Anxiety about going to work

The feelings of anxiety do not begin with the morning alarm bell. Nope, the anxiety about going to work is felt throughout the night with fitful, restless sleep. The mere idea of entering the workplace triggers waves of stress that threaten to undermine any effort to be productive and engaged at work, and often result in calling out sick.

Workplace phobia, according to a definition published in Psychology, Health & Medicine, is defined as “a phobic anxiety reaction with symptoms of panic occurring when thinking of or approaching the workplace.” Considering the serious consequences of having anxiety about going to work, this particular phobia can be particularly devastating to not only one’s professional life, but their personal life as well. Being unable to keep a job due to this type of phobia can have far-reaching and deleterious consequences.

This specific source of this type of anxiety has often been lumped in with various other disorders. These include obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia, specific phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder. This is due to the features of the workplace phobia disorder, which can be recognized in these other forms of anxiety disorder. Finding a remedy is critical, and will likely involve a combination of therapies to help the individual overcome the dread and fear of going to work.

About Workplace Phobia

Individuals who have anxiety about going to work may exhibit a higher level of psychosomatic symptoms. These are the physical symptoms that can accompany a mental health condition, including gastrointestinal distress, migraines, pain, headaches, and fatigue, and often result in excessive absenteeism due to sick days. In fact one 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found that 10% of patients with chronic mental health conditions who sought sick leave authorizations for their physical symptoms suffered from workplace phobia.

Identifying workplace phobia is essential in turning the ship around and overcoming a disorder that is negatively impacting quality of life. Employers also benefit from gaining an understanding of this type of anxiety, as loss of productivity related to paid sick days, having to hire temporary workers, and the impact on fellow coworkers are added costs to the business.

Intense irrational fear emerges when the individual thinks about or attempts to go to work. The triggering stimuli, such as encountering the supervisor or colleague, can cause symptoms like those of a specific phobia, such as:

  • Sweating
  • Hot flashes, chills
  • Trembling
  • Choking sensation
  • Inability to face the trigger (enter the workplace)
  • Chest pain, tightness
  • Dry mouth
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Intensive fear when approaching or considering the workplace
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sensation of butterflies in the stomach
  • Mental confusion, disorientation
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Reduction of symptoms when leaving or avoiding the workplace

When exposed to the workplace trigger, the symptoms are so uncomfortable and frightening that the anxiety about going to work can result in avoidance behaviors, thus the high rates of sick leave.

According to an article published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, There are several subtypes of work phobic, including:

  • Work-related anxiety
  • Work-related panic
  • Work-related social phobia
  • Work-related phobia
  • Work-related generalized anxiety
  • Work-related PTSD

What Causes Workplace Phobia or Workplace-related Anxiety?

Workplace phobia, also referred to as ergophobia, can have various causal factors. Aside from the existence of a disorder such as social anxiety, which can feature work-place anxiety or phobia features, other risk factors might include:

  • Having had a prior work-related experience that was traumatic, such as sexual harassment or bullying
  • Performance-based fears
  • Fear of required oral presentations
  • Ongoing interpersonal issues and conflicts with a superior
  • Family history of social anxiety or phobia
  • Multiple traumas or significant negative life events lead to coping or stress-management issues at work

How to Treat Workplace Phobia

Treating work-related anxiety will revolve around changing the thought distortions that lead to the avoidant behaviors or panic symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that helps patients identify the dysfunctional thought-behavior patterns and guide them toward reframing thoughts to eventually be able to cope when confronting the work-related trigger. Combining CBT with exposure therapies that help desensitize the patient to the triggering event or situation can yield positive results.

Medication also plays a role in treatment for workplace phobia or anxiety. Drugs that reduce anxiety, such as benzodiazepines or beta blockers, may help improve the individual’s ability to function in the workplace once again.

Certain holistic strategies can assist in the reduction of stress or anxiety symptoms. These might include yoga, guided meditation, deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, getting regular exercise, and reducing caffeine intake.

