How Does Nutrition Affect Mental Health?

How Does Nutrition Affect Mental Health?

Food and mental health, how do they relate? There is actually a very close relationship between the food we eat and the way we feel mentally. The truth is, how we feel can affect our decisions about food, just as the food we eat can affect how we feel.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, making healthy food choices can become second nature once you develop a habit of making them. When it comes to mental health, eating a nutrient-dense balanced diet can contribute tremendously. There have been countless studies on the ways in which various diets affect functioning and overall health. Fad diets come and go, but organic, balanced, and nutrient-dense foods will always be your best bet.

Life can be hard, and everyday stressors can take a toll on your mental health. Even more difficult can be the challenges faced as a result of substance abuse. There will be many ups and downs along the path to recovery, but there are ways to ensure you are in your best state to cope with them. You have to eat, right?  Why not make choices that support good mental health?

Planning Ahead

Sure, it’s easy to pull through that drive-through and grab something quick on your way to work or to run errands. Sometimes, it’s not as convenient to actually cook or prepare something a little more nutritious. Meal prepping is always a good idea. This takes the guesswork out of it and allows you to grab and go. Planning ahead and creating meals and snacks ahead of time can feel like a little extra work upfront, but it makes things so much easier throughout the week and on busy days.

Impacts of Unhealthy Foods

Eating healthy makes you feel good. When you feel good, you’re more likely to be more active, focused, efficient, and productive overall. Eating unhealthy foods that are filled with processed sugars and ingredients can leave you feeling less than your best and significantly impact brain health. Unhealthy foods, or junk food, can often increase levels of stress hormones and result in a lack of energy, motivation, and focus. As further explained in the article “Food and Mood: How Do Diet and Nutrition Affect Mental Wellbeing?” by Joseph Firth, James E. Gangwisch, Alessandra Borsini, Robyn E. Wootton, and Emeran A. Mayer, "Although mood itself can affect our food choices, plausible mechanisms exist by which high consumption of processed carbohydrates could increase the risk of depression and anxiety—for example, through repeated and rapid increases and decreases in blood glucose.”

Good Nutrition During Treatment

Good nutrition is important for everyone. It’s particularly important for those who are trying to heal from substance use disorder (SUD). Addiction takes a toll on your mental, physical, and spiritual health. It takes time and intentional efforts to repair the damage caused by abusing drugs or alcohol. Eating healthy, organic foods during treatment and throughout recovery can help promote more complete and faster healing.

Maintaining a healthy diet throughout treatment and recovery is important for a variety of reasons. In order to get the most out of your treatment experience, you need to feel your best. A lot goes into feeling your best, but a large component of that is determined by what you put in your body. Drinking enough water and choosing to eat healthy foods and balanced meals can make a huge difference. You are better able to focus on learning during your therapy sessions and group meetings. You will be more motivated to stay on track and will stay aware of your goals. You will also have more energy to try new things and engage in other health and wellness activities that also promote better mental health.

Healthy eating can actually be fun! As you become more comfortable with trying different healthy foods, it can be fun to create new recipes using more organic and nutritious ingredients. You may find that you really enjoy cooking and preparing healthy meals. Engaging in cooking classes and wellness activities during treatment can help you develop habits and hobbies to carry with you throughout recovery.

Like anything else, healthy eating can sometimes take practice. Your appetite may have been significantly impacted by your substance abuse. Often, you develop an unhealthy relationship with food during this time. It could be that you were eating way too much of all the wrong things, or maybe you weren’t eating enough. Either way, treatment is an excellent time to allow your body to reset and fill it with healthy organic foods.

After eating this way for a while, it can become second nature. Habits, good or bad, can be easily formed and difficult to break. Once you break habits of poor eating and make it common practice to make good food choices, it becomes easy to maintain and implement into your routine throughout recovery.

Good mental health is so important. Achieving good mental health and maintaining it can certainly be challenging at times. Eating healthy can help. By making good nutrition a priority, you can feel better, look better, and function at your best. When you feel good and are in a good space mentally, you can better focus on your recovery and making the most of life. You can achieve a healthier lifestyle and promote better healing by choosing a treatment center that prioritizes organic and nutrient-dense foods. Enlightened Solutions offers a full menu composed of locally grown organic foods, many of which are grown on-site at the Enlightened Farm. Healing begins from the inside out. Let us help you restore your health and begin your journey to recovery. If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, give Enlightened Solutions a call today at (833) 801-LIVE.


Reinforcing the 12-Step Process Through Yoga

Reinforcing the 12-Step Process Through Yoga

When was the last time you practiced yoga? Maybe you had a great practice just yesterday, or maybe you have always wanted to try it but feel a little intimidated. The great news is that yoga can be adapted to all abilities and experience levels. When used as part of the treatment process for substance use disorder (SUD), yoga can help promote healing and can reinforce the 12-Step process.

Yoga is something that has been used for centuries and provides many benefits. These include advantages to your mental health, physical health, and spiritual health. Yoga began in India over 5,000 years ago and is still used today because of its many benefits. With time, the practice has evolved, and several forms have developed with varying levels of difficulty and intensity.

