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
- Sleep disturbances
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The signs may be quite subtle at first. A friend or loved one may seem “off” recently, with an unkempt appearance that is not their norm at all. A coworker may have let their quality of work slip, becoming incrementally substandard over time. Maybe you are plagued with an unsettling sense that someone is watching you, or have become increasingly suspicious of others.
These early signs of a potential psychotic break from reality may not seem worrisome when seen in isolation, but when a cluster of unusual symptoms begin to gather steam it may indicate that you or someone you care about is experiencing the sense of losing touch with reality.
Psychosis—including such features as hallucinations and delusional thinking—is the symptom of an underlying mental health disorder, not an illness itself. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, an estimated 100,000 Americans experience psychoses annually. Early intervention is key, so do not ignore the symptoms. These will center on difficulty recognizing what is real and tangible versus a figment of their imagination. Behaviors and thoughts will be unusual, not the norm for the afflicted person.
When you notice that you or a loved one seems to be losing touch with reality it is important to seek professional help. It may be that the symptoms are related to a physical or neurological condition that needs attention. If it is indeed the early signs of a psychotic disorder, receiving timely, proactive care is essential in containing the effects of the psychosis.
What are Psychotic Disorders?
Psychotic disorders represent the types of mental illnesses that feature around losing touch with reality symptoms. These disorders are characterized by odd behaviors, feelings, thoughts, and emotions, including seeing or hearing things that are not really there. When a mental health condition has psychosis as a primary symptom, it will be classified as a psychotic disorder.
According to an article published in JAMA Psychiatry, about 3.5% of the U.S. adult population will experience psychosis at some point. Psychotic features can be associated with severe anxiety, severe depression, and bipolar disorder, as well as identified as its own standalone mental health disorder.
The cause of psychotic disorders is still mainly unknown, although there are some theories exists to explain the cause. These include neurological malfunctioning, certain viral infections, extreme trauma or prolonged excessive stress, certain drugs of abuse, and genetics.
Treatment for this complex mental health disorder will rely on a comprehensive approach of multiple elements for the best recovery results. Generally, an individual with a psychotic disorder can learn to manage many of the symptoms associated with the disorder.
Different Types of Psychotic Disorders
Psychotic disorders emerge in varying ways and with differing features, while sharing core characteristics. The different types of psychotic disorders include:
- Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is the most common type of psychotic disorder. Symptoms of a schizophrenic episode embody the sensation of losing touch with reality, with audible and/or visual hallucinations, delusional thoughts, angry, erratic behavior, and extreme moodiness. Schizophrenia is diagnosed when the behavioral changes and psychotic features persist for more than six months.
- Schizoaffective disorder. Schizoaffective disorder combines features of schizophrenia with a mood disorder involving depressive or manic episodes. This equates to someone with schizophrenia having extreme and unpredictable mood shifts between manic and depressive episodes, further complicating treatment protocol.
- Brief psychotic disorder. Brief psychotic disorder is a short-lived disorder that is sometimes triggered by a traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one, a natural disaster, or a serious accident that lasts less than a month. Brief psychotic disorder is characterized as a burst or short, sudden episode rather than a persistent state.
- Schizophreniform disorder. Schizophreniform is similar to schizophrenia but tends to affect young adults and teens, and lasts 1-6 months in duration. About one individual out of 1000 will develop this form of psychotic disorder. Schizophreniform occurs equally between men and women, but in men it may emerge at a younger age.
- Shared psychotic disorder. Shared psychotic disorder, or shared delusional disorder, is a rare form of psychosis that involves two people who both believe in a delusional situation, such as a husband and wife who both believe the same delusion. The two individuals will transfer the delusional beliefs back and forth to each other.
- Delusional disorder. Delusional disorder features false and often suspicious beliefs that the individual believes are true, such as thinking someone is out to murder you or your spouse is having an affair. The types of delusions involve real-life situations that could actually be true, with features of paranoia. Most delusional disorders last for one month or longer.
- Substance induced psychotic disorder. Substance-induced psychotic disorder is the presence of hallucinations or delusions occurring as a withdrawal symptom for several drugs, including alcohol, LSD, methamphetamine, cocaine, benzodiazepines, and PCP. The intense psychosis experienced during the withdrawal phase reflects the impact of these substances on the brain structures.
What Are the Symptoms of Psychosis?
Generally, psychosis comes on gradually, with signs that indicate a developing mental illness. Those might include inappropriate emotions, a decline in personal hygiene, difficulty thinking straight or concentrating, a decline in job or academic performance, emotional detachment or intense inappropriate emotions, isolating behaviors, and acting highly suspicious of others. These are psychotic features, early symptoms of a possibly emerging psychotic disorder.
