Twelve step programs work great if you’re an addict who successfully completed an inpatient rehab program or an intensive outpatient program and you’re focused on your aftercare recovery.
Imagine you are asked to describe what depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, or bipolar disorder are. Would you say “mental health problems” or something similar?
Most people would, and there is a general perception that these problems are purely based in the mind.
There is still something of an attitude that people with mental health and anxiety problems should be able to “snap out of it” or get over it, just like that. Yet many mental illnesses actually have physical reasons. Sometimes an intervention is warranted and inpatient treatment is needed.
An often misused term, depression is now used to describe someone feeling a “bit low.” However, if someone has full clinical depression, they will experience long periods of horrifically low moods, low motivation, and a general feeling of emptiness. Depression is a cruel illness – one that is described as being mental, and a regular target for the ” just pull yourself out of it!” brigade.
Yet depression does have a physical basis. Depression is caused by a lower-than-average amount of serotonin in the body. Also known as the “feel good” hormone, serotonin controls the mood, personality and feelings of an individual. If serotonin levels are low, the individual will experienced depressive, low thoughts. This is a physical problem with mental evidence, but it is physical nonetheless. Antidepressants work on increasing serotonin levels and tend to have a decent success rate.
Furthermore, preliminary scans have shown those with obsessive-compulsive disorder have enlarged lobes at the front of the brain. These lobes control our worry and anxiety mechanism, and when enlarged, the anxiety goes into overdrive – resulting in what we know as OCD.\r\n
Bipolar disorder, which is usually passed down genetically, is shown to be a physical condition as well. People who suffer from bipolar disorder are shown to have physical differences in their brains. They also have an imbalance in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
So these mental illnesses are, more often than not, physical in basis after all. One can no more “shake off” or “get over” a hormone imbalance than one can “shake off” a broken leg!
Mental health problems can be tackled with proper diagnosis and treatment. If you or a loved one is need of diagnosis and treatment call our mental health center now.
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There is a difficulty that presents itself to all parents when their child reaches the age of 13 or so; are those mood swings natural teenage, hormone-driven angst – or are they something more?
Mental health problems, such as anxiety disorders or depressive illnesses, tend to begin to manifest around puberty – clouding the issue all the more. There is also puberty itself to contend with, meaning that many teenagers may be experiencing the beginnings of a mental health issue, but do not want to confide in their parents.
It is a primary worry for parents, as they watch their child grow – how do you know if your child is going through a natural change, or if it’s a medical problem?
How to know if your child has a Mental Health Problem
The real trouble is, there is no real way to know. Many teenagers themselves may not know. Studies done by a UK obsessive-compulsive disorder charity show that many sufferers do begin to exhibit signs during their adolescence, but do not even see for themselves that they are developing a problem. It is often put down to normal teenage moods, and it can mean decades of miserable suffering in silence for the unfortunate individual.
What to do if your child needs treatment for a mental health problem
As a parent, you want to protect your child, and if they do have an anxiety disorder, you want to help them. Learn to observe the way your child behaves. Reinforce with your child that you are there for them, and let on in other ways that you are understanding of mental illness. Hopefully, when if they do experience problems, they will then feel they can talk to you, and help can be sought.
Despite all appearances to the contrary, the world is still somewhat old fashioned. An excellent example of a continuation of long-held views is no more apparent than with the general perception of mental health problems. It is understandable that, in years gone by, there was a general distrust for those who did not appear to be as mentally healthy as one could hope. Yet as time has passed, we as a species have been able to learn more and more about mental health issues. We should know by now that not everyone who has a mental health problem is crazy – or, a favorite of the down market media, “schizo”. Mental health is varied and layered – and what is “normal” anyway?
Just because an individual is diagnosed as suffering from a mental illness does not mean they are not “normal”. All it means, in the basest of ways, is that part of their brain malfunctions. This does not mean they are going to start wielding a knife or break down crying. The vast majority of those who suffer with mental health issues carry on exactly as normal, hiding their condition – which, in turn, can worsen it. There is still a terrible stigma toward mental health problems across the globe.
Many people fear those with mental health – by default, regardless of their condition – do so out of ignorance. It is important to remember that, across the span of your life, you will meet hundreds of people with clinical diagnosed mental health problems – and you will have no idea. A few select cases of those suffering from extreme forms of mental illnesses have lead to a general, and incorrect, assumption of perceived danger. Until the stigma fades, mental health will still be a dark area, where sufferers’ feel they cannot be honest about how they are feeling.