You can find the practice in many different settings. These days, yoga studios can often be found in city centers and suburbs. Yoga instruction can take place in educational settings such as schools and universities. You can also find yoga classes being taught in more clinical spaces, such as rehab facilities like Enlightened Solutions, and as part of therapeutic programs.

Yoga was created to connect the body and mind with the understanding that without this connection, one cannot be fully well. The idea was always to encourage awareness and mindfulness of the present. This was believed to create a higher sense of consciousness.

Today, yoga continues to serve these purposes and many others. The body-mind connection continues to serve as the primary intention and, if achieved, can impact many other areas of function and well-being.

Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is beneficial to the body in many ways. Yoga is an effective yet gentle form of exercise. This makes it ideal for anyone just beginning their fitness journey or recovering from an injury. It can also be adapted to challenge more experienced athletes. Yoga promotes better strength and flexibility, improving general wellness and overall quality of life.

Practicing yoga has various advantages when it comes to mental health and processing as well. Because yoga encourages a mind and body connection, practicing can help with understanding and accepting different thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Better sleep, focus, and increased patience/calmness are also often experienced.

Yoga and the 12-Step Process

Let’s briefly discuss the 12-Step process. This process for recovery was created by founding members of Alcoholics Anonymous and is a widely used method among treatment programs and facilities worldwide. Each of the Twelve Steps involves a different gradual focus toward seeking sobriety and entering recovery. While each step is different, they all incorporate change and strength mentally, physically, and spiritually.

So, how can yoga help with understanding and reinforcing the 12-Step process? This is done by associating each of the Twelve Steps with specific yoga poses. You are making a mind and body connection that allows you to understand and process each specific step fully. Many people learn best by “doing.” This is because you are forming a mind and body correlation to whatever the task may be. This reinforces the information and new strategies you are learning and helps store them in your memory.

Both yoga and the 12-Step process involve mental and physical strength. Each requires awareness of self and the surrounding world. Yoga 12SR classes encourage you to push beyond your limits physically, just as therapy and the 12-Step process encourage pushing beyond your limits mentally. Essentially, you are connecting the cognitive efforts outside of the studio with your physical efforts in the studio.

Yoga and Addiction Recovery

Addiction can often leave those impacted feeling isolated or disconnected. You may feel lost or unsure of who you have become. Yoga helps re-integrate the mind, body, and spirit and can promote healing from the inside out. Because addiction impacts physical, mental, and physical health, this can be very helpful.

Yoga promotes mindfulness, which is crucial during addiction treatment and recovery. It can be difficult to process the changes you experience mentally, physically, and spiritually throughout the process. It can be easy to get distracted or consumed with focusing on past mistakes or feelings of shame and guilt. Yoga serves as an outlet for understanding, expressing, and healing.

Yoga teaches you to check in with yourself and make a habit of doing so regularly. Much like the Twelve Steps taught throughout treatment at Enlightened Solutions, yoga is and should be a long-term practice. Whether you enter the program as an experienced yogi or have never tried it before, you will leave with a better understanding of yourself and how to use the practice to enhance your treatment and recovery experience.

Yoga integrates the mind, body, and spirit. This connection is essential for long-term success in recovery, and for overall well-being in life in general. Building a good yoga practice can help you remain connected to yourself and mindful. Creating correlations between the 12-Step process and yoga can help reinforce the principles. At Enlightened Solutions, we incorporate yoga as part of our program for many reasons. Our instructors will help you develop a practice that works well for you and promotes internal and external healing. We incorporate the 12-Step process into our yoga practice to allow for a connection between the cognitive work you are doing in therapy and the physical work you are doing in the yoga studio. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, make the decision to seek help today. Give Enlightened Solutions a call at (833) 801-LIVE.


Treating Anxiety Naturally

Treating Anxiety Naturally

Anxiety is something that many people experience throughout their lifetime. Some may struggle with it daily, while for others, it may come in waves or be situational. Studies show that over 40 million adults in the United States have an anxiety disorder, a little more than 19% of the population.

This number doesn't include the hundreds of thousands of people who are likely undiagnosed, chalking their symptoms up to circumstantial stressors. The truth is, some degree of anxiety can be normal, and can even be a good thing in moderation. When symptoms become excessive, however, it can become problematic.

Treatment for anxiety can vary widely. Some may choose to manage symptoms with medication. Others may opt for psychotherapy or counseling. Many elect to receive a combination of both medication and therapy.

How to Identify Anxiety

Temporary fear or worry about things such as finances, family, or health issues is totally normal. An anxiety disorder is present when the worry or fear does not pass, increases over time, or interferes with day-to-day life such as work, school, or relationships.

