A mental health condition triggered by an extremely stressful event, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects over 5.2 million Americans each year, and almost 8 million will experience it at some point over their lifetimes. PTSD is a serious mental disorder that can develop at any age and last for years.  Once known as “shell shock” because so many soldiers in combat developed the disorder, PTSD is commonly associated with war veterans.  However, a variety of triggering events can lead to the onset of this disorder, which can affect anyone.

Causes and Risk Factors 

PTSD can be triggered by experiencing any sort of physical or psychological trauma, or even by seeing or learning about such an event.  Feelings of helplessness and intense fear bring on later symptoms.  Examples of traumas can include physical or sexual assault, life-threatening experiences such as combat or accidents, natural disasters, or the death of a loved one. First responders to emergencies, such as EMTs and other rescue workers, can develop the disorder due to exposure to others’ trauma.

Many people face terrifying or extremely stressful experiences in their lives, but not everyone goes on to develop PTSD.  What triggers the disorder in some individuals but not others?  It appears that the following factors may affect an individual’s relative resiliency when exposed to extreme stress:

  • Genetic factors, including inherited mental health risks;
  • Severity and amount of previous trauma, particularly in childhood;
  • An individual’s temperament;
  • How one’s brain regulates hormones and chemicals released during episodes of stress;
  • Presence of lack of a strong support system of friends and family;
  • Intensity and duration of the traumatic experience;
  • One’s gender – women develop PTSD more frequently than men, partially due to the fact their increased vulnerability to domestic violence, rape, and other forms of abuse;
  • Presence of existing mental health problems such as depression or anxiety.

Symptoms of PTSD

In order to be classified at having PTSD, an individual must have symptoms occurring for at least one month and affecting overall functioning.  Most individuals develop symptoms within three months of the traumatic event, but symptoms may not emerge until years later.

People who go through a traumatic event can have reactions that include anxiety, anger, shock, and guilt.  These are common responses that fade away over time.  For an individual with PTSD, these feelings don’t fade but actually increase.

Mental health experts classify post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in three categories:

  • Reliving.  Flashbacks, hallucinations, and nightmares are common ways in which individuals relive their traumatic ordeals.
  • Avoidance. Individuals often avoid places, people, or situations that remind them of the trauma.  This behavior can lead to social isolation, emotional numbing, and loss of interest in activities.
  • Increased arousal. Individuals may experience volatile emotions, such as anger outbursts, and feel agitated or easily startled. Concentration is often poor. Associated physical symptoms include increased heart rate or blood pressure, rapid breathing, and muscle tension.

The severity and duration of the illness vary. Some people recover within six months, while others suffer much longer.

Treatment of PTSD

While PTSD can be disabling, it is treatable – usually through a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Medications are often used to control extreme symptoms of the disorder, including anxiety, nightmares, and sleep disturbance.  Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed to manage anxiety and depression and improve sleep. On a short-term basis, antipsychotics may be given to control emotional outbursts and severe sleeping disturbance.

Other medications may be used to treat specific physical or psychological symptoms.  For example, Prazosin, a drug normally prescribed for hypertension, may also manage insomnia and recurring nightmares.

Professionals also recommend psychotherapy or “talk therapy” to help individuals learn to manage symptoms and cope better with memories and feelings. Common treatment approaches include individual, family, or group therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapies are particularly effective, as they help patients deal with negative thought patterns that trigger stress.

Two strategies often associated with PTSD treatment are exposure therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).  The former is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy in which patients relive traumatic experiences in a controlled and supportive environment.  This technique allows patients to confront their fears and become more comfortable in anxiety-provoking situations. EMDR helps patients deal with traumatic memories by teaching a group of guided eye movements that assist in processing these memories.

A word about prevention: there is evidence that seeking treatment as soon as possible after a traumatic event can be highly beneficial.  Immediate support can often help an individual recover from trauma without developing full-blown PTSD. Whether a mental health counselor, minister, or other helping professional, a trained, caring individual can provide invaluable support at a critical time.

