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.
Our mental health may be more fragile than we realize, sometimes even completely sidelining us. We each have a certain capacity to withstand distressing events or situations, accessing our personal coping skills and emotional reserves as needed. But when events begin to spiral and multiply, those reserves may become depleted and any coping skills we have can become totally ineffective. This is when a depressive disorder can set in.
Depression is a very common mental health disorder, impacting more than 17 million Americans every year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Depression takes a toll on families and employers, as the individual suffering from depression becomes increasingly disconnected from their daily responsibilities. Depression is also hard on relationships, causing frustration and confusion, and destabilizing marriages and friendships as a result.
When depression becomes so severe that you say, “I don’t want to get out of bed anymore,” it is time to get some help from a mental health provider. There are effective treatment methods available to help manage depression symptoms and improve overall quality of life.
The Signs of Severe Depression
It is difficult to describe severe depression to someone who has never experienced it. Family members and loved ones may wonder why you can’t just snap out of it and get back to functioning normally. It helps for these individuals to have a better understanding of just what depression, especially severe depression, looks like. Symptoms include a cluster of the following:
- Hopelessness. Negative emotions and dark thoughts begin to gather critical mass in major depressive disorder, such as feelings of hopelessness, despair, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, and shame. The individual sees him or herself in a negative light, and may blame themselves for perceived faults and flaws. As these thoughts become more pervasive and self-esteem plummets, the threat of self-harm increases.
- Changes in Eating Habits. When someone is suffering from major depressive disorder there may be a sudden change in their weight. Some may experience an increased appetite and eat more as a coping mechanism, resulting in weight gain. Others may become so depressed that they have no desire to feed themselves or take care of their nutritional needs, leading to weight loss.
- Loss of Interest. One of the predominant signs of severe depression is the individual’s sudden loss of interest in activities or hobbies they once enjoyed. While in the darkness of depression, these individuals have no desire to attend social events or to socialize at all. This can eventually include going to work where feel forced to interact with coworkers.
- Sleep Disturbances. Severe depression can cause changes in sleep habits and rhythms. In some cases the individual wants to sleep excessively (hypersomnia). Major depression can also cause an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep (insomnia), featuring fragmented sleep patterns.
- Anger or Irritability. Anger symptoms are more prevalent in depressed men, although depressed women can also exhibit mood swings and irritability. The source of the anger may be due to feeling frustrated, or possibly the result of feeling out of control and unable to shake the depression. Depression can cause the individual to be easily annoyed and even prone to violent outbursts.
- Excessive Fatigue. A pronounced loss of energy is one of the common signs of severe depression, leading to comments such as “I don’t want to get out of bed anymore.” The individual feels so exhausted they can barely function. Even daily personal hygiene or fixing meals requires too much effort, so the individual may spend the majority of time in bed due to feeling drained.
- Increased Substance Use. Individuals with depression may begin to self-medicate through the use of alcohol or drugs. Substance abuse is a reaction to feelings of despair and hopelessness and wanting to numb the emotional pain. There is a real danger that addiction can form, leading to a dual diagnosis of major depressive disorder and a coexisting substance use disorder.
- Suicidal Ideation. Pay attention if your loved one who is struggling with deepening depression begins to obsess about death, or say their loved ones would be better off without them. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 90% of the individuals who have committed suicide had an underlying mental health disorder, usually depression or bipolar disorder.
When depression has reached the point when you think, “I don’t want to get out of bed anymore,” it is very serious. This is the point at which depression has become debilitating, severely impairing one’s ability to function normally and increasing the risk of suicide.
Different Types of Depression
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Major depressive disorder is diagnosed in individuals who experience five or more of the diagnostic criteria most of the time for more than two weeks. To summarize:
- Persistent feelings of hopelessness or sadness
- Change in eating habits, weight gain or loss
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Irrational feelings of guilt or shame
- Slowed movements or thinking
- Sleep disturbances
- Loss of interest in activities usually enjoyed
- Suicidal thoughts
Dysthymia (Persistent Depression Disorder)
This is a type of MDD that persists for more than two years. Someone with dysthymia may experience periods of severe depression alternating with periods of milder depression, but experiences no relief of the depressive symptoms for two years or more.
This involves MDD with psychotic features. The individual may experience delusional thoughts or hallucinations in addition to the symptoms of depression. There may be a theme for the illness, such as revolving around a serious illness or fear of poverty.
