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.

 


What To Do When You Feel Another Episode of Depression Coming

What To Do When You Feel Another Episode of Depression Coming

Depression is one of the most common mental health challenges worldwide and it’s a major risk factor for addiction. For example, one study found that among people with major depression, 16.5 percent had an alcohol use disorder and 18 percent had a drug use disorder.

Those are both much higher than the incidence of substance use disorders in the general population. Furthermore, if you have had one episode of major depression, you are likely to have another. About half of people who have had one episode will have another and about 80 percent of people who have had two episodes will have a third one.

The good news is that you can often lessen the severity of a depressive episode or avoid it entirely if you are aware of the symptoms early and respond appropriately. Early symptoms can be any of the common symptoms of depression but are especially likely to include irritability, fatigue, rumination, disturbed sleep, changes in appetite, and isolation. If you notice any of these symptoms, take the following action:

Make Sure You’re Sticking to Your Treatment Plan

If you have received treatment for depression in the past, you likely followed some course of treatment that helped you through it. This might have included therapy, healthy lifestyle changes, changes in thinking patterns, and possibly medication.

Typically, as you start to feel better, you are more inclined to let these things slide. So if you feel symptoms of depression coming back, review whatever helped you overcome your last episode and make sure you’re still doing those things, or resume doing them if you’ve stopped.

Make sure you’re eating healthy and getting regular exercise. You can also consider resuming therapy if you have met with a therapist before.

Take Care of Yourself

In addition to eating healthy and exercising, there are additional ways to take care of yourself that will help you in your healing from depression. Find ways to turn down the dial on your chronic stress, perhaps by managing your schedule better, saying no to new responsibilities, or delegating existing responsibilities.

Make sure you’re taking a little time each day to relax and have fun in whatever ways work for you. Spend time with people you care about. All of these things will help to reduce stress and anxiety, which are common triggers for depression.

Talk It Over

When you feel like your mood has taken a wrong turn and your thoughts start getting pretty dark, don’t bottle it up. Talk to someone. Ideally, you should talk to a therapist because it’s possible that you’ve slid back into some unhealthy thinking patterns and your therapist can help you correct the course. However, it can help to talk to someone you trust or someone who supports you and will listen without judgment.

It’s especially important to be able to discuss your feelings with your spouse or partner since it’s easy to take irritability and a persistently foul mood personally. An important thing to remember is that communication is key. It helps prevent alienation and just talking about what you’re going through will probably help you feel better.

Connect with Others

It’s also important to stay connected socially in general. Often, one of the earliest signs that a relapse of depression is approaching is that you want to be alone. You cancel plans, decline invitations, or just don’t show up to things. However, this is one of the behaviors that can make you spiral down more quickly.

Spending time with people you care about reduces stress and improves your mood and the less you feel like it, the more important this kind of connection is. Be sure to accept invitations and actually show up. Reach out to people, even if it’s just a text or email. Keep in mind that no matter how much you are dreading getting together with friends, you will probably enjoy it once you drag yourself out of the house.

Change Your Mood

If you’re in the depths of a depressive episode, the idea that you can just cheer up by listening to music or watching some funny videos is absurd. However, if you’re just starting to feel early symptoms of depression, these kinds of activities are powerful because they can help keep you from spiraling down.

Funny or uplifting music, videos, movies, TV shows, and books are all great ways to change your mood quickly. Exercise, even a short walk, is an especially powerful way to improve your mood in a matter of minutes. Talking to certain friends might help, as might something like cooking your favorite meal or going to your favorite restaurant.

Even just a change of scenery might get you out of a funk. Try going to a place with natural beauty, as nature has been proven to improve your mood. Even a few minutes sitting in a nearby park can lift your spirits.

Accept Your Feelings

If you have already experienced an episode of major depression, you know how bad it can get. When you feel another episode approaching, you might feel overcome with dread or even panic. You might think, “Oh no, not this again! I barely made it through the last episode and I don’t have time for this right now.”

Unfortunately, that kind of thinking makes you feel even worse. You’re adding to your misery because you feel bad about feeling bad. A much better approach is accepting your feelings. We all have bad days or even bad weeks. Instead of panicking, you can say to yourself, “I feel pretty bad today.

That’s fine; it’s normal to feel bad sometimes.” Then just sit with the feeling. It will likely pass. There is even research suggesting that the more people are able to accept challenging emotions in times of stress, the less likely those emotions are to turn into depression.

If you are attuned to your emotions and if you are aware of your patterns and triggers, it’s possible to avoid or at least reduce the severity of another episode of depression. The keys are to take care of yourself; talk it over, especially with a therapist; connect with others, particularly those you trust; manage your mood, especially early on; and avoid compounding your symptoms with worry or anger about your symptoms.

If you suddenly find yourself in emotional distress, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or use their chat feature. You don’t have to be suicidal to call.

