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Month: January 2022

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How Should I Talk About My Anxiety With Others?

For years, you’ve been more than a little anxious most days. Now, fear, lack of sleep, eating problems, and avoidance have begun ruling your life. So how do you start to get better? One way is to find someone you can trust and develop ways to talk about anxiety with others.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. It might cause you to sweat, feel restless and tense, and have a rapid heartbeat. However, it can be a normal stress reaction. For example, you might feel anxious when faced with a difficult problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision.”

Anxiety that persists, and worsens over time, could be a sign of an anxiety disorder. But the symptoms are manageable.

Know The Symptoms

Anxiety is different for everyone, but general symptoms may include:

  • Physical warning signs like fast heartbeat, fast breathing (or hyperventilation), increased or extreme perspiration, trembling or muscle twitching, weakness or fatigue, digestive, or gastrointestinal complications (gas, constipation, diarrhea)
  • Nervousness, restlessness, tension
  • You have feelings of anger, panic, or dread
  • Trouble focusing
  • Problems sleeping
  • Strong avoidance tendencies
  • Obsessions about particular ideas or doing something repeatedly
  • Anxiety about something distressing which happened in the past

Can Anxiety Get Worse?

For most people, anxiety goes away on its own. But for others, it doesn’t and can morph into more severe anxiety disorders, which may require treatment like psychotherapy or ketamine to control the symptoms. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, studies indicate that 40 million adults in the U.S. suffer from anxiety disorders. Common anxiety disorders include:

Risk Factors

You may be at greater risk of getting an anxiety disorder based on:

  • You have a sympathetic nature and see the world as threatening
  • Anxiety and in shyness childhood or adolescence
  • You’re female
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Past trauma

While anyone is at risk of getting anxiety, the chances of developing a more severe anxiety disorder are higher due to certain illnesses or medical conditions, side effects from a particular medicine, or intoxication from alcohol, anti-anxiety medication, cocaine, and sedatives.

How Should I Talk About My Anxiety With Others?

We know that millions of people have severe anxiety disorders, but only about 36 percent get treatment. Why is that? It may be due to embarrassment, the stigma of mental illness, being afraid to see a doctor, or something else. It’s difficult for people to talk about their anxiety with someone else, but there are things that you can do to make that conversation a little easier.

  • Do the research and know what you’re talking about. Do you think you have a specific disorder? What are the symptoms or triggers?
  • Put pen to paper and write down your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Keeping a journal helps you understand what’s going on and may help explain it to someone else.
  • Explain specific symptoms and why you think you have them. For instance, if you’re hesitant to step into a crowded elevator, is it because you’re claustrophobic? Or are you afraid the elevator will fall?
  • Most people are more than happy to help someone in need, especially a loved one or close friend. If you have an anxiety disorder, give someone you trust the tools to help you. What have you done in the past to reduce symptoms of an anxiety disorder? Maybe that person can try doing the same thing. 
  • Describe words or phrases which you perceive as dismissive. If someone knows what these are, they may be less likely to use them when you’re feeling anxious.
  • Work on developing coping mechanisms together. Again, someone else’s perspective may be helpful.

Diagnosis & Treatment

To identify your condition, your healthcare provider will ask you to describe your symptoms as well as your personal and family medical history. You may also get a physical examination and undergo lab tests to ensure that another health issue isn’t triggering your anxiety symptoms.

If there isn’t a medical problem, your doctor may perform a psychological evaluation or refer you to a mental health specialist. In either case, you’ll be asked to describe your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and if you or a family member has a history of mental illness.

Once diagnosed, treatment may involve psychotherapy, self-help, medicine, lifestyle changes, or ketamine

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons people don’t talk about their anxiety with someone else – fear, stigmatization, lack of knowledge – but overcoming that hesitance may be the first step in getting better. If you can’t talk to a loved one or friend, ask your doctor for more information on controlling anxiety symptoms.

Illustration of mind and behavior

Forms of Depression

It’s easy to mistake signs of depression for something else. If you’re sad, it’s natural to think it’s because you have relationship issues, consistent job issues, or just had a bad day. But when those feelings consume most of your day every day, you may need a diagnosis and professional care.

What is Depression?

According to the experts at the Cleveland Clinic, “Depression is a medical condition that affects your mood and ability to function. Depression types include clinical depression, bipolar depression, dysthymia, seasonal affective disorder, and others. Treatment options range from counseling to medications to brain stimulation and complementary therapies.” It affects about 16 million U.S. adults and nearly 300 million people worldwide. The World Health Organization calls it a leading source of disability, but symptoms are treatable.

Forms of Depression

Major depression is the most well-known type of depression, a state of mental health where you’re consumed by a dark mood and lose interest in hobbies, even things you usually enjoy. Symptoms include problems sleeping, fluctuations in hunger or weight, low energy, and feelings of worthlessness. 

Persistent depressive disorder was once known as “dysthymia,” and describes a low mood that lingers for at least two years but doesn’t always achieve the peak intensity of major depression. If you, like many others, have this kind of depression, you can still function daily, but low moods and joylessness are common components of your life. You also could experience problems with your appetite, weight, sleep cycles, lack of energy, poor self-esteem, and hopelessness.