Some women experience serious symptoms of MDD during and/or after giving birth. The symptoms may be so severe that the mother is unable to care for her child or themselves, and often experience severe fatigue, anxiety, exhaustion, and profound sadness.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
In certain climates individuals may experience symptoms of MDD that are caused by a lack of sun exposure and vitamin D intake during the winter months. The individual may experience weight gain, hypersomnia, and isolation behaviors in addition to the symptoms of depression.
This disorder features alternating dramatic and unpredictable shifts between depressive and manic moods. The depressive episodes may last anywhere from a day or two to several weeks.
Suicide Warning Signs
Recent statistics show that more people in the United States now die by suicide than in automobile accidents, with about 44,000 Americans choosing to end their lives annually. In many instances, especially in individuals who say, “I don’t want to get out of bed anymore,” there may be signs that an individual is despondent enough to possibly attempt suicide. These warning signs and symptoms might include:
- Symptoms of depression
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Humiliation or shame
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Isolating from family and friends
- Extreme fatigue
- Excessive sleeping
- Saying they are a burden to other
- Expressing hopelessness
- Saying they have no reason to live
- Sharing that they are in unbearable pain
- Gives away prized possessions
- Talks of killing self
In the event where a loved one is exhibiting a mental health crisis or several of the warning signs, immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.
Comprehensive Residential Depression Treatment
When someone is in the grip of depression they may not even be aware of how serious their condition has become. More often than not it is a loved one who becomes alarmed at the increasing severity of the individual’s depression symptoms that reaches out to get the person professional help. Depression treatment consists of a combination of antidepressant drug therapy and psychotherapy. Other complementary therapies, such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness training can augment the effects of the traditional therapies. Changes in diet and getting regular exercise can also positively impact mood.
Medication is considered the first-line treatment element for individuals with a depressive disorder. Antidepressant therapy involves medications available as SSRIs, SNRIs, MAOIs, or tricyclic antidepressants that help adjust brain chemistry and hopefully alleviate the symptoms of depression.
Evidence-based psychotherapies are an effective addition to antidepressant drug therapy in treating depression. Individual talk therapy sessions allow the therapist to guide the individual toward resolving unaddressed emotional issues that may be contributing to the depression. These may involve past trauma, childhood abuse, grief and loss, divorce, and other painful life events. Thought and behavior patters are also examined and adjusted through cognitive behavioral therapy.
Small groups discuss topics introduced by the therapist and engage in sharing their personal feelings and experiences. This provides a sense of connection and camaraderie with others who are also struggling with depression.
There is a growing trend in psychiatry to include holistic therapies among the treatment elements for depression. These activities can help reduce stress and induce feelings of inner peace.
In the event that an individual is suffering from a mental health crisis, such as a suicide attempt, a higher level of care is appropriate. A residential treatment program offers acute stabilization provisions, as well as extended care for severe depression. The residential setting provides a more intensive, customized treatment protocol for the individual with severe and persistent depression.
Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Comprehensive Depression Treatment
Elevation Behavioral Health is a full-spectrum mental health center providing residential mental health treatment, transitional housing, and outpatient services. Elevation Behavioral Health believes in an integrated approach to treating depression, offering evidence-based therapies, medication management, and holistic activities for a well-rounded program. For more details about our depression treatment program, please reach out to Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.
Good nutrition education is an important factor in addiction recovery. Prolonged drug and alcohol abuse take a major toll on physical health, and getting the body’s systems back to their optimum functioning should be a major consideration in treatment. A healthy diet impacts everything from the intensity of withdrawal symptoms to mood, level of alertness and overall sense of well-being.
Self-care is a major focus in addiction treatment, and good self-care includes eating properly and staying hydrated. Nutrition education is the first step in helping people in recovery begin to eat better, which is usually the first major essential lifestyle change.
Good Nutrition from the Get-Go is Essential
Detoxification is the first step in treatment. From the very start, eating healthy food is crucial for fueling the internal repairs that are taking place, which may include recovering from malnutrition and enhancing the functioning of the body’s systems. The National Institutes of Health points out that good nutrition during the detox process can ease a range of withdrawal symptoms, including cravings, gastrointestinal discomfort and sleep problems.
A Healthy Diet Helps Prevent Relapse
Research shows that enjoying good overall health and a high sense of physical well-being makes people less likely to relapse. One reason for this is that the pleasant physical effects of eating healthy food often lead to other healthy lifestyle choices like exercising, meditating and taking steps to reduce stress. Combined, these can dramatically reduce the risk of relapse.
A Healthy Diet Can Help Reverse the Effects of Substance Abuse
Chronic alcohol and drug abuse can cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies, neurological problems, anemia and liver damage, among other health issues. Good nutrition helps to reverse much of the damage done by substance abuse.