At Enlightened Solutions, we know that substance use is often just the tip of the iceberg. Most people who struggle with addiction have other issues as well, including major depression. Managing your mental health is a key component to a strong recovery from addiction, which is why our treatment program includes evidence-based treatments for co-occurring mental health issues, as well as lifestyle changes to promote holistic healing. To learn more, call us today at (833) 801-5483.


6 Ways to Reduce Inflammation for a Stronger Recovery

6 Ways to Reduce Inflammation for a Stronger Recovery

Addiction science is still relatively new and researchers are making new discoveries all the time. In recent years, the role of inflammation in addiction and mental illness has started to gain attention. Some studies have found that inflammation may contribute directly to addictive behavior while other studies suggest that inflammation plays a significant role in at least some forms of depression, which in turn increases your risk of developing a substance use disorder.

In the case of depression, researchers believe the inflammatory response, which is meant to fight infection and prevent the spread of disease, triggers a series of behavioral changes. These include fatigue, slow movements, sleep disturbances, isolation, and inability to concentrate--all common symptoms of depression. When you’re actually fighting an infection, these symptoms aid your recovery but when you’re not, you just feel depressed.

It’s also possible that in some people, stress triggers an inflammatory response because, from an evolutionary perspective, your body is preparing to face a physical threat. The inflammatory response gives your body a head start in fighting any infection that may result from injury. That’s why the current thinking goes, life stress can trigger a depressive episode.

It’s clear that if you’re recovering from a substance use disorder, inflammation is not your friend. Keeping inflammation under control should help you feel better and it will likely improve your physical health too. Here are some suggestions for reducing inflammation.

See Your Doctor

First, if you’re feeling the symptoms of inflammation, the first thing to do is see your doctor. Symptoms of inflammation may include body pain such as aching in the muscles and joints, fatigue, excessive mucus, rashes, and digestive issues. As noted above, depressive symptoms such as excessive or disturbed sleep, poor appetite, poor concentration, and social isolation may also be symptoms.

Seeing your doctor about these symptoms is important because they could signal a variety of medical issues, including allergies, autoimmune diseases, asthma, hepatitis, and other conditions that may require medical treatment.

Fix Your Diet

There are two major considerations with diet: avoiding inflammatory foods and eating more anti-inflammatory foods. Of the two, avoiding inflammatory foods is probably the most important. The worst offenders include sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, which are especially abundant in sodas; trans fats, and omega-6 fats, which are common in fried foods and packaged pastries; vegetable and seed oils; refined flour, such as white bread and pasta; and processed meats. Cutting these foods out of your diet should help you feel better pretty quickly.

On the other side, anti-inflammatory foods will make you feel a bit better and they’re typically nutritious as well. Anti-inflammatory foods include berries, especially blueberries, fruits like oranges and cherries, dark leafy greens, tomatoes, nuts, fatty fish, and olive oil. When in doubt, go for whole foods with a minimum of processing.

Coffee and Tea

As discussed above, what you consume has a major effect on your inflammation. Because many people drink their inflammation as well as their calories, coffee and tea deserve special mention. Drinks high in sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, such as sodas, energy drinks, and fancy coffee drinks may be contributing to your inflammation more than anything you eat. It’s better to replace those drinks with tea or coffee.

Both are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Green tea is the best in this regard, but all coffee and tea offer some benefits. One recent study found that the mechanism by which caffeine keeps you from falling asleep may also reduce the production of inflammatory molecules in the body.

Manage Your Stress

As noted above, inflammation is often triggered by stress as the body prepares to face a physical threat. Unfortunately, this system is not well adapted to our current, more chronic forms of stress. Prolonged levels of high cortisol impair the body’s ability to manage inflammation and this is likely one reason chronic stress increases your risk for a number of health issues, including heart disease, obesity, and more frequent illness.

Managing your stress by reducing your obligations, getting regular exercise, getting adequate sleep, socializing with positive people, finding ways to relax every day, and so on, can significantly reduce inflammation.

Exercise

Exercise is important for recovery for many reasons, including improving your mental health. There are several mechanisms by which this works and one may be that it reduces inflammation. We don’t entirely understand how exercise reduces inflammation but studies show that regular moderate exercise does reduce inflammation markers in the blood.

This may happen because exercise stresses the body, causing minor damage, which is managed with increased production of anti-inflammatory molecules. However, it works, it’s clear that even 20 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, each day reduces inflammation.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight significantly increases inflammation in the body. Excess body fat actually releases inflammatory chemicals and research suggests that this is a major reason obesity is linked to health issues such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and depression.

The good news is that many of the behaviors that reduce inflammation also help you maintain a healthy weight. Eliminating inflammatory foods, eating more anti-inflammatory foods, and exercising regularly make maintaining a healthy weight much easier, and the anti-inflammatory effects are compounded by fat loss.