Technology capable of reaching deeper brain areas may provide relief of symptoms for patients resistant to medication

Cincinnati, Ohio – For more than four million Americans in the United States, the symptoms of depression are not relieved by the use of antidepressant medications. This class of depression falls into one of two categories, treatment resistant depression (TRD)or treatment intolerant depression (TID). The TRD group often tries and fails several different types of medications – either alone or in combination – while the TID group has medication side effects so debilitating that they cannot tolerate the treatment.

For these patients, an entirely new type of treatment is being studied at the Lindner Center of HOPE, led by John Hawkins, M.D., chief of psychiatry at the center. The technology, called multicoil repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) or simply TMS, is a non-medication, non-systemic and non-invasive approach to treating depression.

“TMS offers patients that either do not respond to, or cannot tolerate medication, a new treatment option,” said Dr. Hawkins. “Our clinic is currently studying a new approach to this technology and we are hopeful that it will provide relief for these patients that have been suffering from depression in some cases for several years.”

Depression is thought to occur because of less than optimalchemical activity in the brain. TheTMS treatment currently under study by Dr. Hawkins and his team uses multiple magnetic fields, generated by coils placed on a patient’s scalp, to stimulate specific brain regions both on the surface and in deeper regions of the brain. This research is important in understanding whether TMS treatment restores normal brain chemical activity, thereby reducing the symptoms of depression. To date, more than 100 patients have been studied using this approach without the occurrence of serious side effects related to the device.

Depression is a mental disorder characterized by loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were previously enjoyable, a decrease in energy, feelings of low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite and difficultyin concentrating.1 Depression often comes with symptoms of anxiety and these problems can become chronic, substantially impairing the ability of an individual to take care of everyday responsibilities.  On a global scale, depression affects more than 350 million people and is the leading cause of disability worldwide.2

To find out more information about the TMS study at Lindner Center of HOPE contact 513-536-0712 or visit http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01909232.

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1Marcus, M. et al. Depression: A Global Public Health Concern. World Health Organization 2012, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. http://www.who.int/mental_health/management/depression/who_paper_depression_wfmh_2012.pdf.Accessed 04.6.2013.

2Marcus, M. et al.

Lindner Center of HOPE today was named Top Performer on Key Quality Measures® by The Joint Commission, the leading accreditor of health care organizations in America. Lindner Center of HOPE was recognized by The Joint Commission for exemplary performance in using evidence-based clinical processes that are shown to improve care for certain conditions. The clinical processes focus on care for heart attack, pneumonia, surgery, children’s asthma, stroke and venous thromboembolism , as well as inpatient psychiatric services. New this year is a category for immunization for pneumonia and influenza.

Lindner Center of HOPE is one of 1,099 hospitals in the U.S. earning the distinction of Top Performer on Key Quality Measures for attaining and sustaining excellence in accountability measure performance. Lindner Center of HOPE was recognized for its achievement on the following measure sets:  Hospital- Based Inpatient Psychiatric Services. The ratings are based on an aggregation of accountability measure data reported to The Joint Commission during the 2012 calendar year. The list of Top Performer organizations increased by 77 percent from last year and it represents 33 percent of all Joint Commission-accredited hospitals reporting accountability measure performance data for 2012.

Lindner Center of HOPE and each of the hospitals that were named as a Top Performer on Key Quality Measures must:  1) achieve cumulative performance of 95 percent or above across all reported accountability measures; 2) achieve performance of 95 percent or above on each and every reported accountability measure where there are at least 30 denominator cases; and 3) have at least one core measure set that has a composite rate of 95 percent or above, and within that measure set all applicable individual accountability measure have a performance rate of 95 percent or above. A 95 percent score means a hospital provided an evidence-based practice 95 times out of 100 opportunities. Each accountability measure represents an evidence-based practice.

“Lindner Center of HOPE and all the Top Performer hospitals have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to quality improvement and they should be proud of their achievement,” says Mark R. Chassin, M.D., FACP, M.P.P., M.P.H., president and chief executive officer, The Joint Commission. “We have much to celebrate this year. Nearly half of our accredited hospitals have attained or nearly attained the Top Performer distinctions. This truly shows that we are approaching a tipping point in the hospital quality performance that will directly contribute to better health outcomes for patients.”

