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Panic Attacks & Panic Disorder

July 17, 2019

Most people are not sure if they have ever had a panic attack, until they hear exactly what they are. Many people have experienced heightened levels of anxiety at various times in their life, but panic attacks bring it to the highest level and are very alarming. Panic attacks are typically triggered by intense worry or anxiety, but end up triggering a severe physical reaction. Most describe a feeling of losing control or wonder if they are having a heart attack.

Symptoms of a panic attack often feel like they hit suddenly, without warning, and seemingly out of nowhere. A panic attack may last for five minutes or as long as a half hour, but become very intense within minutes. Symptoms can include: racing heart, chest pains, sweats, shakes, chills, nausea, light headedness, shortness of breath, a sense of doom or dying, hot flashes, or headaches. Given the intensity of them, many people begin to develop a fear or anxiety about experiencing another one, which can create a snowball effect or even cause people to avoid going out for fear of having one in public situations.

Although there is no known cause for panic attacks, some research points to genetics, environmental stressors, experience of traumatic events, and struggles with generalized anxiety. W

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July 4, 2019

In practice, we are often asked by clients what is the best way to treat the issues they are dealing with? The short answer (of course) is that it depends. The recommendations that we provide to clients are based on professional training, clinical experience, and most importantly research findings. Let’s try to discuss some of the important variables that go into making what is a very personal decision.

Probably the most important factor to determining how to treat issues, is the issue itself. The diagnosis typically drives the treatment recommendation, however sometimes the severity (mild, moderate, severe) also changes the recommendation for medication, therapy, or both. Let’s talk about a few of the more common issues that people are often familiar with and often have a clearer recommendation. ADHD, once diagnosed after appropriate testing, is a condition that is often treated most effectively with medication. This is particularly true for moderate to severe forms. Some mild cases can be effectively treated with therapy or ADHD coaching that helps clients to implement certain tools and tricks to make their symptoms more manageable.

Medication is almost always recommended for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Most research findings show ther

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June 17, 2019

Perfectionism is a personality trait and cognitive mind set that causes people to fixate on details until they are absolutely just right. There is a big difference between aspiring and striving to your best (healthy) and unrelenting standards of perfection (unhealthy). Because perfection is unsustainable, unrealistic, and often unattainable, people are left feeling inadequate, unhappy, and feel like a failure.

There are three types of perfectionism. Probably the most common type of the self-oriented perfectionism. This is self-imposed and standards of perfection that you create for yourself. Alternatively, a person could end up with social prescribed perfectionism. With this type the person adopts the perceived expectations of others. This could be a child taking on a parent’s view to be perfect or the impact of social media channels and trying to live up to other’s standards. Lastly, is other oriented perfectionism where a person imposes perefectionistic standards on others.

Perfectionism is not a specific disorder by itself, but a character attribute that creates vulnerability or susceptibility to other problems. Trying to be perfect is very stressful and creates a lot of worry and anxiety from trying to live up to something that is unattainab

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May 20, 2019

For most parents the only thing worse than talking to their teens about alcohol and drugs, is the sex talk. Comparatively, this should be a lot easier and we will try to help give you some tips and pointers. Nonetheless, having this talk is vitally important. Substance use is at its peak between 15 and 25 years old and this is the time when youth are most susceptible to developing lasting patterns for their use and at the highest risk for developing an addiction. Chemical use during these formative years also has a serious impact on their developing brains and bodies.

The dangers of chemical use in teens is well document and drives home the importance of talking with them. It is natural and appropriate for teens to want to begin to experiment and try out the roles of adulthood. This often includes the use of alcohol and drugs. Because adolescents is a time of great change, it is also a time of great stress. Just as many adults use chemicals to cope with stress, teens are at risk for using substances to cope with their stress. Here are some startling facts about the impact of chemicals on teen development. Alcohol abuse slows bone and muscle growth, can impair nonverbal abstract reasoning, perceptual motor skills, and reduce the ability to learn new information. Regular marijuana use can affect attenti

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April 25, 2019

Most of us feel like we are plagued with a variety of stressors at all times. To a great extent, you are both correct and not alone. Despite what you may think as you walk by strangers in the grocery store thinking, “Gee, they all look happy and fine. What am I doing wrong?” Just because people don’t have their issues tattooed on their foreheads, don’t assume they aren’t dealing with their own stressors. For most of us, life is a revolving door of stressors. It seems like just as soon as we unload a few, we pick up some more. This is reality for most people. On that note, let’s try not to plunge into depression, apathy, and hopelessness. The thing that differentiates those who are overwhelmed by their stressors and those who simply manage them, are a set of skills and coping strategies. Let discuss a few of them and see if we can get you in the right camp.

