What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is often joked about in society.  Someone who like to have their hands meticulously clean, or someone who likes their spices alphabetized int eh pantry may be accused lightly of having OCD.  In fact, OCD is a mental anxiety disorder where a person has intrusive, distressing and often irrational thoughts or engages in repetitive, compulsive behaviors that literally consume their lives.

Considered by many experts to be a life long mental disorder, OCD is split into two categories: obsessions and compulsions.


Obsessions can be defined as uncontrollable, involuntary, and often disturbing or alarming thoughts, images or impulses that flood an individual’s mind. For instance, someone with OCD may not be able to shake the thought of a loved one dying in a plane crash or of their child getting lost at Disneyland. Their worst fears are played out for hours in their mind, sometimes constantly—all day.


Compulsions are more ritualistic— meaning *****, and individuals with OCD conduct these actions over and over—repeatedly. Individuals suffering from OCD might check to see make sure the front door is locked or that their curling iron is unplugged over and over again in a short period of time or all throughout the day.  They may scrub their hands until they are raw over and over—never feeling completely germ free. These individuals often feel forced to continually perform tasks over and over, with incredible attention to small details.  Often, they are unable to break free from these actions or thoughts.

Sadly, to cope with the stress of OCD, many individuals turn to drugs or alcohol.  Studies dhow that nearly 25 % of people seeking treatment for OCD also are struggling with a substance abuse disorder.

source: drugrehab.com


The high stressed, overworked, perfectionistic lifestyle many of us are attempting to live is causing our US society a lot of anxiety.  There are many anxiety symptoms but despite their different forms, all anxiety disorders share one major symptom: persistent or severe fear or worry in situations where most people wouldn’t feel threatened.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America give the following statistics about anxiety disorders in the US on their website:

  • “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
  • People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
  • Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.”

Another interesting point about anxiety is the role it plays in conjunction with depression.  Many people with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression at some point. Anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same biological vulnerability, which may explain why they so often go hand-in-hand. Since depression often creates anxiety symptoms (and vice versa), it’s important to seek treatment for both conditions. In fact, nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Seeking help, treatment, and support can lessen anxiety along with finding techniques to avoid or prevent anxiety before it becomes problematic in one’s life.

Moms and Drug Abus

Ten years ago, it was reported that at least 18 million women aged 26 and older take prescription medications for unintended purposes.  Today, that number is even higher, and many of those abusing drugs include women who are moms.  Some are surprised to find out how many moms deal with drug abuse, but it must be remember that no one is immune to addiction and drug abuse.  Moms are just as vulnerable to drug abuse as anyone else and may turn to drugs to avoid guilt, stress, boredom, or any number of other things.  Today, an increasing number of moms are becoming addicted to pain medications.

The most commonly abused prescription drugs by moms include: sedatives, muscle relaxants, and opioid painkillers. Just like so many others, most moms started out their drug use legitimately—that is, they received a prescription from their doctor for a valid health issue.  However, some moms continue to use and abuse the drug they were safely prescribed after their treatment for the health issue is resolved.

Further, other drug addictions that seem to be rising with moms include alcohol addiction and abuse, and marijuana use.  Becoming aware of triggers that may turn moms toward drug abuse can stop the addictions before they start.  These triggers increase vulnerability and include: past trauma (such as being abused as a child), a family history of drug abuse problems, a history of drug or alcohol addiction, and the presence of mental health conditions (such as depression).

Also noteworthy is that many moms experience depression and stress after giving birth and these heightened reactions to the hormonal changes and lifestyle changes that occur can increase a mom’s vulnerability to addiction. In fact, any period of heightened stress increases the risk of using and depending on prescription drugs to feel better.

A main reason for the rise in prescription drug abuse by moms is the same as for everyone else: prescription drugs can be obtained and purchased relatively easy.  Moms may lie or or buy from less legitimate pharmacies online in order to maintain their drug habits.  These factors have directly impacted the rise in prescription drug abuse among all groups of people.  Some people simply think that if a doctor prescribes medicine it will not cause any harm.  Understanding side effects and addiction tendencies, and drugs that build tolerance, can also prevent further drug abuse issues. It is important to remember that no on is immune to addiction, even moms.

source: workingmother.com

Ritalin Addiction

With all of the media focus on opioid addiction and prescription painkiller regulating, other drugs that are addicting get overlooked, like Ritalin.  Ritalin is often prescribed for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  It helps with focus and attention.  Recently, Ritalin abuse has been seen on college campuses where students are taking the drug (and often becoming addicted to it’s effects) in order to study longer and more effectively or to test better due to improved focus.  However, many do not realize the addictive nature of Ritalin and the risks associated with taking it when it’s not necessary.

For instance, when individuals who have not been prescribed the drug continue to take Ritalin in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms, when they can’t meet their obligations without Ritalin use, and/or feel intense urges to take Ritalin they are definitely experiencing signs of addiction.  Further, if individuals find themselves increasing their Ritalin dose over time to maintain the same effect, take Ritalin in situations where it may not be safe to do so, or are spending a lot of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of Ritalin, those symptoms are also red flags of addiction as well.

