All Posts Tagged: south florida mental health services

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An Omicron Infection Is Not A Failure

For nearly two years, the country has tried their best to dodge the coronavirus. We have submitted to lockdowns, hidden ourselves away at home, and shunned gatherings with friends and family. When vaccines rolled out last year, many Americans lined up to get the jab. Millions more have gotten a booster and vaccinated their children as soon as they were eligible. Despite our vigilance, the Omicron variant is ripping through the country, infecting both the vaccinated and unvaccinated in record numbers. After being so careful for so long, how have we failed to stay safe?

In part, some of our distress at the high number of Omicron cases is due to a misunderstanding of what vaccines do. When they were first rolled out, both the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines reported above 90-percent efficacy rates against the virus. If you got the feeling that you were pretty much invincible after being fully vaccinated, you’re not alone. Vaccination, combined with mask-wearing and social distancing, made it seem as if we were golden.

Not so much.

Then, at the beginning of the summer of 2021, the CDC loosened mask-wearing restrictions. They told us that it was fine to gather in small groups, as long as everyone was vaccinated. We began to feel like we were climbing out of the valley and catching tiny glimmers of hope that the pandemic might be nearing an end.

But then Omicron replaced the Delta variant across much of the world, and suddenly everyone is either sick or knows several people who are.

The timing of the new variant was awful, coming right around the holidays. Many people were forced to cancel plans to see loved ones, or to travel, and all the trauma of the past two years came flooding back to us.

After all, the pandemic has been very traumatic for countless people. Anxiety, depression, loneliness, and post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) have now become part of our daily lives.

By definition, a post-traumatic stress disorder can occur when someone has “experienced, witnessed, or been confronted with a terrible event.” Although facts and figures are still emerging, mental health professionals are now recognizing that factors associated with the pandemic have given rise to what is being called “Covid PTSD.”

“We are seeing more and more traumatized people in our clinic and many express a feeling of being hopeless and disheartened now that Omicron is here,” says Andrew Rosen, Ph.D., psychologist and Clinical Director of The Center for Treatment of Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, FL. “If they catch it, they feel as if they have failed themselves and everyone around them.”

But, is catching Omicron really a “failure”?

Absolutely not. In reality, we have succeeded. What we need to do now is revise our way of thinking about the pandemic’s trajectory.

When the virus began, our arsenal was designed around “flattening the curve.” It was never intended that we could completely stop the virus. We only hoped to slow the spread so we wouldn’t overwhelm our resources and wouldn’t have more sick people than hospitals and staff could handle.

Now, we have Omicron, which Dr. Anthony Fauci says, “with its extraordinary, unprecedented degree of efficiency of transmissibility, will ultimately find just about everybody.”

Scientists have determined that Omicron has “upwards of 50 mutations in its genome, 30 of which exist in the gene encoding Spike,” according to the American Society for Microbiology. With an unprecedented rate of transmission (it replicates 70 times faster than Delta), we aren’t going to be able to outrun it or hide from it.

Instead, right now it is very important to find a calm “center” – something that can help to shield you from the stress. After all, you may not be able to change the larger picture, but you can definitely control your personal environment and work towards attaining a small measure of peace.

Making time for self-care can help you regain a sense of control, which reduces anxiety and soothes your emotions. “Above all, make sure to break away from what you fear if it is something you are focusing on too much,” says David A. Gross, MD, a psychiatrist and the Medical Director at The Center. “When we are in the grip of fear, it is sometimes hard to stop the catastrophic “what if” thoughts that come along with those emotions.”

If you are highly focused on something that is creating stress for you, that laser-focus creates more stress and anxiety. Redirecting your attention to something else can break that destructive pattern. Things that require the sensation of touch – like knitting, kneading dough, folding laundry, or exercising – are very helpful in allowing you to turn off and let go of your distressing thoughts.

“Know that it is okay to ask for help,” says Dr. Rosen. “We all have days when we feel sad, stressed, or angry, but it is best to seek help if you can’t shake those feelings after a reasonable period of time. Think of it like you would if you had a wound on your arm that won’t stop bleeding or a headache that won’t go away. You would go to a doctor for help in those cases and you should do the same for the Covid trauma that is troubling you now.”