Exposure therapy is nothing revolutionary, but it is now being recognized as an effective method of conquering people’s fears and anxieties. It is now regularly included in a program of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which itself is one of the most useful ways of treating a phobia or anxiety program
There is no doubt that exposure therapy is unpleasant. If someone has a clinical mental condition, it will usually be based around a fear of some sort. This fear can be totally irrational, but it can also be a rational fear of a genuine problem – except the level of fear is higher than is necessary, and is out of proportion with the actual threat. Whatever the reason behind it, when people have a fear of something, they will do all they can to avoid it.
Yet avoidance actually feeds a fear and gives it weapons. Subconsciously, when we avoid something we fear, we are actually building another block of dread. We are relieved to avoid the situation, and when we feel relief at avoiding it, we also feel extra fear for what we have avoided. The feeling of relief reinforcing our mind’s incorrect assumption that something is dangerous.
Exposure therapy removes this element by forcing people to face what it is they fear. It works particularly well with phobias, as well as people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is the epitome of confronting your fear. Yes, doing so is unpleasant and distressing, but with continued exposure therapy you will soon learn there is nothing to fear. Over time, and the help of a mental health professional, any anxiety or mental health condition will improve immeasurably.
We live in a fix-all society, where we are all programmed to think that problems can be fixed quickly and easily. This “have it all, now” mentally extends throughout our lives, and even into our health. It is therefore understandable that, for most people, going to see a doctor and getting medication is the obvious answer to any malady.
This is proven in mental health in that Prozac, an anti-depressant, is one of the most prescribed drugs in the world. Anti-anxiety medication, such as Diazepam, and other suppressants are also freely marketed and used as an answer to anxiety problems. Yet it is worth considering the downsides of such medication.
The problem with medicating yourself through periods of severe anxiety is that, at some point, you are going to need to stop taking the medication. The only other option is to medicate forevermore, and spend the rest of your life in a drug-addled state. All the anti-anxiety medications have a sedative quality, even if it is mild, which can make you feel sleepy and lethargic. This is the point, of course, as in quelling your conscious mind the medication in turn quells anxiety, but this is nothing more than a short fix solution.
While medication can dull an anxiety attack, they can’t cure it. No prescription medication can definitively “cure” a mental illness, they can only lessen its impact. So unless you are willing to accept that you will be heavily medicated for the rest of your life, it is more beneficial to seek psychiatric and psychological therapy rather than reaching for the pills. It may take longer, but the results will last longer, too.
Panic attacks can be the bane of your existence, and can make being out and about in the world extremely daunting. Never knowing when – or why – an attack can hit makes life unpredictable, and searching for a way to control your anxiety is a natural step to take.
Most anxiety attacks come on suddenly – however, there are usually warning signs that one is about to strike. It may only be a few seconds warning, but try and identify the signs that things are about to get complicated. You may feel your chest tighten, feel lightheaded or begin to shake – all are the immediate signs of a rush of adrenaline, which is one of the main identifiable psychological reasons for an anxiety attack.
As soon as you feel an attack beginning to develop, stop what you are doing. If you’re driving, pull over, and try and sit down if you’re standing or walking. As the attack begins to flower, take slow, steady breaths. Breathe in for five seconds, and out for five seconds. One of the main things people do when they are experiencing an anxiety attack is to breathe in short, sharp gasps; by slowing and focusing on your breathing, you are distracting your mind and resetting the scales.
Keep breathing in this fashion. If necessary, close your eyes and tilt your head back so you have a clear throat passage for air to move through. You may also find some form of self-comforting useful; try rubbing the side of your wrist with a fingertip. Remain calm, focus on your breathing and rest until the feeling has passed.
Conquering Fear In Only 2 Weeks
The guide below is a brief, start up guide for those wishing to conquer their phobia (or phobias) once and for all. For ease of use, the fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia) is used as an example – though the steps are applicable to any fear.
1. Expose yourself to the fear. If you have a phobia, you probably go out of your way to avoid the thing that causes you to feel afraid. In the claustrophobia example, you may refuse to use lifts, as they make you feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately, by avoiding the scenario you fear – the lift – you are actually increasing your overall fear. Avoidance does nothing but make a situation worse, and you need to face the fear before you can conquer it. That means getting into a lift, even if just for one floor. Make yourself do it.
