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Sex Differences in Mental Illness Between Men & Women

The American Psychological Association reports the results of a study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology that shows sex differences in mental illness. Women more likely to receive a diagnosis of anxiety or depression, while men display higher incidences of substance abuse or antisocial disorders. In addition, women are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men, at 29% and 17% respectively.

Sex Differences in Expression of Emotions

Diagnosis and percentages of many mental health disorders are affected by the gender differences of internalizing or externalizing emotions. Study on sex differences found that women with anxiety disorders typically internalized their emotions, resulting in withdrawal, loneliness, and depression. Men were found more likely to externalize emotions, leading to aggressive, impulsive, and non-compliant behaviors.

Sex Differences of Four Common Mental Illness Types

Looking at four common mental health disorders, gender differences are easily identified:

  • Depression – One in four women require treatment at some point in their lives compared to one in 10 men.
  • Anxiety – Women are 2x as likely as men to experience an anxiety disorder. Approximately 60% of those diagnosed with phobias or obsessive compulsive disorder are women.
  • Eating Disorders – This type of disorder is more common in women than men; 1.9% of women, compared to 0.2% of men may experience anorexia in any given year. Up to 1% of women report bulimia during the course of a year.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – More women than men are affected by PTSD. The risk for the development of PTSD after a traumatic event is 20.4% for women and 8.1% for men.

Social Factors Related to Gender Differences

Looking at gender or sex differences, there is also a sex-based difference in the perception of distress and patterns of seeking help. Women tend to report a greater number of physical and psychological issues and are more likely to seek help than men. Women, possibly due to seeking help quicker and more often, are prescribed psychotropic medications more often than men.

Society affects perceptions of acceptable behaviors with men often criticized for expressing feelings of worry or weakness, or intolerance for women expressing anger or antisocial behavior.

Psychiatric Treatment Sensitive to Gender Differences

Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment to discuss any mental health concerns that are impacting your daily life and relationships. While we may have differences in how we react or respond to life challenges and stress, a comprehensive and accurate evaluation with development of a successful treatment plan is just a phone call away.

Emotional Numbness or Emptiness Blocks Hope

Many people may find themselves at different times in their lives feeling like there is a lack of meaning or purpose in their life. This emotional numbness or feelings of emptiness can develop into a chronic condition that may point to several other mental health concerns, a side effect of medications, or the body’s reaction to becoming overtaxed emotionally and physically.

Emotional Numbness and Emptiness

Trying to describe the feeling of being emotionally numb or empty is often difficult. Some report an absence of feeling, or feeling that something is missing inside of them. Others may report feeling disconnected, having an “empty space” inside, feeling isolated, despondent, with no hope for the future. Many patients with emotional numbness are unable to express what — if anything — they are feeling.

Causes of Emotional Numbness

Two of the most common causes of emotional numbness or feelings of emptiness are depression and anxiety. Elevated stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, some medications, and becoming physically over-fatigued can also trigger feelings of emotional emptiness.

Emotional Numbness may lead to Unhealthy Behaviors

While feelings of emptiness and numbness may leave a person feeling isolated, anxious, or disconnected, they may choose to fill that void by taking part in activities that are unfulfilling or unhealthy, like compulsive shopping, eating, or use of alcohol or other substances. Reach out to friends and family for support and make an appointment with a mental health professional to determine if your emotional void is caused by current medications, a diagnosable mental health or physical condition.

Getting Help

Review what you’re going through with a mental health professional. Some medications may be helpful, or if you are taking some already, they may need to be adjusted to help you stay balanced. Also, talk therapy in combination with other treatments can be great for working through your feelings, and Dr. Hege has many great references he may recommend to help you get the treatment that is best for you. Call Dr. Hege for a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis to determine the cause of your psychological numbness and emptiness. There is hope for change. Make the call today and begin to experience the joy of living once again.

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.

Nutritional Psychiatry Reports Diet Affects Mental Health

While many people understand the connection between nutritional deficiencies and physical illness, very few recognize a similar connection between nutrition and depression. Nutritional neuroscience and nutritional psychiatry are emerging disciplines where research is showing that nutrition is intertwined with cognition, behavior, and emotions.