There are several different types of anxiety disorders. These include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and various phobia-related disorders. Symptoms can vary for each type, but a few common symptoms of each can include:

  • Feeling restless or on edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Struggling to focus
  • Irritability or mood shifts
  • Aches and pains such as headaches, muscle aches, stomach discomfort
  • Feelings of worry or dread that are hard to control or irrational
  • Insomnia or difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Feeling self-conscious
  • Increased heart rate
  • Excess and uncontrollable sweating
  • Shaking
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling a loss of control
  • Increased heart rate
  • Trouble with eye contact
  • Feeling judged

Benzos for Anxiety

Anxiety is often treated with benzodiazepines, more commonly known as benzos. These medications are also widely prescribed for insomnia, stress, epilepsy, and for sedation purposes. With anxiety and the other mentioned challenges being so prevalent, benzos are among the most frequently prescribed medications in the United States.

Benzos work by slowing down the central nervous system as they increase the activity of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid. This produces a calm feeling and can even lead to drowsiness. It is for this reason that benzos can also be used to treat insomnia.

Benzos are only to be used temporarily or for short periods. This usually involves only a few days to weeks of usage at a time. Unfortunately, however, some providers continue to prescribe them to be used for longer durations. This creates a tolerance for the suggested dosage, often resulting in the misuse of the medication. More is required to get the calming effect once achieved with the prescribed dosage. Just like that, a habit is formed. There is also the risk of overdose when mixing benzos with alcohol or other drugs.

Alternative Treatment Options

Benzos should be considered a small piece of the full treatment plan for anxiety – if included at all. Psychotherapy is an excellent addition to medication therapy or an alternative form of treatment for anxiety. Psychotherapy can include techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), experiential therapy, and holistic therapy. Each of these options can be highly effective in treating anxiety and can be used to supplement, reduce, or replace the use of benzos for treating anxiety and related symptoms.

CBT increases cognitive awareness and encourages eliminating negative thought patterns. This form of therapy creates an increased understanding of how one's thoughts and emotions are affecting their actions and behaviors.

Experiential therapy involves the reenactment or recreating of significant events or experiences in a person's life. Various activities, tools, or props are often used in this form of treatment. Role-playing can commonly be incorporated to help one re-live and process the experience. Activities could include horseback riding, surfing, kayaking, acting, and more.

Holistic therapy refers to treating the whole person. This approach focuses on the mind, body, and spirit and is very integrative. Examples of holistic treatment modalities could include art therapy, music therapy, chiropractic, yoga, meditation, and consuming organic foods. Holistic therapies often involve lifestyle changes and healthy routines to improve one's overall quality of life.

Depending on the source, severity, and frequency of one's anxiety, choosing a therapeutic approach may be just as beneficial as prescription anxiety medication and, in many cases, can be a more sustainable treatment option in the long term. Knowing the habit-forming risks of benzos, it could be worth considering alternate options to treat anxiety before or in addition to seeking medication. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of evidence-based therapies to treat addiction to prescription drugs, including benzos.

Benzodiazepines are the most frequently prescribed medications in the United States. They are very commonly prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and several other disorders. Because of the risk of misuse, addiction, and even harm when taken in excess or combined with other substances, other more natural options should be considered. Therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, experiential therapy, and holistic therapy can serve as an excellent addition or alternative to benzos for the treatment of anxiety. Enlightened Solutions specializes in holistic therapy, and utilizes treatments such as art therapy, music therapy, and yoga, in addition to chiropractic, meditation, and organic food programs as part of individualized treatment plans. Our highly trained staff encourages healing and restores hope through these treatment modalities and can assist you in regaining control of your life. If you or someone you love could benefit from our treatment offerings, call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE.


New Mental Health Crisis Hotline - 988 - Set to Launch

New national suicide and mental health emergency hotline launches July 16th, 2022

Beginning Saturday, July 16th, 2022, people experiencing mental health emergencies can dial just three numbers to reach help from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The line will be referred to as the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, to emphasize that the service is for people experiencing a mental health crisis of any kind, not just those involving suicidal ideation.

This is not a new service, but rather a simpler way to access the critical support they might need during a mental health crisis. Anyone in the United States can text or call 988 to reach trained counselors who can help them cope with a mental health emergency, and direct them to additional resources for mental health and substance use treatment.

The Lifeline’s old number will continue to work, but the launch of the new service brings with it more help and resources to be able to help with suicide crisis as well as emotional distress and general mental health concerns.

“If you’re unsure, call,” said Dr. Robert Trestman, chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Council on Healthcare Systems and Financing. “Having an anonymous opportunity to speak to someone who knows what they’re talking about, who won’t be scared when you say, ‘I don’t know what to do, I’m thinking of hurting myself’ — this is an extraordinary option,” Dr. Trestman said.

When a person calls 988, they will first be connected to one of 200 local centers to help connect them to community resources or dispatch emergency services if necessary. However, not every state has set up local crisis teams that can respond to a mental health emergency, in which case callers will be automatically directed to a national backup center.

Now everyone, all over the country, can reach a counselor simply by calling 988.

Counselors will talk through the root of someone’s distress — whether it stems from illness, job loss, family stresses, or any other issue. They will help callers create concrete next steps to take after they hang up, including thinking through who else they can turn to for help, like a trusted clergy member or a local therapist.

