Mental Health Self-Assessment

Thousands of people every day wonder if their behavior or emotional state is normal or not. Unfortunately, someone can needlessly suffer for years before their actions or symptoms become out of control and psychiatric help is finally sought.

Mental Health Diagnoses

With more than 200 classified forms of mental health illness, the organization Mental Health Awareness reports that mental health disorders often share similar symptoms. When multiple diagnoses are present, it takes a skilled professional to make an accurate assessment to design an individual treatment plan for recovery.

Following are some of the numerous symptoms and problematic behaviors that indicate further mental health appraisal is in order.

  • Exhibiting frequent and dangerous sexual acting out: The issue may be psychological, emotional or trauma based and include sexting, acting as a prostitute, having sex with multiple partners or wanting an open relationship without boundaries.
  • Displaying frequent physical and/or verbal aggression: Having a “quick temper” or a “difficult personality” does not automatically point to a mental health disorder. Behaviors alerting you to a possible mental health disorder include frequently lashing out in anger at others, being abusive to others (verbal, physical, or sexual abuse), or acting in a manner that jeopardizes your job or living conditions.
  • Planning to harm yourself or commit suicide: All suicidal threats need to be addressed. Threats with a plan need immediate attention.
  • Finding yourself extremely fatigued or depressed: Many have experienced being “worn out” from a hectic work or family week, or feeling sad and depressed about their job, financial situation or relationship. A mental health evaluation may be in order if you suffer for example from chronic sleep disturbance, feel hopeless or helpless, do not care about previously enjoyed activities, have weight gain or weight loss, find yourself irritable with others for no real reason, or finding it more and more difficult just making it through the day.
  • Preoccupation with physical appearance, money or crime: Many in our society may display narcissism yet still be within “normal” ranges. Clinical narcissism on the other hand, interferes with one’s daily life routine. Examples include acting impulsively, gambling beyond your means, displaying risky sexual behaviors including infidelity, substance abuse / addiction, or being extremely vain.  It is time to make an appointment with a psychiatrist for therapeutic intervention.
  • Flashbacks or night terrors: After experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, it is not uncommon to experience flashbacks or night terrors. Flashbacks about such a traumatic event is known as Secondary Trauma which can often be just as upsetting as or more so than the original event.
  • Frequent mood changes: Those that suffer from emotional lability, changing moods, engaging in risky behaviors without restriction, and having intense emotional reactions to normal everyday situations would find receiving the correct mental health diagnosis or the more common dual or combination mental health diagnoses and treatment life changing.

With the multitude of disorders and mental health illness where symptoms may be identical or overlap, a mental health evaluation by a specialist in the field will find the correct diagnosis so that proper treatment can be started.  Call the office for an appointment today.

Sleep Problems and Psych Disorders: The Relationship

Research has found that sleep problems which used to be viewed as a symptom of mental health disruption may actually be a contributing factor for psychiatric disorders. Studies at Harvard Medical School confirm that sleep problems affect between 10% to 18% of adults in the general U.S. population; the percentage of adult patients seen in psychiatric practices with chronic sleep issues jumps to 80%.

Sleep Problems Point to Increased Risk for Psychiatric Disorders

Patients with a diagnosis of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and ADHD commonly report being plagued with sleep problems. While sleep dysfunction was once viewed as a symptom, clinical data supports the hypothesis that adult sleep problems raise the risk for developing a psychiatric disorder. In long term studies it was found that adults who reported a history of insomnia were four times as likely to develop major depression on re-evaluation three years later, indicating the sleep disruptions developed before the mental health disorder.

Sleep Problems versus use of Antipsychotics

Sleep issues and insomnia began to be more closely looked at in the 1970’s. The sleep problems were thought to be directly tied to use of antipsychotics at the time; however, data indicates a long history of sleep disturbance complaints long before use of antipsychotics began. Today it is more widely believed that chronic sleep problems puts one more at risk for the development of psychiatric issues and that treating the sleep disorder can actually assist in alleviating symptoms of a co-occurring mental health problem.