In the annals of psychiatric history, people suffered from a kind of depression referred to as a manic-depressive disorder. Today, it’s simply called bipolar disorder. People experiencing it have bouts of depression and episodes of abnormally high energy or activity. The symptoms are the opposite of depression: grand ideas, whimsically high self-esteem, diminished need for sleep, thinking and doing things at a faster speed, and engaging in reckless behavior. You may feel euphoric, but it won’t last long, and can turn into self-destructive behavior – and is normally followed by depression.

Just like clockwork, you start to feel tired and moody when the season changes from fall to winter. This is known as seasonal affective disorder. It happens when there are fewer hours of daylight in the fall and winter. Your mood change may happen because of changes in your body’s organic daily rhythms, in how sensitive your eyes are to light, or in the transmission and function of chemical messengers – neurotransmitters – like glutamate, serotonin, and melatonin. One of the reasons your healthcare provider may recommend ketamine is because it’s known to strengthen and possibly repair damaged neurotransmitters which are vital to how feelings, moods, and pain sensations are processed.

If you experience perinatal depression, you may have a type of depression that includes major and minor depressive events that happen when you’re pregnant or in the first year following delivery (sometimes referred to as postpartum depression). Perinatal depression affects one in seven women after childbirth, and can have devastating consequences not only on the mother, but also their infants and  family.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is another kind of depression that happens to women and is a severe kind of premenstrual disorder. What is the timeframe to watch for? The days or weeks culminating in a woman’s menstrual period.

Psychotic depression is another worrisome mental health condition. It’s characterized by psychotic features like hallucinations and delusions paired with a major depressive episode, even though the symptoms normally exhibit themes like death, guilt, and worthlessness.

Diagnosis And Treatment

Diagnosis depends on:

  • A physical examination where a doctor may ask health-related questions and look for an underlying physical health issue causing your symptoms.
  • A psychiatric assessment. Absent a medical cause, you may undergo a psychiatric exam to talk about your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. You may be asked to complete a survey to help answer such questions and assess your symptoms.

Finally, your healthcare provider may use the results of lab tests and diagnostic procedures and will compare your symptoms to the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Treatment may involve psychotherapy, antidepressants, or ketamine.

Final Thoughts

If you have depression, you’re not alone. Hundreds of millions of people – adults and children – have membership in a not-so-exclusive club bereft of happiness, good feelings, and a sense of belonging. But your life doesn’t have to be ruined. To learn more about innovative treatment options that may help you find relief, contact us today.

What Is Passive Suicidal Ideation?

People who’re depressed or suffering from a mental illness may talk about suicide and dream of taking their own lives, but only a small percentage of U.S. residents actually follow through with the deed. Talking about suicide but not having a plan to follow through is called passive suicidal ideation.

Who’s At Risk Of Suicide?

Risk factors for suicidal ideation fall into three categories: family history, life events, and psychiatric disorders. Psychiatric disorders which may contribute to suicide include anxiety disorders, major depressive disorder, and personality disorders. Life events can be crippling as unemployment, chronic pain and illness, divorce, and changes in standard of living all contribute to the notion of suicidal ideation. Research also has discovered family history plays a role, including having parents who’re depressed, experiencing abuse, or witnessing family violence.

Prevalence Of Suicide

“Suicide is a major public health concern. Suicide is among the leading causes of death in the United States. Based on recent nationwide surveys, suicide in some populations is on the rise,” according to the National Institute of Mental Health. A 2018 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death nationwide and costs the lives of more than 48,000 people – adults and children. 

What Is Passive Suicidal Ideation?

Passive suicidal ideation means a person desires death but doesn’t have a specific plan to commit suicide. If you’re feeling passive suicidal ideation, your visions may involve dying while sleeping or having a fatal car crash. In your mind, the world would be better off if you were dead.

Passive doesn’t mean innocent. Such thoughts can make you care less about your own life and increase the risk of you trying an actual suicide attempt. 

Suicidal Warning Signs

Something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. This is of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change. Most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do.”

Passive suicidal ideation isn’t something a person who’s depressed will advertise willingly but may give off subtle clues without realizing it. Here’s what you can watch for:

Talking About:

  • Killing themselves
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having no reason to live

People contemplating suicide may talk about it more openly, especially if they have come up with a plan to carry out the deed. If you know of someone contemplating suicide, you can call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to get help.

Behavioral Warning Signs:

  •   Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  •   Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods
  •   Withdrawing from activities
  •   Isolating from family and friends
  •   Sleeping too much or too little
  •   Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  •   Giving away prized possessions
  •   Aggression and fatigue

Mood Changes:

  •     Depression
  •     Anxiety
  •     Loss of pleasure or interest
  •     Irritability
  •     Humiliation or disgrace
  •     Agitation or angry outbursts
  •     Exhibiting relief in perceived sudden Improvement

Many symptoms of mental health disorders can be relieved in multiple ways, including medicine, counseling, and ketamine therapy.