Calls are anonymous, but in an emergency, such as if the caller requires medical attention, 988 can collaborate with local police or hospitals to dispatch services.

Why is the new number so important?

Tragically, suicide rates are on the rise in many states and it leaves a lasting impact on families and communities. Over the last 10 years, the suicide death rate has increased nearly 35% making it the 12th-leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2020 alone, 12.2 million adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.2 million made a plan and 1.2 million attempted suicide in the past year.

What can family and loved ones do to help?

The new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is going to be an important tool for those in crisis. Families, however, oftentimes see their children or relatives struggling well before the point of crisis. They could be struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse, and other disorders. Enlightened Solutions is here to help.

Enlightened Solutions offers those suffering with mental health and addiction issues a place where they can learn more about their struggle, find the support of others going through similar experiences, and make the necessary changes to their lives so that they can live well. Our integrated whole-person approach goes beyond just the symptoms to address underlying mental health conditions and the root causes of the issues and addictions. Give Enlightened solutions a call today at (833) 801-LIVE.


Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation has been practiced for centuries and is known to have many benefits. These can include advantages to both your mental and physical health. Spending a few minutes per day meditating can prepare you to better cope with the rest of the day ahead.

Meditation is encouraged in many clinical settings, and treatment facilities are no exception. With benefits such as improved mood, better sleep, increased focus, and reduced stress, there is no question why facilities choose to incorporate meditation in their programs.

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is a practice that involves evoking self-awareness and can promote mental clarity and calmness. Meditation has various forms: mindfulness meditation, movement meditation, and focused meditation, to name a few. While there are many different types of meditation, a few elements remain similar between them all.

First, and perhaps most importantly, you must have a quiet environment free of distractions and external stimuli. You must also be in a comfortable body position. This can certainly vary from person to person or by type of meditation. A few postures could include sitting, laying down, or even walking. Next, you must have a point of focus. This could be a word, phrase, or even your breath. Lastly, for any type of meditation to be effective, an open mind and attitude are a must. This allows you to explore and accept your thoughts and feelings without trying to suppress or judge them.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is defined as the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something; it has been practiced for over 2,500 years. Simply put, mindfulness is paying attention on purpose. This involves making a conscious effort to be in and aware of the present moment while welcoming your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. We are so often conditioned to filter many of our thoughts, feelings, and sensations, making practicing mindfulness require just that – practice.

Mindfulness is an important component of meditation as it prepares the mind for the experience. It involves a moment-by-moment acceptance of – and focus on – what you are thinking, feeling, and sensing from the environment around you.

Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness

The benefits of meditating and practicing mindfulness can vary from individual to individual, depending on the needs of that person. As with many methods of holistic treatment, there can be both mental and physical benefits to practicing mindfulness and meditating during treatment and recovery. Mindfulness meditation is a form of meditation that can be very advantageous and can help you establish balance throughout your recovery journey.

Meditation has been said to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Reasons for this could vary. Meditation, as mentioned above, often involves focusing on one thing, such as your breathing, throughout the exercise. Breathwork in itself has been found to ease nerves and produce a calming effect, so implementing this during meditation could certainly reduce stress and serve as a coping technique outside of practice.

Meditation has also been found to benefit the physical health of those who practice regularly. One of the main benefits studied heavily is the impact on blood pressure. As one of the most widespread, least controlled diseases worldwide, hypertension poses a threat to adults from all cultures and lifestyles. Due to its calming and stress-reducing techniques, meditation, in turn, has been shown to reduce hypertension.

Additionally, meditation has been found to help reduce insomnia and improve sleep. Specifically, sleep meditation is typically performed shortly before bed and can help calm the mind and reduce thoughts of the past or the future that may be causing sleep disturbances. Other forms of meditation, even during the day, can benefit evening sleep by reducing cortisol, the stress hormone.

Meditation and Mindfulness During Treatment

Implementing meditation and practicing mindfulness as part of treatment for substance use disorders has many benefits. In addition to the advantages listed above, such as improved sleep and reduced symptoms of stress and anxiety, meditation can aid in preventing relapse. Multiple domains of research suggest that meditation practice promotes executive functioning and cognitive control over automatic habits, especially related to repeated substance use and addiction. Studies show that meditation and mindfulness can also improve working memory and decision-making abilities among treatment recipients.

Implementing meditation and practicing mindfulness during treatment and recovery can be extremely beneficial to your experience and overall journey. Establishing good, healthy habits that provide you with tools to utilize even outside of the practice can be very helpful and aid in your success. Spending a few minutes each day focusing on the present and being intentional with your thoughts can make all the difference.

Taking a few minutes to meditate or practice mindfulness throughout your day can make a positive difference. Meditation involves intentionally becoming aware of the present and focusing on what you feel, think, and sense in that moment. You may be tasked with concentrating on your breathing or fixating on a specific word, phrase, or even object. Meditation and practicing mindfulness can have a variety of benefits. These benefits can include mental advantages such as reduced symptoms of stress and anxiety, or even improved mood. Meditation is known to have a calming effect and can help improve sleep and reduce stress as a result. Meditation can also have physical benefits and improve things such as blood pressure for some. Enlightened Solutions provides a holistic approach to treatment and encourages meditation and mindfulness as part of your recovery. If you are battling drug or alcohol addiction, call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE


Taking care of your mental health

Taking care of your mental health has never been more important. Below are 10 tips to help.