“Remember that mental and emotional trauma create changes in brain function, which means your distress is not your fault. In many cases, you can use self-care to reduce your anxiety, but if your symptoms continue for more than two weeks or seem to be increasing, we encourage you to seek therapy.”

Dr. Rosen and Dr. Gross are co-authors of Covid Trauma, Healing From The Psychological Impact Of The Coronavirus Pandemic.

Learn To Feel Safe Again

If you are struggling with coronavirus anxiety, reach out and get the help you need. By working with a mental health professional who specializes in trauma, you can experience recovery from your PTSD relating to the pandemic. For more information, please contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 today.

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Jerome Siegmeister, MD, MaED – Consult The Expert On How Virtual Schooling Is Affecting Children

The Center’s newest clinician, Dr. Jerome Siegmeister, MD, MaED, is an expert on the psychiatric concerns of children and adolescents. A former high school teacher, he has a unique perspective on how children learn and the societal skills they can only develop through social interaction with peers. Since the pandemic, what he has seen has left him genuinely concerned.

During these last two years, parents and kids have had to adapt to shut downs and periods of online learning. While some students do just fine with virtual classes, many more are struggling – not just with learning through an online format, but with the loss of the in-person connection with classmates. “Covid has really devastated these kids,” he says. “Though some children can do well in this environment, virtual learning causes an issue for most.”

“The virtual learning modality is basically a lecture modality,” he continues – and therein lies part of the problem. “What do you and I do when listening to a lecture? If we are honest, most of us listen to it in the background while doing other things, so we miss a lot of the information.”

“Children are no different,” he says. “From a developmental standpoint, it is clearly better for kids to attend in-person schooling, but the unfortunate reality is that we need to be worried about public health, as well. In many cases, virtual learning is all we have right now, but this isn’t workable for many kids.”

Loss of knowledge isn’t the only side effect the pandemic has had on the nation’s children. “Virtual classes have their place because kids need to be learning, one way or another, but it comes at a price,” he explains. “It is very obvious that our children’s socialization has been affected and will be for a long time to come.”

“At this point, we have lost at least eighteen months of socialization,” he says. “Society pushes the idea that we need others to validate us, so kids rely on social acceptance for much of their self-worth. Covid took away much of that.”

Even older teens are being challenged by this new world. “The pandemic has been very hard for kids who are transitioning to college,” he notes. “Life is drastically different for them, especially if they are having to do their first year of college virtually. They are missing out on the social aspects that help them adjust to college life.”

He is optimistic, though. For most kids who are struggling, “it isn’t too hard to stabilize them and they can do really well,” he says. “Counseling and working one on one with kids will make things better in the majority of cases.”

When working with children, Dr. Siegmeister believes in treating the whole person. Depending on the child’s individual needs, this may mean combining two or more treatment methods, such as using cognitive behavior therapy along with medical treatments if there is an underlying psychiatric concern. He also likes to take a team approach to treatment and frequently involves parents, teachers, or college faculty, so the child can achieve the quickest resolution of their symptoms.

As unlikely as it may sound, Dr. Siegmester says there is actually a silver lining to the pandemic. “Mental health is often swept under the rug,” he says, “but depression is now pretty pervasive in both children and adults and people recognize this. In fact, many so called “sick days” happen because the person is depressed and really needs to take a mental health day. The positive outcome from covid is that people are now much more aware of anxiety and depression because they’ve experienced it themselves. This means it has become much more acceptable to seek help.”

About Jerome Siegmesiter, MD, MaED. (Child And Adolescent Psychiatry / General Psychiatry)

Jerome Siegmeister, MD, MaED, is a South Florida Native. He has worked with clients of all ages, and believes that the whole person needs to be treated. Consequently, he evaluates all aspects of the situation, from medical to situational, to determine the best initial course. He has a background in both individual and group therapies, employing supportive, behavioral, and insight oriented approaches, as appropriate to best fit his client’s needs, as well as comfort with medical treatment of any underlying conditions that might manifest psychiatrically. He has significant experience in all forms of psychiatric issues, including mood symptoms, thought disorders, anxiety, phobias, attention deficits, behavioral issues, insomnia, compulsive disorders, emotional lability, substance abuse, and trauma.