Elevation Behavioral Health Treats Workplace Phobia and Workplace-related Anxiety

Elevation Behavioral Health is a luxury residential mental health program located in Los Angeles, California. The team at Elevation has crafted a highly effective treatment protocol for treating workplace phobia or anxiety, using an integrative approach. This includes the evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy, adjunctive therapies, such as EMDR, and holistic therapies that provide additional coping skills through mindfulness training and meditation. For more information about our program, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

losing job due to depression

Imagine being stricken with an unexpected medical condition that ended up sabotaging your ability to perform your usual job duties. Maybe it is an autoimmune disease or cancer—any life-impairing health condition—that you notice is thwarting your efforts to continue with your usual standard of performance on the job. Does the boss fire you? No, in most cases the boss is sympathetic and accommodating, allowing you to reduce your responsibilities or hours, or even take a leave, while you seek treatment.

Now replace that medical condition with a mental health disorder such as depression. Depression can be at least as debilitating as a physical health problem, but some employers may still attach a stigma to it. They may not recognize that the symptoms that are negatively impacting productivity or attendance are truly valid, and may not be as willing to accommodate you during the depressive episode.

Thankfully, laws are in place to protect us from being discriminated against or losing a job due to depression, or any other mental health disorder under most conditions. By having a clear understanding of employee rights you will be armed with the information that can help prevent losing a job due to depression.

Is Depression Considered a Disability?

When the depression is considered to be a long-term condition, an employer cannot discriminate against the employee who is struggling on the job. An employer is not permitted to fire an employee due to a mental health disorder, nor is the employer allowed to reject someone for a promotion or a job, or to force someone to take a leave. Employees struggling with depression have a right to ask for reasonable accommodations that will allow them to keep their job while they are dealing with the disorder.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a person can qualify for disability under these criteria:

  • They have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities and/or bodily functions. Major life activities include caring for yourself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.
  • They have a history of such an impairment
  • They are regarded as having such an impairment

In most cases, the condition must be present for several months before it is considered a long-term problem, however the condition dose not need to be permanent or severe to be considered “substantially limiting.”

Do You Have to Disclose the Depression?

Some may be very concerned about losing a job due to depression, and are very resistant to revealing the nature of their condition. Although legally it is not required that an employee disclose the nature of their condition, in some cases it will be unavoidable. For example, if the employee requests reasonable accommodations, if they pose a safety risk, or if there is evidence that they are unable to perform their job duties it may be required to discuss the nature of the mental health situation. An employee that chooses to share with coworkers or management about their depression is free to do so.

Is the Employer Required to Provide Accommodations?

Employees have a legal right to request reasonable accommodations to help them perform their duties. This is so for a mental health condition that would, if left untreated, could substantially limit one’s ability to concentrate, communicate, eat, sleep, interact with others, care for oneself, regulate thoughts or emotions. It is not necessary to stop receiving treatment for the depression in order to get the accommodation.

Treatment for Depression

The most important message, over and above being able to keep one’s job, is the need to get treatment for the depression. Depression rarely just resolves on its own. In fact, untreated depression can continue to worsen, further disrupting the ability to perform job duties, and risking serious outcomes, such as suicide. Treatment for depression is available in both outpatient and residential settings, providing many options for getting the appropriate level of care.

In most instances, depression is treated with a combination of antidepressant drug therapy and psychotherapy. Antidepressants take 4-6 weeks before being effective, and it may be necessary to try more than one drug before finding the one that offers relief. Therapy helps individuals to process emotional pain or past trauma that might be factors in the depressive disorder. In addition, cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful in shifting negative thought patterns towards more positive self-messaging.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Residential Depression Treatment

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Los Angeles-based residential program that offers intensive mental health treatment. When outpatient interventions have not adequately helped your major depressive disorder, you may benefit from a more targeted treatment plan. Providing deluxe accommodations and a highly attentive clinical staff, Elevation Behavioral Health strives to make the client’s stay a comfortable and healing experience. Elevation Behavioral Health offers a full daily schedule of therapies and adjunctive activities to help individuals struggling with depression reclaim their joy and return to fully functioning at their chosen career. For more information about the program, or to get information about losing a job due to depression, please contact us today at (888) 561-0868.

Anxiety and Inability to Focus

Anxiety disorder can profoundly impact our lives, beyond the common symptoms of sensitivity to stress. One of the ways anxiety can disrupt our daily lives is through impaired cognitive functioning. Anxiety and inability to focus at work or school appear to be interconnected. As anxiety symptoms escalate, the mind struggles to stay on task.  Short-term memory functions are affected by anxiety as well, causing difficulty in remembering tasks or projects that are due, only adding to the work performance challenges.