Taking care of your mental health has never been more important than it is today.

Recently, we have seen celebrities and athletes talk about their struggles with mental health. Some have even taken breaks to focus on self-care.

Below are 10 tips to help you take better care of your mental health.

1. Practice Self Care Habits

Self-care is not about face masks and bubble baths, though these are great self-care tools. Even if you care for others, it is important to take care of yourself too. You should always feel clean, confident, and well-groomed, even if you are feeling down. Sometimes a haircut or a clean shave can help a person feel better mentally after going through difficult times. Manicures, pedicures, facials, and massages are other good examples of self-care that can help to improve mental health.

2. Engage in Your Favorite Hobbies

Taking care of your mental health does not have to be hard work. Sometimes, it can even be fun. If you and struggling with your mental health, you might want to break away from your routine a little bit. If work, childcare, and other obligations are making you feel depressed or anxious, it is important to set aside some time for yourself. Do something that you enjoy. If you like to play a sport or play an instrument, you might want to set aside some designated time each week to practice that hobby.

3. Get Enough Sleep

Depriving yourself of sleep is not a good idea if you are struggling with your mental health. Even if you are feeling fine, you should still make sure that you are getting enough sleep each night. Generally, you should try to get at least 6 to 8 hours of high-quality sleep in a comfortable, clean, and darkroom each night. Make sure that you have no distractions like lights or television when you are trying to fall asleep at night.

4. Reach Out to Others

You cannot isolate yourself when dealing with mental health struggles. Reaching out to friends, family members, or coworkers to talk about your mental health can be extremely helpful if you are struggling. Even if you do not choose to specifically talk about your mental health, it can still be helpful to talk to a friend when you are struggling. A good support system can help you feel more confident and capable, even during difficult times. Being a good friend to the people in your support system can also be rewarding and give you a sense of purpose.

5. Spend Time Outdoors

If you feel depressed after spending too much time indoors, you might want to try spending more time in nature. You do not have to take an extended camping trip to get more in touch with the natural world around you. Consider visiting a national park, hiking trail, or nature preserve near your home. Even just spending time in your own backyard can ease your mind and help you to connect more with nature.

6. Unplug from Electronics and Social Media

Social media can be stressful and competitive. In general, most people spend way too much time staring at their phones, tablets, computers, and other electronic devices. Designating at least an hour before bed where you do not use your phone can be helpful if you are working on taking care of your mental health. It is important to remember that you do not have to hold yourself to the standards that you see in edited photos and scripted videos.

7. Use Mental Health Resources

If participating in rewarding activities and practicing more self-care doesn't work, you might need the help of a professional. Talking to a counselor can be extremely helpful. Behavioral therapy and medication are both tools that can help people with their mental health. Enlightened Solutions has programs designed for individuals concerned about their mental health.

8. Meditate

Any quiet time that you take away from the distractions of everyday life can count as meditation. You can also try meditation groups or taped guided meditation routines for a little bit more guidance in your practice. If meditating seems intimidating to you at first, you can start by just meditating for one to two minutes each day. Some people like to meditate first thing in the morning and others prefer to meditate at night. You can even meditate during a break away from work. Make sure that you are in a comfortable and peaceful setting to meditate and always focus on taking nice, deep breaths while meditating.

9. Practice Positive Self Talk

Positive self-talk can be verbal, written, or mental. Some people like to start their day by speaking affirmations out loud in the mirror. People use journals to keep track of accomplishments and positive traits. When you cannot talk to yourself or journal, you can still practice self-talk by repeating positive sayings to yourself.

10. Be Kind to Others

When you are kind to others, it can be rewarding. If you struggle with feelings of uselessness or sadness, you might want to try helping others. You might want to perform a random act of kindness, give a gift to a friend, or reach out to do some volunteer work. Being kind to others is the perfect way to form more friendships and help build up your support network at the same time.

Struggling with addiction in addition to your mental health issues? Enlightened Solutions is here to help. Contact Enlightened Solutions today if you are ready for a new beginning.


Somatoform Disorder Is Scary, but What Is It?

Somatoform disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions where you experience unexplained pain and other bodily symptoms. Somatoform symptoms cause serious distress but are not entirely attributable to any known medical condition or other mental disorder, and they can have a considerable impact on your daily life and well-being.

Symptoms of somatoform disorder manifest in different ways. These include:

  • Pain
  • Neurological disorders relating to your central nervous system 
  • Problems in your stomach, gut, and digestive system
  • Sexual problems

Having a somatoform disorder can be stressful and frustrating. You may feel unsatisfied that there is not a simple medical cause that doctors can treat to end the pain. Sometimes friends, loved ones, and others around you do not appreciate the levels of distress and the challenges you face as a result of the illness. However, the distress and sensation of pain you experience are real, even if there isn’t an underlying medical explanation.