“We understand that what matters most to patients at Lindner Center of HOPE is safe, effective mental health care. That’s why Lindner Center of HOPE has made a commitment to accreditation and to positive patient outcomes through evidence-based care processes. Lindner Center of HOPE is proud to receive this distinction of being a Joint Commission Top Performer on Key Quality Measures, says Dr. Paul Keck, President and CEO.

In addition to being included in The Joint Commission’s “Improving America’s Hospitals” annual report, Lindner Center of HOPE will be recognized on The Joint Commission’s Quality check website, www.qualitycheck.org. The Top Performer program will be featured in the December issues of The Joint Commission Perspectives and The Source.

Lindner Center of HOPE  provides excellent, patient-centered, scientifically-advanced care for individuals suffering with mental illness. A state-of-the-science, mental health center and charter member of the National Network of Depression Centers, the Center provides psychiatric hospitalization and partial hospitalization for individuals age 12-years-old and older, outpatient services for all ages, diagnostic and short-term residential services for adults, intensive outpatient program for substance abuse and co-occurring disorders for adults and research. The Center is enhanced by its partnership with UC Health as its clinicians are ranked among the best providers locally, nationally and internationally. Together Lindner Center of HOPE and UC Health offer a true system of mental health care in the Greater Cincinnati area and across the country. The Center is also affiliated with the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine.

Each year, millions of Americans find themselves caught in a cycle of addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or other substances/ behavior.  They must struggle daily with the effort to become and remain free of the drugs or behaviors to which they feel uncontrollably drawn.

Affected individuals are diagnosed on the basis of the particular substance or activity to which they are addicted.  However, individuals with any type of addictive disorder may exhibit related symptoms, and both causes and treatment are similar.

The Nature of Addiction

An addictive disorder, as opposed to temporary reliance on a particular substance or behavior, can be distinguished by several distinct symptoms:

Tolerance. Over time, an individual requires increasing amounts of the preferred substance/behavior to achieve the same physical or psychological effects.

Withdrawal. When an individual tries to curb the addiction, withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, rapid heartbeat, sweating, etc., will occur.

Lack of control. The individual has extreme difficulty cutting back or controlling the addictive behavior, even when aware of negative consequences.

Preoccupation. Cravings for the desired substance or behavior are constant.  Increasing amounts of time are spent planning, participating in, and then recovering from the addictive behavior, with employment and relationships often threatened.

Causes of Addiction

Are addicts “born that way,” or do they develop addictive disorders due to environmental factors?  In this nature vs. nurture debate, both answers may be true. Psychological, genetic, environmental, and other factors that determine a particular individual’s likelihood of developing an addiction may be interrelated.

Biological factors.  Studies have shown that the likelihood of twins developing the same addiction is 50-70%, and familial rates of such addictions as alcoholism are significant. Other research has pointed to such biological factors as abnormal dopamine levels influencing addictive behavior.

Psychological factors.  Is there such a thing as an addictive personality? While no such diagnostic code exists, many experts believe that certain personality traits make individuals more vulnerable to addiction.  They include: sensation seeking, impulsivity, poor coping skills, anxiety or depression, insecurity, and feelings of social alienation.

Environmental factors.  Stress may the factor that figuratively pulls the addiction trigger in an individual who is biologically or psychologically prone to develop one. A history of trauma, for example, is frequently found in individuals who develop an addiction, particularly any type of severe stress in childhood.  Physical or sexual abuse also increases the risk of developing an addictive disorder.

Treatment of Addiction

Numerous treatment approaches have developed that provide benefit to individuals in acute stages of addiction, and a robust recovery movement provides ongoing support and management of the illness. Treatment modalities include:

Medical approaches.  Depending upon the nature of the addiction, an individual may benefit from medical detoxification and an inpatient rehabilitation program.  While the use of medication is often discouraged, short-term use of medication is necessary in some instances.