Nearly one in five American adults are affected by anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Learning techniques that can help manage the symptoms of anxiety and inability to focus is an essential strategy for individuals struggling with an anxiety disorder.

About Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The most common type of anxiety is called generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, with about 3.1% of the population, or nearly 7 million adults, struggling with this mental health disorder. GAD is characterized by pervasive worrying, so much so that it can impair daily functioning. The energy expended worrying about coulda, woulda, shouldas all day can be very taxing, impacting both energy levels and mental functioning. Individuals with GAD tend to ruminate over events that have already occurred, second-guessing themselves, or they may dwell on upcoming events and worry incessantly about anticipated outcomes. Fear and worry drive this disorder, with symptoms that include:

  • Excessive worry
  • Hyper-vigilance
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sweating
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Short-term memory problems

How Anxiety Can Affect Concentration

Individuals who struggle with anxiety often experience symptoms of mental confusion, foggy thinking, forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating. While these symptoms may ebb and flow depending on the day and the stress load, they can be very frustrating for those with anxiety disorder.

Persistently elevated stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, are the cause of the brain fog that plagues individuals with anxiety disorder. This stress response has an adverse effect on cognitive functions, such as anxiety and inability to focus and short-term memory functioning. Poor concentration and lack of focus are common symptoms of anxiety disorder.

5 Steps to Help Manage Anxiety Symptoms

Understanding how anxiety can affect cognitive functioning is the first step in creating a strategy for managing the anxiety and inability to focus. By accepting that you will have to make some adjustments to work or study habits, you can begin to put into practice these new methods and begin to improve your mental focus, leading to more productivity and a boost in self-confidence. Some tips for improving cognitive functioning at work include:

  1. Take short breaks often. Instead of attempting to plow through a large block of focused work time, which will lead to wandering attention and loss of interest in the task, break up the work into smaller segments with short breaks in between.
  2. Make a to-do list. Start each day with a list of items that must be accomplished during the day. Allow for free time during the day as well, to intersperse enjoyable activities that will help keep you from burning out.
  3. Practice mindfulness. Training yourself to stay in the moment can help improve focus and concentration on the project at hand. When the mind begins to wander, rein it back in and refocus on the present moment.
  4. Switch tasks. When you begin to find yourself spacing out and losing focus, switch to a different task. Alternating your attention between the two tasks can help relieve boredom and stimulate better concentration.
  5. Mind your own business. Anxiety can lead to excessive worrying about things outside your control. Too often the mind wanders to unproductive worrying that stokes anxiety and inability to focus. Keep your mind on the task at hand.

Residential Anxiety Treatment for Intensive Therapy

For many people with anxiety disorder, outpatient psychiatric services may provide the means to manage the disorder effectively. Some, however, may find their anxiety disorder worsening over time. When reaching the point where relentless worry causes impaired daily functioning due to anxiety and inability to focus at all, a residential anxiety treatment program may be the best treatment option.

The residential anxiety treatment program can take a deeper look into the issues that may be impacting the anxiety using a more focused approach. Upon intake, a thorough evaluation of the anxiety disorder will provide information, such as a detailed medical and psychiatric history and a review of medications, which can allow the psychiatrist to diagnose the specific features of the anxiety disorder. Using this as a template, an individualized treatment plan can be crafted.

The comprehensive treatment approach will involve several therapeutic sessions during the day, such as individual psychotherapy, group therapy, life skills, family therapy, mindfulness training, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and other relevant therapies. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help individuals who struggle with anxiety and inability to focus by identifying disordered thoughts that may fuel the anxiety.

Anxiety Aftercare Services

It is important to continue to receive aftercare services following a residential program in order to reinforce the new strategies learned in treatment. Outpatient therapy is recommended on a weekly basis, which provides the ongoing support needed as the individual transitions back to their regular daily life. These sessions provide the necessary “tune-ups” when new stressors emerge that can trigger anxiety and psychological setbacks.

Finding a support group is also a beneficial aftercare activity. Being able to discuss daily challenges with others who struggle with anxiety disorder provides valuable peer support and creates a sense that one is not alone with these challenges. Group participants can also learn new techniques from each other for managing daily stressors and improving the quality of life.