Treatment for Ritalin addiction is similar to other drug addiction treatment.  Detox needs to occur in a safe medically monitored supervised setting.  Following up with therapy and counseling can then strengthen the individual against returning to Ritalin abuse and addiction.

Suicide Rates on Rise in U.S.

In a new report by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) they indicate that suicide rates are on the rise in the United States and have been increasing in number since the year 2000.

In fact, from 1999 to 2015, approximately 600,000 U.S. residents died by suicide, with 2015 being the deadliest year. Interestingly, the groups that are ranked highest are not those from the big cities, instead they are from the rural areas.  Further, the ethnic groups dealing with the increase in suicides the most is the Native Americans and those who are white.

Of note is that the report shows a steady climb with a spike around the year 2008.  In speculating why this spike occurred, one thought is that it may have been due to the pressures of the financial recession that occurred in our country at that same time.  Many individuals felt hopeless and stressed in their financial predicaments when businesses were closing their doors and the stock market plummeted.  In more detail is the fact that the rural communities suffered more in the recession due to poverty and social isolation along with less mental health treatment facilities and that may explain why the rates of suicide there are higher.

Further, since the year 2000, the CDC points out that men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women and the rate worsened in almost all categories assessed after 2008.

The findings of the CDC indicate that more mental health institutions need to be available in rural areas to help those struggling with suicidal thoughts.  The opioid crisis doesn’t help either along with other drug issues and the rural communities have been especially hard hit by that as well.  Finding solutions and having more preventative help in place for these ethnic groups, and in rural locations would be helpful in combating the increasing rate of suicides in the United States.

source: vocavtiv.com

What are Benzos?

Benzodiazepines, known to many as “benzos,” are man-made medications that cause mild to severe depression of the nerves within the brain (central nervous system) and sedation (drowsiness).  Seizures, anxiety, and other diseases that require benzodiazepine treatment may be caused by excessive activity of nerves in the brain. These drugs may work by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Gamma-aminobutyric acid is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that nerves in the brain use to send messages to one another. Gamma-aminobutyric acid reduces the activity of nerves in the brain and increasing the effect of GABA with a benzodiazepine, reduces brain activity.

According to medicine.net, benzos are used to treat: “anxiety, nervousness, panic disorders, muscle spasms, seizures, sleeplessness, alcohol withdrawal, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and PMS.”

Benz use, when not closely monitored, can lead to addiction and are most often abused to get “high: due toothier effects on the brain.  In fact, in 2017, benzos were ranked 8th in the top 10 drugs most abused in the United States.

The website drugabuse.org gives 5 shocking facts about benzo addiction:

  1. Becoming Addicted is Shockingly Easy
  2. Quitting is Devastatingly Difficult
  3. Using Often Creates Cognitive Impairment
  4. Developing Alzheimer’s Disease Is Far More Likely
  5. Dying Early Is a Tragic Possibility

medicine.net also lists the effects of benzos which include: lightheadedness, confusion, memory impairment, improper body balance, nausea, constipation, dry mouth, fatigue, respiratory depression, withdrawal symptoms, seizures, slow heart rate, sever low blood pressure, fainting, suicide, jaundice, dependence and abuse, reduced libido, weight gain, vomiting, increase or decrease in appetite, sedation, and/or drowsiness.

Overall, there is a defining need and place for benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, but their usage must be monitored for signs of addiction, dependence, and withdrawal to avoid some of the dangerous side effects of the drugs.  Being aware of the dangers can prevent addiction and help others through recovery from benzo abuse.

sources: medicine.net, drugabuse.org

Is someone you are close with developing behaviors that seem different or worrisome to you? Are they between 18-24 years old (the age at which most mental illnesses manifest)?

Recently, the APA (American Psychiatric Association) developed a check list that concerned individuals can refer to when they see unusual behaviors in their lives or the lives of their loved ones and they are concerned about mental illness. The following list is copied directly from the website: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/warning-signs-of-mental-illness

◦       Withdrawal — Recent social withdrawal and loss of interest in others

◦       Drop in functioning — An unusual drop in functioning, at school, work or social activities, such as quitting sports, failing in school or difficulty performing familiar tasks

◦       Problems thinking — Problems with concentration, memory or logical thought and speech that are hard to explain

◦       Increased sensitivity — Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch; avoidance of over-stimulating situations

◦       Apathy — Loss of initiative or desire to participate in any activity

◦       Feeling disconnected — A vague feeling of being disconnected from oneself or one’s surroundings; a sense of unreality

◦       Illogical thinking — Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal powers to understand meanings or influence events; illogical or “magical” thinking typical of childhood in an adult

◦       Nervousness — Fear or suspiciousness of others or a strong nervous feeling

◦       Unusual behavior – Odd, uncharacteristic, peculiar behavior

◦       Sleep or appetite changes — Dramatic sleep and appetite changes or decline in personal care

◦       Mood changes — Rapid or dramatic shifts in feelings

If you or your loved one is experiencing a lot of these symptoms related to mental illness, or is experiencing any of these symptoms to a great degree, meeting with a healthcare professional is a good resource to turn to.