More and more research is finding that inflammation is a mediating factor in many diseases, including depression. The good news is that unless you have an underlying medical issue, you can do a lot to reduce inflammation and the consequent health risks just by making a few healthy lifestyle changes, including eating a healthier diet, exercising regularly, managing stress, and maintaining a healthy weight. Furthermore, these various efforts tend to reinforce each other.

At Enlightened Solutions, we believe that the secret to a strong recovery from addiction is living a happy, healthy life. Our program emphasizes holistic, individualized treatment for mind, body, and spirit. To learn more, call us today at 833-801-5483.


comparison

Why You Shouldn’t Compare Yourself to Others in Addiction Recovery

When you first start recovering from a substance use disorder, whether you enter treatment, start going to 12-Step meetings, or some other method, you’re taking your first steps into unfamiliar territory. You’re never quite sure if you’re doing the right things or if you have any chance of succeeding. It’s normal to look around and compare your progress to others to try to reassure yourself or at least estimate your progress. However, making these kinds of comparisons only make you feel worse and endangers your recovery. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t compare yourself to others while recovering from addiction, or, really, at any other time.

 

Comparisons Lead to Depression and Anxiety

 

Teddy Roosevelt famously said that “Comparison is the thief of joy.” In our hearts, we know this is true. You might be thrilled with your new car until you see your friend’s new car, for example. There’s always something better out there that can ruin our enjoyment of what we have. 

 

What’s more, there appears to be something inherent in comparisons that makes us unhappy. One pair of studies found that spending more time on Facebook correlated with more feelings of depression. Perhaps more to the point, the second study in the pair found that people who made more comparisons on Facebook had worse depressive symptoms, even when they felt they were the same or better than the people they were comparing themselves to. 

 

Perhaps this effect is a mix of uncertainty, self-consciousness, and critical judgment. Either way, making fewer comparisons is an easy way to protect your mental health. This is especially important for addiction recovery, given that at least half of people with substance use disorders have a co-occurring mental health issue, chief among which are mood disorders and anxiety disorders.

 

Comparisons Can Give You an Excuse to Quit

 

It’s important to keep in mind that pretty much everyone who enters treatment is deeply ambivalent about staying sober. You feel obligated to say and act like you want to get sober and you might even believe it, but the addicted mind is tricky. 

 

One common problem people face early in recovery is called “terminal uniqueness” in 12-Step circles. It’s the belief that you’re unlike everyone else there in some fundamental way. For example, you may see your own substance use issues as situational and temporary while seeing your peers in treatment or in the rooms as “addicts.” Therefore, you feel you shouldn’t have to engage with treatment in the same way as others. This can be a huge barrier to progress.

 

On the other hand, you may see someone doing very well in recovery and feel like that person has some fundamental advantage that you lack. You can’t imagine that person starting where you are and ending where they are. You feel like you’ll never be that person, so you might as well quit. Addiction is always looking for a way to get back into the game and comparisons—good and bad—provide that opportunity.

 

Comparisons Are Never Accurate

 

If comparisons are estimating your own position, progress, and potential, they are not even particularly helpful for that. No one ever enters recovery in the exact same circumstances. They have different addictions, different mental health issues, different personal histories, different personalities, and different resources. There is an essentially infinite number of combinations, which is why it’s so important for treatment to be individualized. However, it also means any comparison you make is not going to be accurate or valid. 

 

What’s more, you’re always making comparisons based on limited information. Not only do other people have different advantages and disadvantages, but you never really know what those are. And you never really know how they are doing in recovery. So much of recovery is in your head. Someone may outwardly appear to be doing well but inwardly feel like a train wreck. Furthermore, the future is inherently unpredictable. You never really know who is going to end up having a strong, lasting recovery.

 

Comparisons are Never Useful

 

Aside from helping you figure out where you are, you might hope that comparing yourself to others might prove useful in some way. However, that’s typically not the case. While you should certainly listen to others and learn what you can, it’s crucial not to make the mistake of assuming you will have the same needs in recovery as anyone else. Again, this is why individualized care is important. You have to be aware of your own priorities in recovery and stay focused on those, rather than trying to win someone else’s race. It hardly matters if you outdo someone else in some area if it doesn’t help you achieve your own goals.

 

Comparisons Turn Recovery Into a Competition

 

Finally, it’s important to remember that recovery is not a competition. Recovery should be about cooperation and mutual support. The more connected you feel to people in your sober network, the more likely your recovery will last. If you want to undermine that connection, one of the fastest ways is to regard all of your peers in recovery as rivals and feel diminished by their successes. In fact, the opposite is true. When one person in your sober network succeeds, it helps everyone. Not only does it show that recovery is possible, but feeling happy for other people’s success improves your sense of wellbeing.

