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Mental Illness Affects 1 in 4 Americans

According to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, the number of Americans experiencing at least one episode of mental illness over the past year continues to rise, up to 46%. The National Institute of Mental Health published a statement that 25% of North Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental condition. Along with a rise of those with a mental health disorder is a documented increase, of up to a third, in the number receiving treatment.

Global Mental Health Conditions

The most common mental health disorders which are diagnosed globally include anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, depression, ADD/ADHD spectrum, bipolar disorder, insomnia, and schizophrenia. Recent studies show that mental disorders and substance abuse are the leading cause of non-fatal illness worldwide.

Mental Illness Criteria

Looking at the criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), research of the National Institute of Mental Health found that 46% of adults were found to have at least one mental illness within the categories of anxiety disorders, mood disorders, impulse-control disorders, and substance use disorders. While the percentage indicates those with at least one disorder, most met the criteria for more than one diagnosis.

Common Mental Illness Categories

The mental illness categories reviewed fall into four broad groupings, with American adults having at least one, if not more, mental health disorder within one of these four categories at some point in their lives.

  • Anxiety Disorders including all types of anxiety, phobia, PTSD
  • Mood Disorders which include major depression and bipolar disorders
  • Impulse-Control Disorders which include various behavioral issues, ADHD
  • Substance Use Disorders including alcohol and drug abuse

Mental Illness Diagnosis and Treatment

Receiving an accurate diagnosis and treatment for your mental illness can change your daily struggles into living your life with a positive outlook and plan. Call Dr. Hege for a convenient appointment that meets your busy life schedule.

Bipolar Depression Tough to Diagnose

Bipolar depression is often difficult to diagnose with some cases taking up to a decade of frustration before an accurate diagnosis is made. Without the correct diagnosis effective treatment cannot be accomplished. Research studies suggest that up to 50% of those with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed with unipolar instead of bipolar depression.

Bipolar Depression is Different Kind of Depression

Bipolar depression is the depressive phase of a mental health disorder called bipolar disorder, referring to the lows or depressive phase of the disorder. Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness where extreme mood swings occur from mania, or “highs,” to depression, or “lows.” The treatment options are different for the different types of depression, with proper diagnosis a critical component for successful management.

Bipolar Depression Disrupting Phase

The depressive phase of bipolar disorder is often more debilitating and disruptive than the mania phase as it typically lasts longer and occurs more frequently. In a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, those with Bipolar I report depression 3 times as often as mania, and for those diagnosed with Bipolar II, the low phase occurs 40 times as often.

Depression Episodes Dominate Function

While many may feel the general instability of the disorder has the greatest impact on daily functioning, it is the depressive episodes that often disrupt one’s life. Depression dominates the functional ability to work, actively participate in family and social groups, and it contributes to a significant decrease in motivation, desire, self-worth, and self-esteem.

Symptoms of Bipolar Depression

You may experience some or all of the following symptoms. A comprehensive psychiatric evaluation is in order if you have any of the following symptoms and are having difficulty with daily functioning.

  • Feeling sad, worried, or empty inside
  • Having little to no energy as a common occurrence
  • Feeling like you do not enjoy anything
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Difficulty with memory, focus, attention
  • Wanting to stay in bed
  • Difficulty with making decisions
  • Thoughts of suicide or death
  • Be full of energy but feel very sad
  • Feel “down” for at least 2 weeks at a time

Bipolar Depression Evaluation and Treatment

Stop the daily struggle and frustration. Correct treatment depends on an accurate diagnosis. Call Dr. Hege, Atlanta’s bipolar depression psychiatrist who has the experience and expertise you need for treatment.

Mobile Mental Health Apps Can Be Risky

Digital health smartphone apps have shown unprecedented growth in the medical field along with the development of mHealth (mobile health) technology. Psychiatry and mental health services are enjoying the potential of mHealth technology with Mobile mental health apps that put personal health information into easily accessible smartphones, smart watches, and personal health monitoring sensors.

Mobile Mental Health Apps Risk

With the explosion of smart apps that can be found and downloaded from the App Store or Google Play for example, come the question of the usefulness and risk of these mobile mental health apps. The majority of apps for mental health have been developed without research, lack of scientific evidence that shows proof of effectiveness, or may have poor protection of your personal data.