The primary feature of psychosis is losing contact with reality. While the different types of psychotic disorders will have unique features, there are some general symptoms that can indicate the onset of a psychotic disorder. The common symptoms of psychotic disorder include:
- Insomnia. Individuals will have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
- Persistent feelings of being watched. Individuals feel certain that they are being observed or followed.
- Increasingly disorganized thinking. Disorganized and disordered thought patterns increase in number and intensity.
- Mental confusion. Individuals may not recognize their surroundings or those around them, even if these are usually familiar to them.
- Auditory and visual hallucinations. Hallucinations involving things that are heard and things that are seen, but which in reality do not exist.
- Delusional thoughts. Delusional thoughts involve the false belief that certain events or objects have a grandiose quality, or some special personal meaning attributed only to them.
- Strange or disorganized speech or writing. Along with the mental confusion and disorganized thinking, the individual struggles to articulate their thoughts in spoken or written formats. They speech may come across as gibberish or nonsensical.
- Inappropriate behavior. The individual may lose the ability to control their behaviors to align with social norms, and begin to exhibit behaviors that are socially inappropriate, such as removing their clothing or urinating in public.
- Avoidance of social situations. When someone has a psychotic disorder they are unable to function appropriately at a social function or event. They may be ostracized or removed from an event, leading them to begin to avoid social situations altogether.
- Decline in academic or work performance. As the disorder worsens, there will be a marked decline in functioning at work or at school. The individual may be repeatedly absent, may be unable to keep up with projects or assignments, and may be terminated as a result.
- Unusual body positioning or movement. Unusual postures or uncontrollable muscle movements are sometimes caused by the medications the individual is one, or from an active psychotic episode when they are experiencing a break from reality. They may also exhibit spasms or pacing back and forth.
- Suspicious or paranoid behavior. The symptoms of paranoia or suspicion may be a response to perceived delusions, in which they feel they are being targeted for harm.
- Unusual preoccupation. The psychotic disorder may lead to a type of tunnel vision, where the individual becomes highly focused on or fearful about a particular person or situation.
- Irrational or angry behaviors. Angry outbursts or impulsive irrational behaviors are often a result of the person’s decreasing ability to communicate effectively.
- Inability to concentrate. Disordered and confused thinking contribute to an increasing inability to focus and concentrate.
- Loss of interest in appearance and hygiene. A common sign of severe mental illness is the loss of interest in maintaining personal hygiene habits. The person may become disheveled and do not bathe or practice dental hygiene, and may discontinue laundering their clothing.
- Personality changes. One of the first signs of psychotic disorder is a distinct change in personality. Someone who was formerly kind and caring may become distant, withdrawn, and cold. In some forms of psychosis, the individual may acquire more than one personality.
The earlier the emergence of losing touch with reality symptoms are recognized, and being proactive in getting the loved one professional help from a psychiatric practitioner, the better the clinical outcome.
Treatment for Psychotic Disorders
Generally, a residential setting provides a more intensive and tailored treatment approach in a setting that is safe and offers 24-hour monitoring and support. However, if the individual is displaying signs of a psychiatric break or has become a danger to themselves or others, they should be admitted to a psychiatric hospital for stabilization.
Treatment of psychotic disorders relies primarily on psychotherapy and psychotropic drug therapy will likely involve an integrated approach, including:
Psychotherapy: While in a residential treatment the individual will be involved in various types of psychotherapy. The focus for therapy involves helping the individual recognize irrational thoughts and behaviors and to replace those with healthy thought-behavior patterns. Individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy are all provided in a residential program as part of the psychotherapy piece of treatment for psychosis.
The individual cognitive behavioral therapy sessions allow the therapist to help the individual identify irrational thoughts and fears and maladaptive emotional responses.
Group therapy: Group sessions provide opportunities for small groups to discuss and share their mental health issues while being facilitate by a therapist who guides the topics. These intimate group settings provide a safe environment for sharing and foster peer support in the process.
Psychosocial interventions: An important component of treatment is assisting the individual in improving their ability to get along with others. These interventions can offer new communication skills, conflict resolution techniques, and vocational rehabilitation.
Medication: Medication will be prescribed depending on the specific diagnosis. In many cases medication will include antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers. For some individuals with a psychotic disorder, these medications will necessary to help manage the disorder on a daily basis, and will likely be prescribed for a lifetime.