Dr. Siegmeister graduated with his Bachelor’s from Florida International University, after which he spent a number of years teaching, and obtained a Masters from the University of South Florida in Career and Technical Education/Adult Education. Upon deciding to pursue medicine, he initially completed a Post Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Certificate program at the University of Miami, and then obtained his MD from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, staying there afterwards for his specialty training in Psychiatry, followed by a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, where he served as Chief Fellow, and was awarded with a Research Distinction. After training, he has worked providing Emergency care, with additional work in inpatient settings, both in mental health and as a consultant to medical units at multiple hospitals. He is currently Board Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in both general Psychiatry, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and by the National Board of Physicians and Surgeons in Psychiatry.

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Getting to Know Anxiety Book Cover

Getting to Know Anxiety

Without a doubt, today’s world is stressful. The end result is that anxiety and mood concerns are now common worldwide and the numbers are skyrocketing.

Written by two mental health experts with nearly eight decades of patient treatment between them, Getting to Know Anxiety describes the basics of anxiety and anxiety disorders in down-to-earth language. In it, Drs. Rosen and Gross offer readers an overview of today’s challenging mental health issues and the most current treatment methods available, as well as practical strategies for mental and emotional self-care.

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Coronavirus Anxiety In The New Normal

Life during the pandemic is slowly returning to a “new normal.” Here in Florida, we’ve reopened just about everything as long as certain rules are followed and masks and social distancing is used.

While many welcome these new freedoms, some people are either wary of going out or are finding their coronavirus anxiety levels are still too high to consider it. Although the prospect of reopening is both welcomed and scary, there are ways to help reduce your anxiety.

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Facts About Obsessive Intrusive Catastrophic Thoughts

Facts About Obsessive Intrusive Catastrophic Thoughts – South Florida Mental Health Counseling

Anxiety is a normal part of life. We all feel it at some point when we have a major test, interview, meeting, or some other important occasion approaching. For people who suffer from an anxiety disorder, however, this develops into an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations to the point that it cripples the person’s lifestyle.

At the heart of most anxiety disorders are obsessive intrusive catastrophic thoughts. These are scary, intrusive thoughts and/or images that occur over and over. The more the person tries to stop them, the more they persist. Like anxiety, the average person experiences these types of thoughts at one point or another. However, for those with anxiety disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder or depression, these thoughts become paralyzing, panic-provoking, and unrelenting.

Dr. Andrew Rosen, a South Florida mental health professional notes that there are three categories of obsessive thinking and intrusive thoughts:

  • Inappropriate aggressive thoughts or violent obsessions about harming others or oneself. Like many other intrusive thoughts, this is a part of being human, but for many they can become severe or distressing to the point that a person may be afraid to perform their typical daily functions.
  • Inappropriate sexual thoughts or images regarding intimate actions with strangers, acquaintances, family, friends, religious figures, or any number of other people. These thoughts often lead to confusion, guilt, shame, or self-loathing.
  • Irreverent religious thoughts that compel a person either toward acts they consider sinful or toward obsessive religious actions. A person crippled by these thoughts might feel a disturbing fear of reciting prayers incorrectly, or be tortured by the urge to perform blasphemous acts during religious rituals.

If you or someone you know is dealing with obsessive intrusive catastrophic thoughts that have begun to obstruct their normal way of life, it’s important to seek help. Counseling for obsessive thoughts can include exposure therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. Your South Florida mental health professional may also suggest combining therapy with medication depending on your individual situation. Without treatment, a person with this level of intrusive thoughts can eventually find themselves cut-off from their friends and family. But seeking treatment can help initiate a return to normal life.

For more information about mental health therapy in South Florida or for help in dealing with obsessive intrusive catastrophic thoughts, call Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida. They can be reached by calling 561-496-1094 or by emailing Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

 

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