Mobile Mental Health Apps Evaluation

Digital health technology is still fairly new; however, the American Psychiatric Association has taken a proactive step by developing an App Evaluation Model to help guide clinicians and patients in the quality of a mobile mental health app or mHealth tool being considered.

Five Steps in App Evaluation Model

The APA’s App Evaluation Model has five steps where each step is a foundation for the next level. It is important to evaluate each app to make an informed decision before “trying it out.” Apps that make it through the fourth and fifth step are worth your consideration and review by you and your therapist for functional use in your treatment program.

Five Steps of Review in App Evaluation Model

  1. Background Information: Is there a fee for the app or is it free? If free how does it support its development? Who is the developer? Is there advertising within the app? What platforms does it work with? When it was last updated and what were the updates (security, glitches, added services, etc.)? Are there in-app purchases or upgrades?
  2. Risk, Security, and Privacy: Is there a privacy policy? What data is being collected? Is personal data de-identified? Can you opt-out of data collection? Are cookies placed on your device? What data is shared? Who is it shared with? Can your information be sold to third parties? Is data kept on the device or uploaded to the web or cloud? What are the security measures? Is data encrypted? Is the app HIPAA compliant?
  3. Evidence: If your app review has proven acceptable for the first two levels, then it is time to evaluate evidence for potential benefits. What does the app claim to do versus what it actually will do? Are there any peer reviews or published evidence about the tool or science behind the app? Is there any feedback from users available? Does the app appear to be of value for your needs?
  4. Ease of Use: Is it easy to access? Can it be used on a long-term basis? Can you customize the features? Do you need an active internet connection to use? Does it work on the platforms that you have? Is it appealing and simple to use? Apps that are difficult to understand or manage will most likely fail to be used.
  5. Interoperability: Can it work with other electronic tools and devices? Can you export or print the data from the app? Can you upload the data to an electronic health record that your psychiatrist or medical professional can use?

mHealth Psychiatric Treatment

Dr. Hege is a leader in offering convenient options such as video psychiatry, evening or weekend treatment scheduling, and use of new technology in providing the best psychiatric treatment available to you. Call the office today for a comprehensive evaluation of your needs. You may qualify for video sessions, so if that interests you please be sure to ask about it.

Video Psychiatry Brings Sessions to You

The world today is fast paced, with often hectic and stressful schedules. Use of technology with smart phones, Wi-Fi tablets, Skype, and interactive video conferencing have transformed the way we live our lives and impact on how we connect personally, socially and professionally with others. The American Journal of Psychiatry reports Video Psychiatry, also called Tele-psychiatry, has become an accepted option in this high-tech world we live in. It may be a good option for you!

Ease of Access for Video Psychiatry

The availability to access video psychiatry sessions is more than a convenience and viable option to receiving needed mental health services – live video psychiatry sessions bring mental health services to those who are unable to travel due to medical, physical or emotional limitations, to those who are out of town, who have family or work obligations that make it difficult to schedule a workable time to come into the office.

Technology and Security of Video Sessions

Video psychiatric sessions can be set up from anywhere there is a Wi-Fi connection. Smart phones, laptops and computers can all be utilized for a session. The application used during set up of your session is secure and meets the federal government HIPAA requirements keeping your medical and personal privacy information safe.

Starting Video Mental Health Sessions

Dr. Hege, a leader in expanding his psychiatric practice to meet the needs and lifestyles of his patients, offers video psychiatric sessions. To receive this therapy option the doctor does require an initial in-office evaluation to determine what treatment plan will be most effective for you. While video sessions may be able to be arranged to begin by the second visit, some medical or psychological issues may require additional in-office visits — or may not be eligible. Be sure to ask about video sessions if this is something that interests you.

Georgia Video Psychiatry Appointments

Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment and evaluation of your needs. Weekend and evening appointments available. See if video psychiatry sessions are the right fit for you and your lifestyle.

Myth and Misconception Behind Psychiatric Sessions

Many people who have never seen a psychiatrist or mental health professional often have misguided perceptions or believe a myth about what to expect. If your idea of what goes on in a psychiatrist’s office comes from what you have seen on soap operas or in the movies you may have a set of expectations that could actually limit the ability of the therapist to do their best for you.

Pre-Appointment Mind Set

While it is important to make that appointment for help with any emotional, psychological or behavioral issues you or a loved one may be having, it is equally important to have an accurate idea of what to expect during your psychiatric session times. Having accurate perceptions in place will allow you to get the most out of each session and facilitate an active one-on-one working relationship where your therapist can develop and implement a successful individualized plan of treatment.

