All Posts Tagged: the center for treatment of anxiety and mood disorders

Adult ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or ADHD is a medical disorder involving abnormalities in brain function. Often, this disorder can be passed genetically through families from one generation to the next. The condition is generally diagnosed in childhood, however we now know that ADHD commonly continues into adulthood. Although the hyperactivity component usually subsides in adults, attention and concentration problems often persist. If not caught in childhood, adults often become suspicious they may have adult ADHD when their children is diagnosed, and they recognize the same set of symptoms in themselves.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately four percent of adults have the disorder. The risk increases in those people who have close blood relatives (parents, siblings, etc) who also have ADHD, in people who were born prematurely or were exposed to environmental toxins, or those who were born to mothers who smoked, drank alcohol, or abused drugs during their pregnancy.

Signs of ADHD in Adults

The following can be warning signs of adult ADHD:

  • Reckless driving or frequent traffic tickets or accidents
  • Problems paying bills on time
  • Job hopping or habitual unemployment, being late to work frequently, trouble staying on task if you’re distracted by emails or phone calls
  • Alcohol or substance abuse problems
  • Some marital troubles, especially if your partner grumbles that you don’t listen to them or that you don’t honor promises you made to them
  • Frequently forgetting appointments, forgetting to run errands or do things like getting gas or picking up something from the grocery store on the way home
  • Underestimating the amount of time it will take to complete a task
  • Making impulsive or irrational decisions
  • Having trouble starting or completing projects at work or at home
  • Being tense or edgy or being prone to angry outbursts, even over minor problems

ADHD Symptoms in Adults

The signs that are so telling for ADHD in children are often more subtle when you reach adulthood. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a comprehensive list of criteria for adult ADHD symptoms. If five or more of the symptoms on each list are present now and were noticeable before the age of twelve, if they have persisted for more than six months, and if you are age 17 or older, you may have adult ADHD:

  1. Inattention: Five or more symptoms of inattention for adolescents 17 and older and adults; symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months, and they are inappropriate for developmental level:
    • Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.
    • Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
    • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
    • Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).
    • Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
    • Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
    • Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
    • Is often easily distracted
    • Is often forgetful in daily activities.
  2. Hyperactivity and Impulsivity: Five or more for adolescents 17 and older and adults; symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for the person’s developmental level:
    • Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
    • Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
    • Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).
    • Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
    • Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
    • Often talks excessively.
    • Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
    • Often has trouble waiting his/her turn.
    • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)

In addition, the following conditions must be met:

  • Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present before age 12 years.
  • Several symptoms are present in two or more setting, (such as at home, school or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities).
  • There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning.
  • The symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder (such as a mood disorder, anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, or a personality disorder). The symptoms do not happen only during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder.

Adult ADHD Treatment

Since the focus of attention deficit hyperactive disorder is normally on children and helping them learn to function through their challenges, if you’ve reached adulthood without an ADHD diagnosis, it may seem silly to consider treatment. However, it is still very important that you address your condition. As noted above, untreated adult ADHD can cause ongoing disruptions in your life, such as workplace or relationship problems, and alcohol or substance abuse.

Adult ADHD treatment can be very effective and can help turn your life around. A combined approach works best. This includes prescribing appropriate ADHD medications to help balance and boost the brain’s neurotransmitters, as well as psychotherapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT teaches life skills in time management and organizational development and provides aids that may allow some people to eventually discontinue their medication. Additionally, couples therapies can be used to help improve communication skills and teach your significant other ways to understand and help with your Adult ADHD condition.

Help for Adult ADHD

It is challenging to have adult ADHD, so don’t go through it alone. The mental health professionals at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida are here to help. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Sex Avoidance and Anxiety Disorders

Most people are somewhat familiar with the term “sex addiction”, particularly because they’ve heard about the occasional movie star or entertainer who seeks treatment for their compulsion. But, while sex addiction is recognized and there are rehab centers and support groups that can provide help, its polar opposite – sex avoidance – is hardly ever discussed. And yet, sex avoidance is just as shattering – perhaps even more so, because a person with sex avoidance shuns intimacy and the enjoyment that comes with having a sincere connection to a loving partner.