 

Comparing ourselves to others is one of those things we all do sometimes but we would all be better off if we stopped. Comparisons make us unhappy and don’t provide us with any useful information. It’s far better to focus on the things that matter to us and the things under our control.

 

 At Enlightened Solutions, we know that joy and happiness are essential to living a sober life. Our holistic programs combine evidence-based treatment with spiritual and wellness practices that help our clients live more fulfilling lives. To learn more about our programs, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.


How is Depression Different for Men?

How is Depression Different for Men?

According to the World Health Organization, depression affects more than 264 million people globally and is the leading cause of disability. Depression is a particular concern for people with substance use disorders. One study found that  among people with major depression, 16.5 percent had an alcohol use disorder and 18 percent had a drug use disorder--more than twice the rate of those issues in the general population. For a number of reasons, including biological and social factors, depression is more common in women than in men. Women, for example, are subjected to more extreme hormonal changes, especially around menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, and women are more likely to be victims of abuse and sexual assault. All of these have been shown to increase your risk of depression.

 

However, a lot of men are under the mistaken impression that depression is a female problem. In reality, the difference is not huge. About 8.7 percent of women had a depressive episode in 2017 compared to about 5.3 percent of men. What’s more, many experts believe that depression is generally underreported in men, suggesting those numbers might be even closer. Part of the problem is that depression symptoms look different in men and men behave differently when depressed. Here are some ways depression is different for men.

 

Men Have Different Symptoms

When most people think of depression, they typically imagine something like persistent sadness, hopelessness, or sleeping all day. While those symptoms are fairly common, they are not always present. What’s more, they tend to be more common in women. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to experience depression symptoms like irritability, anger, aggression, and disturbed sleep. While some studies suggest that men and women both report irritability at roughly equal rates, men often feel like irritability is a more socially acceptable emotion to express, whereas sadness is less acceptable. 

 

Men are also more likely to experience physical symptoms that most people would not recognize as depression. These might include headaches, body aches, digestive problems, racing heart, or tightness in the chest. Men are actually more likely to see their doctor about physical problems than emotional ones, so a diagnosis of depression in men often starts with physical complaints for which no physical cause can be found. 

 

In addition to these “male-typical” symptoms, men may experience other symptoms that are frequently not recognized as depressive symptoms. These may include losing interest in things you typically enjoy, inability to concentrate, emotional numbness, lack of motivation, slow movements, feeling helpless, and thoughts of suicide or death. 

 

Men Are Less Likely to Get Help

As noted above, men are more likely to seek help for physical problems than for emotional problems. Men are also much less likely than women to seek help for a mental health issue, even if they have noticed symptoms. In fact, studies show that men seek help for mental health issues at only about half the rate of women. Part of this is because men experience different symptoms and may not even identify them as related to a mental health issue, as discussed above. Part of it is also that men are less willing to acknowledge or discuss emotions like sadness, hopelessness, and other depression symptoms. Men have been taught from a young age not to cry, not to complain, to take care of their own problems, and so on. This discomfort makes men less likely to acknowledge that they need help and less likely to seek it out. 

 

It’s important for men to realize that depression is just as much a physical condition as an emotional one. While it may be common to experience depression primarily through emotional symptoms, recent research keeps finding more connections between mental and physical health. For example, depression has been connected to physical factors like diet, inflammation, obesity, and gut health. Mental and physical health are really just two sides to the same coin.

 

Men Are More Likely to Self-Medicate

Another depression symptom more common to men than women is drug and alcohol use.  As with irritability and aggression, many men feel like substance use is a safer way to express and deal with depression. Culturally, men are more likely to see a stiff drink as a reasonable way to cope with emotional turmoil or relax after a hard day. In reality, drugs and alcohol are, at best, temporary solutions, which only make the problem worse in the long run. Drug and alcohol use may also be a deliberate form of self-destruction because of their deleterious health effects, as well as their tendency to increase the likelihood of impulsive behavior and accidents. For many men, drug or alcohol use may be the biggest symptom of depression hiding in plain sight.

 

Men Are More Likely to Die by Suicide 

One of the worst consequences of depression for men is death by suicide. Although women are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and more likely to attempt suicide, men are about four times more likely to die by suicide. This is typically attributed to men’s greater impulsiveness and willingness to use more lethal means, such as a gun, as opposed to pills. 

 

Although men are less likely than women to suffer from major depression, men do get depressed and it’s something to take very seriously. If you’re a man struggling with drug or alcohol use, there’s a strong possibility that depression is at least part of the equation. It’s critical to find a treatment program that can treat depression concurrently with substance use issues. Without treating the depression, it’s very hard to stay sober. At Enlightened Solutions, we know that helping someone recover from a substance use disorder requires treating the whole person. Most importantly, we try to foster a sense of meaning and connection that will help our clients live joyful, sober lives. To learn more, call us at 833-801-LIVE.


