family-focused therapy: Stress that is a common feature within families when a member has bipolar disorder can undermine recovery. This involves helping family members learn to communicate better, practice better problem solving skills, and manage anger and conflicts more effectively.

Stress-management: Teaching individuals with bipolar disorder to better manage their stress level is intrinsic to a positive outcome. These methods include deep breathing, yoga, and mindfulness training.

Medical detox and addiction treatment for dual diagnosis: Substance use disorders often co-occur with bipolar disorder. If so, the individual will benefit from detox and addiction treatment in addition to the targeted treatment for bipolar disorder.

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Leading Provider of Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Elevation Behavioral Health is a residential mental health program that treats individuals with bipolar disorder. What sets Elevation Behavioral Health apart from other residential programs is its “elevation” of treatment interventions to a more focused and comprehensive level of intensity. At Elevation Behavioral Health, patients find themselves in a compassionate, supportive environment that allows them to heal. Interventions are designed to help stabilize the severity of the mood shifts, to learn new ways to recognize and manage oncoming symptoms, improving their level of functioning at school or work, and teach them methods to reduce stress and promote relaxation. For more information about whether there is a difference between bipolar and manic depression, or any other questions, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health at (888) 561-0868.

When Depression Becomes Debilitating

Anyone who has struggled through a period of deep melancholy can attest to the intense power of emotions it triggers. We all suffer the occasional emotional fallout associated with difficult life events or circumstances. Pain endured from loss of a loved one, a divorce, loss of a job, diagnosis of a serious medical condition, or a broken heart can sideline us for a period, these phases commonly referred to as “the blues.” Most will manage to wind through the disappointment, fear, or sadness and the low mood will eventually stabilize with no intervention required.

For others, a cluster of pronounced symptoms may linger long after the triggering event, refusing to let up no matter how much time has passed. Depression can cause severe fatigue, impairing the person’s ability to function at work or at home. Even getting out of bed is a chore for those with serious depression. When depression becomes debilitating it is important to ensure the person is receiving the professional treatment they need, as an increased risk of suicide can develop.

Treatment for major depressive disorder must involve an integrated program that includes both traditional evidence-based therapies and medication, as well as holistic and experiential activities that enhance the treatment process by complimenting psychotherapy. Depression can be successfully treated and managed with the right combination of interventions.

About Major Depressive Disorder

Although major depressive disorder (MDD) affects about 16 million U.S. adults per year, only a small percentage of people actually seek out treatment. A stubborn stigma still surrounds mental health conditions, including depression, acting as a barrier to getting help. Some people may not know where to even begin to get help and instead continue to suffer in silence. As a result, some may begin to use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate as a means of masking the unbearable depression symptoms.

But treatment for MDD can be very effective, and should be sought out especially when depression becomes debilitating. The DSM-5 criteria for diagnosing depression involves five or more of the following symptoms having been present most of the time for more than two weeks:

1. Persistent depressed or sad mood
2. Recent unexplained weight gain or loss
3. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
4. Fatigue
5. Lack of interest in the activities once enjoyed
6. Persistent feelings of hopelessness and despair
7. Irrational feelings of guilt or shame
8. Slowed thinking and motor skills
9. Obsessing about death or suicide

The cause of MDD is still widely unknown, although science has identified several potential factors in developing clinical depression. These include genetics, temperament, environmental factors, and brain chemistry/biology.

Dual Diagnosis

A dual diagnosis, which indicates a co-occurring substance use disorder, is present in a significant number of individuals who suffer from depression. This may come about when the individual begins to use the substance in order to find relief from the symptoms of MDD. Alcoholism is the most common coexisting disorder with MDD, only adding to the person’s misery. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, so instead of helping the individual, it only increases the intensity of their symptoms while also adding profound health risks.

A dual diagnosis creates a more complicated treatment strategy. It is now believed that, to achieve the best long-term treatment outcome both disorders, the MDD and the alcoholism, should be treated simultaneously. Dual diagnosis treatment requires specialized training, so treatment should be sought at dual diagnosis program when depression presents with a coexisting substance use disorder.

Treatment for Depression

There exists an industry standard within the field of mental health treatment for treatment of MDD. This traditionally includes both antidepressant therapy and psychotherapy. Antidepressants are plentiful, with about thirty different brands on the market for treating depression. Initially, a doctor will take a leap of faith in prescribing antidepressants for a patient, using their training and treatment criteria to select the medication best aligned with the patient’s needs. Antidepressants can take upwards of four weeks to begin to take effect, which can be frustratingly slow. If one drug does not show promise, the doctor will have the patient trial another drug, or may just adjust the dosage.

Psychotherapy involves talk therapy and is available in various modalities. Generally, in treating individuals with MDD, mental health practitioners may select a behavioral-based therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), or a cognitive-based therapy such as psychodynamic therapy. There are two main functions of psychotherapy for the depressed patient, to help them explore potential underlying pain points, such as a past trauma or other distressing life event, and to help the patient reshape their internal thought-behavior messaging and responses.

Holistic Therapies for Depression

When depression becomes debilitating, it is in the complimentary therapies that the most yardage is gained. That is because these holistic activities help the individual gain a deeper perspective into their spiritual being, discovering new insights about themselves that can become therapeutic breakthroughs. These activities include such things as mindfulness training, guided meditation, yoga, journaling, art therapy, and massage therapy.

In addition to the experiential activities, overcoming depression is enhanced by regular cardio exercise, such as daily walks, dance cardio, hiking, cycling, swimming, or running. Couple exercise with a nutritious diet of lean proteins, leafy greens, fresh fruits, whole grain breads and pasta, seeds and nuts, as this Mediterranean diet will promote improved brain health.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides an Integrated Approach to Treating Depression

Elevation Behavioral Health is a luxury residential mental health and dual diagnosis treatment center in Southern California. Nestled in a tranquil canyon above Malibu, California, Elevation Behavioral Health provides an intimate six-bed setting for individuals in need of healing from depression, instead of an cold, institutional setting. The spacious and beautiful 10,000 square foot home features unmatched luxury in both the interior and exterior grounds.