While it may not be possible to find a medical cause, you can still treat and recover from somatoform disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication, and treatment for co-occurring disorders can all help to manage symptoms so you can enjoy your daily life.

What Are Some Types of Somatoform Disorder?

There are many types of somatoform disorder, including:

  • Somatization disorder - where you experience several different kinds of physical symptoms
  • Undifferentiated somatoform disorder - which causes a smaller range of symptoms
  • Conversion disorder - causing only voluntary motor or sensory function symptoms
  • Pain disorder - where psychological factors cause or worsen pain
  • Body dysmorphic disorder - where you become overly concerned by a real or imaginary defect on your body
  • Hypochondriasis - an illness anxiety disorder where you are extremely worried about your health

How Does Somatoform Disorder Relate to Depression and Anxiety?

Somatoform disorders often lead to general health anxiety and fears about the cause of the bodily symptoms. However, stress and other mental health issues may also be a driving force behind the disorder. A study by the American Psychiatric Journal found strong associations between somatoform disorders and other psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety and depression. 

How Does Somatoform Disorder Lead to Substance Abuse?

Somatic symptoms and other related disorders cause bodily pain that can be severe and difficult to manage. As a result, you may turn to drugs or alcohol to try to ease symptoms and escape from feelings of stress and frustration.

Marijuana, opioid painkillers, and benzodiazepines can all help to relieve pain and anxiety. However, these drugs are also addictive. Using illicit drugs or prescription drugs in ways other than your doctor prescribes may lead to substance use disorders that can devastate your health and social life.

How Does Drug Use Affect Somatoform Disorder?

Drug abuse and addiction may also affect somatic symptoms. Medications like opioid painkillers can make you hypersensitive to pain and exacerbate the symptoms of somatoform disorders. In addition, withdrawal symptoms and side effects of drug abuse may worsen gastrointestinal, sexual, and coordination problems.

How Can You Treat Somatoform Disorder?

Somatic disorder treatment often involves different kinds of therapy and treatment for co-occurring disorders like substance use disorders, anxiety, and depression which may underlie somatic symptoms. 

Treatment is more successful if doctors recognize the disorder quickly and avoid unnecessary testing and ineffective treatments. In addition, health care professionals should deliver diagnosis and treatment with empathy and a complete understanding of the pain and distress the patient is experiencing.

Treatment for co-occurring substance use and somatic form disorders should treat both illnesses simultaneously. Somatoform disorders can be a driving factor behind substance abuse, and if ignored, drug-seeking behaviors can re-emerge, even after long periods of sobriety. Holistic treatment that focuses on underlying mental and physical conditions is fundamental to recovering from both kinds of disorder.  

Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center. We offer a holistic treatment program that treats underlying mental health issues alongside addiction. Our location on the picturesque south shores of New Jersey provides an optimal setting for healing and relaxation.

Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-step philosophy, and we provide each client with an individualized recovery plan. We offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, yoga and meditation, acupuncture and chiropractic work, and equine-assisted therapy. If you or someone close to you seeks relief from addiction, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.

 


Are Stimulant Use and ADHD Related?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental health disorders diagnosed in children. About half of childhood cases persist into adulthood, although it is normal for hyperactive symptoms to diminish somewhat.

Adults with ADHD are at much higher risk of developing substance use disorder; between 25% - 40% of adults in active addiction also have ADHD.

ADHD and Addiction

The exact mechanism of what causes ADHD is unknown, but we know that it often correlates with a deficit of dopamine in the brain. This characteristic poses a multitude of challenges to people with ADHD, including:

  • Difficulties with judgment
  • Impulsivity
  • Distractibility
  • Fidgeting
  • Overactivity
  • Short-term reward-seeking
  • Social awkwardness

These traits put people with ADHD at a unique risk of developing an addiction. Young people who struggle to control impulses or behavioral differences are often exposed to drug use earlier in life and are less resistant. At the same time, self-medication is extremely common among people who are not diagnosed. Adults with ADHD frequently abuse substances initially to quiet distractions, calm themselves down, and be productive.

Self-Medication With Illegal Stimulants

Abusing stimulants to self-medicate puts users at the same risk of addiction as using stimulants to get high. In addition, most illegal stimulants cause mental dependence when they are taken long-term, meaning the brain slows down its dopamine production when the drug is consistently in the system.

Using stimulants to self-medicate increases the risk of addiction. To the user, it may feel like these drugs are necessary to function, but this self-imposed treatment sets the groundwork for psychological addiction.

In a user with ADHD, this could cause further issues and make recovering from addiction more challenging. Withdrawal can also heighten ADHD symptoms, and they can be more extreme due to initial low dopamine production in the brain prior to the use of any medication.

Prescription Stimulant Addiction

Prescription drugs used to medicate ADHD are addictive in their own right. The most common drugs used to treat ADHD (Adderall, Vyvanse, and Ritalin) are all central nervous system stimulants with the potential for abuse.