Living with Depression: A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Mental Illness 

Living with Depression: A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Mental Illness 

When two disorders occur at the same time, it is often called a dual diagnosis. Depending on what the two disorders are – and various factors related to the individual – recovery can include different ups and downs. Dual diagnoses can be incredibly difficult to manage if both aren’t taken into consideration – depression is quite a common occurrence amongst those who also battle with addiction, so it’s important to ensure that both get proper treatment. If you’ve been struggling with depression while working towards sobriety, please know that you’re not alone – and there is help at Enlightened Solutions for healing and restoration. 

Hiding the Pain with Medication 

Millions upon millions of people across the world experience depression and many don’t understand that it’s a mental illness – not their actual reality – that’s making day-to-day life so hard. It’s hard to seek out a diagnosis for depression, however, especially because it’s so hard to talk about and understand. For example, a person with depression may find it incredibly difficult to open up to their friends and family about this issue, because depression causes us to feel as though it’s our problem alone to deal with – and that only closes us off to more people who could help us.

Previous studies have explored issues like depression as it’s related to self-medication, and they’ve found that drugs like marijuana and alcohol tend to be the most common to use because they’re not viewed by society as “severe” as other drugs. Self-medication occurs when a person uses substances in order to try and mask the symptoms they’re experiencing – although this may seem to work in the meantime, the unfortunate reality is that it becomes easier than ever before to become addicted to these substances. We have a chemical in our brain called dopamine, and whenever something releases this chemical (such as food, sex, drugs, shopping, gambling, etc.), our memory stores it in place as a good one. From there, it becomes easier and easier for the brain to recollect those “feel good” memories – which can entice a person to continue using substances. 

Addiction Recovery and Depression: Managing Both Disorders

Routine

Recovery is a courageous endeavor and one that could change your life for the better. There’s no particular “right way” for a person to heal, as each person has different needs that must be addressed. For those with depression, it often helps to talk and open up to people – even if one doesn’t feel like it. From there, it’s nice to create a strict schedule for navigating each day, including times to wake up, eat, and go to sleep. This helps rewire the brain to get back on track so that it’s no longer “stuck in a rut”.

 Therapy 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)  helps us to identify old, negative thought patterns, while giving us insight into how much importance we’re placing on those thoughts, and if we really need to be giving them much importance considering the effect it’s having on our happiness and health. CBT provides many people with depression the tools and resources they need to really start thinking critically about their thought patterns and what they can do to improve their current circumstances.

Nutrition/Exercise 

When depression hits, it’s common to feel incredibly tired, agitated, and with too many – or too little – feelings to deal with. On top of that, substance abuse can make the situation worse, depriving us of vital nutrients through an unhealthy diet and leaving us with little – or too much - sleep. Depression festers in its own way, and some people even have difficulty maintaining proper hygiene for health and wellness. If you add all of the effects of depression plus the negative effects associated with substance abuse, it becomes a nasty cycle – and exercise can help break the cycle by relieving stress, promoting teamwork and building a sense of community.

Spirituality 

Despite the way depression or detox may be causing you to feel, it’s crucial to begin working on who you are as a person. Spirituality, such as praying, meditating, and creating a strong social support network, can help us to feel as though our lives matter – because they do – and because it’s truly the mental illness causing us to feel as though we don’t. 

The emotional walls we’ve put up, the way we’ve closed ourselves in, the opportunities we’ve passed, the loved ones we’ve hurt, and the substances we’ve relied on can only be healed by choosing to move forward, and spirituality can help us identify what our purpose is in life. 12-Step programs can greatly help aid in this process of discovery, especially as they help connect us more closely to God or another Higher Power.

If you’re ready to recover from addiction and depression, speak to one of our admissions experts today at 833-801-LIVE.


Wil Wheaton’s Journey of Anxiety and Depression

Wil Wheaton’s Journey of Anxiety and Depression

Wil Wheaton is a 45-year-old actor with a wife and two children. He has worked on hit television shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and “Star Trek- The Next Generation,” has been a New York Times Bestselling Audiobook narrator, has received numerous awards for his work, and has struggled with anxiety and depression despite it all. By learning about Wil Wheaton’s experiences of anxiety and depression, it shows us that everyone has their struggles no matter how successful you are in your career and how important it is to talk about it.

Wil Wheaton’s Childhood with Anxiety and Depression

When Wheaton was seven or eight years old, he started having panic attacks. Adults back then thought that he was just suffering from nightmares since there were no names for panic attacks. Wheaton would wake up in terror with the blanket being off the bed by the end of the night. He would sleep on the floor of his sister’s room because he was afraid of being alone. Despite having normal moments as a child, the panic attacks would keep returning always worse than before. 

