So Depressed Can't Function

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

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

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

What Causes Depression?

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

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

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

The Symptoms of Depression

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

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

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

How is Depression Treated?

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

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

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

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

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Comprehensive Depression Treatment

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

anxiety makes me feel like i am losing my mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

Different Types of Anxiety Disorders

The anxiety spectrum of disorders includes:

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

How to Manage Anxiety

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

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

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

Holistic Therapies That Help Manage Stress

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

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

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Effective Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

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

trauma counseling

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

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

Trauma Defined

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

Signs of Trauma Disorder

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

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

What Is Trauma Counseling and How Does It Work?

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

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

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

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

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

Adjunctive Therapies for Treating Trauma

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

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

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

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

When a Higher Level of Care is Appropriate for Trauma Disorder

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

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Trauma Counseling in a Residential Setting

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

When Depression Becomes Debilitating

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

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

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

About Major Depressive Disorder

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

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

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

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

Dual Diagnosis

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

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

Treatment for Depression

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

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

Holistic Therapies for Depression

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

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

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides an Integrated Approach to Treating Depression

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

This mental health and wellness program for depression or dual diagnosis is built upon a foundation of proven therapeutic modalities, such as CBT and DBT. Added to that are holistic therapies, such as yoga, mindfulness training, and meditation, to offer a fully integrated approach to depression treatment. When depression becomes debilitating, a serene, relaxing environment, compassionate therapists, and upscale accommodations can go a long way toward reintroducing joy in life. For more information, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

suboxone withdrawal timeline

Suboxone Withdrawal

Suboxone withdrawal can be painful, difficult, and long-lasting. Although the medication has proven useful for many people, the effects of coming off it can create a challenge.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone® is the combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, and is used as a method of opioid replacement therapy. Initially introduced in the 1980’s, the mix of buprenorphine and naloxone helps to relieve symptoms of withdrawal from opioids. Whether an individual is withdrawing from Percocet, heroin, or morphine, Suboxone can be an effective aid in treating symptoms of withdrawal.

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. It is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from thebaine, a compound found in the opium poppy. As a partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine reaches the opioid receptors in the brain and can ease symptoms of withdrawal without producing the strong high that may be experienced with full agonists like heroin or oxycodone.

Naloxone, the other compound in Suboxone, effectively blocks the effects of opioids. When taking naloxone, somebody may use opioids but will not experience the euphoria or high normally produced. In addition to being a part of Suboxone, naloxone is sold as Narcan. Narcan is an injection given to those suffering from opioid overdose, and can reverse the effects of an overdose. When taken with buprenorphine, naloxone prevents a user from getting high from taking opioids.

Generally speaking, Suboxone is prescribed while an individual is coming off an opioid drug. Some individuals take it for a few days, while others may stay on it for months or years. Although the addiction treatment community seems to have varying opinions on it, current research on Suboxone suggests it to be an effective form of treatment.

What Causes Withdrawals?

Withdrawals begin when somebody stops taking Suboxone or lowers their dose. Because an individual has been taking the drug regularly, the brain has grown accustomed to functioning with it present. Lowering your dose can bring withdrawal symptoms, and you may go through Suboxone withdrawal cold turkey if you stop taking it completely. Withdrawal occurs because your brain is adapting to working without the substance present. This can cause a variety of symptoms in the brain and the physical body.

buprenorphine information

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal may vary greatly. Each person has an individual case, and symptoms are dependent on the length of use, the individual’s health and body weight, and what dose they were taking. People who taper off Suboxone are likely to experience less severe symptoms than those that quit cold turkey. Symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal include:

  • Muscle stiffness and aches
  • Insomnia and daytime sleepiness
  • Indigestion and stomach aches
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Irritability and anger
  • Fever, sweating, and chills
  • Headache and neck stiffness
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Nausea and vomiting

Suboxone Withdrawal Timeline

Suboxone withdrawal length may vary from individual to individual, and there are a variety of factors that may affect the timeline. These factors include how long the individual has been using, what their dose is, their individual weight and health, and the presence of any co-occurring disorders.

The general timeline of withdrawal from Suboxone looks like this:

  • 12-72 Hours

    During the first few days, symptoms generally get worse. They are likely to peak at around 72 hours after your last dose. During these first few days physical symptoms are generally at their worst, and the individual may experience nausea, vomiting, and sweating.