Sleep Disorders in Psychiatric Patients

Of the more than 70 types of sleep disorders the most common problems are insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, unpleasant sleep movement syndromes and narcolepsy. The University of Brazil Medical School reports the type and impact of the sleep problems vary by the psychiatric diagnosis with examples noted below:

  • Up to 90% of adults with major depression experience a sleep problem
  • One-in-five adults with depression suffer from obstructive sleep apnea
  • Depressed adults with insomnia less likely to respond to treatment, at a higher risk for relapse and are more likely to die by suicide
  • Up to 99% of adults with bipolar disorder experience insomnia or restless sleep
  • In adults with bipolar depression up to 78% sleep in excessive amounts
  • More than 50% of adults with anxiety disorders have dysfunctional sleep patterns
  • Sleep problems precede anxiety disorders 27% of the time
  • Sleep dysfunction precedes depression 69% of the time
  • 68% of adults with PTSD report sleeping problems
  • Long term studies indicate that insomnia or other sleep disruptions worsen before a manic episode or bipolar depression

Sleep and mental health are interconnected though not yet completely understood. Neurochemistry studies do indicate that having a good night’s sleep promotes a healthier outlook, while chronic sleep problems can set up an arena for negative thought processes and emotional vulnerability. Call the office for a comprehensive evaluation with Dr. Hege who will work with you to get your sleep patterns and mental health issues back into functional ranges.

Stop Nicotine Addiction with Psychiatric Help

Smoking or chewing tobacco can quickly become a nicotine addiction where outside help is often sought in order to successfully quit the habit. While hundreds of thousands try to stop their nicotine addiction “cold turkey,” by using nicotine patches, gum, or through use of relaxation and bio-feedback techniques, almost 30 million nicotine addicts a year find themselves making unsuccessful attempt after attempt to break their nicotine addiction.

Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms Sabotage Success

More than half of those trying to break their nicotine addiction exhibit at least four of the following symptoms noted below. Having multiple symptoms sabotage success by “attacking” both physiological and psychological components that together work to turn those nicotine cravings into another failed attempt to end the addiction.

  • Depression, loss of motivation and energy
  • Increased appetite, feeling like you “need” to eat
  • Weight gain and the fear of gaining weight
  • Insomnia, tossing and turning in bed, night sweats
  • Feeling drowsy and sleepy with decreased concentration or focus
  • Feeling irritable, angry, or agitated with no apparent reason
  • Feeling anxious, stressed, or like you would like to “crawl out of your skin”
  • Headaches that may stay with you for hours on end
  • An intense craving for nicotine where you must satisfy the urges

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as the last cigarette is put out – prescription medication in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy or other adjunct therapy has proven the most successful in stopping nicotine addiction.

Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms Manageable with Medications

Medications prescribed may include Chantix, Zyban, Wellbutrin or buproprion. Your psychiatrist may also add over-the-counter products to your regime such as nicotine patches, inhalers, gum, or nicotine nasal spray. Treating the whole person and their unique needs make for a successful outcome in ending nicotine addiction.

Chantix New Nicotine Addiction Medication

Chantix is a relatively new medication for nicotine addiction. Chantix studies indicate that the 3 month abstinence rates are almost 50% compared to other medications that have 30% success in nicotine abstinence. Looking at abstinence rates at 1 year shows Chantix at 23% and other medication falling far below at 14-16%.

Stopping nicotine addiction is hard. Working with an experienced nicotine addiction psychiatrist gives you the best opportunity for success and freedom.  Call the office today.

Nicotine Addiction Harder for Women to Break

Male smokers account for significantly higher numbers than female smokers, with the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting worldwide numbers that show men smoke about 5 times as much as women. In the U.S., with an estimated 47 million smokers, 24% of men smoke compared to 18% of women. The numbers for nicotine addiction in Georgia run slightly lower with 23% of male smokers versus 15% of women smokers.

Men vs. Women on Nicotine Addiction

Research has shown more men have a nicotine addiction than women. Data also shows that women make fewer attempts to quit smoking, quit for shorter periods of time for each attempt, and smoke for a longer period of time over their lifetime than men. Males with a nicotine addiction report an easier time than females when trying to “kick the habit.”

Hormonal Fluctuations Often Keep Women Smoking

The Psychiatry Journal published a new study from the University of Montreal detailing the impact the menstrual cycle has on the strength of nicotine cravings. Adding in the symptoms that accompany the menstrual cycle results in frequent lengthy times when the decision to quit smoking is at battle with the incontrollable urge to smoke.

The university’s data indicates that the urge to smoke is strongest for a period of time after the monthly menses; additionally decreases in both estrogen and progesterone during a woman’s cycle significantly deepen any withdrawal symptoms at the same time those with a nicotine addiction crave a “smoke.”

