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How Psychotherapy Can Offer Help and Hope

To the general public, psychotherapy is often seen as a mysterious treatment process — a type of therapeutic “mumbo jumbo.” Understanding the true nature and benefits of psychotherapy can help individuals who might benefit most to consider this valuable clinical treatment option.

Millions of Americans of all ages and walks of life have undergone psychotherapy and learned ways to better cope with life’s problems or with mental illness.

The Nature of Psychotherapy

Often referred to as “talk therapy,” psychotherapy is a type of treatment that relies on the patient and therapist talking together about the patient’s problems and concerns. During the course of psychotherapy, individuals learn more about their problems, as well as their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Psychotherapy can be used with a wide variety of behavioral health problems, from depression to phobias, addictions, and serious mental illnesses such as bi-polar disorder. Whether issues are acute or chronic, psychotherapy is frequently a primary component of an individual’s treatment program.

A major element of psychotherapy is the therapeutic relationship that develops between the patient and the therapist. Trained, licensed professionals can create a safe and non-judgmental climate for helping individuals confront and deal with their innermost problems.  Trust and respect are critical for effective psychotherapy to take place.

In addition to individual therapy, patients can receive psychotherapy in group or family settings.

The Benefits of Psychotherapy

One of the major values of undergoing psychotherapy is the development of increased understanding of one’s problems and improved self-awareness.  Patients may be better able to manage their emotional problems, for example, if depression or anxiety is de-mystified for them.  Understanding the underlying motivations for dysfunctional thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can be very beneficial.

However, research indicates that gaining insight alone is not the most effective strategy for improved mental health.  Contemporary forms of psychotherapy also place an emphasis on helping patients learn new skills for coping with problems or managing their mental illness. The primary benefit of psychotherapy may be in showing individuals how they can learn to take control of their own lives.

The methods and focus of psychotherapy may vary depending upon the nature and cause of an individual’s presenting problems. An individual who has developed a mental illness due to a genetic predisposition, for example, might benefit from different strategies than an individual who has recently undergone a traumatic experience.

For individuals seeking assistance, a mental health professional will first perform an evaluation to assess the problem or disorder and determine the best course of action.  A treatment plan will then be developed to establish goals and therapeutic strategies, and the type, frequency, and duration of psychotherapy will be determined. Psychotherapy may also be used in combination with medication or other treatment modalities.

Patients can develop a sense of peace in their lives by reaching the goals set in psychotherapy.  Through better insight, perspective, and coping abilities, individuals can achieve greater hope for the future.

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Mental Health Treatment Necessary for Moms with Postpartum Depression

Bringing a baby into the world is usually a joyous occasion for all involved. It is typically a time of excitement and celebration for family, friends and everyone associated with the new parents. But for some new moms, the post-childbirth period is not so pleasant. In fact, roughly 10 to 15 percent of women struggle with severe depression after giving birth.

Beyond the “Baby Blues”

Most women experience emotional swings and intervals of moodiness, irritability, sadness and anxiety after having a baby. These periods are commonly referred to as the “baby blues,” and usually run their course within a week or two before the new mother adjusts her lifestyle and resumes a healthy outlook.

But if these and other symptoms such as tearfulness, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, constant worrying and depression persist for longer than several weeks, a more serious condition known as “postpartum depression” may exist. Postpartum depression falls into the mood disorders category and can be caused by a variety of physical, emotional and environmental factors. Genetics may also play a role.

Postpartum depression treatment is administered according to each patient’s specific needs and the severity of their case. Generally, treatment begins with psychotherapy in an attempt to uncover the underlying issues surrounding the patient’s condition. Psychotherapy is also conducted to assist patients in getting in touch with what they are feeling, to readjust negative thought patterns and to help them develop effective coping skills.

Antidepressant medications are also part of a postpartum depression treatment plan. But if the newborn is to be breast-fed, this area must be carefully considered and thoroughly discussed between the patient and their doctor to ensure the baby’s health and safety.

Postpartum depression can develop at any time during the first few months after childbirth. If a new mother’s depressive symptoms reach a point where it might be felt that help is needed, a mental health professional should be contacted immediately for guidance.

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This blog is written and published by Lindner Center of HOPE.

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Mood Disorders Can Be Treated Through a Variety of Therapies

The term “mood disorders” encompasses a relatively wide array of conditions, ranging from mild depression to bipolar disorders.  While the severity levels, symptoms and characteristics may differ between the many ailments that reside within the mood disorders category, most of these conditions can be successfully treated with psychotherapy, medications and often a combination of both.