Get Diagnosed

If you’re experiencing passive suicidal ideation, talking with a professional specializing in mental illness is a good first step. By diagnosing your illness, you’ll begin to understand the power it has over your life, and how you can manage the symptoms on your own, or with professional or medicinal assistance.

Treatment For Suicidal Ideation

Once suicidal ideation is diagnosed, you and your doctor or specialist can discuss treatment options. In most cases, in-person counseling is the preferred choice, but extreme cases of mental illness could necessitate a hospital stay. Medicine is always a possibility, with many doctors now referring a patient to ketamine therapy.

The Calming Influence Of Ketamine Therapy

One of the reasons ketamine therapy is popular for treating symptoms of mental illness is because it’s a powerful sedative. First synthesized as an anesthetic, the medicine was widely used – and gained acceptance – to treat wounded U.S. combat troops in Vietnam. Ketamine is fast-acting and safe when administered through a licensed clinic. It’s believed to work because it strengthens and repairs damaged neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for sending pain signals throughout the body.

Final Thoughts

Passive suicidal ideation may seem to be a less-than-major concern for someone who’s suffering from a mental illness, but it’s a warning sign that shouldn’t be ignored. Ketamine therapy may help reduce the symptoms driving a person toward suicide but is only one of many care options available worth discussing.

Similarities Between OCD And Anxiety

Like other mental health disorders, anxiety and OCD have overlapping symptoms which sometimes make diagnosis and treatment difficult. The good news is both have their own diagnosis criteria now, giving doctors and mental health professionals another tool to wage war. New treatments like ketamine may be an option worth considering.

What Is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health illness that can harm anyone and happens when a person gets trapped in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are undesirable, intrusive images, thoughts, or urges which trigger intensely disturbing feelings. Compulsions are behaviors someone engages in while trying to rid themselves of the obsessions or limit his or her suffering. Diagnosis depends on symptoms being long-lasting and extreme to the point they disrupt daily life.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. It might cause you to sweat, feel restless and tense, and have a rapid heartbeat. It can be a normal reaction to stress. For example, you might feel anxious when faced with a difficult problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. It can help you to cope.” Increased energy and focus are temporary, but fear lasts and can be overwhelming.

What Causes OCD?

We don’t know what causes OCD, but something in the brain and genes of people with OCD could hold a clue. Researchers believe OCD involves problems in communication between deeper structures of the brain and the front part of the organ. Both structures use a chemical messenger (a neurotransmitter) called serotonin. Ketamine is believed to be useful in repairing or strengthening damaged neurotransmitters, making it easier for them to communicate with others throughout the brain.

What Causes Anxiety?

The cause of anxiety is mysterious. Issues like brain biology, chemistry, genetics, stress, and environment may play a role. Researchers and mental health professionals believe anxiety can also be influenced by medical problems (like heart disease, diabetes, drug abuse, chronic pain). It also could be triggered by certain medications, or an underlying medical condition in the absence of personal or family history of anxiety or avoidance tendencies, for instance, or the presence of risk factors.

Similarities Between OCD And Anxiety

Until several years ago, the American Psychiatric Association classified OCD as an anxiety disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but upgraded it in 2013 (in the publication’s fifth edition, or DSM-5) so OCD now resides in its own section called “Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Conditions.” While OCD was long considered a generalized anxiety disorder, mental health professionals were seeing extreme symptoms which fell outside the boundaries of anxiety, hence the new classification.

But there are similarities between the two, with the main difference being the severity and duration of symptoms. Generally, their symptoms have some overlap and intermingling. For instance, a mental health professional assessing a patient’s condition may draw parallels between an anxiety symptom of anxious beliefs or thoughts which are hard to control, and the OCD symptom of constant unwanted images, thoughts, or desires. It’s not unreasonable to make that leap in the early stages of diagnosis.

Anxiety disorders also feature symptoms where the person may experience changes in behavior, which is like someone experiencing the generic OCD symptom of losing control. Thankfully, many people who suffer from either disorder have a variety of treatments to choose from, including perhaps the newest therapy available, ketamine treatment.

According to the DSM-5, it’s not unusual for people experiencing generalized anxiety disorder to meet the benchmarks for another psychiatric diagnosis during their life, or even at the same time. The most generally co-occurring problem is depression, but there is a substantial subgroup of people  who battle with co-occurring generalized anxiety disorder and OCD.

Diagnosis And Treatment

Only a trained mental health professional or a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry can accurately diagnose OCD and anxiety, and even then, there are no guarantees. A medical doctor may perform a physical examination and run tests and lab work to rule out or confirm an underlying cause. A mental health evaluation, on the other hand, involves the patient being asked about thoughts, behavior, feelings, and personal or family history of mental illness. In either case, a variety of tools are used for diagnosis (the DSM-5, the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Check List and Scale, and Managing Social Anxiety: A Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Approach). 

The most widely accepted form of treatment for either condition, historically, has been talk therapy paired with prescription medicine as needed. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that ketamine therapy may also help you control symptoms of OCD or anxiety and regain some control over your life.

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