Five Top Reasons Women Have Harder Time Ending Nicotine Addiction

  • Stress and anxiety are the top relapse triggers for women
  • Women tend to experience more severe withdrawal symptoms than men
  • Smoking cessation products (nicotine gum, nicotine patches, etc) more effective in men due to gender differences in how nicotine affects the brain; females are typically less responsive to products to help end nicotine addiction
  • Weight gain is a frequent reason women start smoking again
  • Fluctuating hormones that occur monthly during the menstrual cycle often de-rail attempts at quitting

An experienced and well-practiced psychiatrist will consider the different effectiveness of treatment unique to women when designing the overall medication and treatment plan to successfully achieve smoking cessation.

Dr. Darvin Hege is the local psychiatrist of choice for your nicotine addiction and smoking cessation. Medication and adjunct therapies may be part of your recovery from nicotine addiction. Let a doctor design a treatment plan that meets your unique needs. Dr. Hege’s office is located in Atlanta in the Sandy Springs/Dunwoody area, and he provides convenient appointment times for patients who need flexible hours.

Prescription and OTC Drug Addiction

Prescription drug addiction affects more than 15 million people in the U.S. The numbers of adult abuse of prescription drugs now far exceeds all of those that abuse cocaine, inhalants, heroin and hallucinogens combined.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 48 million have used prescription medication for non-medical purposes at some point in their lifetime; this number indicates that around 20% of the U.S. population have abused at least one of their prescription drugs.

Prescription Drugs and OTC Medications Commonly Abused

In recent years WebMD reports that studies of the reasons for doctor or ER visits show a dramatic increase in the abuse of prescription and OTC (over-the-counter) medications. Addiction drug treatment programs show just as sharp an increase in drug addiction admissions. The drugs most commonly abused are:

  • Opioid Pain Relievers such as Vicodin, Opana, or OxyContin, codeine, morphine
  • Stimulants used for ADHD such as Adderall, Concerta, or Ritalin
  • Depressants for relieving anxiety or sleep disorders such as Valium, Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin

The OTC drugs that are most commonly abused are:

  • Cough and cold OTC remedies that contain dextromethorphan

What is Prescription Drug Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic brain disease that typically has numerous periods of relapse into abuse. Abusing drugs, including prescription medication leads to actual changes in the function and structure of the adult brain.

Following the dosage and frequency of a prescription may become more and more difficult to follow, affecting self control and the ability to make good sound decisions. Visits to the ER or to multiple doctors for more medications is abuse and the intense impulses to take more drugs become more and more frequent.

There is Help for Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription and OTC medications are very effective when they are taken as ordered. Long term pain relief medication use however, such as with an opioid, can lead to drug abuse with both physical dependence and addiction. Professional help is crucial for a sound recovery.

An experienced psychiatrist and other medical professionals can help change the direction your prescription drug use is heading. Call the office for an appointment.

Dangers of Psychiatric Self-Diagnosis

Proper psychiatric diagnosis requires expert clinical knowledge, extensive training and a foundation from years of experience working in the field. In addition, a comprehensive understanding of psychological disorders and how they are related to one another can make a critical difference in choosing which treatment plan will be the most effective and successful.

Self-Diagnosis Delays and Prevents Correct Treatment

Psychology Today reports that with the ease of being able to “Google” anything today, hundreds of thousands of people self-diagnose reaching their own conclusions about what may or may not be “wrong.” Unfortunately self-diagnosis is often incorrect, delaying and often preventing proper treatment. For example, almost 70% of people who report anxiety as their main concern also have depression – with self-diagnosis, a second or even third disorder which needs to be treated can be completely overlooked.

Medical Problems Missed in Psychiatric Self-Diagnosis

While there is always a danger with the process of self-diagnosis of a psychological syndrome, one of the greatest dangers is that a serious medical disease may be missed. It is not uncommon for a medical problem to masquerade as a psychiatric syndrome, such as those that present with changes to their personality, depression, or psychotic behaviors – treating symptoms with over the counter medications from self-diagnosis would not be the proper treatment when the correct diagnosis may be a serious neurological, cardiac, or endocrine problem.