Additionally, while sexual avoidance can be troubling on its own, it is also often a side effect of having an anxiety disorder. Things like performance fears, being distressed and upset, and low libido can make people even more anxious and can lead to the avoidance of sex.

What is Sex Avoidance?

In general, the aversion toward sex is a defense mechanism. When thinking of intimacy or engaging in sex, the person with sexual avoidance feels emotional distress and physical symptoms, such as nausea and tensed muscles, or they may have panic attacks. They may also experience humiliation, shame, and low self-esteem for rejecting their partner.

As with any condition, there are people who fall on either end of the spectrum. Sex avoidance can come in the form of sexual anorexia, which happens when sex and intimacy are obsessively evaded in the same way anorexics shun food. In some cases, the sexual anorexic may enjoy physical intimacy once it has been initiated, but may not be able to instigate sex. Or, they may take it a step further and turn down their spouse or partner’s desire for physical closeness more often than not.

On the other extreme, the American Psychological Association has classified an actual disorder called Sexual Aversion Disorder. With this disorder, the individual actively seeks to avoid genital sexual contact with a sexual partner. Often, the person will even avoid genital contact related to a gynecological exam or procedure. Sexual Aversion Disorder can be so traumatic that the person won’t allow any physical touch or kissing.

Reasons for Sex Avoidance

There are various reasons for avoiding sex. The most obvious is the case of a person who has suffered childhood sexual abuse and now dodges anything that brings the trauma back up in their mind. However, not everyone who has been abused will avoid sex, just as not every person who shuns physical intimacy has been abused.

In some cases, people with anxiety disorders also shun sexual encounters. When a person has an anxiety disorder, they suffer physical effects along with their mental stress. Physically, the Mayo Clinic reports people with an anxiety disorder may experience the symptoms of:

  • Insomnia, trouble falling asleep or problems with staying asleep
  • Fatigue, particularly if they aren’t sleeping well
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting, nausea
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • May be easily startled
  • Muscles aches, tense or clenched muscles
  • Twitching or trembling
  • Sweating

But, why would these symptoms cause someone to avoid the comfort of a physical relationship? One reason is that the act of intimacy raises your heart rate, induces heavier breathing, and makes you sweat. These bodily reactions mimic the physical “fight or flight” responses people experience during a panic attack, so much so that some individuals will go to great lengths to avoid feeling them at all.

Additionally, people who already suffer anxiety may choose to forego sexual encounters so they don’t have to add more fears to their list of concerns. Engaging in sexual activity can bring up worries about their attractiveness, their ability to perform, or may increase feelings of shame or guilt.

Sex Avoidance Treatment

Depending on its root cause, sex avoidance can be effectively treated either on its own or as part of an anxiety disorder therapy.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy can help reduce anxiety, fear, and negative emotions. These therapies can be conducted on a one to one basis, in group therapy, or online depending on the particular preference of the client.
  • Sexual function can often be improved with the use of certain medications. For example, SSRIs may have the side effect of delaying orgasm and can often help men who suffer from premature ejaculation.
  • If you are already on anxiety disorder medications, talk to your doctor about adjusting your medicine so it has less effect on or can help with your condition.

A Place to Turn for Help

If your anxiety disorders are leading to sex avoidance, turn to the professionals at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Can Men Get Postpartum Depression, Too?

Almost everyone knows that new mothers can sometimes go through postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. There are plenty of articles about the subject online and daytime talk shows often discuss the topic. In women, anxiety and depression can be the result of many factors – sleeplessness, a new routine, feeling like you’re losing control, and radical swings in hormone levels all contribute to the “baby blues.” But, while new moms are the usual focus of postnatal depression, what about the new dad? Can men get postpartum depression, too?

While it would seem unlikely, it is not uncommon for new dads to also go through a period of depression after the birth of their child. In fact, in 2010, American Medical Association (AMA) researchers reported that slightly more than 10 percent of new fathers experience paternal postpartum depression (PPND). That figure is roughly twice as high as “regular” depression rates in the general male population.

Postpartum Depression in Men

In February, 2017 JAMA Psychiatry published the results of a New Zealand study of more than 3,500 men who were about to become fathers. These study participants filled out questionnaires when their partners were in their third trimester of pregnancy and answered follow-up questions nine months after the birth of their child.