As varied as mood disorders are, the therapeutic methods used to treat these illnesses are equally as diverse. Once a patient is evaluated and a mental health professional determines a mood disorder exists, a very specific approach will be designed to address their particular circumstances.

Effective Therapies for Mood Disorders

Of the variety of psychotherapeutic methods used to treat mood disorders, these two have proven to be especially effective:

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): This approach examines the patient’s personal relationships, how they respond to issues, communications and actions within those relationships and how their moods can be associated with those experiences. The origins of feelings and emotions triggered within the patient from interactions with the people in their lives are analyzed, helping the patient gain a better understanding of why they react the way they do. This leads them to develop the ability to process their experiences and exchanges with others in a healthier way.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT consists of several different therapeutic approaches, such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Rational Behavior Therapy (RBT). Generally, CBT is based on the philosophy that our thoughts determine our outlook, feelings and how we behave. When a patient is able to readjust their beliefs and thinking patterns, they will eventually develop the ability to process stimuli in a more logical, objective way and not perceive and judge situations according to past negative or misguided rationale.

In addition to these and other types of therapy, including group and family-focused therapies, various antidepressant medications are prescribed to help stabilize the moods of depressed or bipolar patients. Different dosages or combinations of medications may be tried before a patient responds positively and begins to show improvement. But once this is accomplished and an appropriate therapeutic method is decided upon, there is a good chance the patient will eventually emerge from their former state with a more favorable outlook and a new lease on life.

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This blog is written and published by Lindner Center of HOPE.

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ADHD Treatment: A Multimodal Approach is Most Effective

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complex mental health issue that is not always easy to diagnose. This is often due in part to the existence of signs and symptoms indicative of other conditions such as anxiety and depression.

There are also various classifications of ADHD where either the attention deficit symptoms or the hyperactivity symptoms are more dominant; or where a near equal combination of both is present. Each individual case is unique. Many times an accurate assessment of symptoms requires a rather lengthy diagnostic process.

Those involved in the life of a child or young adult with ADHD struggle along with them in many ways. Parents, teachers and peers at times become frustrated with the ADHD sufferer’s symptoms and behaviors. These include being easily distracted, disruptive, impulsive and an inability to sit still.

A Comprehensive Approach to ADHD Treatment

Incorporating multiple modes of treatment usually produces the best results in those with ADHD. These often include psychotherapy and behavior modification combined with education and medications. Talk therapy and behavioral therapies will help a child better understand their condition and what may trigger certain responses. These will also enable a child with ADHD to be more aware of their behaviors and discover ways to break out of destructive patterns.

Most medications used in ADHD treatments come in the form of stimulants, antidepressants and mood stabilizers. It may take several tries to determine which medication works best for a particular child. But once a medication is settled upon, it will often have a calming effect on the child and will help them significantly improve their focus.

ADHD education programs are recommended for both parents and children as part of the treatment process. Through these programs, goals will be established, progress will be evaluated and strategies outlined in order to help parents recognize and understand ADHD symptoms. These programs also help children with ADHD build self-esteem and develop effective coping mechanisms.

Multimodal treatment plans have a proven track record. This method attacks ADHD from all angles and often helps clear the path for a child to one day live a successful and fulfilling life.

 

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This blog is written and published by Lindner Center of HOPE.

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Eating Disorders are Treatable, But Don’t Wait to Get Help

An eating disorder is a mental illness that often includes stark physical manifestations. For instance, those suffering with anorexia tend to become emaciated and bone-thin; whereas bulimics can actually maintain or even gain weight. This is largely due to the binge eating habits of bulimics, which usually involves a massive caloric intake that is then purged.

Purging food via self-induced vomiting or consumption of laxatives is a symptom shared by both the bulimic and anorexic. There are other similarities in symptoms between the two diseases, including exercising excessively and a distorted body image. However, the fear of weight gain causes anorexics to severely limit their food intake as opposed to the bulimic habit of purging after binging large amounts of food.

Help for Eating Disorders

The longer one waits to be treated for eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, the greater the chances that permanent or fatal damage to the body will occur. Eating disorders studies reveal that muscle loss, bone deterioration and the weakening of just about every organ in the body will become increasingly significant as these diseases continue to run their course.