Loneliness: A Public Health Crisis

A recent study published in Fox News authored by Julia Naftulin indicates that loneliness is now thought to be more of a danger to society than obesity in terms of health. The article discusses how although each of us feels lonely from time to time, a new study shows that feeling lonely is on the rise and the dangers of feeling lonely are a major health threat.

A new study conducted by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, professor of psychology at Brigham Young University was discussed at length in Natfulin’s article. The study showed feeling lonely and/or isolated can lead to premature death—in fact, those with social connections decreased their risk of an early death by 50%. Still, a number of things can affect how often or deeply a person experiences loneliness. People who suffer from depression or anxiety are likely to feel isolated on a grander scale, since loneliness is a state of mind, says Dr. Galynker, adding that a happy person with five social interactions a day may feel connected, while a depressed person with the same five social interactions may feel isolated and disconnected from others.

Although our culture in the US accepts and normalizes living alone and being independent, most other cultures do not. That is to say, many live with extended family their entire life. Further, the role of social media in this loneliness crisis is huge. Not only do we tend to feel left out or not “as good as” due to social media, many individuals are triggered into feelings of isolation and loneliness that are not healthy at all due to the influx of the Internet and online communication.

Determining if you are feeling excessively lonely in such a way that warrants help may seem difficult. But research suggests that if you turn to others to alleviate your loneliness than most likely you’re ding ok. But if you isolate further or don’t feel like confiding your feelings of looniness to others than it might be good to seek professional help.  Many people feel insecure and nervous about reaching out to others for fear of rejection. Awareness of those around us is key in solving this problem. Including those in our life in real time interactions and, making time for those who we now to be more isolated can help break the cycle of loneliness in our society and alleviate this oncoming public health crisis.

Two years ago, when he made the decision to tell the world about his diagnosis of bipolar disorder, KSTP-TV meteorologist Ken Barlow could only guess what kind of reaction he would get.

“I could have lost my job,” he said. “I could have lost my friends. I had no idea what was going to happen, but I felt like I just couldn’t hold it in anymore.”

In 2007, after a lifetime of manic bursts followed by debilitating depressions, Barlow was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder. For five years, fearing that the truth about his mental illness could have a negative impact on nearly every aspect his life, Barlow told only a select few people about his diagnosis. And even those people were sworn to secrecy.

Read the full article here.

Source: Minnepost.com
Artcile by: By Andy Steiner

Mental health in word tag cloudDual Diagnosis Treatment

Dual Diagnosis Treatment is much more common that it once was. Years ago, addiction and mental health disorders were treated separately. In fact, many believed that one had to overcome addiction first in order to work on mental health disorders. Research shows that working on both addictive disorders (alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling addiction, sex addiction or another behavioral addiction) and mental health disorders (depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, a personality disorder, etc.) can result in successful outcomes.

So, instead of drawing a hard line between psychiatric health and addiction, the two areas of addiction and mental health are treated as part of a continuum. Therapists and clinicians who work in addiction recovery treatment can now receive training and credentials in the treatment of co-occurring mental health disorders. Also, many rehab facilities now offer recovery services that are personalized for clients with a Dual Diagnosis.

However, research shows that finding the right rehabilitation program can still be challenging, especially if individuals are struggling with depression or anxiety as well as substance abuse. Interestingly, The Office of Applied Studies, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reports that in 2002, just 12 percent of the 4 million American adults who suffered from a Dual Diagnosis received adequate treatment for both conditions.

If an individual meets the diagnostic criteria for a mental health disorder and an addictive disorder, they can be classified as a Dual Diagnosis client when entering treatment. The best treatment for a Dual Diagnosis should involve considering both the addiction and the mental illness when going through the recovery process.

Dualdiagnosis.org indicates that to increase the chances of recovering fully, one’s care should include:

“Parallel treatment of your mental health and substance use disorders by the members of a highly trained treatment team

Acknowledgement of the importance of psychotherapeutic medications, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety meds, in the treatment of co-occurring disorders

A supportive approach to therapy that reinforces self-esteem and builds self-confidence instead of confronting the client with negative, aggressive statements

An inclusive treatment strategy that brings partners, spouses, children and other household members into therapy for individual counseling, group meetings or education

‘Sequential treatment’ was the norm before the 1990s, when clinicians believed that there should be a division between mental health treatment and addiction rehabilitation, note the authors of the text Integrated Treatment for Dual Disorders: A Guide to Effective Practice. In the sequential approach, clients with a Dual Diagnosis were excluded from one area of treatment until they were considered stable in the other. For instance, a depressed person with active alcoholism might not be able to receive therapy for depression until she had been through detox and rehab. Sequential treatment became less popular as research showed that it led to a higher rate of relapse.”

If an individual is struggling with both addiction and mental health issues, it would benefit them greatly to explore the possibilities of Dual Diagnosis Treatment.

Source: dualdiagnosis.org



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