Psychotherapy.  Many contemporary forms of “talk therapy” have demonstrated positive results in individuals with addiction, including the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy;
  • Motivational enhancement therapy;
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy;
  • Relapse prevention therapy.

These therapies teach individuals better coping skills, including recognition of triggers to addictive behavior, stress reduction, relapse avoidance, and impulse control.

Psychotherapy may be conducted in an individual or group setting. Family therapy is often encouraged in order to reduce enabling of addictive behaviors, as well as to heal broken relationships.

Community and family supports. Peer support is a cornerstone of most successful recovery programs. Recovering individuals find ongoing support through a variety of community organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or similar groups.  Many support groups are based on the twelve-step recovery model first established for AA.

In addition to counseling, families may benefit from support groups such as Al-Anon for assistance in dealing with a loved one’s addictive behavior.

Addictive disorders can be daunting, but with proper treatment and support, individuals can experience recovery and return to full function in their homes and communities.

Do you know someone who gambles excessively?  If so, perhaps you’ve wondered if this individual just had a bad habit or if he or she was actually addicted to gambling.  It’s a question that even the experts have debated.  But the latest diagnostic publication of the American Psychiatric Association, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)-V, confirms that excessive gambling can indeed be an addiction, just like substance abuse.

The Nature of Gambling Addiction

“Problem” gambling, also referred to as pathological or compulsive gambling, affects an estimated 2 – 4% of the population. Before recent changes by mental health clinicians, it was classified as in impulse control disorder.  Like kleptomania (uncontrollable stealing) or pyromania (impulsive fire setting), compulsive gambling was considered a mental disorder associated with poor impulse control.

With further research, a new classification of the disorder has been made.  In the DSM-V, compulsive gambling is considered to be one of the “substance-related and addictive disorders.”  Why the change?  There is growing clinical evidence that pathological gambling has much in common with traditional substance abuse disorders.

First, the effects of the respective disorders on individuals’ work, financial, and personal lives can be similar. Neurochemical testing and brain imaging have also made a case for the belief that gambling activates the brain’s reward system in a manner similar to drugs.  For example, compulsive gamblers report highs from gambling as well as cravings.  Furthermore, gambling problems tend to run in families, indicating potential genetic factors. Finally, pathological gamblers are more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs.

Symptoms of Gambling Addiction

In order for an individual to be classified as having a gambling disorder, at least 4 of the following symptoms must be present:

  • Frequent preoccupation with gambling;
  • Tendency to gamble increasingly large amounts of money;
  • Using gambling to cope with feeling distressed;
  • Lack of success in controlling, cutting back, or stopping the behavior;
  • Lying to others to hide gambling or committing illegal acts to finance;
  • Restlessness or irritability when attempting to decrease or stop gambling;
  • Frequent and often long-term “chasing” of losses with increased gambling;
  • Loss of a job or relationship due to behavior;
  • Reliance upon others to get out of financial straits.

Many of these symptoms resemble classic addictive symptoms, such as withdrawal and loss of control.

Individuals with pathological gambling problems are more likely to exhibit symptoms of other psychiatric problems.  In addition to substance abuse, such problems may include mood disorders, anxiety, or personality disorders.

While the effects of pathological gambling should not be minimized, viewing the behavior as evidence of an addiction rather than a character flaw can be helpful in encouraging an individual to seek treatment.  It may also remove some of the stigma associated with the behavior.  With appropriate intervention, individuals with gambling addictions can recover and live productive lives. (And that’s a sure bet!)

When we talk about wellness and the mind/body connection, we often think of the importance of exercise and healthy eating for good physical and mental health.  But did you know that one of the most helpful activities for promoting total wellness dates back thousands of years?  It’s the ancient practice of meditation, and its use is showing surprising results among 21st century researchers.

Because of its benefits, an increasing number of physicians are prescribing meditation as part of their patients’ healthcare routines.  Clinics and hospitals across the nation now integrate meditation and related mind/body techniques into their clinical practice.

Physical Health Benefits of Meditation

The daily practice of meditation has been associated with improvements in a variety of health problems, including hypertension, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic pain.  Just 20 minutes twice each day is sufficient.