Adjunctive therapies: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is reserved for the most severe forms of psychosis in individuals who are not responsive to the medications.
Holistic therapies: Increasingly, holistic therapies, most of which are derivative of Eastern practices, are utilized for the treatment of psychosis or other mental health disorders with psychotic features. Activities such as yoga, mindfulness training, guided meditation, acupuncture, and massage therapy are helpful in controlling stress and promoting relaxation. Patients can learn how to initiate mindfulness exercises on their own at any time of day, which is helpful when sudden symptoms emerge.
Transitional housing. In some instances, it may be beneficial for the individual to reside in a transitional housing environment following residential treatment. This type of housing provides a safe, supportive home environment that allows the patient to gradually readapt to regular daily life, while having the therapeutic support available at all times.
When Does a Psychotic Break Require Hospitalization?
When someone experiences a psychotic break, or the sense that they are no longer tracking with reality, it may be appropriate to consider hospitalization. This might be a psychiatric hospital or a psychiatric wing within a general hospital. This level of care is distinct from residential care, in that the hospital environment is equipped to manage a psychiatric emergency. In the hospital setting the individual will likely be segregated from other patients and may be need to be restrained to avoid the risk of self harm or harm to others.
In the hospital settling, the individual will receive very close observation. Medications will be reviewed and adjusted, and the emphasis will be on acute stabilization measures. This process of stabilizing the individual may take a couple of days, before they can step down to a residential mental health treatment center.
When Severe Depression Causes Psychosis
In some severe cases of depression, the emotional anguish may cause an individual to exhibit a break from reality with symptoms of hallucinations or delusions. The actual diagnosis may be coined depression with psychotic features or psychotic depression. In the case of depression that is so profound that it sparks feelings of losing touch with reality, there may be a co-occurring medical condition or substance use disorder that is contributing to the symptoms.
Psychotic depression features the following symptoms:
- Sleep disturbances
- Experiencing hallucinations, voices or visions, telling them they are worthless or evil
- Delusional thoughts
- Suicidal ideation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Falsely thinking they have another disease or illness
In the case of major depression with psychotic features the risk for suicide is heightened. Extra attention must be paid to identify the warning signs of suicide, such as the individual talking about taking his or her life, acquiring the means by which to commit the act of suicide, giving away their prized possessions, commenting that they are a burden to loved ones, isolating behaviors, or increased substance abuse.
When Severe Anxiety Causes Psychosis
Can severe anxiety cause psychosis? Research suggests that symptoms of psychosis may be preceded by an extreme even, such as a panic attack or trauma. The intense emotional distress suffered as a result of anxiety can trigger psychotic symptoms. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, OCD, or PTSD can result in psychotic symptomology. These symptoms resolved with treatment involving both benzodiazepines and antidepressants.
When this condition occurs it may be referred to as a psychotic break or a nervous breakdown. The symptoms are clearly related to the anxiety disorder, rather than a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia. Stabilizing the individual should be the first step in care, followed by enhanced treatment for the core anxiety disorder.
Co-Occurring Psychotic Disorder and Substance Abuse
There is still not a coherent causal relationship between psychotic disorder and co-occurring substance use disorder. However, there is a high prevalence of these two disorders coexisting. Whether the substance abuse is in response to the unsettling effects of a severe mental health disorder or if the symptoms of psychosis are drug-induced are two valid examples of how the psychotic disorder and substance use disorder become intertwined.
In addition, the treatment picture can become muddied when the patient is using drugs or alcohol. According the authors of a study on this type of dual diagnosis, entitled Substance abuse and schizophrenia: Pharmacotherapeutic intervention [Green, M.D. et.al.], “The typical antipsychotic medications are effective for the treatment of psychosis but may have only limited efficacy in patients with these co-occurring disorders because patients continue to use substances while taking them.” The study examines the benefits of MAT for co-occurring alcoholism in this population, showing that naltrexone has shown positive benefits in an integrated treatment plan.
When treating an individual for dual diagnosis, success is dependent on the individual receiving individual psychotherapy to address the thought patterns and self-talk that may perpetuate the cycle of substance abuse. A comprehensive rehabilitation program will provide specialized dual diagnosis programming that includes both one-on-one psychotherapy, peer-based therapy, 12-step programming, and continuing care services.
Elevation Behavioral Health Leading Residential Mental Health Center in Los Angeles
Elevation Behavioral Health is a luxury residential mental health program featuring an intimate, home-like environment. Elevation Behavioral treats all forms of mental health disorders, including psychotic disorders, using a proven integrated approach. If you are feeling you’re out of touch with reality, contact our compassionate team at Elevation Behavioral today at (888) 561-0868.