Therefore, it is imperative that bulimia treatment, anorexia treatment and treatment of other types of eating disorders be started as soon as these conditions are verified. Eating disorder clinics and eating disorder treatment centers around the country have experienced mental health professionals on staff who are better equipped than ever before to administer to those suffering from eating disorder-related illnesses.

Eating disorder treatment often encompasses various types of psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy and might also include family therapy sessions. Nutritional counseling and a focus on weight restoration are also part of a comprehensive eating disorder treatment program that can eventually give those affected the tools to move forward and live fulfilling lives.

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Mood Disorders and Personality Disorders among the Most Common Mental Illnesses

 Mental health problems are the leading cause of disability in the U.S., costing our society countless hours of productivity each year.

The types of mental illnesses are wide-ranging and are classified according to symptoms and characteristics.  It is not always easy to pinpoint a specific mental disorder. This is in part due to similarities between some of the symptoms of various illnesses. Although many established treatment methods have proven to be effective, approaches to treatment are continuously evolving and depend upon circumstances and contributing factors that are unique to each individual.

The Most Prevalent Types of Mental Disorders

Nearly nine percent of Americans suffer from some form of depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Depression falls into the “mood disorders” category and can range from relatively mild depression to potentially debilitating “major depression.”

Other mood disorders include manias and manic disorders — which are indicated by abnormally elevated moods and elation — and bipolar disorders, which carry symptoms such as fluctuations between mania and depression or “mood swings.”

Personality disorders are another common category of mental illness. These are indicated by unstable and socially abnormal behavior patterns and include disorders such as schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Mental illnesses such as OCD and various phobias are often also categorized as anxiety disorders.

The statistics on mental illness in our society are sobering. But the good news is that expertise in the areas of OCD treatment, depression treatment and overall mental health treatment continues to advance. Innovations in research, medications, psychotherapy, behavior modification techniques and the advent of technology such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS treatment) are resulting in increasingly positive results in the treatment of a wide spectrum of mental disorders.

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Depression Affecting a Growing Number of Americans

It’s normal to occasionally become melancholy or to feel “down.” But when feelings of sadness or “emptiness” persist, there is a good chance deeper issues exist.

Depression in its various forms affects roughly one in 10 Americans, according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics. The number of people suffering from this sometimes debilitating mental health condition has been on a steady incline in recent years.

Why the Increase?

There are many factors that can be linked to the increase of depression cases in the U.S. These include financial struggles resulting from the recent economic downturn; the burdens on homeowners and their families due to the housing crisis; and the difficulty for many to find work in an extremely tight job market.

Depression Treatment Increasingly Effective

Depression can range from mild to severe. But the good news is that treatment has become more refined and has proven to be successful at every level. After thorough diagnosis, a treatment plan is tailored toward the individual and usually includes a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressant medications.

For milder forms of depression, counseling may be all that is required to get a patient back on their feet. But severe depression may take extensive therapy and a combination of medications to effectively treat. There are also other treatment options for severe depression, such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation or “TMS therapy,” which stimulates areas within the brain responsible for regulating moods.

As mental health professionals become more experienced in caring for those with depression, treatment methods continue to evolve. As a result, despite the troubling statistics, the light shines ever brighter at the end of the tunnel for depression sufferers.

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Chronic Stress Can Take a Toll on One’s Mental Well-Being

Stress is a normal reaction to situations and frustrations that we occasionally experience during the course of our lives. Career concerns, deadlines, financial troubles and kid-related issues can all cause us moments of worry and degrees of anxiety. Normal stress can also be beneficial to us in some ways. For instance, it heightens our awareness in dangerous situations and boosts our ability to perform in an athletic endeavor.

But when feelings of apprehension and distress become perpetual, and there aren’t many moments in a day when we’re not feeling stressed or anxious, it can eventually wear us down and have a negative impact on our health. Stress can affect us both physically and mentally. Some of the physical manifestations of stress are tension, an elevated heartbeat, sweatiness and an upset stomach. Continuous stress can also lead to high blood pressure and heart problems.

The Effects of Chronic Stress on Mental Health

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a well-known condition in which a traumatic event or the circumstances surrounding that event can cause recurring bouts of extreme stress. But constant, long-term stress can also have devastating consequences if not properly addressed.