Over 500 research studies have been conducted to determine the effect of regular meditation on health problems.  Current research is examining more long-term effects and looking at the role of meditation in preventing chronic diseases and increasing longevity.

Mental Health Benefits of Meditation

Because of its relaxing effects upon the mind and body, meditation has long been used to reduce stress and anxiety.  Meditation appears to help activate the parasympathetic nervous system.  As it slows the release of stress hormones as well as heart and breathing rates, it improves the body’s overall relaxation response.

Research now shows that meditation can also reduce depression in affected individuals.  In one study of family caregivers, it was found that research participants who meditated had lower levels of depression than those who only listened to relaxing music.

Additionally, meditation may increase brain alertness. Meditation appears to improve people’s cognitive abilities, including attention and memory.  Research using medical imaging has demonstrated that meditation improves the functioning of certain circuits in the brain, as well as potentially reducing shrinkage in older adults’ critical brain centers.

Moving Forward

At the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has provided funding for several new studies to determine the effect of meditation on many health conditions.  It is anticipated that further research will bring new findings on the best types and frequency of meditation, along with other practice issues.

Most clinical practices today use meditation techniques based on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.  This type of meditation was developed by the University of Massachusetts’ medical school and utilizes yoga, stretching exercises, and mindfulness meditation.  Mindfulness meditation pays close attention to breathing techniques while the individual sits in a restful posture.

Whatever the approach, making a commitment of no more than 40 minutes each day may be a small price to pay for improved physical and mental health.

For many young people today, a huge threat to their safety and wellbeing is hidden in their laptops and cell phones.  Parents are often oblivious to this menace or how they can help.  What is this hidden threat?  It’s the 21st century social media phenomenon of cyber bullying.

The Nature of Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying is a form of harassment that takes place through electronic technology – in particular, through social media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter, as well as emails and texts.  From posting of embarrassing photos online to spreading rumors on social media sites, cyber bullies seek to humiliate their victims.  Often anonymous, cyber bullying can be more vicious than traditional schoolyard bullying and more difficult to control.  Online distribution creates a wider audience, and attacks can be made 24 hours per day.

A 2011 Pew survey found that only 7% of parents worry about their child being cyber bullied, although approximately one third of teenagers have been victimized at some time.  A Consumer Reports report estimated that one million young people were harassed on the most popular social media site, Facebook, in the past year.

Effects of Social Media Bullying

Young people who are bullied online are more likely to:

  • Skip or drop out of school
  • Have failing grades
  • Use alcohol and other drugs
  • Suffer poor self-esteem
  • Have increased health problems
  • Engage in risky behaviors

In some cases risky behavior can include suicide attempts.  In one 2011 Associated Press/MTV poll, cyber bullied teens reported more thoughts of suicide than their peers.  Media reports have highlighted recent cases in which teens committed suicide after online harassment.

Warning Signs

Warning signs for cyber bullying are similar to those for traditional bullying.  Victimized children and teens may exhibit such symptoms as:

  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Anxiety about school
  • Drops in grades and school performance
  • Changes in mood; e.g., frequent sadness or irritability
  • Obsessive checking of email, texts, and internet

How Parents Can Help

You can play a major role in helping to prevent or end your own children’s cyber bullying.  Start by teaching self-respect and modeling positive relationships, empathy, and impulse control.  The better adjusted your child, the more resilient he or she can be if confronted by bullying.

In this social media age, it’s critical for parents to be aware of online hazards and to teach children how to avoid them.  Have a discussion with your child about responsible online behavior and practice online safety.  Teach your child to block or delete disrespectful friends from social media sites.  Encourage use of the most restrictive online privacy settings.  Speak frankly about the dangers of online bullying.  Teach boundaries by setting limits on daily computer and cell phone usage.  Place computers in common areas only.

Don’t hesitate to exert your parental prerogative and monitor social media and other online usage.  Tell your child or teen that online communications are subject to monitoring.  Periodically check cell phones, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc., to monitor the content of messages and posts.  Discuss any concerns you have as they occur.