Common Dangers of Psychiatric Self-Diagnosis

When self-diagnosis is wrong then proper care and treatment can be delayed or the wrong treatment can be instituted which can negatively affect any hoped for outcomes. Receiving a proper diagnosis takes a well experienced psychiatrist or mental health professional to not only determine what the problem is, but to sort through what the problem is not. Some common dangers of psychiatric self-diagnosis include:

  • Missing the nuances a proper diagnosis demands – those with mood swings for example may self-diagnose manic-depression or bipolar disorder when they may have a borderline personality disorder with major depression, other complicating factors or different combinations of diagnoses altogether
  • Misdirecting the mental health professional with complaints related to self-diagnosis
  • Providing self-treatment based on an incorrect decision
  • Denial or inability to correctly interpret symptoms and behaviors displayed that disrupt one’s life
  • Many personality disorders are not openly reported as they are a problem to others, not one’s self

Self-Diagnosis versus Clinical Diagnosis

Self-diagnosis can have life-impacting consequences on one’s life. Discussing symptoms and noted behaviors with a clinical specialist is imperative to starting the treatment strategy that fits and is successful. If symptoms or behaviors are causing distress in your home, work or social situations, seek out a professional. There’s no issue with educating yourself about symptoms; however, leave the diagnosis to an experienced psychiatrist. Please call the office to set up an appointment and make sure you get the right diagnosis.

Addiction Relapse Rates 60%: Treatment Vital

In a recent study on addiction relapse by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, it was found that illicit drug use is now at its highest level in the U.S. One reason for the escalating rate of drug abuse are those with a prior drug addiction who now present with an addiction relapse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse makes note there is a 40% to 60% addiction relapse rate.

Statistics of Addiction Relapse

Addiction affects everyone, from family and friends, work buddies, employers, and even affects the community cost of caring for those with addiction from the local to state level. There are more than 2.1 million U.S. ER visits a year directly related to drug abuse. Addiction to prescribed medications is at 27.1% of the ER visits or well over 1/2 million people, and it actually has higher rates of occurrence than the 21.2% related to illicit drug use, which is still more than 425,000 people.

Long Term Addiction Relapse Data

Addiction and substance abuse is typically viewed as “addiction relapse prone.” While the rates of relapse may seem overwhelming, receiving vital mental health treatment from an experienced practitioner has significant impact on the rate of relapse, making recovery possible.

Long term study data has found that among drug abusers (prescribed and illicit) 27% died within a 20 year period, and only 27% still remained in recovery. Proper treatment is critical not only for recovery; continuing treatment is vital for long term health and to protect against the pull of addiction relapse.

Quality of Life Parameters versus Addiction Relapse

Achieving recovery and avoiding addiction relapse does reap the rewards of leading a functional life that can be measured in strength of relationships and friendships, mental health status, gainful employment and optimal physical health. Recovery with proper addiction relapse therapy can and does work to bring you into a fuller, positive life.

Atlanta Addiction Specialist

Dr. Hege has decades of experience working in Atlanta with addiction concerns. His successful treatment regime may include medication, detox, individual treatment, outpatient recovery, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or any number of adjunct therapies to meet your individual needs. Call the office and get back on the road to recovery and a functional satisfying life.

The Many Faces of Mental Illness

Mental illness may affect someone as close to you as your next door neighbor, or mental illness may be a reality you or a family member will come to face. If you’ve been struggling but have never sought treatment for a mental health issue before, it’s common that over time the ability to cope with ordinary life demands may reach a point that help is finally sought.

Mental Illness Surrounds All of Us

Twenty-five percent of adults experience mental illness in any given year; the percentage takes on an even more personal importance when saying one out of every four adults suffer with some form of mental illness. One-out-of-four brings the issue home. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports one-out-of-four means that over 60 million adults in the U.S. who may have difficulty coping with life, and many who may be living life unfulfilled who could be on the road to positive change working with a practiced mental health professional.

Symptoms of Mental Illness

The Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health indicates that having a mental illness does not mean an emotional reaction to an event or situation – it is normal to experience feelings, for example, of sadness, loss, anger, fear, agitation or panic related to a real-life occurrence. With the wide variety of diagnosed mental disorders, the combination of different symptoms needs to persist over time and dramatically impact one’s life roles, social and family relationships, work history, behavior, or even the ability to perform basic self-care and hygiene.

Stigma of Mental Illness

With one-out-of-four experiencing mental illness and one-out-of-17 living with a serious mental illness like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression, one would think the awareness and willingness to seek help would be commonplace. Typically however, people wait a long time to seek help, if they ask for help at all.  The person may know something is wrong, or that they are “different,” yet they fight through life struggling to get by.

Reality of Mental Illness

Anyone of any age, religion, race, or socio-economic background can have a mental illness. Being diagnosed with a mental illness does not mean that you are a weak person, or that if you really wanted you could “get over it.”  The reality is that you can recover with treatment. Stop waiting to make the decision to get help; your life is waiting to begin anew.