  • 3-7 Days

    During the following few days, an individual will likely experience muscle pain and aches. They also may experience difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Mood swings and depression may begin to arise during this first week.

  • 1-2 Weeks

    This period will generally see the symptoms begin to subside. Physical pain will improve, nausea and vomiting will subside, and the body will regain some energy. However, the person may begin to experience severe cravings and mood swings.

  • 2-4 Weeks

    Post-acute withdrawal symptoms may continue for a few weeks. During these weeks, an individual may find themselves experiencing intense cravings, bouts with depression, and irregular sleeping patterns. Because of dopamine depletion, the person may have difficulty experiencing joy or pleasure from normally pleasurable activities for weeks or months.

Suboxone Detox and Treatment

Suboxone is an opioid, and coming off it by yourself can be quite uncomfortable. Many people who try to detox from Suboxone at home end up relapsing due the the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms,, and it’s imperative you receive professional help in coming off the substance. At a medically-managed detox facility, trained clinicians and doctors will help you to come off Suboxone in the most comfortable and safe manner possible.

If you’re wondering how to deal with Suboxone withdrawal, we strongly recommending reaching out for help. At an addiction treatment center, you will be offered medical care, clinical attention, and a set of tools to get off Suboxone and live a healthy life in recovery. Call us today at (888) 561-0868.

Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms

Klonopin® is the trade name of Clonazepam, a benzodiazepine approved by the FDA to treat seizure disorders and anxiety disorders. Klonopin was patented in the 1960’s and became available in the US in 1975. Since then, it has become a commonly abused recreational drug for its relaxing effects.

Klonopin withdrawal timeline

How Does Clonazepam Work?

Clonazepam increases gamma amino-butyric acid in the brain, which is more commonly known as GABA. The neurotransmitter works by inhibiting the central nervous system, creating a sense of ease, comfort, and muscle relaxation. Because it acts on the GABA receptors, withdrawal and detox from clonazepam can be quite uncomfortable and physically dangerous.

Klonopin has a longer half-life than many other benzodiazepines. The half-life of a drug is how long it stays in your system, and clonazepam’s is over twice as long as the related drug alprazolam (Xanax®). This makes clonazepam more well-suited for longer term care of anxiety disorders, and alprazolam more effective in short-term interventions. However, the long half-life leads to a long withdrawal process as it can take weeks or months for the drug to leave the system completely.

Klonopin Withdrawal

Like other benzodiazepines, klonopin withdrawal can be serious or fatal if not treated properly. As such, it is not advisable to stop taking clonazepam “cold turkey.” Generally, your doctor will wean you off the drug slowly over time in order to minimize discomfort and danger. It’s important to come off benzodiazepines correctly in order to maintain your health and comfort.

Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms

The severity of symptoms in withdrawing from clonazepam depends largely on the individual. Factors in severity of withdrawal symptoms include amount of use, length of use, the individual’s health, and the presence of any co-occurring disorders.

Klonopin withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Hallucinations and/or nightmares
  • Memory loss/lapses
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Anxiety and panic
  • High blood pressure
  • Impaired motor control
  • Depression, fatigue, and lack of motivation
  • Seizures

Psychological Symptoms of Withdrawal

Psychological Symptoms of Withdrawal

Like the withdrawal process from many substances, coming off klonopin can cause intense psychological symptoms. An individual coming off this benzodiazepine may experience waking hallucinations, intense nightmares, pervasive sadness, heightened anxiety and panic, severe drug cravings, and bouts of anger or rage.

Those detoxing from klonopin use are at a heightened risk of suicidal ideations. Along with the previously mentioned psychological symptoms that may arise, this makes klonopin withdrawal a dangerous process to go through alone. With proper medical attention and therapeutic care, these psychological symptoms can be eased in order to help the person detox with minimal discomfort.

Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal

As clonazepam impacts the GABA receptors in the brain, the withdrawal process is physically dangerous as well. When suddenly ceasing klonopin use, an individual may experience headaches, nausea, shaking, irregular sleep patterns, heightened blood pressure, dizziness, muscle tension and spasms, and irregular bowel movements.

In addition, more severe cases of klonopin withdrawal can result in the individual having seizures or falling into a coma. It’s important to know that the detox process can be incredibly dangerous and fatal. The physical symptoms of withdrawal make it imperative that you seek professional medical help when coming off klonopin.