The researchers found that while some of the new fathers showed signs of depression, this mental disorder was most likely to be present in the men who reported being in fair-to-poor health or under stress during the pregnancy. All in all, about 2.3 percent of the study’s expectant fathers exhibited signs of depression before the birth of the baby.

When the study follow-up was done nine months after the birth of their child, postpartum depression in the new fathers had increased. At this point, 4.3 percent of the men who were participating reported symptoms of PPND. This postpartum depression in men was not only associated with stress during the actual pregnancy, but had risen due to other factors that happened after the birth, such as becoming unemployed, having a prior depression history, or no longer being in a relationship with the child’s mother. It was also no surprise that the men’s risk increased if the baby had health concerns, was colicky and not sleeping well, or if the pregnancy was unplanned.

The AMA study done in 2010 showed that the men’s postpartum depression was highest in the 3 to 6 months after the child’s birth. Interestingly, researchers also noted a correlation to the depression severity within the family. It seems that the new fathers were more likely to experience paternal postnatal depression if the child’s mother also went through postpartum depression.

New Father Depression Symptoms

The indicators of postpartum depression in men are similar to those experienced by women. New father depression symptoms can include some or most of the following:

  • Anger, frustration, mood swings
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Poor memory, unable to concentrate
  • Fear that you can’t take care of yourself, your baby, or your baby’s mother
  • Low energy, diminished libido
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleeping too much or insomnia
  • Feelings of guilt or inability to bond with your child
  • Feeling helpless, sad, or hopeless
  • Physical pain, such as gastrointestinal problems or headaches
  • Lack of interest in your normal activities
  • Poor hygiene, unmotivated to perform personal care routines

Don’t Ignore Paternal Postpartum Depression

Your depression can have a long-term effect on your marriage or relationship, and on your child. There is research that shows the children of men with postpartum depression can have a reduced vocabulary at age two and can have behavioral and emotional issues, as well. Additionally, men with postpartum depression are less apt to spend time playing with or reading to their kids and are more likely to spank their child.

As with women, untreated PPND can last for a long time. Treatment for this type of depression is most likely to involve cognitive behavioral therapy or talk therapy. If needed, it may also include anti-depressant medications.

Even though much is not yet known about paternal postpartum depression, it helps to know there is such a disorder and that you are not alone. It is normal for men to need time to adjust to a new baby, just the same as it is for the new mother. Because men are not as likely as women to seek help, if you or your partner are experiencing some of the new father depression symptoms listed above, it would be wise to speak with a licensed mental health professional who works with men. Remember: it is not a weakness to seek help. Instead, it shows the strength of your commitment to yourself and your family.

Let Us Help

If you are a new father and are going through the symptoms of paternal postnatal depression, the professionals at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida can help. To get answers to your questions or for more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Adelphi University’s Psychology Program Ranked #4 Worldwide

The Center for Treatment has team members from some of the top universities in not only the country, but the world! Dr. Andrew Rosen’s alma matter, Adelphi Universtiy’s Gordon F. Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies Studies has been ranked fourth worldwide among psychology and psychoanalysis schools by the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR). Adelphi was ranked #4 worldwide with only the Columbia University, New York University and Harvard University departments of psychology ranking higher on the list. More than 26,000 degree-granting institutions were included in the annual ranking.

Find out more about Adelphi Universities achievement here.

Let Us Help

If you are looking for psychological or psychiatric treatment, The Center for Treatment has a highly skilled staff that is ready to help. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Maternity Leave – Going Back to Work after Baby

One of the hardest things for a new mother on maternity leave to do is go back to work after it ends. You carried your bundle of joy for nine months and have had time off from your job to bond with your child. After taking care of their every need, it can be difficult to turn them over to strangers at a day care center and be separated from your son or daughter for an eight-hour period or longer. And, even if you know the babysitter – maybe it’s your mother-in-law, a friend, or a trusted neighbor – new parents will still go through an adjustment period when maternity leave ends and mom return to their job.

The end of maternity leave means new routines and more work to do. Now you not only have to get yourself up and out to work, you need to get another person ready to go as well. There are clothes and toys, diapers, and possibly special foods or medicines to prepare and pack for the work day. The household chores still need to be done, not to mention tasks like grocery shopping, laundry, or trips to the pediatrician. Deciding which parent will take care of which tasks after the end of maternity leave can be a job all by itself.