At the age of 13, Wheaton’s anxiety would kick in where he would worry about everything. He was tired, irritable, lack self-confidence, and low self-esteem. Wheaton felt like he could not trust anyone because he was convinced people only wanted to be around him for his fame since he considered himself worthless without it. Wheaton was taught that his anxiety was shameful in that it would reflect poorly on his parents and should be kept a secret. Adults did not take his anxiety symptoms seriously. When he would have trouble breathing while on set, in fear of messing up or being fired, directors and producers claimed he was too difficult to work with. This was when his anxiety turned into depression.

The Stigma of Mental Illness

Wheaton has told Medium that he wished he knew what mental illness was. Because he did not know what was wrong with him, he did not know how to ask for help. He also had no idea that mental illness could be treated and that he does not have to continue feeling lousy. Wheaton’s parents did not like to talk about mental illness as they felt like it would be a reflection on them. Wheaton does not blame his parents for not addressing his mental illness because he believed they were blind to the symptoms. His parents grew up believing that mental illness was a sign of weakness and taught their son that. When Wheaton would try to reach for help, he did not know what questions to ask and adults did not know what answers to give.

Wil Wheaton in His Twenties

When Wheaton was 22, he suffered another panic attack in the middle of the night. This caused him to drive to his parent’s house, sleep on the floor of his sister’s room again, and asked his mom the next morning what was wrong with him. Even though his mother knew mental illness ran in the family, she still could not connect the dots that the same thing was happening to her son. 

In his twenties, Wheaton started having obsessive behaviors. He would worry about the world around him, holding his breath when he would drive under bridges to avoid crashing his car, tap the side of airplanes to avoid the plane crashing, and would feel like every time he said goodbye to someone would be the last. 

How Anxiety Interferred in Wil Wheaton’s Life

Whenever Wheaton wanted to have fun with his friends, he felt like his anxiety would always stop him. Traffic would be too stressful and he would have trouble finding parking. Wheaton would think of all of the “what-if” scenarios that would make him think negatively about every experience. He wished his brain would ask him what would happen if he actually had fun. Wheaton felt like his anxiety would prevent him from living and just solely existing. 

The Start of Treatment

After Wheaton had a panic attack and a meltdown at the Los Angeles International Airport, his wife suggested that he get help. He knew how important his wife was to him and that she did not want to see him suffer anymore. When Wheaton went to see a doctor, the doctor said to him, “Please let me help you.” It was not until he was 34 that he realized mental illness was not a weakness. Wheaton started on a low dose of an antidepressant and noticed a big change after taking a walk with his wife in ten years. He noticed the smell of the flowers, the breeze, and the birds without feeling any negativity. 

Wil Wheaton’s Advice

Wheaton started talking about his mental illnesses in 2012. After that, a bunch of people reached out to him online. They shared stories with him and asked him questions about how he got through a bad day or week. He would tell them that his depression feels like a lead blanket weighing him down. While that happens, depression feeds you lies. Wheaton wants people to know how important it is to take care of yourself and the awful feelings do not stick with you forever. Wil Wheaton’s wish is for the government to put more funding into mental health treatments and for more people to be comfortable talking about what they are going through. 

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Fighting Stress in Arthritis Patients

Fighting Stress in Arthritis Patients

Arthritis is a condition that causes a feeling of pain and stiffness in one or more of your joints. The stress that is occurring in your life can make your arthritis pain worse. By finding ways to fight through your stress, your symptoms can lessen, making you feel much healthier.

Stress Arthritis Patients Deal With

The mind and body are connected to each other. Dealing with stressful situations like losing a job, having to move to a new area, the death of a loved one, or other stressors causes our bodies to react with side effects such as stomach aches, headaches, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, etc. People with arthritis already have their own unique stressors like having to depend on family members and health care professionals instead of being able to independently take care of themselves. They also have to adapt to necessary changes they must make to their job, energy levels, and more. 

Effects of Stress Towards Arthritis

Being under stress can cause your muscles to tense up. This muscle tension can increase the pain that arthritis has already caused, and can ultimately lead to the development of depression. When you are stressed, the body releases chemicals into the blood that create a series of physical changes, such as a faster heartbeat and a higher breathing rate. When you deal with your stress in a positive way, your body will fix itself, including any damage that was caused by stress. A small amount of stress can be good for you, as it can motivate you to do your best; whereas too much stress can lead to an inability to function.

Find the Cause of Stress

Think about what causes you the most worry on a daily basis. Also, think about what makes you anxious and nervous. You can write down your daily experiences in a journal, then review your entries to help give you a clear picture of what is bothering you (as well as the physical symptoms you are experiencing). Once you are aware of the situations, you can identify ways to help prevent those situations from happening, which you may also want to write down. For example, if you get anxious when family members are coming over and they are expecting you to cook, find the recipe and buy the materials in advance. 

