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

Resilience and Optimism Can Predict Trauma Response

How much of a part does resilience play when it comes to dealing with emotional or psychological trauma? As it turns out, quite a lot. Resilience is the inner strength that allows you to adapt when you’ve been exposed to trauma or adversity. This characteristic is strengthened by optimism, which is the extent to which people feel positive and encouraged about their future. Studies have shown that those who are resilient and optimistic feel a higher degree of psychological well-being and are able to recover more quickly from disturbing events. These individuals are able to process stressful situations without becoming overwhelmed and can move through them without turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse.

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Narcissistic Abuse – Healing and Recovery

Are you in a relationship with a person who thinks they are far superior to you and to everyone around them? Or maybe your parent ran your life, expecting nothing less than excellence from you and being envious of your achievements – so much so that they found a way to make your triumphs all about them. Perhaps you are married to someone who is “difficult” – they demand all your attention, have an inflated ego, and are frequently critical of you because things are always “your fault.” If you have a difficult, selfish, and unemotionally available loved one and feel like you have less self-confidence, have less independence, or have given up your family, friends, hobbies, or a career for this person, you may be dealing with narcissistic abuse.

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Post-Traumatic Growth

Emotional trauma or psychological trauma is a reaction to an experience or event that is deeply distressing or disturbing to the individual. Trauma can be the result of things such as going through a natural disaster, being involved in a car accident, living through a major event, such as war or abuse, or having been the victim of a crime. A trauma response will be similar no matter what caused it.

When people experience a psychological trauma, it often shakes them to their core, especially if they felt they had little to no control over the event. They are left feeling helpless and they may experience flashbacks or have a persistent fear that something bad will happen to them again.

Even though these emotional responses are part of a normal reaction, trauma changes patterns in your brain, causing you to carry the burden of distress long after the events have passed. However, by working with a mental health professional who specializes in trauma, you can experience trauma recovery and learn to feel safe again.

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What is Trauma

In general, trauma can be defined as a psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing. When loosely applied, this trauma definition can refer to something upsetting, such as being involved in an accident, having an illness or injury, losing a loved one, or going through a divorce. However, it can also encompass the far extreme and include experiences that are severely damaging, such as rape or torture.

Because events are viewed subjectively, this broad trauma definition is more of a guideline. Everyone processes a traumatic event differently because we all face them through the lens of prior experiences in our lives. For example: one person might be upset and fearful after going through a hurricane, but someone else might have lost family and barely escaped from a flooded home during Hurricane Katrina. In this case, a minor Category One hurricane may bring up traumatic flashbacks of their terrifying experience.

Because trauma reactions fall across a wide spectrum, psychologists have developed categories as a way to differentiate between types of trauma. Among them are complex trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and developmental trauma disorder.

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Coping With Suicide and the Loss of a Loved One

Suicide is devastating to the ones left behind. It brings up a myriad of powerful emotions: among other things, you must deal with feelings of shock, anger, guilt, and overwhelming grief. The survivor is left wondering if they could have done something to prevent the person from taking their life. They are often furious at the deceased person for leaving them or for putting them through this heart-wrenching experience. And, the survivor must learn about the grieving process when it comes to coping with suicide so they can continue on with their own life.

*If you are grieving a loved one, please be gentle with yourself during this devastating time and know that you could not have done anything to prevent this suicide. More than ninety percent of the time, suicide happens because the person was deeply depressed or facing another form of mental illness. Depression and mental illnesses are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, which keep the person from seeing their situation clearly. In their mind, they believed there was no other way to deal with their pain.

Also, if you are facing the loss of a loved one through suicide, please know that you do not have to go through these intense emotions alone. Talk with your family, join one of the suicide support groups in your area, turn to the clergy or supportive friends, or speak with a therapist who specializes in trauma and grief counseling.

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Complex Trauma Disorder

Trauma can come in many forms. The soldier returning from active duty in a war zone, the child who lives with physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect, the first responder who must deal with human suffering on a daily basis, and the adult who endures domestic abuse all are experiencing trauma. Complex trauma occurs repeatedly and often involves direct harm to the victim. Its effects are cumulative and generally transpire in a specific setting and, frequently, within a particular time frame or within a specific relationship.

Going through trauma can make an individual experience intense feelings of guilt, as if they are somehow responsible for the event(s) that are so terrifying to them. This altered sense of shame and painful self-perception is crippling. It can make the person feel isolated and hopeless, and as if they are no longer in charge of themselves.

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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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