Klonopin Withdrawal Timeline

Because klonopin is a long-acting benzodiazepine, the withdrawal process takes time and patience. Generally, withdrawal symptoms begin arising 2 or 3 days after the last use, which is when it begins to leave your system. During this time, an individual is likely to experience anxiety, insomnia, heightened blood pressure, fatigue, and mental confusion or memory lapses. During this period, the cravings for more clonazepam are often strong.

After a couple weeks, the acute withdrawal symptoms generally begin to subside. However, an individual may experience continued physical and psychological discomfort for weeks or months after. The longer-term withdrawal symptoms are often more mild, but may include anxiety, irregular sleeping patterns, and increased sensitivity to stress.

The timeline of withdrawal depends on the nature of the use and the individual’s biology. The longer you used klonopin, the more likely you are to experience a lengthy withdrawal process.

Klonopin Withdrawal Help

If you or somebody you know is coming off klonopin, it is crucial to seek help. Without help, klonopin withdrawal can be lethal. In addition to the physical dangers, the cravings from withdrawing can be overwhelming and lead the person to continue using.

Unfortunately, klonopin withdrawal needs to be monitored by professionals even if you’ve been taking it as prescribed. With a trained medical team, you can come off clonazepam and stay completely safe. At a quality treatment center or detox, you may be treated with medications, monitoring of vitals, and therapy. This level of care helps ensure your safety and comfort throughout this difficult process.

Many of us in recovery can tell you from experience that trying to get sober on your own rarely works. In fact, many of us tried this before we finally turned to some kind of help. When I was first thinking about getting sober I tried only going to AA meetings. When this didn’t work for me I tried going to only therapy. When I failed again, I finally realized that I needed more help and support. I checked myself into inpatient treatment where I went to regular recovery meetings, had individual and group therapy, and the support of so many people around me. My recovery started working when I became willing to get help from other people. Getting support didn’t mean that I was too weak to do it on my own. It just meant that I realized I didn’t need to make things harder on myself.
eightelevate

1. Longer Programs Produce Better Results

One big reason not to go at it on your own is that the longer someone stays in treatment the more positive the results. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends a program of at least 90 days of inpatient treatment. In fact, one of the biggest obstacles in inpatient treatment is people dropping out. People who chose to stay in these programs and stay longer often do better than people who leave or go to a shorter program. Psychological research has supported this claim. A 2006 study by Moos & Moos found that those who got help were more likely than those who didn’t to stay sober for at least three years.

2. Addiction Treatment Requires Follow Up

According to the National Institute of Heath, treatment for addiction requires continual follow up and monitoring. This is true of any chronic disorder or disease. For example, if you were suffering from diabetes you might need to be hospitalized and work closely with a doctor until everything stabilized. After that you might step down to regular check ins with the doctor and monitoring your own blood sugar. The same kind of care is needed for addiction. Going to inpatient treatment then following a step down program like intensive outpatient and sober living allows people to have more follow up support in recovery. Follow up like this gives people a big network of people to reach out to when they need help or aren’t doing well.

3. Different Things Work for Different People

Another reason to get support in your early recovery is that different things work for different people. Maybe you know someone who is sober and know what they did in order to start their recovery. The problem is that what works for one person won’t work for everyone. Addiction, treatment, and recovery are not one size fits all. The 1998 MATCH study found that recovery rates depended on matching personal characteristics with the correct type of recovery program for them. In some cases this meant an emphasis on 12 step treatment but for others it meant cognitive behavioral therapy. Although this research is a little dated, the findings still hold true. When finding help for addiction it is important to find the right kind of help. Rather than going it on your own it can be important to reach out to someone who can help you find the right kind of facility or program for you.

4. More is Better

Another reason to get support in your recovery is that doing different recovery activities has an additive effect according to research by Hillhouse, PhD. This means that treatment plus a twelve step program is better than just treatment on its own. Rather than trying to recover from drug an alcohol addiction with self-help books, it is better to do everything that you can. Going to treatment or only attending only AA meetings might work for some people but for most people it is better to do more. This is also a great reason to check out more than one step-based recovery program, have individual and group therapy, and to have a sponsor and a therapist. All of these different recovery activities will help with something different, so do as many as you’re able to!