Most importantly, be available.  Remind your teen that you’re always willing to listen, then make yourself accessible when you are asked, “Can we talk?” Encourage reporting of concerns to any trusted adult if you are not available.

If you believe that your child has been bullied and is having difficulty coping, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.  A counselor can provide valuable support and teach better coping skills.

In the anti-bullying movement, young people are taught the mantra: “stand up; don’t stand by” to promote reporting of peer bullying.  Likewise, responsible parents should stand up for their children’s welfare and not just stand by, through discomfort or ignorance.  It’s never too late to have that first conversation with your child about responsible online behavior.

You may have heard the expression: “healthy mind, healthy body.”  But do you know what it really means?  For centuries, a connection has been theorized to exist between physical and mental health.  Modern science has now demonstrated that such a connection really does exist.

The role of a healthy diet, proper sleep, regular exercise, and other lifestyle practices in promoting better mental health is at the core of many behavioral health treatment regimens.  Such practices may also play a role in preventing future mental health problems.

Conversely, physical health is dependent upon one’s state of mind, as the body responds to the ways in which each of us feels, thinks, and acts.  This fact is at the heart of the mind-body connection. Emotional or mental imbalance creates physical symptoms, from aches and pains to elevated blood pressure.  These in turn can lead to chronic health problems and disease.

Ideally, an individual should strive for a state of total wellness, one in which there is a sense of balance in the mental, physical, spiritual, and social elements of his or her life. Following wellness principles can help one achieve increased resiliency, greater longevity, and overall better physical and mental health.

The Role of the Mind upon the Body

Mental or emotional problems are associated with the development of physical disease. An estimated 95% of all illnesses can be caused or aggravated by stress. Individuals with high stress levels are even more likely to catch colds. It is not uncommon for individuals to develop hypertension or an ulcer after particularly stressful life events.

Depression has been linked to a range of disorders, including strokes, heart disease, and diabetes.  Other mood and emotional problems can also take a toll. In one study, people who had difficulty coping with anger were found to have a ten times greater risk for the development of heart arrhythmias.  Anger-prone physicians have been found to have higher risks of heart attacks than even smokers or individuals with high blood pressure.

The right attitude and social supports can affect health in more positive ways, however. The old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine” is true, as it has been found to reduce pain, speed healing, and increase creativity. Being active in a group—even something as simple as a bowling club—can actually increase one’s longevity, regardless of other health habits. Social networks also provide needed support. In one study of women with metastatic breast cancer, participation in support groups doubled survival rates.

Scientists have found that individuals with mental health or substance abuse problems have a life expectancy decades lower than the general population.  Taking care of one’s physical health is a critical part of the recovery process for those with behavioral health problems.

The Role of the Body upon the Mind

Research supports the role of physical activity in helping manage mental disorders. Active people have been found to be less depressed than inactive ones, and people with chronic depression are more like to go into remission with regular exercise.

Due to increased levels of oxygen and endorphins, individuals who exercise regularly feel more alert and have more energy, better memory retention, and a greater sense of wellbeing. As little as 20-30 minutes of vigorous physical activity daily is sufficient to achieve results.

Yoga, meditation, and other relaxation strategies have been found to ease stress, depression, and sleep problems. There is growing evidence that the practice of meditation can even slow cognitive decline in older adults.

Eating healthy foods in moderation can increase emotional well-being and reduce many of the physical problems often associated with mental illness, such as fatigue and obesity.

Getting approximately eight hours sleep per night is a goal few adults achieve, but the benefits are worth the effort.  Adequate sleep improves mood and concentration, as well as decreasing physical health risks.

By following these healthy lifestyle practices, individuals may significantly improve both their mental and physical health.

One of the leading forms of mental illness today is severe depression.  An estimated 15 million Americans suffer from this disorder, which creates ongoing symptoms of sadness, hopelessness, sleep and appetite disturbance, and even despair.

For many individuals, psychotherapy combined with antidepressant medication can be a literal lifesaver.  However, some people who suffer from severe depression do not respond to conventional treatment approaches.  Recent advances in alternative treatments have led to a new method of managing depression: the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation treatment is conducted using a device called the NeuroStar® TMS Therapy System.