Diet Affects both Physical and Mental Health

The International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research reports data that suggests diet is as important to mental health as it is to physical health. While a healthy diet may help protect and bolster a person’s mental health, an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for both depression and anxiety.

Nutrition and Depression

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that by 2010, the diagnosis of depression will be ranked as the second leading cause of disability, just behind that of heart disease. Depression may be most commonly viewed as emotionally-rooted; however, nutrition can play a key role in the onset, severity, and duration of depression.

Nutritional Psychiatry Data for Food Patterns

The typical diet of people with depression is far from adequate. Food choices are often limited, meals frequently skipped, appetite is poor, there is an increased desire for sweet food, and a decreased desire for food rich in carbohydrates. These food patterns that precede depression are the same as those that are found to occur during periods of depression.

Depression Triggered by Diet

Eating a diet low in carbohydrates tends to precipitate depression as the production and release of “feel good” brain chemicals of serotonin and tryptophan are triggered by carbohydrate rich foods. For those with depression, their food choices may actually be contributing to their diagnosis.

Depression Psychiatrist Locally

While diet can be part of your overall treatment plan it is not a substitute for the medication and adjunct services that your psychiatrist prescribes following a comprehensive evaluation. Call the office for a confidential appointment.

Empty Nest Syndrome Can Overpower Ability to Function

With the end of summer and start of fall, thousands of parents across the country find themselves sending one or more children off to college. The lifestyle change that often occurs abruptly during this period of time is typically referred to as the empty nest syndrome where a parent faces dealing with middle age, loss, loneliness, sadness, fear, and depression. While seeing a child off to begin a new chapter in their lives is a joyful time with reason to celebrate, the changes and emotions can also interfere with a parent’s ability to function at work or home to such a degree that professional help is required.

Empty Nest Syndrome

Being impacted by the empty nest syndrome is normal and can be felt from when the first child leaves home to when the last child moves off to college or to start a new life elsewhere. College, employment, marriage, or military service are but a few reasons that a child may leave their family home. A change in the household status may bring a multitude of feelings and fears to the surface. It is normal to experience strong emotions during this time of change. It is not normal to let those feelings interfere with your daily life.

Empty Nest Symptoms That Require Help

The following more severe symptoms have been known to occur with empty nest syndrome and do indicate a need to seek mental health services as soon as possible. These emotions and feelings require professional treatment as they are impacting one’s ability to function with daily life tasks and in their social and more intimate relationships. If you or a loved one recognize any of the listed symptoms it is important to make the call for psychological help.

  • Feeling your life is no longer useful
  • Feeling there is nothing left to live for
  • Feeling like there is no joy left in your life
  • Feeling you have lost your sense of identity
  • Excessive crying and weepiness
  • Avoiding friends at work or in social situations
  • Calling in at work to the extent it affects the job performance
  • Turning to drugs and or alcohol to help deal with the situation
  • Worry and anxiety about child’s safety that brings paralyzing fear
  • Finding mood affects your appetite or ability to eat
  • Poor sleep patterns or insomnia related to worry or fears
  • Thoughts of suicide or of harming yourself

Empty Nest Syndrome Treatment

Treatment is available and can help you return to a functional life at home, work and in social situations. Change the sadness and fear into joy and excitement – call Dr. Hege, an expert in successfully treating those with empty nest syndrome for a confidential appointment today.

Depression Brings Disabling Feelings of Hopelessness

Hopelessness, persistent sadness, and pessimism are common symptoms of depression. With an estimated 322 million people suffering from depression, it is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders in the world.

Depression Seen in Negative Light

Depression is a negative view of oneself, of the world, their life, their future. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 25% of adults who have a mental health issue feel that others in society are sympathetic toward them. It is a common statement for people who are depressed to think that no one understands them, which makes living with and struggling with how they view their diagnosis a really tough place to be.

Mood State versus Physical State

Many people consider being depressed as an issue with mood. Depression actually involves major physical symptoms which may take one longer to seek mental health services as they believe something else is wrong with them. Depressed behaviors may also be accompanied by restlessness, indigestion, nausea, headaches, joint and muscle fatigue, as well as an increase in any previous physical pains or difficulties you may already be living with. The symptoms of mood and physical symptoms are tied together and affect one’s normal life routines and behaviors.