Weight gain and weight loss may occur as a result of addiction and poor nutrition. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is largely a matter of eating a nutritious diet and getting plenty of exercise.
The Importance of Nutrition Education in Treatment
Addressing the many various and highly individual aspects of an addiction, including physical health, is absolutely essential for successful recovery, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
To that end, Elevation takes a holistic approach to treatment that includes a wide range of traditional and alternative therapies that address body, mind and spirit. Nutrition education is an integral part of our programming, as it should be in any high-quality treatment program.
Nutrition education helps our clients make informed, healthy choices that strengthen the body’s systems, improve mental functioning, help stabilize the mood, and foster a higher sense of well-being, all of which are crucial for successful long-term recovery.
Understanding basic nutrition is essential for knowing how to optimally fuel the body for the long fight ahead, and knowing how to choose and prepare healthy food is vital for maintaining a healthy diet once treatment is complete. Nutrition education encompasses all of these aspects to help people in recovery maintain overall wellness and good health.
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<?li>
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.
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.
Addiction recovery is a long road, but it is one that is worth traveling. As with any journey, there are a plethora of ways to reach the destination—some longer, some shorter—but the important thing is to keep moving forward. Sometimes there are roadblocks, though. Sometimes things like peer pressure, cravings or depression slowly creep in and narrow the pathway until it is completely blocked, causing a relapse.
People on the path to recovery may stumble and fall down for a bit, but theycan always get back up. It’s just a matter of remembering the purpose of their journey and pushing forward. In order to continue on the path to recovery, it’s important to be able to recognize and combat common triggers of relapse.
Make New Friends
While people are in rehab, they’re away from everyone who they used to abuse drugs or alcohol with. They’re safe. But once they return to day-to-day life, that all changes. They’re submerged back into the world where they used, but all of a sudden they’re no longer using. It’s a huge life change. The good news is that with the right support group and sober friends, they will be able to enjoy life in a brand new way.
It is important for anyone in recovery to have a good network in place of people who support their sobriety. That way people know where to go and what to do when they begin feeling desperate—instead of turning back to drugs. They could even start to make a difference in other people’s lives. The important thing is removing themselves from as many triggering events as possible, including old friends.
Avoid Pink Cloud Syndrome
It is common for people who find their sobriety and start living in recovery to believe that they are no longer at risk for relapse. They’re living a new life, and addiction can’t touch them anymore. This is called pink cloud syndrome. The unfortunate truth is that addiction is a disease, and no matter how long they’re sober, they’re still in recovery.
People who experience pink cloud syndrome paint a false picture around themselves as a way to cope with the after-effects of addiction. They feel unable to cope on their own, so they remove themselves from reality. Sadly, this type of thinking only ends in heartache and, sometimes, relapse.
Deal with Stress in a Healthy Way
Sometimes the emotions, problems and situations that first led a person to using will also lead them to relapse. This means that they have to be especially careful during recovery when life gets tough. If a person loses a job, argues with their significant other or faces everyday challenges, it is vital that they are educated on how to handle high levels of stress without falling back into substance abuse. These life skills can be difficult to learn, but with the proper help from a professional counselor, they’ll be able to take anything the world can throw at them.
Don’t Lose Hope
Relapse can be scary. But it is avoidable with a proper relapse prevention plan. People should take any opportunity to put an advantage in their corner. Paying attention to common triggers and learning how to cope with them in a healthy way—or avoiding them altogether—will allow them to stay on the path to recovery. It is a beautiful journey, after all.
When people make the choice to get addiction treatment, they should remember that getting help is not an admission of failure. People don’t need to feel bad about their choice not to fight this battle alone—that’s what treatment is for. Choosing to get help means that they recognize the problem, and they accept responsibility for their lives and their choices going forward.
There is a Japanese proverb that says, “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” It doesn’t matter what people have been through in the past, or how many mistakes they’ve made; making the decision to get treatment is standing up that eighth time.
Making the choice to get treatment can bring out a lot of emotions. Admitting to needing help, picking the right treatment center and experiencing the symptoms of detox can be overwhelming. That’s a lot of change.
Family issues often develop alongside addiction. Healing family ties will help people be able to move on from past traumas and disputes and focus solely on feeling better. Family will likely be their strongest support network, so it is important to be honest with one another and develop an open line of communication. Each wound that is healed is a great stride toward cleansing their lives and healing their mind and body.
Get the Right Information
Seeking treatment is most effective if a person chooses a facility that fits their personality and needs. To do that, it’s best to start gathering information about various treatment facilities. It’s important not to just pick the closest place, but instead choose the facility that is best equipped to deal with their particular situation. Out-of-state treatment is significantly more effective than in-state treatment because it removes people from their triggering areas of familiarity and makes it much more difficult to give up and go home.