The first thing we need to be able to do is identify the source of the stressor. With this we need more than a general area such as work. We need the specifics such as I am overworked, under staffed, being harassed, in conflict with a coworker, etc. To tackle a stressor, we want to be able to get at the heart of it. When the plumber comes to your house, he doesn’t say, “Looks like your sink is leaking.” You could have figured that

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February 13, 2019

As mental health providers, we are often asked by clients about whether what they are dealing with is a result of how they were raised (nurture) or whether it is all just genetic (nature). It is very normal to want to figure out the origin and root of issues, not only to understand how things evolved to be where they are, but also to get to the bottom of things in hopes of fixing it. The short answer to this question, that no one really likes, is that it depends.

There are definitely some conditions and issues that lean much more heavily on the nature side of the fence. This often comes down to the genes we inherited from our family lineage, but can also include our particular biochemistry or physiology. For instance, schizophrenia is a good example of biochemistry gone awry. We have learned through research that there is an imbalance in dopamine that is largely responsible for the hallucinations and delusions that people with schizophrenia suffer. It most cases medication is a necessary treatment to correct this imbalance. Similarly, bipolar disorder is often the result of an imbalance in neurotransmitter that requires a mood stabilizing medication. ADHD is another condition that is more impacted by chemistry and physiology. PET Scans have shown that children and adults with ADHD do not have the same

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January 16, 2019

Description

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that affects about 1% of the population worldwide.  It is characterized by two key features: hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations can be of any type, but visual and auditory are the most common. Delusions are beliefs that are outside the scope of probable situations, such as believing the government is conspiring against you or that you are some famous person. Although there are treatments for schizophrenia, most people will have to cope with some symptoms throughout their lives. It affects men and women equally, onset is generally in late teens or early 20’s, but could occur as late as 30-45 years old.

Symptoms & Features

A thorough mental health diagnostic evaluation should be sought immediately if you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia. Early detection and treatment has been shown to improve outcomes. Symptoms include two or more of the following symptoms lasting more than a month: 1) delusions, 2) hallucinations, 3) disorganized speech, 4) grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior, 5) negative symptoms such as flat affect, very little speaking, v

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January 2, 2019

Description

Social phobia, more commonly known as social anxiety disorder, is the third most common mental health condition behind depression and alcohol abuse. Upwards of 7-13% of Americans will suffer with social anxiety at some time in their lives, affects men and women equally, and tends to start in childhood or adolescence. Social anxiety disorder is not the same as shyness. People with social anxiety disorder fear being in social or performance situations to the extent that it interferes with their lives. While people generally recognize their fears are excessive and irrational, they simply cannot overcome it. Situations that tend to trigger social anxiety include: public speaking, eating with others, using a public bathroom, meeting new people, being called on in class, being watched while doing something, going on a date, attending parties, or talking with people of authority to name a few.

Symptoms & Features

A thorough mental health diagnostic evaluation should be sought if the following symptoms are persisting and interfering with your ability to perform normal routines, function in work or school, or engage in normal social activities and relationsh

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December 5, 2018

Despite how the holidays are portrayed on television and in the movies, they often create a lot of stress for people. Research says that 8 out of 10 Americans are expected to feel stressed out by the holidays. Nearly two-thirds of people claim that the holidays create financial stress in their lives. Upwards of 40% report eating unhealthy during the holidays in large part due to stress. Spending time with family and relatives, although enjoyable on one hand, often fuels stress on the other hand as old family dynamics are recreated and played out.   Almost 65% of people say that the lack of time to plan and prepare for the holidays is one of the top stressors during the holiday seasons. This year, try to take a proactive approach to keep your stress more manageable and in check. Talk with family members early on to coordinate dates, times, and locations. Start meal planning 2-3 weeks ahead of time so you have plenty of time to shop for food and get supplies. Consider splitting up the meal and have each family member bring a couple items. This will be much more affordable for everyone and you won’t have to try to prepare and cook so many dishes on the day of.   Gift giving is a wonderful expression of love and appreciation, however, don’t feel obligated to out-do yourself from last year. Talk to family members, set a spending limit that everyone is comfortable with, read more

November 21, 2018

Description Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop after exposure to any number of traumatic events that can happen to people. Some common types of traumatic events that can result in PTSD include military combat, physical or sexual assaults, accidents, or natural disasters such as tornado, hurricanes, etc. Although PTSD has likely existed since humankind has been involved in traumatic situations, PTSD has only been recognized as a diagnosis since 1980.  It should be noted that not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will end up with PTSD. Many people endure and recover from difficult life situations just fine. Others develop less severe problems such as depression or anxiety problems. Traumatic events that are enduring (military combat) or recurring (physical or sexual abuse) increase the likelihood of developing PTSD.   Symptoms & Features A thorough mental health diagnostic evaluation should be sought if you suspect you might have PTSD. The diagnosis of PTSD can be difficult and complex. In response to a traumatic experience where real or perceived life threatening situations have occurred, people experience some of the follow symptoms. There are re-experiencing symptoms that include: 1) intrusive thoughts or images, 2) feeling like the event is recurring or reliving it, 3) dreams or nightmares, 4) read more