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

Elevation Behavioral Health provides a proven, evidence-based treatment for the full spectrum of anxiety disorders in a residential setting. Elevation offers a warm, intimate escape from the stressors of daily life that keep your mental health reeling. At Elevation Behavioral Health you can focus your energy and attention on learning new ways to manage anxiety and improve focus. For more information about our program, please contact Elevation today at (888) 561-0868.

severe emotional trauma symptoms

Each of us has a unique and personal emotional history, a story unlike anyone else’s. Not only is our life experience our very own, but so is our temperament or personality, which influences in a significant way how we will respond to the presenting stressors in our lives. When we encounter a traumatizing event, how we as individuals process that experience will draw from our own psychological backdrop.

This means, for example, that if we have a childhood history of sexual abuse, we will respond differently to a sexual assault in adulthood, with deep roots of emotional memory attached to the experience. This compounded trauma may result in a sustained trauma disorder, referred to as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Someone without an emotional scar from childhood may also experience trauma disorder, however they may not suffer the severe emotional trauma symptoms, and they may be able to process through the traumatic experience at a faster pace.

Because of the individualized response to witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event, it is important to know that seeking psychological support is always helpful. When a trauma has the effect of paralyzing the individual, seriously disrupting daily life and impairing functioning, a residential mental health program would be an appropriate level of care.

Understanding Psychological Trauma

A traumatic event is something that is witnessed or experienced firsthand that creates a sense of deep fear and lack of control over the situation. Examples of traumas might include:

  • Physical assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Atrocities related to military combat
  • Serious auto accident
  • Sudden death of a loved one
  • Serious health event or diagnosis
  • Natural disaster
  • Terrorism

The traumatic event is often something that was unexpected, sudden, unpredicted. The individual experiencing the event may feel powerless, which adds to the severe emotional trauma symptoms. But even life events that evoke a sense of fear of the unknown or a feeling of having no control over the outcome can also be considered traumatic. These might include a divorce, having to relocate suddenly, a parent’s health issues, or loss of a job and other major financial setbacks.

Severe Emotional Trauma Symptoms

Individuals struggling with the aftermath of experiencing a trauma may exhibit a range of symptoms, including psychological and physical. These symptoms may include:

Psychological symptoms of trauma

  • Detachment
  • Emotional numbness
  • Depression
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Nightmares, flashbacks
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Withdraw from friends and family
  • Obsessive/compulsive symptoms
  • Anxiety

Physical symptoms of trauma

  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Change in eating and sleeping habits
  • Vague symptoms of aches and pains
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Muscle tension
  • Hyper-arousal, easily startled
  • Fatigue

The symptoms that follow a trauma may emerge immediately after the event or may be delayed, even by weeks or months. In some individuals the symptoms continue to worsen over time, culminating in a PTSD diagnosis.

Types of Treatment for Trauma Disorder

Treatment for trauma disorder relies on a blend of therapies and activities as well as medication when indicated.

  • Individual psychotherapy is very beneficial, especially behavior therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, prolonged exposure therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy.
  • Group therapy, including family therapy, is also helpful as it allows trauma victims to share about their experience and express their emotions in a safe, supportive setting.
  • Exposure therapy helps reduce the impact of the traumatic memories by incrementally desensitizing the individual to the event by exposing them to triggers.
  • Psychodynamic therapy helps for deep-seated childhood traumas, as this type of therapy explores early experiences to see how they are impacting present life.

Other Therapies for Treating Psychological Trauma

Holistic therapies, such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, massage therapy, hypnotherapy, and guided imagery can be useful in helping the individual overcome the fear-based stress that follows a trauma. These activities all promote relaxation while providing relief from stress.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, or EMDR, is useful for helping to desensitize the individual from the impact of the traumatic memories. In an 8-part program the therapist asks the individual to use their eyes to follow an object or finger back and forth while they discuss the trauma with the person. By focusing their attention on the stimulus it helps to reduce the impact of what they are discussing.

Keeping a journal is also helpful in resolving the pain of a trauma. Just writing down the thoughts, fears, memories, and emotions regarding the traumatic event can help sort out the issues around the trauma while diffusing some of the potency of the memories.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Residential Treatment for Trauma Disorder

Elevation Behavioral Health is a residential mental health treatment center in Los Angeles. Elevation treats severe emotional trauma symptoms using an integrated approach that includes conventional evidence-based therapies, medication, EMDR, and holistic therapies. Each individual patient’s unique trauma history will dictate the customized therapy he or she will receive. For more details about our residential program, please contact 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.

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.