5. Recovery is More than Abstinence

It is true that recovery often begins with abstinence from drugs, alcohol, or process addictions. However, recovery is much more than abstinence. According to the NIH effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just substance use. It might be possible to stop drinking or doing drugs on your own. However, it is much harder to deal with the underlying causes of the addiction without any help. The reason that so many people turn to professionals for help is that they can treat the root of the problem. Often drug and alcohol abuse is a symptoms of an underlying issue that is unresolved. By getting support you can get help staying clean and feeling better as well.

6. Self-Detox can be Dangerous

This is a huge reason to get support in your recovery. It can be risky and even life threatening to stop taking drugs or alcohol without assistance. The National Center for Biotechnology Information has published research that withdrawal from alcohol and benzodiazepines has caused death in some patients. Klonopin withdrawal, for example, may cause seizures, high blood pressure, and suicidal ideations. Due to the dangers of self-detox it is recommended that people who are trying to come off of drugs or alcohol get help doing so.

7. Medication Might be Necessary

Aside from a medically assisted detox, some people need medication throughout recovery. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration favors what is called medication-assisted treatment. This might not be necessary for all people but some do require medication. For example, during treatment someone might discover that they have an underlying depression or anxiety disorder. If this is the case the treatment plan might include medication. It is very hard if not impossible to get the proper medication if you do not have support from a doctor in your recovery.

8. You’ll Get Help in Other Areas

My final reason to reach out for support is that most treatment programs will help you find a job, go back to school, and find housing when you’re ready. Perhaps you can find a reputable sober companion to work with. As I have said more than once in this post, recovery is about more than just not drinking and using. Having this help to find work or pursue your passion can be incredibly helpful when you are going through a period of change. When you try to get sober by yourself there is no one there to help you navigate these life changes.

 



Holistic Wellness Programs for Treating Addiction and Mental Illness

Philosophers often discuss the difference between “being” and “well-being.” In order to simply “be,” a person or thing must have certain qualities or attributes that define its core essence. These features describe the subject’s basic existence, but they do not address what is necessary to thrive or flourish.

Many treatment facilities tout the core treatments that provide clients with the means to attain sobriety. But there are additional components necessary to help someone achieve the benefits of a happy, healthy life experience.

These benefits address much more than the cessation of problems that led them to treatment in the first place. Instead, they address the broader considerations that make up a fulfilled life and contribute to the person’s “well-being” and not just their “being.”

It is essential for people in recovery to understand and improve all the different parts of their existence, so they can consciously build better lives.

Understanding and Defining Holistic Wellness

“Wellness” is a term that comes up frequently in certain circles, and the term can be used in many ways. Although there are multiple views on exactly what the concept encompasses, the National Wellness Institute, in conjunction with leaders of varying health and wellness fields, has suggested that most models of wellness agree upon the following principles:

  • Wellness is a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.
  • Wellness is multidimensional and holistic, encompassing lifestyle, mental and spiritual aspects and the environment.
  • Wellness is positive and affirming.

With these principles in mind, the NWI proposes that, “Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of and make choices toward a more successful existence.”1

Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of and make choices toward a more successful existence.

Wrapping all of this together, we can define “holistic wellness” as the condition of being in optimum overall health, which is a blend of physical, mental and spiritual well-being. The condition is the result of consciously choosing to live a quality life; it doesn’t happen by accident. It’s a day-to-day choice involving an active process of increasing self-awareness, as well as community-supported, self-directed action.

What Are Holistic Wellness Programs?

The goal of holistic health is to achieve maximum well-being, where everything is functioning in the best way possible. The path of holistic wellness is a life-long journey that emphasizes personal responsibility and commitment.

The path of holistic wellness is a life-long journey that emphasizes personal responsibility and commitment.

Without specific ways to work toward this goal, people would flounder without any ability to truly make progress. That’s where holistic wellness programs come in.

Holistic wellness programs are an essential part of any well-rounded recovery program. These programs comprise the methods that give people the tools to feel more whole as human beings. The features of holistic wellness programs are designed to take into account the entire person as they move forward in their quest for optimal health and wholeness.

Specific program components may include things like individual therapy, meditation, mindfulness and yoga, which promote positive attitudes and teach practical methods for coping with stressful situations. One may also learn about healthy nutrition, the importance of regular physical exercise and other helpful life practices, such as journaling.