Modern research hasn’t found an overall trend in people developing addictions to their prescription drugs, but it occasionally happens. ADHD stimulant medication tends to produce highs only when it is improperly used or used by people without ADHD - however, dependence can develop regardless.

In addition, when people in treatment start to increase their dose against their doctor’s guidance or use short-acting medications at times of day not prescribed (e.g. outside of regular working hours), this can suggest abuse.

Treating Addiction and ADHD

Dual diagnosis

If a person is suffering from substance abuse disorder and undiagnosed ADHD, addiction treatment is highly likely to help. Effective addiction treatment incorporates dual diagnosis from the very beginning, which highlights the presence of any underlying psychiatric or behavioural conditions. Recovery is different for everyone, and co-occurring disorders require individual treatment. In people with ADHD, an effective treatment program needs to focus on building healthy coping strategies for its mental and behavioral challenges.

Therapies

Attending any type of professional addiction therapy is universally helpful. However, in many cases, ADHD and drug treatment therapy compliment each other. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to strengthen resolve and empower people to make positive changes in their actions. These changes help people to manage ADHD symptoms and also cope with drug cravings healthily.

We Can Help

If a mental health disorder is complicating a substance use disorder for you or your loved one, we can help. Enlightened Solutions is licensed to treat substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders such as ADHD that frequently accompany them. We offer a range of modalities, including dual diagnosis, psychotherapy, yoga, meditation, art and music therapies, acupuncture, and chiropractic care - all rooted in the 12-step philosophy. If you would like more information about our ADHD and stimulant addiction treatment, please call us at (833) 801-5483.


power of touch

The Importance of Touch for Physical and Mental Health

COVID-19 has brought considerable changes to our daily lives. We might now be working from home. If children attend school in person, they wear masks, and their desks are probably shielded with plexiglass partitions. Fast-food workers might place our to-go bags on trays before handing us our food, so there is very little chance of the customer and employee accidentally touching.

We miss a lot from our pre-COVID life, like getting together with friends and seeing extended family. We miss going to the movies and concerts. Most of all, we miss human contact. We miss shaking hands, and we miss hugs. We have become “touch-deprived.”

According to Tiffany Field, Ph.D., “we were already a touch-deprived society before [the pandemic].” Dr. Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, references research that has been done in airports, studying behavior in lines. Previously, there was touching. People held hands. Now, we are all on our cell phones.

Problems Caused by Touch Deprivation

Touch deprivation, also called skin hunger, can cause mental and physical health issues. According to an article published on Nordic Cuddle’s website, a cuddle therapy provider located in the United Kingdom, people in Western cultures tended to be less “touch-friendly” even before the COVID-19 pandemic due to technology, mobile devices, and fears of allegations of harassment.

Lack of positive touch is associated with mental and physical health concerns, including the following:

  • Aggressive behavior, both verbal and physical
  • Body image disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • High levels of stress
  • Loneliness (signs could include prolonged hot showers and baths, wrapping up in blankets, and clinging to pillows and pets)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Alexithymia (a condition that prevents people from expressing and interpreting their emotions)
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Fear of attachment

Benefits of Touch

The importance of touch was discussed in a recent article in Time magazine, “The Corona Virus Outbreak Keeps Humans from Touching: Here’s Why That’s So Stressful,” published April 10, 2020. According to the article, people need platonic touch daily. Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, says that positive touch, like hugging your life partner or linking arms with a friend, reduces stress. Other health benefits include a strengthened immune system, improved digestion, deeper sleep, and an enhanced ability to empathize with others.

Examples of positive touch include a hug, a handshake, a high-five, or a pat on the back. In fact, touch is so essential to human development that part of the treatment for premature babies includes skin-to-skin contact between babies and their parents, called “Kangaroo care.”

According to Grace L. Heer, a certified cuddlist who works in Southern California, positive touch increases levels of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin in the brain. These increased hormone levels decrease anxiety and stress levels and can lower the heart rate and reduce blood pressure. 

(Professional cuddling is a holistic therapy that provides clients with safe touch. Sessions could include hand-holding, hugs, spooning, conversation, or shared silence.)

How to Find Positive Touch During the Pandemic

Fortunately, there are ways to increase the amount of touch we receive, even during the pandemic. Sales of weighted blankets have increased during COVID-19, and people have started cuddling with stuffed animals and pets. Pet adoptions have increased during the pandemic as well. According to an article in the Washington Post, animal shelters, nonprofit rescues, private breeders, and pet stores all say that there is more demand for puppies and dogs than they can meet.

In a New York Times article, Dr. Field says that one way to get touch in your life in a very safe manner during the pandemic is a treatment she describes as “moving the skin.” Pressure receptors are located beneath the skin. Instead of merely stroking your skin, move your skin firmly enough to cause temporary indentations. She also recommends giving yourself a scalp massage, doing abdominal crunches, wearing compression clothing, or even rolling around on a carpeted floor or yoga mat. In addition, she says that yoga can function as a form of self-massage (“What All That Touch Deprivation Is Doing to Us,” New York Times, Oct. 6, 2020).