The types of programs available and cost of treatment are also something to consider. It would be nice if people didn’t have to worry about the price tag, but that’s not realistic. They should look into how much the treatment will cost and what the payment options are. Talking to experienced counselors can help them make the right choice when it comes to treatment.
Follow Through with the Recovery Plan
After determining which facility is right for them, it’s time to follow through with the treatment plan. Just reading and learning about their condition and the various types of treatment is not going to make the problem go away. Making the decision to get treatment is hard, but taking control of their lives will lead themto a much happier, brighter future.
That first step can be scary. It’s stepping into the unknown, onto a path that they may not have walked before. But their new life of health and success will greatly outweigh these brief moments of discomfort.
One of the most significant medical developments in the past thirty years has been the emergence of antidepressant drug therapy. Antidepressants were the breakthrough intervention for the treatment of depression since the 1980s, and have been found to be efficacious for many other mental health disorders as well. Antidepressants are a cornerstone treatment element for depressive disorders, prescribed alongside psychotherapy and other interventions for best results.
Antidepressant drug therapy mitigates symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other mood disorders, and personality disorders. These drugs help alleviate distress by balancing chemicals in the brain called the neurotransmitters. Nearly 13% of Americans aged 12 and older are on antidepressants, based on data provided by the Centers for Disease Control.
Among those prescribed antidepressants, the highest prevalence was among adults aged 65 and older. Regarding possible over-prescribing of antidepressants for older adults, Dr. Donovan Mause, M.D., M.S. who specializes in geriatrics at the University of Michigan states, “Many patients are given antidepressants for non-depression diagnoses, such as anxiety, sleep, and neuropathic pain.”
When a doctor decides to prescribe an antidepressant, he or she will take into consideration the benefit versus risk ratio. This simply means that the overall benefit to the wellbeing of the patient is balanced against potential side effects. For many individuals diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or a mood disorder, an antidepressant regimen offers significant benefits that offset the possible adverse effects. For those who find side effects intolerable, alternative treatments for treatment are then explored.
There are five categories of antidepressants. These include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are designed to modulate how serotonin is processed. These drugs increase the level of serotonin in the brain and block the reabsorption, or reuptake, of serotonin, making more serotonin available for transmitting messages between the neurons. Drugs in this class include Prozac, Lustral, Cipramil, Faverin, and Seroxat.
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). A newer type of antidepressant, the SNRIs work by blocking both the norepinephrine and serotonin neurotransmitters. These drugs include Cymbalta, Effexor, Fetzima, and Pristiq.
- Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). Only one drug is represented in this class, which blocks reuptake of both dopamine and norepinephrine, Wellbutrin.
- Tetracyclics. These are drugs that work by preventing neurotransmitters from binding with specific receptors on the nerves. These drugs include Ludiomil, Remeron, and Asendin.
- Tricyclic antidepressants. Tricyclics block the reabsorption of serotonin and epinephrine into nerve cells after being released into a synapse. Tricyclics include Elavil, Tofranil, Pamelor, and Norpramin.
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). MAOIs work by blocking the effects of an enzyme called monamine oxidase, which breaks down serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine. Drugs include Nardil, Marplan, Emsam, and Parnate.
While the positive effects of antidepressants are well established, the list of adverse side effects somewhat taints the reputation of these medications. Fortunately, with about thirty different antidepressants on the market a doctor can trial a patient on a few before finding the best therapeutic fit with the least amount of side effects. Each trial may last 4-6 weeks, after which the psychiatrist can adjust dosages or switch the patient to a different antidepressant if the trial is unsuccessful.
What Are the Positive Effects of Antidepressants?
When antidepressants are combined with psychotherapy and holistic treatment approaches they can help the individual struggling with a mental health disorder achieve a better quality of life. Being considered one prong of a three-pronged wellness approach, antidepressants play a big role in managing difficult symptoms which otherwise cause impairment in daily functioning.
While antidepressants can take several weeks before noticing a meaningful difference in symptoms, the accompanying interventions—therapy and holistic activities—can provide some relief in the meantime. When the antidepressant does become effective, the individual will experience a leveling out of the distressing symptoms to varying degrees, including some that achieve full remission.
Once the mental health disorder symptoms are under control, the individual will be able to be more productive and present in their jobs and their relationships. This in turn leads to improvements across the range of daily life, including career, family, physical health, and relationships.