Yoga – Posing for Wellness

Yoga is a technique that uses physical postures and controlled breathing to develop many mental and physical benefits.2 The postures used in yoga practice are sometimes difficult to achieve or hold, but the purpose goes far beyond merely becoming a human pretzel.

The challenging poses and movements of yoga help create flexibility and strength as they elongate the spine, improve muscle elasticity, reduce stiffness in the joints and increase overall mobility. The focus required during practice also calms the mind, improves concentration and promotes patience. Regular practice is needed to fully experience these benefits.

For those in recovery, yoga offers some specific advantages. For example, many addictions begin as a coping mechanism or a way of filling an emotional or spiritual void. As a result, people in treatment for addiction must learn to deal with their emotions and environment in healthier ways.

Studies of the biological impact of yoga have noted a correlation between yoga and inhibiting the dopamine surge that typically results from using drugs. The studies found that intense breathing patterns in certain forms of yoga release the body’s natural pleasure-producing endorphins. A healthy yoga practice can help suppress addictive behaviors while restoring the brain’s dopamine functions to healthier levels.

Those in recovery know full well that stressful situations can trigger addictive behavior and cravings. The very process of adjusting to sober living can be stressful. Since yoga emphasizes willpower and stress reduction, those in recovery can learn to combat that stress, better resist temptation and regain control over their bodies.

Since yoga emphasizes willpower and stress reduction, those in recovery can learn to combat that stress, better resist temptation and regain control over their bodies.

Meditation – Doing Something Good for Yourself

Meditation is not an esoteric, mystical exercise best left for ascetic monks. Although there are numerous forms of meditation practice arising from various historic traditions, most of them share a simple common principle: intentionally setting aside time to do something good for yourself.

Meditation involves intentionally setting aside time to do something good for yourself.

That may seem like an oversimplification, but it accurately describes the underlying purpose of meditative practices. Whether the form of meditation incorporates bodily movement or is stationary, both emphasize the good that results from quietness of the mind.

The primary goal of developing a sense of inner calm, sometimes called detachment, enables meditation to fit well within the recovery process. This is because overcoming substance abuse disorders often involves a person establishing distance between themselves and their desire to use.

Meditation encourages the practitioner to view their own impulses from a third-person perspective, as they observe and examine their own thoughts and motivations. This is not always easy, but the skill will enable them to gain a psychological detachment from their cravings, along with the ability to properly understand such desires. This helps cultivate contentedness without the need to resort to alcohol or drug abuse.

While the full benefits from meditation may take time, neuroscientists have found that even short-term meditation can have profoundly positive effects on the brain. In one study, after just five 20-minute sessions of meditative technique, participants had increased blood flow to an area of the brain vital to self-control. After 11 hours of accumulated practice, the scientists found actual physical changes in the brain around this same area.3

By building a stronger awareness of themselves and their environment, people in recovery can realize the impact drugs and alcohol have had on their lives and start to discover their triggers. Meditation fosters an appreciation for the mind and body, which builds motivation to treat oneself with respect.

Meditation fosters an appreciation for the mind and body, which builds motivation to treat oneself with respect.

Mindfulness – Moment-by-Moment Awareness

Mindfulness can be a form of meditation, but it is worth distinguishing here in our overview of holistic wellness. Mindfulness-based interventions have shown compelling evidence of significant benefit for people in recovery from addictive disorders.

Though it has roots in Buddhist meditation, the common secular practice of mindfulness was established through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, which was launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979.

In its most basic definition, mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment. It also involves acceptance of thoughts and feelings without judging them. By removing the tendency to determine what is “right” or “wrong” with a certain thought or feeling, a person is more able to concentrate on what they’re sensing in the moment, rather than comparing it with the past or imagining the future.

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment.

Thousands of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness. Because the practice promotes nonjudgmental acceptance of moment-to-moment thoughts, mindfulness has been shown to interrupt the tendency to respond to experiences using harmful behaviors, such as substance use. As the individual learns to respond with awareness and not to react automatically, they are also more likely to resist cravings.4

For individuals in recovery, the struggle with temptations toward drugs or alcohol is inevitable. Mindfulness meditation is one way to gain awareness of these thoughts, accept them without feelings of guilt or shame and learn how to cope in healthier ways.

Physical Fitness – Strong Body and Mind

It’s no secret that regular exercise is good for the body. But physical exercise is also one of the most effective ways to improve mental health. Exercise has a profound and positive impact upon symptoms of depression, anxiety, ADHD and more. In addition to boosting overall mood, exercise relieves stress, improves memory and helps people sleep better.