Common Myths about Therapy

Understanding what reality versus a myth is can let you take full benefit from your mental health services. Some of the most common misconceptions are:

  • “Therapy is supposed to make me happy.” While you may feel that you are happier with life and more comfortable overall, the intent of therapy is to assist you in becoming fully functional and connected with family, friends, work situations, school.
  • “I want to be cured in one session.” The entire process of therapy takes time with no quick fixes. Each person is unique with their own needs, perceptions, and motivation for change. The therapist needs to develop an individualized plan, making changes as progress evolves. Many people have more than one issue or concern which may require a higher level of coordination of services, or use of more than one type of medication.
  • “I want to be told what I need to do.” Many people go into a therapy session expecting to be told what to do to change their life or solve their problems. While a mental health professional will explore options, outcomes, or may refer for adjunct or group services, a therapist will guide rather than tell you what you need to do.
  • “Talking to friends and family is just as good as seeing a psychiatrist.” Having a good support base is important when you are going through a rough time, but mental health professionals have the training and experience to understand and treat basic to complex problems. A therapeutic relationship is also confidential, where you can feel free to discuss things you have never been able to talk about before.
  • “Only people that are crazy go see a psychiatrist.” Life is often stressful and full of challenging events and changes. In today’s world, getting help for psychological or behavioral issues is seen as part of keeping oneself healthy in both mind and body.
  • “If I try harder I should be able to get better on my own.” Sometimes people struggle for months and years before seeing psychological help. A medical, biological or behavioral component to some disorders require more than just trying harder to get better.

Having the courage to know you need professional assistance and seek out a psychiatrist to help you lead a full functional life is a sign of strength. Take the first step toward feeling better and making a positive change in your life – call the office for an appointment.

Mental Health: Do You Have a Common Disorder?

There are many different mental health disorders and conditions that can be diagnosed and successfully treated by qualified mental health professionals. It may be found during a comprehensive evaluation that a person may have a primary disorder or illness with other psychiatric disorders present that require treatment as well.

Qualified Mental Health Evaluation Critical

Diagnosis of multiple mental illness in a person is not uncommon. In addition some mental illness disorders have components of others in them. Some examples: someone with PTSD who also presents with a depression component or a person who may be diagnosed with depression but who also has suicidal tendencies. Working with an experienced psychiatrist provides you with the skills needed to determine your individual issues and needs.

Common Mental Illness Diagnoses

The more common types of mental illness or mental disorders follow.

  • Anxiety Disorders: An anxiety disorder is typically diagnosed when a person’s response is not appropriate to the event or situation — if a person cannot control the response, or if the anxiety is interfering with normal daily life. Anxiety disorders usually come with feelings of fear and dread, physical signs of panic such as sweating and rapid heartbeat. Anxiety disorders do include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and other specific phobias.
  • Mood Disorders: These disorders involve chronic long lasting feelings of sadness, periods of feeling overly happy, or feelings that fluctuate from extreme happiness to extreme sadness. This category includes the most common mood disorders of bipolar disorder, depression and cyclothymic disorder (low and high mood swings not as severe as those seen in bipolar disorder). 
  • Impulse Control and Addiction Disorders: With a diagnosis or diagnoses of this type of mental illness comes the inability to resist urges or impulses as well as performing acts that may to harmful to themselves or others. Some examples of impulse control and addiction disorders are compulsive gambling, alcohol and drug addiction, pyromania or kleptomania. It is not uncommon for the person to become so involved with their addiction that they start to ignore their work, home and social responsibilities and relationships.
  • Personality Disorders: Those people with personality disorders generally have extreme and inflexible personality traits that cause distress and problems not only to the person with this mental health illness, but also cause disruption at work, school or in social relationships. With personality disorders the pattern of thinking and behavior are often so rigid that they interfere with normal daily living skills. Some examples of this disorder are antisocial personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and paranoid personality disorder.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): This mental illness usually develops after a traumatic or terrifying event. People who are diagnosed with PTSD typically have lasting and frightening thoughts and memories of the event and often find themselves emotionally numb.

Expert Mental Illness Help Available

If you see yourself in one or more of the multiple descriptions above and are having difficulty with daily life functioning it may be time to take a proactive step; call for an appointment with a qualified mental health psychiatrist for evaluation.