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.
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 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:
- Improve Self-Management.
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.
- Alleviate Symptoms of Depression.
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.
- Improve Communication Skills.
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.
- Address Past Traumas.
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.
- Reduce Stress.
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.
- Improve Problem-Solving Skills.
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.
- Build Self-Esteem.
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.
- Mitigate Symptoms.
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.
- Provide a Positive Distraction.
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.
Anyone who has experienced job burnout knows it is awful, but is burnout a mental illness? According to the newest revisions to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Classification of Diseases, or ICD-11, burnout is new recognized officially as a “syndrome.” This has the condition falling into the realm of mental health concerns without officially labeling it as a mental illness. As a syndrome, burnout could result in a mental illness.
This new designation is a welcome one, as it now offers individuals suffering from workplace burnout something they can’t point to in order to explain their symptoms. As workplace pressures continue to escalate, employers need to address the conditions that might contribute to burnout and find workable solutions. This might mean integrating wellness breaks into the workday, such as providing yoga classes or guided meditation. Other solutions might address better time management, prioritizing of projects, and ways to streamline emails and other time zappers.
Employees are at their peak performance when a healthy life-work balance exists. The fast-paced, ever changing workplace cultures of today can make achieving that balance very challenging. But companies that make their employee’s mental health a top priority will benefit with a more productive, positive work environment.
What is Burnout?
It is understood that most every job description involves a certain amount of drudgery or an occasional sense of being overwhelmed by demands. Tasks that revolve around mind-numbing, rote, and often boring functions that sap energy and decrease job satisfaction. When the weight of these mundane tasks begins to prevent someone from completing their core job functions in a given workday, long hours, weekends, and disruption of private time can ensue. Not only are these functions providing no personal growth or financial gain, but they are demanding so much time that pressure just continues to build when attempting to keep up with the workload.
The opposite situation can also lead to workplace burnout. Some bosses pile on so much demanding work that performing to expectations feels impossible. Maybe the skills required to successfully complete projects have not been adequately taught, leaving the employee feeling completely stressed and incompetent.
Burnout is the physical and mental exhaustion that results from keeping up with relentless routines for an extended period of time. Work-related projects then bleed into personal family time, which then prevent the employee from engaging in the activities and hobbies they enjoy in their time off. This is where work-life balance becomes skewed, as the demands of the job exceed the rewards and little time is available for pleasure.
Signs of Burnout
When chronic workplace stress causes frayed nerves, anxiety, and intense fatigue, is it any wonder that one might wonder is burnout a mental illness. In a way, yes, burnout is a mental illness, although not yet defined as a mental health disorder in the DSM-5. As a syndrome, burnout has the ingredients that can evolve into an anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder. The symptoms of burnout include:
- Depletion of energy, fatigue
- Feelings of detachment toward job
- Somatic symptoms, such as chronic digestive issues, headache, or physical weakness
- Reduced work performance
- Negative emotions such as cynicism or hostility towards job, management, fellow coworkers
- Sleep disturbance
- Stress on relationships
- Substance abuse
Feeling overworked and stressed out is a normal part of being a working adult. But when there is no relief and one’s personal health and mental wellness begins to suffer, burnout then becomes a very real possibility. When burnout occurs, the individual may no longer have any energy left to give. They may feel indifferent and detached and basically stop caring.
How Burnout Can Lead to Serious Mental Health Conditions
Back in the day, when someone had reached maximum burnout and completely melted down it was termed a “nervous breakdown.” Is burnout a mental illness? No, but left unchecked burnout can have dangerous consequences, both psychological and physical. This is due to the perpetually elevated levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, keeping the person in a constant state of fight or flight and reducing immunity to illness. Over time, it may reach a critical peak that can result in the following conditions:
- Depression. Someone who is burned out can become listless, sad, hopeless, and detached. Other depression symptoms include changes in sleeping and eating habits, fatigue, irritability, difficulty making decisions, and suicidal thinking.
- Anxiety. Generalized anxiety disorder features feelings of being out of control while experiencing excess fear, worry, or dread. Anxiety also features insomnia, palpitations, sweating, shallow breathing, restlessness, and racing thoughts.
- Sleep disorders. Hypersomnia, or excessive sleeping and insomnia, or an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, can have significant adverse mental health effects, as well as negatively impact physical health and wellbeing.