In addition to boosting overall mood, exercise relieves stress, improves memory and helps people sleep better.

But don’t worry, there’s no need to become a hardcore fitness devotee. Research indicates that even modest amounts of exercise can make a real difference, as evidenced by the popularity of such things as the scientific 7-minute workout.5

No matter what fitness plan or routine one may settle into, there are definitely worthwhile rewards for the efforts. Here are some outstanding examples of the mental health benefits of exercise:6

  • Reduce Stress. Working out can relieve physical and mental tension and increases concentrations of norepinephrine, a chemical that can moderate the brain’s response to stress.
  • Boost Happy Chemicals. Exercise releases endorphins, which create feelings of happiness and euphoria. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among people suffering from depression or anxiety.
  • Improve Self-Confidence. Physical fitness boosts self-esteem and improves self-image. Regardless of a person’s particular physique, even moderate exercise can quickly elevate self-perception and self-worth.
  • Prevent Cognitive Decline. While it won’t stop the aging process, exercise boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.
  • Alleviate Anxiety. During and after exercise, chemicals released in the body can help people with anxiety disorders calm down even more effectively than a 20-minute soak in the hot tub.
  • Boost Brainpower. More than merely preventing decline, studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise can create new brain cells and improve overall brain performance. Challenging
  • workouts increase levels of a protein known as BDNF. This is believed to help with decision making, higher thinking and learning.
  • Sharpen Memory. Regular physical activity enhances the ability to learn new things. Research has linked brain development with levels of physical fitness, and one study showed that running sprints improved vocabulary retention among healthy adults.
  • Help Control Addiction. Dopamine, which is known as the brain’s “reward chemical,” is released in response to any form of pleasure, including sex, drugs, alcohol or food. One aspect of addiction involves dependency on the substances that produce dopamine. But exercise can help in recovery, since working out can effectively diminish and distract from cravings.
  • Increase Relaxation and Improve Sleep. Often those in recovery find their body processes are interrupted, including circadian or sleep rhythms. Exercise can help reboot the body clock, enabling people to relax and have more regular sleep cycles.
  • Get More Done. Those who exercise regularly have been shown to have higher energy levels, which leads to greater productivity. Sedentary people tire more easily and quickly, leaving less mojo for work and play.

Journaling – Insights for Life

Journaling is an effective tool with widespread use among those recovering from an addiction. It has been called the least expensive, most accessible form of therapy, and it can produce meaningful results for those who take advantage of it for gaining insights into their own life.

Keeping a journal is straightforward; it requires writing down brief thoughts, ideas, observations, stories, important events, successes during recovery or even a simple record of an exercise routine.

There are numerous methods and styles of journaling, and each person can adopt an approach that fits their personality and schedule. There’s no need to be verbose; even a single word that captures a feeling or mood can provide powerful insights, which lead to better understanding and discernment.

Writing in a journal encourages people to think critically and examine their thoughts and assumptions. Clearer thinking helps overcome negativity, reduces stress and may even lower the risk of relapse. Journaling is also a way to track progress and increase motivation. Journals are private expressions, recorded without fear of judgment.

Writing in a journal encourages people to think critically and examine their thoughts and assumptions.

The point is not the subject of the writing or the amount of writing. Instead, it’s about taking the time to write and engage in personal introspection. After journaling for a few months, many are amazed when they look back to see where they were and where they are now. In some cases, they are encouraged by how far they’ve come. Other times they may be surprised to find they’re revisiting old habits.7

Holistic Individual Therapy – Building Skills for the Future

Recovery and rehabilitation frequently involves therapy. Holistic therapy takes an integrated approach and pays attention to the connections between a person’s mind, body and spirit.

Unlike some forms of therapy, which seek to treat the symptoms, holistic therapy sessions try to uncover the underlying causes that led to substance abuse or contributed to other unhealthy behaviors. Holistic therapists use multiple approaches to address issues and encourage self-awareness and self-acceptance in those in recovery.

Holistic therapists use multiple approaches to address issues and encourage self-awareness and self-acceptance in those in recovery.