This mental health and wellness program for depression or dual diagnosis is built 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 to depression treatment. When depression becomes debilitating, a serene, relaxing environment, compassionate therapists, and upscale accommodations can go a long way toward reintroducing joy in life. For more information, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

symptoms of severe ptsd

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

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

About Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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

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

Symptoms of Severe PTSD

Symptoms of severe PTSD generally include four categories:

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

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

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

    How is Severe PTSD Treated?

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

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

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

    How Lifestyle Changes Can Help PTSD

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

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

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

    Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Effective Treatment for PTSD

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

    Holistic Wellness Yoga

    Those who have ever taken a yoga class know firsthand the sense of calmness and well-being that follows, and they’ve probably experienced the sensation of lightness in the muscles brought on by long, gentle stretches. The health benefits are well-documented, but its benefits for those in addiction recovery go far beyond improving physical health.

    Any high-quality treatment program will take a holistic approach to treatment that addresses issues of body, mind and spirit. At Elevation Behavioral Health, yoga is an integral part of our program because it strengthens and soothes body, mind and spirit, promotes mindfulness, reduces stress and fosters good physical and mental health.

    Yoga and Mindfulness

    Yoga brings the mind and body into the present, where focus is on what’s happening in the here and now. How does the body feel? What is the state of mind? What emotions are present? Being in tune with one’s physical and mental state is the cornerstone of mindfulness, and practices in mindfulness, including yoga, are fast becoming proven therapies for preventing relapse, according to an article published in the journal Substance Abuse.

    Mindful recovery is all about being aware of thoughts and attitudes, accepting them as they arise, observing them non-judgmentally, and learning to reshape them. Practicing mindfulness through yoga can help people in recovery navigate cravings, make healthy lifestyle choices and—perhaps most importantly—recognize the early signs of relapse.

    Stress Relief

    According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, stress is a major trigger for relapse. Stress and the body’s response to it can be mitigated through yoga practice, according to Harvard Medical School, which cites a study that shows it helps to reduce the body’s stress responses like muscle tension and increased heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Yoga can even help the body learn to respond to stress in healthier ways.

    Mental and Physical Health

    Regular yoga practice bolsters the immune system and improves overall health, according to a study published in the International Journal of Yoga. It strengthens the muscles, and it improves flexibility and promotes balance of mind and spirit. A healthy body is central to long-term recovery, as is a healthy mind. Yoga can help improve mental health by relieving anxiety and depression, enhancing a sense of self and helping to heal emotional wounds, according to the American Psychological Association. This can be particularly helpful for those whose addiction is rooted in trauma.

    A Holistic Approach to Treatment is Best

    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration points out that everyone’s pathway to recovery is different, and a holistic approach to treatment should include a variety of research-based alternative and complementary therapies. As one of a number of holistic therapies offered through our program, yoga can help individuals in recovery develop a higher level of self-awareness, improve self-esteem and foster other healthy lifestyle choices that can improve the chances of successful long-term recovery.

    Art Therapy

    Art has the ability to inspire people and make them see things from a different perspective. Whether it’s painting a portrait, writing a story or playing a piece of music, art stimulates the brain and encourages positive actions in people’s lives.

    For those recovering from substance abuse, a creative form of self-expression can be an important step in sobriety. Through artistic expression, people are able to communicate thoughts, ideas or fears in a way that verbal communication is sometimes incapable of.
    They could even discover something about themselves they didn’t know.

    The benefits of art therapy are numerous, and here are nine ways it can help on the path to sobriety:

    1. Improve Self-Management.
    2. Loss of control is a common side effect of addiction. People may prioritize getting high over personal and professional responsibilities and struggle to balance their addiction with life activities. Art therapy helps to learn skills to focus, build discipline and live a healthy life.

    3. Alleviate Symptoms of Depression.
    4. Research has demonstrated a link between addiction and depression. Art therapy can help foster positivity in people’s lives and provide something to look forward to every day. It is proven to help combat the chemical imbalances in the brain that may lead to depression.

    5. Improve Communication Skills.
    6. Individuals who struggle with expressing their thoughts and emotions may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to escape. Art therapy fosters self-expression and can help develop communication skills and the ability to reach out to others.

    7. Address Past Traumas.
    8. Many people who suffer from addiction are attempting to block out painful memories of traumatic experiences. Through art, individuals can slowly begin to express their feelings about the event and take steps to move forward.

    9. Reduce Stress.
    10. De-stressing is one of the top reasons people abuse drugs or alcohol. Heavy daily demands can take a toll on mind and body. Art therapy helps to convert negative energy into positive habits that promote lasting health—free of harmful substances.

    11. Improve Problem-Solving Skills.
    12. By opening the mind, art therapy encourages people to seek smart solutions to problems rather than rely on drugs or alcohol. This is especially helpful in young adults who may struggle with fitting in or keeping up with the rapid changes in their lives.

    13. Build Self-Esteem.
    14. Studies show that individuals who have more confidence and social skills are more likely to develop healthy habits. Art therapy helps build the self-awareness and self-esteem necessary to tackle various social situations and life challenges.

    15. Mitigate Symptoms.
    16. Art therapy can help improve symptoms related to physical and mental disorders. Among other benefits, it can help reduce pain, stress and irritability levels during recovery.

    17. Provide a Positive Distraction.
    18. Distractions from an addiction can be very liberating and refreshing. Art therapy can help people to focus on the positive while keeping their minds off of cravings and negative thoughts.