- Coronary heart disease. A large study out of Israel followed 8,800 employees for over 3 years. They found that among those who scored in the top 20% of the, 79% had an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
What Causes Burnout?
Anyone can go through difficult stretches in their career when expectations and demands were so high that the workload and stress burden seems unsurmountable. However, some people have particular personality traits that may make them more susceptible to workplace burnout. They are, in a way, prewired for burnout. These traits include:
- Perfectionism. Some individuals set such a high standard for excellence that they can place an inordinate amount of undue stress upon themselves. The added stress of constantly striving for perfection throughout the workday can result in burnout.
- Unwilling to delegate. A desire to control the outcome of every task and assignment can result in an unwillingness to let go and trust the team’s abilities to help manage various aspects of the projects. This means the individual is perpetually engaged in every step of an assignment which can lead to burnout.
- Being a martyr. Some employees may sacrifice their health or mental wellness for the sake of being a high performer who delivers results. This means that their lives revolve around the adulation and positive strokes of work, and that they will throw themselves on the sword to make sure everything is successfully completed on time. These individuals also ignore self-care and work-life balance
- Poor time management skills. Undeveloped organizational skills can lead to wasted time in completing tasks. Not prioritizing can allow mundane activities to swallow up vast amounts of time leaving insufficient time for getting the higher-level tasks completed on time.
How to Prevent Burnout and Manage Stress
Being cognizant of the dangers of slipping into burnout means having a healthy respect for maintaining balance in life. This means being proactive about how your time is spent and protecting wellness by establishing healthy boundaries. Many well-meaning supervisors are simply not aware of the pressures they are placing on staff members or that the tools for them to succeed have not been provided. Employees need to understand that it it falls on them to communicate openly with supervisors regarding the nees for support or tools that will allow them to succeed.
Burnout prevention can involve the following actions:
- A change of perspective. Instead of seeing work demands as impossible to complete, view them as challenges to embrace and conquer. Ask yourself how you can shift a negative attitude toward one of positive productivity.
- Prioritize self-care. In the whirlwind of life, no one will carve out opportunities for self-care for a person. It falls directly on each individual to incorporate wellness activities and balance into the workweek.
- Have outlets for stress. It is essential to have a network of support in one’s life, whether that is a spouse, a best friend, a support group, or a therapist. These individuals can provide a safe place to vent and share frustrations, while acquiring helpful tips for better managing stress.
- Identify time-wasters. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies when it comes to feeling overwhelmed. Over use of social media during the workday, spending too much time socializing at work, or refusing to delegate routine tasks all sap time that could better be used towards productive endeavors.
Treatment for Burnout
When stress levels remain perpetually high and daily functioning becomes impaired, it is important to seek out the professional help needed to reclaim wellness and balance in life. Depending on the degree of burnout or whether there is a mental health disorder involved, the individual has the option of receiving treatment in an outpatient setting or a residential setting. Generally, the longer the mental health disorder has endured, and the more it has impaired functioning, a residential program offers the best venue for treatment. An outpatient approach is fine when the problem is less entrenched.
Treatment for burnout can involve the following elements:
- Psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) provides a short-term evidence-based approach that helps the individual examine dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns that lead to burnout.
- Medication. In some cases, antidepressants or sedatives may be warranted for helping to managing the symptoms of burnout or accompanying depression or anxiety.
- Addiction treatment. When excessive stress and burnout has resulted in a substance use disorder the individual will benefit from progressing through a dual diagnosis addiction recovery program.
- Holistic therapy. Learning how to regulate stress is integral to treatment for burnout. These activities include deep breathing, yoga, meditation, massage, and other relaxation inducing activities.
Elevation Behavioral Health Treats Burnout and Related Mental Health Disorders
Elevation Behavioral Health is a Los Angeles-based residential wellness center that offers a diverse array of customized therapies for individuals suffering from burnout. The intimate, private residential program offers luxury accommodations and amenities in a highly desirable setting. The expert psychiatric staff provides the best blend of evidence-based therapies and holistic therapies to guide the individual back to a balanced state of wellness. For questions, such as is burnout a mental illness or more information about the program, please contact our team at (888) 643-7135.
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:
- Hot flashes, chills
- 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
- 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.
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.
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
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
- Emotional numbness
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Mood swings
- Nightmares, flashbacks
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Withdraw from friends and family
- Obsessive/compulsive symptoms
Physical symptoms of trauma
- Dry mouth
- Change in eating and sleeping habits
- Vague symptoms of aches and pains
- Sexual dysfunction
- Muscle tension
- Hyper-arousal, easily startled
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.