Counselors or therapists typically provide a variety of services to people in treatment for substance use disorders, including assessment, treatment planning and counseling. Individual counseling often focuses on reducing or stopping substance use, skill building, adherence to a recovery plan and social, family and professional/educational outcomes.8

Nutrition Education – Fueling the Healing Process

Improper nutrition can severely hinder the normal functioning of the body, including its ability to heal and overcome illness. Drugs and alcohol can further amplify the disruptive effects of a poor diet. Improving nutrition is essential for diminishing and correcting some of the biochemical and digestive problems often developed during addiction.9

Improving nutrition is essential for diminishing and correcting some of the biochemical and digestive problems often developed during addiction.

Proper nutrition helps those in recovery (and everyone else) feel better because nutrients give the body energy, help build and repair organ tissue and strengthen the immune system. Many people experience damage to vital organs during the course of their drug or alcohol abuse. Establishing good nutrition provides them with the crucial building blocks needed to begin restoring the damage.

Mood and attitude are also affected by nutrition. Changes in the diet can alter brain structure both chemically and physiologically, thus influencing behavior. Certain foods have been connected to increased production of brain chemicals like serotonin, which enhances a person’s mood.

Using healthy food and regular meals to fuel the healing process is an important strategy for reaching optimal well-being and energizing the recovery process. In many cases, just feeling better due to proper diet can even reduce the risk of relapse, since the temptations may have less appeal.

Bringing It All Together

Hopefully, this overview of holistic wellness programs was encouraging and highlighted the many benefits of such an approach to recovery. But more than as just a means to recovery, programs focused on holistic wellness bring together the tools and knowledge for lifelong preventative and restorative health solutions. This provides the essentials for achieving a healthy body and mind, allowing each person to take responsibility for their own well-being.

Sources:

1. Six Dimensions of Wellness. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nationalwellness.org

2. Pizer, A. (2016, April). What is Yoga? Retrieved from https://www.verywell.com/what-is-yoga-3566739

3. Tang, Y.; Lu, Q.; Geng, X.; Stein, E. A.; Yang, Y. and Posner, M. I. (2010, August). Short-term Meditation Induces White Matter Changes in the Anterior Cingulate. Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/107/35/15649.full

4. Marcus, M. T. and Zgierska, A. (2009). Mindfulness-Based Therapies for Substance Use Disorders: Part 1. Substance Abuse, 30(4), 263. Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.1080/08897070903250027

5. Reynolds, G. (2013, May). The Scientific 7-Minute Workout. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-scientific-7-minute-workout

6. Breene, S. (2013, March). 13 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/27/mental-health-benefits-exercise_n_2956099.html

7. Howes, R. (2011, January). Journaling in Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-therapy/201101/journaling-in-therapy

8. Treatment for Substance Abuse Disorders. (2015, September). Retrieved from http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/substance-use-disorders

9. Miller, R. (2010, May). Nutrition in Addiction Recovery. Retrieved from http://mhof.net/sites/default/files/Addiction%20and%20Recovery%20Report.pdf

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Who Can Benefit

The term dual diagnosis refers to a condition in which a person has both a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder simultaneously. Each condition worsens the other, intensifying symptoms and complicating recovery.

A dual diagnosis approach offers integrated treatment options, which significantly improves outcomes over traditional therapy approaches that do not differentiate the two conditions.

Diversity of Dual Disorders

Even though studies may group people together when they suffer from mental illnesses and addictions, most treatment providers agree that there is no single type of dual disorder. As a broad category, dual diagnosis involves a host of different possible illnesses and conditions.

From mild depression to severe bipolar disorder, any mental illnesses recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders can be part of a dual diagnosis when combined with substance abuse. These mental disorders become increasingly complex when a person suffering from the illness also abuses drugs or alcohol. Therefore, such situations warrant a dual diagnosis and a simultaneous treatment protocol.

The symptoms people experience vary greatly depending on the mental illness involved. Some forms of psychiatric illness can impair an individual’s ability to function on a daily basis, while another mental illness might only cause periodic impairment.

When substance abuse is added to the mix, the nature of dual disorders becomes even more diverse. For example, depending on the particular substance being abused, a person may feel sedated and calm, while another person may feel energized or paranoid. Both patients could have a dual diagnosis, but their disease modalities are unique, so the specific treatment paths would also be different.

Importance of Integrated Treatment

For the reasons noted above, effective treatment for individuals with a dual diagnosis necessarily involves an integrated treatment plan. This means that both conditions—the mental disorder and the addiction—will be treated at the same time.