Additionally, some new mothers go through postpartum depression. Returning to work can add to their symptoms of crying, mood swings, loss of appetite, the inability to bond with their baby, and the guilt that accompanies this type of depression. If your postpartum depression symptoms don’t lessen after two weeks or if they are getting worse, be sure to call your doctor. Postpartum depression can be successfully treated with psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of the two.

Working Moms – Easing Back into your Job After Maternity Leave

Some working moms experience feelings of guilt for leaving their child with someone else or feel inadequate for not being a “superwoman” capable of handling the stresses of a new baby, new routines, and a new “normal.”

For all the books you can find about expecting a baby or the period immediately following birth, there are few resources that address the emotions and anxiety that going back to work after maternity leave can bring up for a new parent. This period has been called the “fifth trimester,” a term trademarked by Lauren Smith Brody, a former Glamour magazine executive editor. She struggled with returning to work and ultimately wrote a book to help new parents manage their expectations. She describes the shift from maternity leave to working mom as “a monumental transition.”

One of the best ways to help ease this maternity leave transition is to set things in place before the baby comes.

  • Research and arrange for childcare. If you have a babysitter instead of a daycare center, also set up a back-up plan in case the babysitter is ever sick.
  • Establish and practice your morning routine a couple of times, at least a week or two before going back to work. Actually wake up at the time you’ll need to get up for work, then eat, dress, and get your baby ready to go. Build in some “glitch time” for occasions like when the baby spits up just as you’re ready to leave or for the day you can’t find your keys.
  • If you plan to breastfeed, talk to your boss to arrange a schedule and set aside a private area for pumping.
  • Decide on temporary compromises you can make when going back to work after baby. Maybe you can go to sleep earlier, eat prepared meals once or twice a week instead of cooking, or let that load of laundry go until the weekend when you’re more rested.
  • Ask for help. Working moms are essentially doing two jobs: their actual employment job and the work of being a mother. It is not a sign of weakness to ask your spouse, family, or friends for help while you go through this transition.
  • Be kind to yourself. Get in some exercise time to reduce stress (even a little goes a long way), get plenty of rest, and try to spend 15-30 minutes every couple of days just doing something for yourself.
  • Avoid venting at work about the stress you may be feeling at home. That way, your boss doesn’t get the idea that you can’t handle the pressure and start worrying that you’ll quit.

It can be challenging to be a new mother going back to work after baby. One of the things working moms must do is find the balance that allows them to hold a job and maintain their pre-baby life, while also preserving their sanity.

If you are finding this more difficult to do than you thought, remember that the transition after maternity leave takes time. Give yourself an adjustment period. After this interval passes, if you still can’t handle it, it might be time to try working with your boss to discuss other options (example: working from home a couple of days per week) that can allow you to have a realistic balance.

Let Us Help

If you have concerns about maternity leave and going back to work after baby or if you are suffering from the symptoms of postpartum depression, the therapists at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida are there to help. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Is There a Connection Between Vaccines and Autism?

Is there a link between vaccines and autism? This question has been at the center of an ongoing debate ever since the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) began reporting that autism was on the rise in the United States and around the world.

Currently, about 1 child out of every 68 will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is classified as a developmental disability. Whenever there is an increase in a disorder or disability, people start looking for reasons for the change. Since ASD can be seen in a child as young as the age of two, research has focused on the factors early in life that might contribute to an autism diagnosis. From birth, children receive many immunizations, so fears have been raised of a possible connection between these vaccines and autism.

In particular, there have been concerns about the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that had been used in MMR and other inoculations. Since 2003, nine studies have been conducted into the relationship between thimerosal and ASD, however the Institute of Medicine has determined there is no link between the vaccine and the development of autism.

In reaction to concerns about whether thimerosal in vaccines and autism were related, the preservative was either removed from vaccines or reduced to negligible amounts between 1999 and 2001. Today, this preservative has been limited to use only in multi-dose vials found in some flu vaccines. If you are still worried, however, you can request your child receive a thimerosal-free vaccine.

Additionally, a 2013 study by the CDC determined there is no link between vaccines and autism. It looked at the number of antigens (they help the body’s immune system fight disease) and found no difference between children with ASD and children without the disorder.