2. Positive reinforcement. After you have forced yourself to confront your fear once, you need to make it a positive experience. This can be having a dessert you enjoy following your ordeal, or buying something nice from your favorite store. Do this as soon as possible following your first attempt to confront the fear – in the example, you should tuck into a cupcake the second you step out of the lift.
3. Rinse, and repeat. The way to conquer a phobia is to do the above, over and over again. As you do so, you will learn to manage the fear, and you will also learn that there really is no danger in that which panicked you so badly before. By continuing to expose yourself to your fear deliberately and then allowing a congratulatory moment when you succeed, over time, you can rid yourself of the fear forever.
A phobia is an extreme, fearful reaction to an object, animal, insect, feeling or circumstance. They are wide and varied, and often have no rational explanation. The vast majority of the populace have at least one phobia, and many people go as far as to seek help for conquering their phobia from medical professionals.
So what are we all so afraid of?
The most common phobias
The most common phobias tend to involve insects and creepy crawlies. Polls done in the United Kingdom suggest spiders are the most common source of phobias, and other many-legged creatures also cause fearful reactions. Mice are another common source of fear, as are their larger cousins, rats.
In terms of animals, dogs tend to rank high on the phobia-causing list. This can be any dog, not just a big, growling Alsatian – some people admit to being afraid of the meek and mild poodle! The other domestic favorite, cats, also contribute their fair share when it comes to phobias.
Other phobias are more based on situations. Many people are afraid of heights, which connects with another popular fear – the fear of flying in aircraft. Another common situational fear is crowded spaces, known as claustrophobia, with sufferers refusing to use lifts. Furthermore, some adults even confess to being afraid of the dark.
More interesting are the uncommon phobias. Amazingly, a phobia of buttons is fairly common, consigning thousands of people to a life with zips. Other odd phobias include mirrors, large structures in general and even humble cotton wool.
When it comes to phobias, there really is something for everyone!
Everybody has fear. We fear losing our jobs, our homes, our way of life. We may even be a little afraid of the dark or nervous when confronted with a spider. Fear is just nature’s way of warding us from danger, telling us to flee from things we are subconsciously afraid of. Yet in some cases, fear becomes something more – a phobia. There is a difference between general fear and a clinical phobia. The difference is usually how extreme the reaction to the object of the fear or phobia is. If, for example, when you see a snake, you feel uncomfortable and your heart races a little, you are afraid of the snake. This is a normal reaction based on survival instincts. If, however, you see a snake and want to scream or run away, you begin to sweat or tremble or experience other symptoms of anxiety, then you have a phobia. Sometimes, a phobia can become so pronounced the person cannot even say what it is they are afraid of – the word alone is enough to bring on a physical reaction of terror. Thousands of people refuse to even come in to contact with the object of their phobia if they can avoid it, such as refusing to fly on aircraft if they have a fear of flying. Phobias are an extreme, natural overreaction to everyday things, events and circumstances. Phobias are primarily dealt with using exposure therapy, where a person forces themselves to ‘confront’ their fear. This can involve placing themselves in the same room as a snake, or boarding an aircraft. While terrifying, this kind of therapy is hugely effective, and phobias can be managed once and for all.
We all have things in our past we do not like and the memories of which make us feel uncomfortable. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is where a past event comes back to haunt someone’s present, to the point where it affects their ability to live a normal life. Sometimes, these events are what the rest of the populace would consider small matters that should bear no relevance. This, however, does not mean that these events cannot trigger Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As long as the past event has a bearing on how a person feels in the present, it is severe enough to that individual and therefore relevant. What is a bearing on the present? Well, those with PTSD will find they cannot function normally due to some fear invading their life. They may often feel depressed, withdraw from society or fearful in what should be normal situations. They may experience flashbacks – intense periods of memory – to the event that has caused the problem, as well as general anxious feelings of fear, worry and stress. Sometimes, the event is a large, life-altering event such as an assault or house fire. The sufferer may seem find after the initial event, but will later go on to develop PTSD – sometimes years later. Not everyone who has experienced trauma goes on to be diagnosed with PTSD, however. PTSD, like all anxiety disorders, can be controlled but not cured. Treatment is usually behavior therapy with a psychologist, and sometimes counseling and even medication can help one overcome fearful memories.