If only one problem is treated at a time, it leaves the other problem in place. Since the two conditions aggravate each other, there is an elevated risk for continued imbalance that may severely impair recovery. For real, lasting improvement and healing to occur, both issues must be addressed together.

Effective integrated treatment can involve inpatient or outpatient programs, depending on the nature and severity of the symptoms. Both types of programs typically include the following features:

  • Parallel treatment of mental health and substance use disorders
  • Balanced use of psychotherapeutic medications, such as anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds
  • Group and/or individual therapy that builds self-confidence and restores self-esteem
  • Ongoing recovery strategy, including education, as well as the involvement of partners, spouses, children and family members

Reaping the Benefits of Dual Diagnosis Treatment

A study in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse found that many with a dual diagnosis had related issues that significantly impacted the quality of their lives. In addition to the symptoms inherent to their illnesses, they experienced things like:

  • Poor family and social relationships
  • Undesirable living arrangements
  • A history of arrest
  • Previous psychiatric hospitalizations
  • A history of abusing multiple drugs

Anyone struggling with the compound symptoms of co-occurring disorders could benefit from a dual diagnosis treatment. Integrated treatment offers better outcomes for severe cases of addiction, including users of multiple substances and users with severe forms of mental illness, such as schizophrenia.

People with a dual diagnosis frequently need more intensive help in order to achieve sobriety. The diversity and effectiveness of integrated treatment offers the understanding care and specialized assistance they need.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment What Is It

For a long time, people experiencing the symptoms of mental health disorders where treated separately from those needing help with drug or alcohol abuse. Mental illnesses were sometimes ignored or those with overlapping conditions were frequently denied treatment for their psychiatric disorders until the substance abuse was under control.

This began to change in the 1990s with the advent of dual diagnosis treatment. This relatively new concept in addiction recovery involves recognizing that someone can experience mental illness and substance abuse simultaneously.

Determining the Dual Diagnosis

Although dual diagnosis is a broad category, there are two key factors involved in determining whether the diagnosis is warranted.

An individual must meet the criteria for mental illness as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM is an official guideline for mental health professionals and is used for diagnosing and treating patients. A dual diagnosis also requires symptoms of drug or alcohol addiction or abuse.

In other words, someone experiencing a mental health condition could be using drugs to self-medicate, in an effort to improve their troubling mental health symptoms. On the other hand, if someone is abusing drugs, they could trigger or intensify an underlying mental health condition.

The diagnosis does not require identifying which of these issues developed first; it only requires that both be present.

Co-Occurring Symptoms and Dual Diagnosis

When both a mental health illness and a substance use disorder coexist, they are referred to as co-occurring disorders. People with mental health disorders are more likely to experience an alcohol or substance use disorder than are those without mental health disorders.

According to information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Alliance of Mental Illness, the frequency of co-occurring disorders is significant:

  • Approximately 7.9 million adults had co-occurring disorders in 2014.
  • About one third of people experiencing mental illnesses also experience substance abuse.
  • About fifty percent of those living with severe mental illnesses also experience substance abuse.
  • Men are more likely to develop co-occurring disorders than women.
  • Military veterans, individuals with lower socioeconomic status and people with general medical illnesses have particularly high risk for co-occurring disorders.

Dual diagnosis is a relatively new approach for identifying and treating people with these co-occurring disorders. Unlike times in the past, where one set of symptoms may have been ignored or left untreated, individuals with co-occurring disorders can now receive integrated treatment.

With a dual diagnosis, practitioners can address mental and substance use disorders at the same time, creating better outcomes for their patients.

Benefits of Dual Diagnosis

Although there are numerous variables for treating someone with a dual diagnosis, it commonly involves an integrated intervention. In this treatment, the patient receives care for both the substance abuse and any identified mental illness.

Addiction often has to do with trauma, anxiety, depression and chemical imbalances in the brain. Those struggling with addiction frequently try to relieve their own pain through drugs or alcohol.

But if they have struggled with an undiagnosed mental illness, getting a dual diagnosis can bring great relief. Identifying a specific mental condition that may be contributing to the substance abuse can give a tremendous sense of hope and open new doors for effective treatment.

Mental disorders and addiction have multiple underlying causes, but dual diagnosis treatment deals with these simultaneously, enabling a full and lasting recovery.