What Causes Autism?

The CDC is currently conducting research to find out if autism has an environmental, biological, or genetic cause. There are many categories of disability along the autism spectrum and, at this time, specialists haven’t found any one specific reason for the development of the disorder.

We do know, however, that there are factors which can indicate a higher chance that a child will develop autism. These components are:

  • Children with autistic siblings are more likely to develop the disability.
  • Children born to older parents are more likely to be at risk.
  • It is thought that the critical developmental time for ASD is in utero, or in the period during or immediately after birth.
  • The prescription medicines valproic acid and thalidomide have been linked to a higher ASD risk in the infant, when these medications were taken during the pregnancy.
  • ASD occurs more often in people who have certain chromosomal or genetic conditions (for example: Fragile X Syndrome).

What are the Early Signs of Autism?

Although autism can affect either gender, the disorder occurs about 4.5 times more often in males than in females. It is found in every socioeconomic, racial, and cultural background, although it is more prevalent in white children than in African-American or Hispanic children.

People with ASD may have problems communicating or interacting with others, or may have difficulty focusing or learning. Additionally, early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder may include:

  • Lack of interest in objects or in relating to people
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Preferring to spend time by themselves
  • Becoming upset if routines change
  • Unusual reactions to stimuli, such as smells, tastes, textures, or sounds
  • Repeating words or phrases or repeating actions over and over

Diagnosis, Evaluation, and ASD Treatment

Although there is no cure for ASD, early intercession can reduce the severity of a child’s developmental delays and can teach them important skills. The earlier a child is diagnosed and begins treatment, the better their chances of reaching their full potential. ASD treatment and early intervention can begin as soon as 3 months of age.

If you are concerned about your child and the way they interact with you or others, the way they speak or act, or the way they learn, the first step is to call your child’s pediatrician and discuss your worries. Your child’s doctor can help answer your questions and, if alarmed, should refer you to specialists for further evaluation. Psychologists, psychiatrists, developmental pediatricians, and/or pediatric neurologists are specially trained to assess and diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Additionally, if you need a free assessment, you can contact your state’s early intervention programs. To find out more about your particular state’s Child Find evaluation, visit the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center.

Our Children’s Center Can Help

If you have questions about the early signs of autism, treatment and intervention, or have other autism-related concerns, the professionals at our child-focused department, The Children’s Center, can help. For more information, contact the Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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ADHD and Anxiety – Is There a Relationship?

Do ADHD and anxiety go hand in hand?

If you have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, you may also be experiencing challenges with anxiety. But, what is it about these conditions that causes them to occur together?

ADHD Facts

By now nearly everyone has heard of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHA). ADHD is a mental illness that is thought to be biological in nature. ADHA is the same as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) – the name that was originally used when people first became aware of the disorder. Although the names are often used interchangeably, the most current name is ADHD.

ADHD symptoms include:

  • an inability to focus
  • restlessness
  • disorganization
  • difficulty completing tasks
  • impulsive behavior
  • hyperactivity in children, although this behavior tends to diminish in adulthood

You do not have to experience all of these symptoms to have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.

How common is ADHD? Statistics show that about 11 million adults (about 5% of the USA’s population) have the condition. However, less than 20% of adults who have the disorder have actually been diagnosed and, of those identified adults, only about 25% have pursued treatment. People who were diagnosed in childhood often continue to experience symptoms in adulthood – about two thirds of children with the condition will continue to require some form of treatment in their adult life. Additionally, while we used to think the disorder only affected males, we now know females can have ADHD.

Can You Have Both ADHD and Anxiety?

Experiencing ADHD and anxiety is more common than you may think. Somewhere between 30% and 50% of adults with ADHD will also have some type of anxiety disorder. These disorders can range anywhere from generalized anxiety or social anxiety to panic disorder, phobias, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

The reason anxiety is so common in conjunction with ADHD is twofold. First, there is a theory that both ADD and anxiety disorders may carry a genetic component. Having a close relative with either condition can increase your chances of being diagnosed with their same disorder. Additionally, research is being conducted to find out if there is an environmental component that triggers both conditions, such as exposure to lead or toxins.