Atlanta Mental Illness Psychiatrist

Dr. Darvin Hege is a psychiatrist in Atlanta. Call to set up an appointment and make a change for the better.

Dual Diagnosis Brings Complex Challenges

The U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that almost 8 million adults have both a mental illness and a co-occurring substance abuse problem. This “Dual Diagnosis” describes a complex relationship where those with mental health issues also have a problem with substance abuse, and likewise, those with a substance abuse problem who also have a psychiatric disorder. Dual diagnosis requires a mental health practitioner experienced in the complex and often complicated treatment strategy.

Confusing Symptoms with Dual or Co-Occurring Disorders

It can be difficult to diagnose a psychiatric illness in those who are substance abusers because it is common for drug abusers to exhibit psychiatric symptoms. The National Alliance of Mental Illness reports that psychiatric disorders induced by substance abuse can continue to impact a person’s life long after the drug or alcohol abuse has been curtailed.

Substance abuse can trigger panic attacks, depression, severe anxiety, delusional thoughts, personality disorder, and even psychotic behavior, all of which may continue to plague a person long after detoxification. Proper dual diagnosis is critical in establishing a successful treatment plan.

Dual Diagnosis Requires Specific Treatment Planning

Dual diagnosis needs a specially designed treatment plan, as dual disorders also come with an increased severity of medical, social and emotional issues. Dual disorders alone increases the chance of relapse as well as the psychiatric disorder becoming more pronounced in daily life functions. In addition, those with a dual diagnosis generally require a longer period of treatment with more gradual evidence of progress seen over time.

Complex Challenges of Dual Diagnosis

Dual diagnosis typically come with an increased rate of relapse, hospitalization, and homelessness, not to mention an increased chance of developing HIV or Hepatitis C infections due to risk-taking behaviors. The combinations of mental health disorders and forms of substance abuse that can be diagnosed show great variability, and thus each person with a co-occurring diagnosis does need their complex treatment plan uniquely constructed.

Severity of Disorders Change Over Time

Being followed and managed by a competent dual diagnosis psychiatrist is a priority for treatment plan success. Either diagnosis, whether of a mental illness disorder or substance abuse, may be evaluated as one or the other being severe or mild, or both severe — or by the degree of impairment they bring to daily life functions. The severity levels and impact change over time with the treatment plan modified to properly meet changing needs as they occur.

Atlanta Dual Diagnosis Psychiatrist

Dr. Darvin Hege is the Atlanta dual diagnosis psychiatrist of choice and expert in the field. Call the office for an appointment to start getting your life back under control.

Time for Spring Mental Health Checkups

Spring is the time of year where spring cleaning and spring checkups are the norm. It can also be a great time to have a mental health checkup and address any concerns about changes in behavior or personality. Psych Central reports on the study by a United Kingdom neuroscientist indicate that one out of four adults suffer from a mental disorder at some point during the year. In addition, in the U.S., Canada, and the UK, mental disorders are the leading cause of disability with depression and anxiety diagnoses occurring most often.

Early Detection with Spring Mental Health Checkups

Psychological well-being is often taken for granted. When a mental illness or disorder begins to impact your work, social or home life, it is an important time to seek mental health evaluation and guidance. Early detection, discovered during a mental health checkup for example, provides for early treatment through a combination of a pharmacological plan and cognitive behavioral therapy. The idea of a spring mental health checkup along with increased education of the public may improve not only the ability to recognize early mental health problems, but may result in early detection and intervention.

10 Most Common Mental Health Disorders reports spring mental health checkups given by qualified mental health disorder psychiatrists may provide early detection of a mental health illness. Early detection and treatment through an experienced practitioner can put your disruptive behaviors or fears into check and allow you to get back to enjoying life once again. The 10 most common mental health disorders in the U.S. are:

  1. Mood Disorders
  2. Personality Disorders
  3. Eating Disorders
  4. ADHD
  5. Phobias/Fear
  6. Anxiety Disorder
  7. Panic Attacks
  8. Bi-Polar
  9. Schizophrenia
  10. Autism Spectrum Disorders

Spring Mental Health Checkups in Atlanta

If new, old or changing behaviors, personality or mental health have started to concern you or your family, it may be time to have a spring mental health checkup.

Call Dr. Darvin Hege to schedule a checkup today.