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 therread more
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 unattainabread more
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 sameread more
Beat the Winter Blues
For many people winter is a down and depressing time. Often we don’t want to go out and contend with bad roads or cold weather. We end up cooped up in our homes, in the dark, getting lonely. For lots of us, it also means the loss of our usual hobbies and activities that rejuvenate us like hiking, golfing, gardening, and many other outdoor activities. As a result, our mood often takes a downturn and we can get to feeling depressed.
For others, winters spells the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a subtype of depression that occurs seasonally due to the reduction in exposure to sunlight. Late sunrise and early sunset has many of us going to work in the dark and returning home in the dark. Being covered in pants and long sleeves also reduces the amount of skin that can soak up the vitamin D that sunlight does provide. These variables induce a change in body chemistry that drives this depression. The only upside is that it lifts naturally in the spring and summer months.
If you are looking for some ways to beat the winter blues, here are some ideas that have some science and research behind them.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
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
Description Where many people enjoy gambling as an occasional social or recreational activity, for others it becomes a real struggle. Problem gambling is an urge to gamble despite experiencing negative consequences or continuing to gamble despite a desire to stop. An estimated 15 million Americans have problem gambling with more than 3 million of them having severe problematic gambling. Problem gambling is not a bad habit or moral weakness, but a serious condition that is treatable. Although it is commonly referred to as gambling addiction, it is actually categorized as an impulse control disorder. However, like chemical addictions it is a progressive and chronic condition. Problem gambling tends to strain relationships, affect one’s ability to fulfill responsibilities at work, home, or school, and can lead to financial catastrophe. It can lead people to do things they never thought themselves capable of such as borrowing or stealing money from partners, employers, and even their children. Symptoms & Features Pathological Gambling Disorder is a persistent and recurring maladaptive gambling pattern as evidenced by five or more of the following symptoms: 1) a mental preoccupation with gambling, 2) a need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement or effect, 3) repeated unsucce read more
Description Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder. It manifests with two components: obsessions and compulsions. The obsessions are unwanted and recurring thoughts, images, beliefs, or impulses that are intrusive and upsetting for people. Common obsessions include fear of contamination, having things orderly or symmetrical, aggressive impulses, or sexual images or thoughts. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors people feel compelled to do in an attempt to reduce anxiety stemming from the obsessions. Examples of compulsions include washing, cleaning, counting, checking, orderliness, or hoarding things. An important qualifier for OCD is that it is interfering with a person’s ability to function. Many people have obsessive or compulsive “quirks”, tendencies, or traits, but they are not of the level or degree that it is causing them problems in their lives. Symptoms & Features A thorough mental health diagnostic evaluation should be sought if you believe you have OCD. Symptoms of OCD include either obsessions and/or compulsions. Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, images, or impulses that are intrusive and cause anxiety; are not just excessive worry about real life problems; attempts are made to suppress or ignore the thoughts; and are recognized to be a product of one’s own read more
Description One of the most common mental health issues that people are familiar with is depression. As many as 20-25% of people will experience depression at some time in their lives. There are actually a few different types of depression. Major Depression is the one most people think of when they think of depression. People will have many or most of the symptoms listed below consistently for at least a two week period of time, however many people will have been dealing with it for several months or longer before taking action. Persistent Depressive Disorder manifests fewer symptoms, but often lasts for two or more years. This is sometimes referred to as a functional depression in that it most people are still able to function in their daily lives, despite the bothersome symptoms. Substance Induced Depression is far less common and evolves from the abuse of chemicals such as alcohol or opiates (depressants). Often when the person stops abusing chemicals, the depression naturally lifts on its own in a few weeks. Symptoms & Features A thorough mental health diagnostic evaluation should be sought if 4-5 of the following symptoms are persisting for two or more weeks. 1) depressed (sad or empty) mood most of the day, 2) loss of interest or pleasure in usually enjoyable activities, 3) appetite/weight ga read more
Description It is important to distinguish between acute and chronic pain. Acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you of possible injury and the need to take care of yourself. It is often a short lived and fleeting type of pain. Chronic pain persists and pain receptors continue firing in the nervous system for days, weeks, or even years. Chronic pain can be worsened by environmental and psychological factors. Causes can vary from degeneration of discs, cancer, burns, headaches, sciatica, neuropathy, and countless other sources. Some stem from injury, diseases, or various syndromes or conditions. You might be experiencing chronic pain if any of the following are true for you: your pain has lasted more than 6 months, you have pain from an injury that should have healed by now, your pain gets worse when stressed or angry, your pain medications have stopped working even if your dose has been increased, you have trouble sleeping from your pain, your pain is affecting your social life, you regularly call in sick due to the pain, or it’s hard for you to enjoy activities due to pain. Symptoms & Features There is no one set of criteria or symptoms that fit chronic pain. In addition to the enduring pain symptoms such as burning, aching, soreness, tightness or stiffness a person experiences, read more