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Learned Anxiety Passed From Parent to Child

Parenting can often be stressful and for those with an anxiety disorder it can be even more difficult to deal with anxiety-causing situations in a calm and rational manner. With evidence showing children can learn anxious behavior from their parents it is important for parents to learn and model coping strategies instead of “passing on” learned anxiety.

Learned Anxiety and Risk Factors

Stress and anxiety is having an unprecedented impact not only on adult mental, emotional and physical health, parental anxiety is also affecting the children. With children often looking to their parents reactions to different situations and events, a consistently anxious parent may pass on those emotions and feelings to their child. The development of anxious behavior in children may be a combination of genetic risk factors and learned behaviors.

Mirror Neurons Reflect Back Anxiety

In humans, part of our brain is equipped with the ability to recognize and understand the emotions that others express around us. The term “mirror neurons” refers to this ability to reflect back the emotions we see and is the reason that for example an infant will smile back at us when we smile at them. Mirror neurons however respond to all kinds of expressed emotion, including, anxious behaviors. Stressful parenting is often contagious – when your own anxiety neurons are firing, your child’s anxiety neurons are firing too.

Strategies of Change

Working with a mental health professional experienced in the successful treatment of parenting with an anxiety disorder can help you effectively manage your own issues which in turn will help your children manage their own learned anxiety and stress. Passing your anxiety disorder onto your children is not inevitable. Management of your anxiety disorder will help your children learn how to effectively cope with situations of uncertainty, doubt, or anxiety.

Find a Doctor to Help Manage Anxiety

End your struggle with anxiety, stress, and finding daily life difficult to find calm and peace. Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment. Convenient weeknight and weekend appointments are available.

Co-Occurring Disorders with PTSD

Many people may think they have anxiety because they suffer from social anxiety, or they have difficulty making quick decisions or any decision at all. Or some may feel as though they seem to be functioning in “survival mode” in order to just get through the day. While it may be determined that they do have anxiety, in some instances, they may actually be suffering from PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as one or more co-occurring disorders.

PTSD Statistics

It has been estimated that almost 8% of Americans will suffer from PTSD symptoms at some point during their life. Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD, with the numbers 10.4% and 5% respectively. Approximately 3.6%, or 5.2 million adults in the U.S. have PTSD during the course of a given year.

PTSD Symptoms

Three different kinds of symptoms are experienced with PTSD:

  • First set of symptoms involve reliving the trauma in some way
  • Second set of symptoms occur when you purposefully stay away from places or people that remind you of the trauma; you become isolated from other people or feel numb
  • The third set of symptoms include feeling irritable, startling easily, or feeling on guard

Examples of PTSD Symptoms

While there are numerous symptoms reported with PTSD, following are some of the more commonly reported issues:

  • Loss of confidence in trusting your own instincts
  • Social anxiety
  • Difficulty at times separating reality from imagination
  • Waking up frequently at night; having a “fitful” sleep
  • Finding yourself flip-flopping on making a decision
  • Difficulty with short term memory retention
  • Finding it difficult to focus on a task, conversation, idea; difficulty with following through to the end of a thought process
  • Physical or mental lethargy
  • Feeling hopelessness, despair, or depression
  • Becoming exhausted after even small tasks; simple things become “just too hard to do”
  • Making poor life choices where you feel shame instead of making choices to change the situation to the positive
  • Confusion as to why you feel in a “fog” or feel “shell-shocked” by life in general
  • Exhibiting addictive behaviors as a means of escape

Co-Occurring Conditions with PTSD

Those that suffer from PTSD are also commonly diagnosed with other disorders such as depression, substance abuse, anxiety, difficulties with memory or cognition, as well as other problems with mental health or physiological changes.  The disorder itself is associated with impairment of the ability to function in social or family life – it is common to see problems with relationships, family discord, difficulties in parenting, and job instability.

For men, more than half with PTSD also have problems with alcohol; the most common co-occurring issues for men in order are depression, conduct disorder, and substance abuse.

For women, just under half of those with PTSD experience depression; the next most common co-occurring mental health issues are specific fears, anxiety, problems related to alcohol.

PTSD Psychiatric Care

PTSD is not just a “veteran’s ailment.” PTSD can occur across every socio-economic status and life stage. Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment at one of his convenient weekend and weeknight office hours for a comprehensive evaluation that addresses your primary and co-occurring issues.

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.

Panic Attack Help: Stop The Fear

Symptoms experienced during an anxiety or panic attack are the results of one’s mind: a “flight or fight” response which produces numerous physiological changes within the body. These “flight or fight” symptoms are not a sign of illness but of the body trying to prepare for a perceived or anticipated threat.