While treatment is administered, patients remain awake while sitting in a comfortable reclining chair. A treatment coil is applied to the head and the NeuroStar® TMS Therapy System generates highly concentrated magnetic field pulses that turn on and off rapidly.

In clinical trials, patients reported relief from the emotional effects of depression and experienced improvement in anxiety, changes in appetite, body aches and lack of energy – all physical symptoms of depression.

The Nature of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Treatment

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is based upon the principle that direct electrical stimulation of nerve cells in the brain can affect mood and behavior. Many mental disorders may stem from abnormal behavior of particular regions of the brain or the over- or under-stimulation of nerve cells.

The transcranial magnetic stimulation procedure involves the use of magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain.  While sitting in a specially designed treatment chair, a patient has a large electromagnetic coil placed against the scalp.  A magnetic field can then be produced by passing a current through the coil, as a machine generates the precise amount of current necessary. When the coil is activated, its current travels through the skull into the brain, stimulating the prefrontal cortex, a region associated with mood control.

A series of several treatments is usually conducted to achieve maximum effectiveness.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Benefits and Concerns (more…)

While eating disorders are typically associated with young women, you may be surprised to learn that a growing number of individuals with eating disorders today are young men.

Prevalence of Eating Disorders in Males

Approximately 10% of individuals seeking treatment for eating disorders are male, although a larger number fails to seek treatment.  The National Eating Disorders Association estimates that about 10 million U.S. males  will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives – about one third of the total of 30 million individuals facing this illness.

While males are more reluctant to seek treatment, the number getting help is growing.  One recent estimate: the number of males hospitalized for an eating disorder has risen more than 50% over the past decade. This increase may be due to greater willingness to report a problem, but may also represent a larger number of males who develop eating disorders.

Types of Eating Disorders in Males

Boys and men suffer from the same types of eating disorders as females, as well as one type less common in girls or women.  Disorders include:

  • Binge eating disorder.  Characterized by episodes of compulsive or “binge” eating, this disorder is the most common type of eating disorder among males.
  • Bulimia nervosa.  Characterized by binge eating, followed by one or more purging methods (vomiting, laxatives, excessive exercise, etc.), this disorder represents an attempt to avoid weight gain after over-eating.
  • Anorexia nervosa.  Characterized by a refusal to maintain normal body weight and an intense fear of gaining weight, along with severe body image distortion, this disorder causes individuals to literally starve themselves.
  • Muscle dysmorphia.  Characterized by an extreme desire to become more muscular, this disorder is primarily associated with males.  Some individuals with this disorder want to “bulk up” to gain body mass, while others try to lose weight to reduce their percentage of body fat vs. muscle.  Excessive steroid use is often associated with this disorder.

Treatment Issues for Males

Many treatment issues are similar for all individuals, regardless of gender, such as problems with body image and self-esteem or a need to exert control in one’s life, albeit in a dysfunctional manner.

However, males may also face special issues in treatment, such as:

  • Increased stigma.  Because eating disorders are so closely associated with young women, males may be subject to ridicule by their peers, or may fear discovery of their problem.  Such factors decrease the likelihood of males seeking treatment.
  • Severity of the disorder.  Because young men are less comfortable seeking treatment and less likely to be identified by others as having a problem, their cases may be particularly severe by the time they do finally seek help.
  • Issues with sexuality.  Approximately 42% of males with eating disorders also identify themselves as being gay.  Does the emphasis on physical fitness and lean musculature in parts of the gay culture and media make young gay men more vulnerable to the development of eating disorders? Mental health professionals aren’t certain, but must be prepared to address issues of sexuality with young male patients.

Treatment can as beneficial for males as females, once they seek help in a program that is sensitive to their specific needs.  Common treatments include medication, such as antidepressants, and psychotherapy – often cognitive or behavioral therapies. Treatment is frequently most effective with peers in a group setting, with the level of treatment needed based upon the severity of the condition.

Early identification of eating disorders in males is the key to the best recovery.