Share Your Feelings

Speak to a family member, friend, or co-worker about how you are feeling to help you see your problems differently. Be open to them about things that you cannot do—and do not be afraid to ask for help. Turning down extra responsibilities that you know you have difficulties accomplishing can help reduce your stress. Remember that your arthritis is a private matter. If your arthritis is interfering with your daily duties, it is best to mention it to someone, but when you choose to tell someone is up to you. Additionally, it is important to be able to show your anger in a healthy way that will not make you feel worse later. For example, you can simply say that you are feeling angry without blaming someone for making you angry. This should ideally lead to a calm discussion about what can be done to help you feel better. Opening up to people will help improve your relationships, which will ultimately better your mental health.

Avoid Feelings of Depression

Depression has a way of making those with arthritis feel miserable and increase their pain. It is possible you are feeling angry or sorry for yourself because of your daily struggles with arthritis. These feelings are very common for those with this chronic disease. You can help overcome your feelings of depression by getting out and finding ways to be happy with your loved ones, rather than letting yourself wallow in your sadness. You may also want to find creative outlets as a way to relieve the tension. Take care of yourself by seeing a therapist who can help you deal with your depressive symptoms. If you are experiencing the symptoms of depression for more than two weeks, it is a sign that you need to see a doctor.

Time Management

Having constant pain and limited energy can mean you are not giving it your all. You tend to work harder when you have the most energy. Instead of wearing yourself out by doing too much at once, plan your days out in advance. Be honest with yourself about how much you can realistically do each day and spread out your responsibilities during the week. Save the stressful tasks for earlier in the day to get them over with and schedule rest breaks in between to give yourself moments to breathe.

Stay Healthy 

It is important to remember that drugs and alcohol are not the answers or an escape to your problems. These substances will only make your health problems worse. In the long run, drugs and alcohol will only increase your stress instead of easing it. It is best to speak to a mental health counselor or hospital about the programs they offer for stress management. Even though arthritis could be at the top of your list to manage, it is important to take care of the rest of your body by exercising, sleeping well, eating three meals a day, and staying active. By being in control of your stress levels, you are in control of your arthritis. 

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12-step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us today at 833-801-LIVE. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


How to Take Care of Your Depression After a Heart Attack

How to Take Care of Your Depression After a Heart Attack

Having depression after suffering from a heart attack is hard as you almost died and you feel like the same thing could happen to you again. The same can be the other way around in which, according to the Heart and Vascular Institute at John Hopkins Medicine, people with depression are more likely to have a heart attack later on than those who do not have a mental illness. By taking care of your depression after a heart attack, the less likely you will have to go through that experience again. 

Depression Assessment

When it is time for your annual checkup, your primary care doctor may conduct a depression assessment. If you are currently experiencing symptoms of depression, do not wait until your annual checkup to get it done. How your assessment will work is your doctor will ask you questions about your depression like when it started, how often you feel sad, and what steps you are taking to treat it. This will help see if you are experiencing depression or symptoms that seem similar to depression. Also, having depression means that this sadness has stayed with you for over two weeks. Letting your doctor know about this will help them determine whether or not you have depression. 

Cardiac Rehabilitation 

Cardiac rehabilitation is when you learn how to eat healthy when you have heart disease. This can mean avoiding unhealthy fats and sodium. You may be recommended to eat more plant-based foods like vegetables, fish, legumes, olive oil, and grains. A supervisor will help you determine the right kind of exercise that will work best for you. The results will be even more beneficial if this is done in a group setting as you can encourage and be encouraged by others who are trying to better their heart and depression as well. This will help motivate you to keep going.

Heart Medications

When people who have a heart attack are depressed, they tend not to take their heart medications even though it could help them. Taking the right medication and making the right lifestyle changes will enrich your heart. If you are having trouble committing to your treatment plan, talk to your doctor about this as you might need to try a new medication or a new course of treatment.

Exercise

Exercising after recovering from a heart attack will not only be good for your heart, but you will release feel-good endorphins that will help ease your depression. It is best to start small and work your way up gradually. It can be going for a walk for half an hour in the beginning and then a jog or a run after. If you feel like you are experiencing a heart attack or a stroke, stop your exercising and speak to a doctor. It can mean symptoms like feeling lightheaded, chest pain, or nausea.

Therapy

You may feel like you cannot speak to anyone about your heart attack because people in your social circle have not had one. This can cause you to isolate yourself which will make your depression worse. By speaking to a therapist, you will be able to work through your feeling and relieve your depressive symptoms. A therapist will also tell you whether or not you should seek psychiatric help to be prescribed medication. Be patient when it comes to finding a good therapist. You can also your doctor as well as family and friends for recommendations. You can also check which therapists come highly recommended who are under your health insurance.

Lose Weight

Being overweight can not only lead to heart issues but can also be a good reason why you are depressed. Your cardiologists might put you on a weight loss plan to prevent the chances of getting another heart attack. If it has been a few months and you are still not losing weight, ask your doctor about changing your diet by keeping track of what foods you are eating too little or too much. A doctor can put you on a diet that will be good for your heart based on your personal needs.