The second reason is that having the disorder is stressful and can lead to feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable. When you worry about things like possibly forgetting a work deadline or when your symptoms affect your relationships or daily activities, you may feel angry or disappointed. Being upset and anxious can make it more difficult to seek help and may cause people to stay in their comfortable but potentially ineffective patterns.

Anxiety and ADHD Treatment

Because ADHD is a brain-based disorder, it is generally treated with medication to help normalize brain function. The challenge to treatment with medicine, however, is that some ADHD prescriptions can worsen the symptoms of anxiety in some patients.

Ideally, a combined approach to anxiety and ADHD treatment works best. This should include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or another form of mindfulness based therapy, in addition to medication. These therapies provide coping techniques: learning these skills can be an invaluable tool to help you stay positive about change.

Undergoing CBT can help you improve productivity, learn to be accountable, and can aid in identifying and achieving goals. Additionally, support groups and talk therapy can help you come to terms with the interpersonal effects the disorder can bring. Feelings of shame, guilt, failure, and their resulting stress can be reduced by processing them in a friendly, compassionate setting.

There also are some steps you can take at home to help improve your symptoms:

  • Exercise regularly (30 minutes per day) to decrease anxiety.
  • Create schedules to help stay on task.
  • Get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Being well-rested helps reduce anxiety.
  • Identify your triggers and work with your therapist to learn coping strategies.
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing.
  • Decrease your stress and surround yourself with positive, supportive people.
  • Try to minimize worry and negative thinking.

If You Have Questions, We Can Help

If you have questions or need help managing your ADHD and anxiety, the therapists at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida are there to help. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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Psychotherapy or Medication – Which Should You Choose?

In today’s world, if you turn on a television, play a game on an electronic device, read a magazine, or listen to the radio, the chances are high that you’ll see or hear an ad for psychotropic medications. Prescriptions for anxiety medication and depression medication are pitched to people so often that the majority of us have at least heard of this option for treating mental illnesses.

As a society, we all want an easy fix to our problems. Ads for psychotropic medications make them sound as if they are an effortless method for treating anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. After all, why spend time on psychotherapy when you can pop a pill and get relief instantly? However, like everything in life, there are compelling reasons to choose one or the other.

Benefits of Psychotherapy

For many people, treatment programs like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Psycho-dynamic Psychotherapy, or In-vivo Therapy, have proven to have more lasting results than psychotropic medications. The reason is that these therapies teach you coping skills. They help you identify inaccurate or negative thinking and then give you the necessary tools to challenge and replace these beliefs.

When someone goes through psychotherapy, they learn what triggers their reactions to specific fears, places, or situations. Cognitive therapy and other “talk therapies” help people overcome these triggers so they can have a better quality of life. Moreover, these methods teach skills that are lifelong. This allows the person to not only feel better, but gives them something to fall back on if their stressors return at some point in the future.

Unlike with the potential of some psychotropic medications, psychotherapy is not addictive. Furthermore, some studies have shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be more effective at relieving anxiety and depression than medication.

Benefits of Psychotropic Medications

Depression medications and anxiety medications are among the most prescribed drugs worldwide. Advertisements have taught us to recognize drug names and to request them from our medical professionals. These drugs are seen as a “magic bullet” for mental illnesses. Indeed, the benefit of psychotropic medications is that some people may see a quicker, short term improvement in their symptoms, especially if their case is severe. Medications are generally cheaper than psychotherapy and are often covered under insurance, while therapy is sometimes limited or may not be covered at all.

That being said, there are drawbacks to psychotropic medications. Some of these drugs have very adverse side effects – a fact many people ignore when they see the list of them scrolling rapidly through an advertisement. These medications are often prescribed on a trial-and-error basis, wherein the drugs are changed if the person is not getting the symptom relief they are hoping for. Also, many individuals fear taking anxiety medication or depression medication because of the worry over becoming addicted to them or the fear that their personality may be altered. Additionally, they are concerned that they will never be able to get off the medication in the future because their depression or anxiety will return if they do.

What About a Combination of Therapy and Medication?

Current research has shown that, in many cases, a combination of psychotropic medications and psychotherapy gives patients the best result. Medications can help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety more quickly, thus giving the person a chance to improve their symptoms while undergoing psychotherapy at the same time.