Bipolar Premenstrual Mood Exacerbation Linked

After multiple research studies it has been determined that premenstrual mood exacerbation may be a clinical marker in predicting the display of severe bipolar symptoms in women of reproductive age. The American Journal of Psychiatry reports that women who have both bipolar disorder and experience premenstrual mood exacerbation, PME, tend to have a worse course of illness, a shorter time in which relapse occurs and increased severity of symptoms than women who do not report PME.

Mood Exacerbation

Women with premenstrual exacerbation and bipolar disorder typically had more severe depressive and mood elevation symptoms over the course of a year with women reporting a greater symptom burden.  Women with PME and a bipolar diagnosis also exhibited more depressive mood episodes overall than women without reported PME. Study data showed that although there were considerably more depressive mood episodes with PME, women did not exhibit more episodes of mania or hypomania when compared to those women who did not suffer from premenstrual exacerbation.

Bipolar Relapse Time

For women with bipolar disorder and PME the median time to relapse was 4.5 months compared to 8.5 months who were diagnosed with bipolar disorder but who did not suffer from PME. This is a significant finding that indicates mental health professionals working with women need to track their menstrual cycle as well as the appearance and severity of premenstrual exacerbation in order to provide optimum care and treatment before, during and after the menstrual cycle. PME points to a more severe course of bipolar disorder suggesting further evaluation and the need for an adjustable treatment plan.

Complications to Treatment Plan

The Department of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital report that hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle and menopause can complicate the treatment and course of disease. It is possible for hormonal changes to impact mood as well as impact the way mood stabilizing medications used in treatment of bipolar disease work.  Working with a psychiatrist who understands PME and its relationship with bipolar disorder is necessary for consistent treatment and management of the disorder. Call Dr. Darvin Hege for a confidential appointment today.

College Transitions with Mental Health Disorders

College students with psychiatric disabilities are entitled to reasonable academic accommodations as provided by the American Disabilities Act of 1990 and 2008 amendments. The University of Washington through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education reports that tens of thousands of adult students report having a mental illness. Students with mental illness may experience symptoms that interfere with their educational goals and create a “psychiatric disability.”

Mental Health Intervention for College Transitions

Without mental health intervention, proper medication if prescribed as part of the treatment plan, or adjunct services, college students with mental health issues may experience severe disturbances in thinking, emotions or functional life skills. These disturbances may bring a diminished capacity to cope with the demands and stress of college life, which include a time of significant transition, a new lifestyle, friends, an alternate way of thinking, and exposure to new cultures along with the pressure of academic rigor and expectations.

College Transitions and Substance Abuse

Academic demands, new peer pressures, and poor ability to adapt and cope to the new environment of a college campus may result in students struggling with mental health or psychiatric disorders. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse report 45% of college students binge drink and almost 21% abuse prescription or illegal drugs, often due to the students’ struggle to feel adequate and cope with their new life situations. Partnering with a qualified college transition psychiatrist can help steer the college student toward positive management of both their psychological issues and academic success.

Symptoms of College Psychiatric Disability

Some of the most common symptoms exhibited by adult students with developing psychiatric disabilities include:

  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Exhibiting increased anxiety, fear, suspicion, or blaming of others
  • Confused or disorganized thinking
  • Denial of obvious problems and resistive to offers of help
  • Displays of extreme highs or lows in mood
  • Marked personality changes over time
  • Talking about or thinking about suicide

College Transition Psychiatrist

Developing a strategy and treatment plan, as well as stabilizing any psychiatric issues, can help to minimize psychological and mental health issues that would otherwise prevent a successful first college experience. Call the office for a confidential appointment.

Cold Medicine vs. Bipolar Drug Interaction

Over-the-counter cold medications are a common purchase throughout the year when your stuffy nose, post-nasal drip or scratchy throat affect not only sleeping, but the ability to work and interact with others. Since they are over-the-counter, many do not give any consideration to a possible drug interaction with prescription medications, nor do they ask their pharmacist or doctor about any possible drug interactions.

Drug Interactions a Common Concern

Drug interactions happen all the time. For those diagnosed with bipolar disorder, taking over-the-counter medications can become complicated and require a psychiatrist or experienced mental health professional to manage possible drug reactions. Those with bipolar disorder often are prescribed more than one medication to treat the disorder – multiple medications increase the chance of drug interactions, even with something as common as an over-the-counter cold medication.