Antidepressants

Depending on how severe or how long you have had depression since your heart attack, it is possible that a doctor may prescribe you antidepressants. Popular ones include Xanax, Zoloft, and Paxil. Doctors can help you figure out which drug will work best for you as well as any side effects to take caution of. Remember to be patient once you start taking the medication as it can take at least a month to start working. 

Mindfulness Techniques

Doing mindfulness techniques like yoga, tai chi, reiki, meditation, or deep breathing exercises can help you stay in the present moment and help you figure out what is causing you stress. It also has the benefit of lowering your blood pressure which will decrease the risk of heart issues. All it takes is 15 minutes a day to start feeling the positive effects all in the privacy of any room in the house. If doing techniques like yoga is too hard for you, consider taking a class with a licensed yoga teacher. Make sure to let the teacher know about your recent heart attack so that they can gently guide you through the movements. By taking all of these steps to ensure that your heart stays beating and healthy, your mental health will be healthy as well. 

 

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


What to Do About Postpartum Depression

What to Do About Postpartum Depression

Having postpartum depression is when mothers suffer depression after giving birth when it comes to all of the responsibilities that have to endure, having no time to themselves, lack of sleep, and constantly feeling like you are on an emotional rollercoaster. According to a CDC study, one in nine women experiences postpartum depression. By forming a connection with your baby and not being afraid to seek help from your partner, you will be able to bring the joy back to being a mother.

Effects of Postpartum Depression

Having postpartum depression is nothing to gloss over as there are changes that can occur to your hormones, your physical health, and can increase your stress levels. After giving birth, women experience a drop in estrogen and progesterone hormone levels. Thyroid levels tend to drop which leads to fatigue and depression. You could also experience changes in blood pressure, low immune system, and metabolism changes. Postpartum depression can also lead to having low self-esteem in that you have trouble losing baby weight or are still experiencing pain from giving birth. Not getting enough sleep at night as a result of your child’s cries can lead to depression. New mothers can feel heavy anxiety if they are not confident that they know how to properly care for their child.

Connect with Your Baby

Postpartum depression can make bonding with your child hard as your depression causes you to negatively respond to your child or not respond at all. This could also mean not interacting with your child, playing with them, reading to them. In the first five years of your child’s life, it is always important to form a bond with them. This bond will ensure how they interact and form relationships with others later in life. This means that when your baby cries, comfort them. If your baby smiles at you, smile back. Bonding with your baby will be a huge benefit to your child and will help release endorphins that will make you happier.

Seek Support

Even if there is a part of yourself that is telling you that you would rather be alone, stay connected to your family and friends. Isolating yourself will only make your depression worse if you feel like you have no one to lean on. Let your loved ones know that you need help and what they can do to better your situation. Share what you are experiencing with one other person and let them know that you are just looking for a good listener instead of judgment. It can help to find other mothers who are feeling the same way as you whether it is in-person support groups or ones online so you can all offer advice on what to do.

Bond with Your Partner

It may be hard to want to connect with your partner as it is you who have birth and not the other. You feel like they do not understand what you are going through so there is no point in confiding in them. You may be feeling resentment every time your child cries, needs to be changed or fed. Because you know that it is not the baby’s fault for their behavior, you place your frustration on your partner. Remember that you and your partner are in this together. It is not supposed to be about you raising this baby alone. Tackling these challenges together will make everything easier.

If your partner is angering you and you expect them to help you in some way, communicate with them. Do not expect them to read your mind or already know what you want. It is also important to find time to spend together to better reconnect. You two do not even need to go anywhere, but spending 15 minutes watching a TV show together or snuggling up in bed can make a difference.

Treatment

It is possible that with a big support system, you could still be dealing with postpartum depression. You can meet up with a good therapist to help you with your marriage or if you do not feel like you have enough support in your house. There are also antidepressants that can help you function properly with your baby and life in general. Make sure that you are monitored by a physician and that you engage in psychotherapy as well. There is also estrogen replacement therapy that is to be used in combination with antidepressants. 

Self-care

It will be difficult to get through postpartum depression if you are not doing anything to take care of yourself. This means exercising at least half an hour a day. You can go on a nice walk around the neighborhood or take your child with you to the park. You can even do yoga at home to help with your flexibility and energy. Exercising is a great way to release those feel-good endorphins ready to make an appearance. Make sure to sleep for seven to eight hours as less sleep can worsen depression. You can tell your partner that you would like to take a nap for half an hour and would appreciate it if they can watch the baby until you wake up. Give yourself some quality time like reading a book, taking a bubble bath, lighting scented candles, or get a message. By taking care of your postpartum depression, you have the chance to be a happy mother towards your child.

 

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.