Help for Panic Episodes

Having a panic attack may be one of the worst situations to find yourself in. Even though most panic attacks peak at 10 minutes and end within 20-30 minutes, that time may feel like the “hours” will never end. Mental health professionals experienced in the treatment of anxiety and panic attacks can help end the moments of excruciating fear.

Panic Attack Common Symptoms

While the symptoms experienced during an anxiety or panic attack make for a very long list, varying between each person in severity and occurrence, the following list details some of the most common ones reported.

  • Shortness of breath, feeling smothered –may be most distressing symptom experienced
  • Heart palpitations, racing or slowed heart beat – due to release of stress hormones
  • Chest pain
  • Globus Hystericus: Difficulty swallowing; “lump” or pressure in throat
  • Shaking (internal or external) or shivering
  • Dry mouth
  • GI upset (indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea)
  • Insomnia, sleep disturbances
  • Feeling “electric shock or jolt” is common and often radiates from the chest
  • Numbness to face or head, pain to neck and shoulders – muscle tightness restricts blood vessels and nerves which cause numbness, pain and unusual sensations to head/face
  • Increased sensitivity to sound, smell, light and touch
  • Headaches and “tight band” feeling around head
  • Agoraphobia (safety seeking behavior)
  • Fear of losing control is high on the list during a panic attack
  • Tingling in hands or feet a normal expected symptom
  • Derealization and depersonalization can occur with even low level anxiety
  • Aggression and fear closely related – a panic attack may lead to aggressive outbursts

While this is a fairly extensive list of panic attack and anxiety attack symptoms, the list grows with individual reported experiences and symptoms. With a history of chronic panic attacks the severity of symptoms may also progress to depression or thoughts of suicide. You do not have to face this alone – work with a psychiatrist to help end the fear and panic.

Panic Attack Psychiatrist

Experienced consultation and treatment is available locally. Stop your anxiety and panic attacks – Call the office for a confidential appointment at a time convenient for you.

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.

10 Behaviors that Indicate a Mental Health Problem

People with quirky or eccentric personalities may be more interesting or fun to be around, but when their behaviors become too extreme or negatively impact their lives, there may be something else at play, including the possibility of a mental health disorder. In the U.S., about one in five adults, or almost 44 million people exhibit the occurrence of a mental illness every year.

Signs and Behaviors of Mental Health Issues

You may feel that you are unique and different, or even having a personality that is often misunderstood – when do those thoughts change over to questioning if you need to see a psychiatrist? There are certain behaviors and signs that do signal a need to see a mental health practitioner – if you recognize any of the following in yourself it does not mean you are disturbed or crazy, but rather that your life may be able to benefit from an aspect of mental health guidance and treatment.

  • Difficulty coping with life on a day to day basis, having irrational fears
  • Intense anxiety where every worry is “super-sized” and worst case scenario is expected
  • Feeling overcome with sadness, or feeling down or hopeless on a regular basis that affects your ability to function
  • Unexplained and recurrent headaches, stomach-aches or a rundown immune system
  • Using a substance to cope with daily life; use of alcohol, illegal or prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications or other illicit activities to numb emotional pain
  • Have impulsive or obvious mood swings
  • Cannot shake the impact of recent or past traumatic events
  • Thinking about suicide or hurting one self
  • Serious anger issues, significant irritability, hostility, rage and frequent outbursts of anger
  • Distorted body image along with a highly troubled relationship with food and eating

Help is a Phone Call Away

While the list above does not cover all the mental health issues or concerns a person may have, it does highlight some of the most common behaviors and signs that a comprehensive evaluation by a skilled psychiatrist may provide a diagnosis for. Mental health disorders are treatable. Call for an appointment.

Empty Nest Depression

For thousands of parents, the end of summer also brings the arrival of “the empty nest syndrome,” when one or more children leave home for college. Middle age brings many life changes one of which is having to discover living a new lifestyle – an “empty nest” one.  A parent may experience sadness, grief, loss, and loneliness when the children leave home; for many, these negative feelings may linger on, developing into depression.

Treatment for Empty Nest Depression

It is normal to feel sadness, grief and loss when a child leaves home; however, when those emotions interfere with your daily life it is imperative to seek professional help. Empty nest syndrome’s emotions, fears and depression are treatable. This can be a time to enjoy new freedom in your life as well as realizing that without having a child at home there are new adventures waiting just ahead.

Seek Help with Severe Symptoms

Painful emotions and feelings that become stronger and more severe signal that it is time to seek professional help. Following is a list of symptoms that may occur during empty nest syndrome depression – if you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself, call for mental health help:

  • Excessive crying
  • Feeling that your life is now useless with nothing left to live for
  • Avoidance of friends; relationships damaged
  • Calling in at work; job performance impaired
  • Losing your sense of identity
  • Mood related changes in appetite
  • Constant worry and anxiety over child’s welfare
  • Insomnia, low energy and poor concentration
  • Finding no joy in life any longer
  • Looking for solace in alcohol and drugs
  • Thoughts of suicide or of harming yourself

Empty Nest Syndrome Help

If you experience symptoms of depression that are interfering with your life, call the office to set up a confidential appointment. Learn to manage your symptoms to begin enjoying life once again.