Combining these treatments programs can provide improvement in symptoms, teach the skills that will allow you to cope with or change your symptoms, and help you feel better. Furthermore, psychotherapy gives you the tools to cope if symptoms arise again.

Do You Have Questions About Psychotherapy or Psychotropic Medications?

Questions about whether you’ll benefit the most from medication, therapy, or a combination of the two, are best answered by working with a mental health professional. The therapists at The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida are there to help. For more information, contact us or call us today at 561-496-1094.

 

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Using Virtual Reality Therapy for Phobias

 

What would you think if you had a phobia about something (example: a fear of flying) and you could overcome your fear just by sitting in your therapist’s office and watching a movie? We think you’d sign up for that! Okay, it’s not entirely that simple (although it almost is), but virtual reality therapy for phobias is now giving patients a high-tech, cutting-edge solution for helping them get past their fears so they can live a better life.

How Does Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy Work?

Many types of phobias can be overcome or greatly reduced when the sufferer goes through cognitive behavioral therapy. In this type of therapy, a patient learns to recognize the thoughts causing the negative feelings surrounding their fears. Once these thoughts are identified, the patient learns how to replace those undesirable beliefs with more positive ones.

In-vivo exposure therapy goes hand in hand with cognitive behavioral therapy. With in-vivo exposure, the patient experiences what they fear in a controlled way and in small doses. By taking small steps, they can confront and gradually conquer their phobia.

Virtual reality exposure therapy combines the best of cognitive behavior therapy and in-vivo exposure. It allows people to work through their fears in a realistic environment without actually leaving the comfort and safety of their therapist’s office.

Virtual Reality Therapy

In the case of the fear of flying phobia mentioned above, a patient comes to our office, sits in a comfortable chair, and puts on a pair of virtual reality therapy goggles. In conjunction with coaching from their therapist, they view a simulation of the inside of an airplane’s passenger compartment and can look around to see all aspects of the interior.

The patient not only sees the plane, they also hear the same sounds they would experience if they were really on a flight, such as the flight attendant’s announcement or the rumble of airplane engines. Additionally, our virtual reality therapy chair vibrates with the motion of the plane “taking off” or “flying” to provide an even more convincing simulation.

Even if a person knows the virtual reality program isn’t completely realistic, there is enough realism in it to trigger their emotional responses to their phobia. And, by working through these reactions, in some types of phobias or traumas, nearly 83 percent of people who have tried virtual reality therapy have managed to put their fears behind them.

Virtual Reality Therapy Benefits

Some of the benefits of virtual reality therapy include:

  • Allowing the patient to try the therapy without as much anxiety. For example: in the case of a phobia about flying, it is much easier for someone to agree to try working through their fears in an office than to have to force themselves to physically go to the place they know will bring an emotional reaction.
  • Experiencing the phobia and/or its triggers without taking the time to travel to an actual location. For the fear of flying phobia, you simply sit in a chair, rather than going to the airport numerous times for several small exposures to your triggers.
  • Confidentiality for the patient: you don’t have to face potential embarrassment by running into someone you know or possibly becoming upset in a public area.
  • The therapist can carefully control the situation, meaning if you are afraid of elevators or airplanes, you don’t have to get in one. Virtual reality exposure therapy allows you to feel as if you are in a location, but the therapist can stop the program if you become truly upset.
  • The therapy is more realistic, in that you can go places or experience things you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to (you can’t get on and off an airplane as part of your flying phobia therapy, for instance). That being said, it is much safer than the real-life setting and minimizes any risk involved.
  • Virtual reality exposure therapy sessions are shorter than those that require you to visit an actual site for therapy (so, there is no travel time from the therapist’s office to the airport for our fear of flying scenario.)
  • Sessions can be repeated several times until the patient has conquered that portion of their phobia and is ready to move on to another phase.

Studies show this treatment has a powerful real-life impact and a great track record, over time. Virtual reality therapy has been successful in treating both children and adults for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), social anxiety, panic disorder, anxiety disorder, OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), and phobias. It is also a very effective tool for treating children who suffer from phobias such as school phobia or sleep fears.

Do You Have Questions About Virtual Reality Therapy?

Virtual Reality Therapy is coming to our practice very soon. For more information or to find out when it becomes available, contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at 561-496-1094.

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