Due to the pandemic, Heer has been offering virtual cuddle sessions, leading participants in self-soothing techniques that boost oxytocin without physical contact. For example, she leads participants in performing mirror exercises. Participants complete the same movements at the same time, mirroring each other over Zoom. Doing the same movement at the same time, she explains, creates an emotional connection. Oxytocin levels in the brain are increased as they would be with physical contact because of how the neurons fire in the brain.

Touch is vital to our physical and mental well-being. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer many holistic treatment modalities that utilize touch, including acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, and reiki. These therapeutic techniques are valuable in treating substance use disorders as well as mental health issues. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center, meaning that we can treat substance use disorders and the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction. Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy. It includes one-on-one counseling, group therapy, and many alternative therapies, including art and music therapy, family constellation therapy, yoga and meditation, and equine-assisted therapy. We are located near the southern New Jersey shore, and we offer each client a customized treatment program. Our focus is on healing the whole person rather than merely treating the addiction. If you seek relief from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, please call us at (833) 801-5483.


burnout in recovery

How to Avoid Burnout in Recovery

At one point in your life, you realized you had a problem with drugs or alcohol. Your substance abuse was beginning to take over your life, interfering with work, family, and friends. You got help. You went through a treatment program, and you achieved sobriety. Now you are back in the “real world,” working hard to maintain the sober lifestyle that you worked so hard to achieve. You go to meetings; you work with your sponsor; you eat a healthy diet; you exercise regularly; you make sure you get enough sleep. You are doing everything right, so why does it all feel like so much work?

It may be that in your diligent work to live a sober lifestyle, you’ve forgotten why you wanted sobriety in the first place. You most likely didn’t decide to become sober for the sake of sobriety alone; you became sober to improve your life. Now it seems like sobriety might be your entire life. If you feel this way, you might be burning out on sobriety which could lead to a relapse--the last thing you want.

Symptoms of Burnout

You may be heading toward burnout if you find that you are tired of going to meetings, tired of hearing about recovery, tired of hearing the same people talk about the same problems. You may find yourself feeling irritable, feeling emotionally exhausted, or feeling like an imposter. You may be getting more headaches or stomach aches, or your muscles may feel tight all the time. You may have trouble sleeping, or you may feel tired all the time. These are all signs that you may be experiencing burnout.

Be Aware of Your Feelings

The first step to avoiding burnout is to be aware of how you feel—check-in with yourself. Notice your thoughts and the sensations in your body. Remember that it’s okay to feel how you are feeling. If you keep a journal, write about what you are experiencing. If you don’t keep a journal, now would be a good time to start. Writing can be a great way to explore feelings. In the process of writing, you can uncover how you feel and dig under the surface to explore what is causing those feelings.

Try Something New in Recovery

If you are tired of the meetings you usually attend, try out some different ones. Although you will always want to be in fellowship with other people in recovery, some new faces and new perspectives may rekindle your interest in sobriety. You may find a new favorite meeting.

Volunteer in your community, or get involved with service work if you are active in a 12-Step fellowship. You will be doing some good in your community, and you will be shifting your focus away from yourself and your feelings of discontent. Also, in the process of volunteering, you may make some new friends or strengthen existing friendships.

Conversely, you may want to cut back on some of your commitments. It’s okay to give yourself a break once in a while. You may need to recharge. Taking a step back could allow you to examine what’s working and what isn’t in your recovery.

Try Something New Outside of Recovery

Now might be the time to add a non-recovery activity into your life. Maybe you liked to paint once upon a time--now could be the perfect time to break out the paints and the easel. Perhaps you used to go on hikes every weekend, or you have happy memories of working in a garden with a relative. Making time for a hobby that is seemingly unrelated to your recovery may strengthen your recovery.

Finding something new that you love, or returning to a hobby that you used to love, is a part of why you recovered in the first place. Your addiction was taking over your life. Now that you are free from your addiction, you have time to discover or rediscover activities that you love.

Reach Out for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to someone you trust. It may seem like you are the only person who has felt burnt out on recovery, but you aren’t. If you have a sponsor, talk about your concerns and what you are experiencing. Your sponsor may very well have gone through something similar. Discuss this with your therapist. Don’t keep your feelings bottled up.

Although it may not seem like it at first, going through a burnout phase, a season of discontent, will strengthen your commitment to recovery.

At Enlightened Solutions, we realize that recovery is a lifelong process. As such, our relationship with our clients does not end when they complete their formal treatment program. Our alumni are a living testament to our recovery program. Their successes after treatment bring hope and encouragement to our current clients and to one another. We are a co-occurring treatment center, and in addition to substance use disorder, we also treat the mental health issues that often accompany addiction, including depression and anxiety. Our treatment programs are rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and include traditional talk therapy and many holistic treatment modalities like yoga, family constellation therapy, and art and music therapy. We are located near New Jersey’s southern shore, and we customize a treatment plan for each client. If you are struggling with an addiction, or if someone close to you is, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.