 

Myths Surrounding PTSD Leave Stigma

There are numerous myths that surround PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – myths that bring increased turmoil to the lives of those diagnosed with PTSD through misunderstanding, prejudice, maltreatment and negative attitudes presented by society as a whole. Those diagnosed with PTSD often feel they are “marked with a stigma” often based in myths.

How common is PTSD?

In the U.S. there are approximately 5.2 million adults who develop PTSD during the course of any given year.  Women are twice as likely to develop PTSD as men, yet over 60% of men compared to 51% of women report experiencing one traumatic event – living through a traumatic event does not automatically facilitate the development of PTSD.

Traumatic Events Associated with PTSD

For men, the traumatic events most often associated with PTSD are rape, combat exposure, childhood neglect and/or physical abuse. For women, the events that may lead to PTSD, are rape, sexual molestation, physical attack, being threatened with a weapon, or memories of childhood physical abuse.

Common Myths about PTSD 

Finding or seeking treatment for the mental health diagnosis of PTSD is a big step that can lead to a fuller life. An experienced and qualified therapist can help you dispel the myths from your mind and develop a successful treatment plan designed around your special needs and lifestyle.

Common myths include:

  • Myth: PTSD is a sign of mental weakness, and only people who are weak get PTSD. It is not weakness but rather a human response to uncommon experiences. The trauma experienced may be in the form of a personal trauma, a natural disaster, multiple traumatic events, or trauma that continues over a long term period. Usually those with PTSD have a poor interpersonal support system in place.
  • Myth: Anything can be traumatic. While almost any situation or event could be deemed traumatic in some way, there is criteria in place that needs to be met in order to be classified as “traumatic” which includes a) exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violence, b) directly experiencing the event, witnessing it in person, or being indirectly exposed to the event such as repeatedly hearing and/or seeing the details of a traumatic event.
  • Myth: You can get PTSD immediately after experiencing a traumatic event. Initial emotional reactions are expected; however, stress reactions need to last at least a month for a diagnosis of PTSD to be considered. Acute Stress, while similar to PTSD, may be diagnosed within the first month of the trauma.
  • Myth: People with PTSD are crazy and/or dangerous. PTSD is not demonstrated with psychosis or violence. “Crazy” is not a diagnosis but is a stigmatizing label.
  • Myth: Those with PTSD should “just get over it.” While PTSD can be successfully treated, the symptoms do not just “go away” even with time, and these bothersome symptoms may require continued professional treatment and guidance to cope and adapt.

Treatment for PTSD

Whether you have experienced a trauma recently or decades ago, there is treatment for PTSD. Seeking out help does not mean you failed in coping with your emotions. Getting treatment is a sign of strength and desire to live life to the fullest. Call the office today for a confidential psychiatric evaluation and begin the healing process.

Mental Health Issues in Diabetes Overlooked

Diabetes has numerous co-morbidities associated with it such as the most common ones of obesity, hypertension, fatty liver disease, cancer, and obstructive sleep apnea. An article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association notes that among the wide range of comorbidities associated with diabetes, mental health issues are most often overlooked even when these same issues have the potential to compromise self-management of diabetic control, increasing the risk for serious complications which include amputations, stroke, blindness and premature death.

Statistics of Adverse Effects of Mental Health on Diabetes Outcomes

Even though there are potential adverse effects of mental health issues on diabetic outcomes and national healthcare costs, only one-third of patients with these co-existing conditions will receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment. An example that depicts the prevalence of mental health illness that is associated with diabetes are the rates of major depressive disorder; this common disorder affects 6.7% of adults in the U.S., yet for those with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes the percentage rate of diagnosed major depressive disorder is 2 times greater.

Anxiety Disorders Also Commonly Found in Diabetic Management

Panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder are also common mental health issues associated with diabetes whether or not comorbid depression is also present. When anxiety symptoms overlap symptoms of hypoglycemia, patients may become confused, not knowing whether the symptoms are anxiety based or if the problem is low blood glucose levels that need immediate treatment.

Mental Health Treatment and Diabetic Comorbidities

The mental health comorbidities of diabetes are treatable. Successful treatment is dependent upon a timely referral to a mental health provider for diagnosis and treatment. A skilled psychiatrist understands the relationship between your medical status and your mental health needs. Call the office for a comprehensive evaluation and establishment of an accurate treatment plan.

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.