Many people with chronic stress are unaware that the almost ceaseless worry and anxiety in their everyday lives may be turning into a deeper issue. They may feel that stress is just a part of their daily existence, and that the irritability, forgetfulness, trouble sleeping and fatigue, among other symptoms that can accompany chronic stress, simply come along with it.

However, “nervous breakdowns” or the development of anxiety disorders, eating disorders, sleep disorders, panic attacks and clinical depression that can result from persistent, long-term stress are serious conditions which require proper mental health treatment. This may consist of learning techniques to better manage and alleviate stress, or, depending on the severity of the situation, may involve psychotherapy and medication.

If there are indications that an individual may be experiencing chronic stress and they are beginning to show signs that there may be worse problems on the horizon, it’s time for them to get help. They shouldn’t hesitate to consult with a professional at one of their local mental health centers and begin to learn how to achieve some peace in their lives and get themselves back on track.

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Eating Disorder Treatment Involves Changing Behavior Patterns

Although there are differences between the eating disorders anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, they do share some of the same characteristics. Among other similarities, individuals who suffer with these disorders generally have an unfavorable view of their own bodies.

The fear of becoming overweight or the perception that one is overweight — even if they are not — are major psychological factors behind the development of these and other eating disorders. Individuals with these disorders are driven to engage in one or more of the following practices: self-induced vomiting after eating, purging, excessive exercise, disproportionate use of laxatives and periods of not eating.

It has been well documented that the major demographic of those with eating disorders are teenage girls. However, it is now common knowledge that these disorders do not discriminate. Adult men and women as well as males in their late teens also struggle with eating disorders.

Eating Disorder Treatment: Emphasis on Behavioral Adjustments

In addition to the deep-seeded psychological aspects of eating disorders that can lead to depression and other mood disorders, the physical ramifications can be devastating and even deadly. The bones and teeth may suffer due to the body not absorbing or maintaining a healthy amount of nutrients. A host of other issues such as a loss of muscle, anemia and organ damage may result from the unhealthy habits that those with eating disorders have developed.

Anorexia treatment, bulimia treatment and the treatment of eating disorders often requires a multifaceted approach. Not only must a patient be nurtured back to physical health, but the psychological aspect of these disorders must be addressed through intensive psychotherapy.

One of the most effective modes of psychotherapeutic treatment for eating disorders has proven to be cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).  In those with eating disorders, CBT focuses on areas such as improving self-esteem and developing a more realistic body image. This therapy works to redirect the “rules” these individuals have established in regard to eating habits.

Some of the nation’s leading eating disorder treatment centers such as Lindner Center of Hope’s Sibcy House near Cincinnati, Ohio incorporate CBT into their treatment plan. It is part of a well-rounded program that has helped many eating disorders patients change destructive habits and develop a healthier outlook on life.

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Help Available for Compulsive Hoarders

Compulsive hoarding is by no means a new phenomenon. However, it has recently moved into the spotlight courtesy of several documentaries and television shows such as A&E’s “Hoarders” and TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive.”

The exposure compulsive hoarding has gained as a result has been an eye-opener to many hoarders as well as to those around them. It has brought awareness to the fact that treatment is available to help people begin to unclutter their lives.

The Characteristics of a Hoarder

Compulsive hoarding affects roughly two million Americans, according to Psychology Today Magazine. Although it is argued in some circles that hoarding is a stand-alone disorder, it is most often placed within the category of obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD).

Generally, hoarders fear that throwing anything away will have negative repercussions on their lives. As a result, they collect and accumulate things that might have little or no real use.

Although the scene inside their dwelling might appear chaotic to others, many hoarders feel hanging onto items provides them with a certain amount of control and sense of organization. Hoarders feel a personal responsibility and connection to their possessions. If an item is lost or discarded, the fragile balance in their lives can be disrupted.

Getting Help

In treating compulsive hoarding, mental health professionals use an approach similar to that of OCD treatment. The foundation of treatment focuses on a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Specifically, behavioral therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention (ERP) are employed.

Some of the goals within behavioral therapy include diminishing the hoarder’s urge to save, and redirecting the distorted view of the importance they place on the items in question. Therapy also helps at decreasing a hoarder’s anxiety over discarding items and improving their judgment and decision-making capabilities.

Mental health centers across the country are home to experienced professionals who have successfully treated compulsive hoarders. Though treatment can be lengthy and at times difficult, it can provide a new lease on life for those struggling with this all-consuming disorder.