These Mental Health Disorders May Benefit from the Positive Effects of Antidepressants
While commonly associated with an essential treatment method for depression, it is true that antidepressants are also efficacious in the treatment of a range of mental health conditions. Such disorders may call for a combination drug therapy that includes both antidepressants and another psychotropic drug, such as antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications, or mood stabilizers. Antidepressants have been shown to be helpful for the following conditions:
Depression is a common mental health disorder that impacts over 17 million Americans annually. There are several sub-types of depression, including seasonal affective disorder, dysthymia, postpartum depression, and bipolar depression. Major depressive disorder is diagnosed when at least five of the following symptoms persist for more than two weeks.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Low mood, persistent sadness, feelings of despair and hopelessness
- Change in eating habits
- Sleep disorders
- Loss of interest in daily life
- Sluggish cognitive functioning or movements
- Inappropriate feelings of guilt or shame
- Thoughts of suicide
Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health disorders in the US, with approximately 40 million adults struggling with anxiety. There are several different types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, phobia, panic and disorder.
Symptoms of anxiety include:
- Irrational worry and fear, feelings of dread
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
Bipolar disorder is classified as a mood disorder, and has four types, including bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic, and non-specified bipolar.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder include:
- Intense mood swings between mania and depression
- Impulsive behaviors
- Engaging in high-risk behaviors
- Substance abuse
- Intense irritability
- Hyper sexuality
- Rapid speech
- Increased energy
- Suicidal ideation
There are several different personality disorders, including antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, and dependent personality disorder, not all of these will benefit from antidepressants although some definitely do.
There are several personality disorders, each with unique features and symptoms. Generally, someone with a personality disorder might experience:
- Distorted sense of self
- Antisocial behavior
- Emotional instability
- Impaired relationships
- Feelings of emptiness
- Delusional thinking
Binge Eating Disorder
Among the eating disorders, only binge eating disorder appears to benefit from the use of antidepressants. Possibly that is due to the relationship between the disorder and coexisting depressive disorder. Other eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, do not seem to benefit from antidepressants.
Symptoms of binge eating disorder include:
- Continual eating even when full
- Stockpiling food, hiding food
- Inability to stop eating
- Gorging in isolation
- Feelings of numbness while bingeing
- Never feel sated, or satisfied after eating
- Low self-esteem
What are the Negative Effects of Antidepressants?
Now that we have covered the positive effects of antidepressants, it is helpful to also mention the limitations or negative effects of antidepressants. This is important, as antidepressants are usually effective in 50%-70% of individuals who are prescribed them for managing a mental health disorder. The balance are individuals who are diagnosed as treatment-resistant, either due to a lack of successful mitigation of symptoms or side effects that caused the individual to suspend treatment.
Antidepressant side effects might include:
- Weight gain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
Treatment for Depression and Anxiety is a 3-Pronged Approach
- Medication. There is a wide selection of antidepressants on the market for treating depression and also for treating anxiety. Each type of antidepressant varies slightly in how they function in the brain, making certain types best for treating depression and others better for anxiety or other mental health conditions.
- Psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a behavioral approach that is very effective for treating depression or anxiety. CBT helps the patient identify irrational thoughts that leads to depressive symptoms or anxiety responses. The CBT therapist will guide patients toward developing more rational thought patterns. There are also exposure therapies for helping those with depression or anxiety that is related to a trauma.
- Holistic activities. Acknowledging the powerful mind-body connection, establishing healthy habits that promote physical wellness and help to regulate stress is essential. Incorporating regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and stress-reduction activities helps round out the treatment approach. Some activities that help reduce stress and promote calm include yoga, deep breathing techniques, practicing mindfulness, guided meditation, acupuncture, massage, and aromatherapy.
For patients with depression who do not respond to antidepressant drug therapy, there are some alternative approaches that may be helpful. These include brain stimulation techniques such as TMS therapy, vagus nerve stimulation, and deep brain stimulation.
Antidepressants remain the centerpiece of depression treatment protocols. While these medications do not work for everybody, the positive effect of antidepressants experienced by the majority of depression patients reinforces them for essential treatment of depressive disorders. Depression is a serious mental health disorder that should be diagnosed and treated to limit impairment. Giving antidepressants a trial run is a prudent step in stemming the impact of the symptoms on one’s life.
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Elevation Behavioral Health is an upscale residential mental health program based in Los Angeles that features an intimate, home-like environment. Elevation Behavioral Health treats a comprehensive list of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, personality disorder, mood disorder, and more, using a proven integrated 3-pronged approach including medication, psychotherapy, and holistic methods. If you are struggling with a mental health condition, contact our compassionate team at Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.