Interactions: Over-the-Counter Meds with Rx Drugs

Doctors check for potential bipolar medication interactions between with other prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, certain foods, vitamins or herbal supplements. If there is a drug interaction warning, your doctor will make the decision as to whether or not the medicine is safe for you to take.

Drug Interactions with Bipolar Medication

Some types of over-the-counter drugs that interact with bipolar disorder medications are:

  • Cold or flu medications containing antihistamines, decongestants and expectorants
  • Sleep aids
  • Diuretics
  • Antacids
  • NSAID pain relievers like Advil, Motrin or Aleve

drug interaction can also occur between multiple prescription meds used to treat bipolar disorder. Working with a specialized bipolar psychiatrist is important to achieve the optimal medication dosages even when you are ill.

Medication Interaction Psychiatrist

Drug interaction psychiatrist Dr. Hege can review your list of prescriptions and recommend safe treatments for your cold or flu. Stopping your prescribed medications can induce withdrawal effect that end up making your common cold much worse. Call the office for an appointment that fits your schedule.

ADHD or Something Else?

ADHD diagnosis can be difficult especially when the signs and symptoms are not easily distinguished from other mental health disorders. ADHD can appear to be depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. A variety of medical and psychiatric disorders can also mimic symptoms of ADHD. Without an accurate diagnosis you may be prescribed medication that not only does not help alleviate symptoms but may worsen the medical mental-health connections.

ADHD Diagnosis

Adult ADHD is typically diagnosed following a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation that considers childhood symptoms, medical history, personal history, and whether there is a history of substance or alcohol abuse. Receiving an accurate careful diagnosis from an experienced ADHD doctor or mental health practitioner is the right start to a successful treatment plan.

Shared Symptoms and Behavioral Patterns

Adult ADHD shares some symptoms and behavioral patterns with those diagnosed with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. Many of the same symptoms are shared among the different psychiatric diagnoses. An accurate diagnosis is needed for proper treatment. Psychological studies have indicated that misdiagnosis of those with mood and behavioral disorders are quite common.

Symptoms of ADHD, Depression, Anxiety & Bipolar Disorder

Symptoms of ADHD are experienced with varied degrees of severity. Some of the more common symptoms which may point to a diagnosis of adult ADHD include:

  • Difficulty paying attention to details
  • Trouble paying attention to work that requires mental effort
  • Often not listening when others are directly talking to you
  • Problems with organizing tasks and activities
  • Easily distracted or finding oneself daydreaming throughout the day
  • Feeling like you are on the go with difficulty staying seated for any length of time
  • Finds self easily agitated or angered with low tolerance for stressful situations
  • Displaying hyperactive and impulsive behavior, difficulty waiting their turn

Adults with ADHD may not experience a loss of energy or overall feelings of sadness that those with depression may suffer, however those with adult ADHD may become demoralized by their poor performance and frequent criticism from family or supervisors at work. A qualified psychiatrist will make the distinction between clinical depression and demoralization.

Some of the symptoms of depression that may appear as symptoms of ADHD include:

  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering appointments and dates
  • Irritability, restlessness and hostility
  • Feeling anxious with low tolerance for stress
  • Insomnia, waking up too early, or oversleeping
  • Difficulty with problem solving and making decisions
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, and feeling “worn down”
  • Feelings of unhappiness, pessimism, guilt and worthlessness

Those that have both ADHD and anxiety disorder may experience panic attacks, social anxiety and excessive worry. Those with ADHD may exhibit anxiety with worry about their forgetfulness, disorganization, poor ability to complete tasks or follow through on tasks adequately. Anxiety may be exhibited by

  • Persistent restlessness
  • Poor attention
  • Low tolerance for stress
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Not being able to relax

A skilled ADHD psychiatrist is able to make the determination between a person that has anxiety with ADHD and a person who has dual diagnoses of ADHD and anxiety disorder.

Bipolar disorder in the mania phase also exhibits symptoms that mimic ADHD complaints such as:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Racing thoughts
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Feelings of exuberance and euphoria
  • Being easily distracted
  • Poor ability to concentrate

Bipolar disorder in the depressive phase may exhibit the same symptoms as are noted in the depression and ADHD section above.

Correct Diagnosis the First Step to Correct Treatment

Make the call to Dr. Hege’s office for a confidential appointment, an expert in diagnostic evaluation and treatment of ADHD and other conditions.