Difficulty Imagining Ever Being Happy

A recent study published in December of 2016, conducted at McMaster University in Canada, reports those with depression tend to live in a “stuck state” which they cannot imagine ending, nor can they imagine ever being happy again. Study findings indicate that depressed adults had less ability to imagine how someone who was not depressed would feel; they tend to focus inward, often losing touch with the feelings and experiences of others. For those who cannot imagine what it would be like to not be depressed, they often lose hope and become unable to “see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Local Psychiatrist

There is hope. Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment to discuss your diagnosis and treatment options.

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.

Sexual Side Effects and Psychiatric Medications

Reporting a sexual side effect while using psychiatric medications is a common complaint for both men and women. The severity of sexual side effects vary widely depending on the person, how they react to their medication, the specific medication prescribed, the dosage taken, and any co-existing medical disorders such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Sexual Side Effects

Psychiatric medication may effect sexual function in a number of ways. The severity of sexual side effects may be minor, may ease up as your body adjusts or become a continuing issue that impacts life enjoyment. Sexual side effects include:

  • Erectile problems
  • Orgasm difficulties
  • Problems with arousal and satisfaction
  • A change in the desire for sex

Statistics of Sexual Dysfunction

Most of the research available on impaired sexual function and psychiatric medication focus primarily on depression and antidepressants. Sexual dysfunction however is also a concern for those diagnosed with anxiety disorders, mood disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia to name a few. While 35% to 50% of those with untreated major depression report some type of sexual issue, those taking SSRIs (anti-depressant medication) report 30% to 40% delayed orgasm, 20% report decreased libido, and 10% of men complain of erectile function.

Impact of Psychiatric Medications on Sexual Function

The following classes of medication listed indicate some common drugs within each class that have more reported sexual side effects versus those with fewer reported sexual side effects:

Antidepressants:

  • More reported side effects: Celexa (citalopram), Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Fewer reported sexual side effects: Wellbutrin, Aplenzin, Forfivo XL (bupropion), Cymbalta (duloxetine), Remeron (mirtazapine), Viibryd (vilazodone)

Antipsychotics:

  • Increased side effects: Cozaril (clozapine), Risperdal (risperidone)
  • Fewer reported effects: Abilify (aripiprazole), Zyprexa (olanzapine), Seroquel (quetiapine)

Sedatives:

  • Increased sexual side effects: Valium (diazepam), Mellaril (thioridazine)
  • Less reported effects: BuSpar (buspirone)

Reduce Psychiatric Sexual Side Effects

The solution is not to stop the medication you need for your mental health issues but rather to work with your psychiatrist to find an effective medication or combination of medications that work for you and reduce any sexual dysfunction that you have been experiencing.

Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment – there are many avenues of treatment available to help you live a full and satisfying life. Let Dr. Hege help.

Depression and Fast Food: An Overlooked Cause

With almost 16 million adults in the U.S. experiencing at least one major depressive episode over the course of a year, depression is one of the most common mental health disorders diagnosed in this country. The Anxiety and Depression Association (ADAA) report that approximately 7% of all American adults experience a major form of depression every year. More than 50% or more than 8 million adults may be struggling with depression because they are eating a fast food diet.

Fast Food and Depression

While most will agree a diet of fast food is not good for a healthy lifestyle; it is a quick, easy and tasty fix to grabbing a fast meal that also fills you up. Two different university studies, with an initial study starting in 2011 analyzed data from almost 9,000 participants who had never been diagnosed with depression or taken antidepressants. The data results showed that those who did eat fast food were 51% more likely to develop depression than those that ate little to no fast food.

Link Between Fast Food and Depression

Both previously mentioned research studies also demonstrated that there was a link between fast food and depression which was dose responsive; greater quantities of fast food eaten resulted in a greater risk for the development and diagnosis of depression. Even eating small amounts of fast food was linked to a significantly higher chance of developing depression.

Drive Through Versus Sit Down Food

In our fast paced society, we may find it almost impossible to follow a strict holistic or organic diet. Even those restaurants that we feel provide a more nutritious menu still offer “fast food” entrees and side dishes such as fries, hash browns, subs, specialty desserts, and pizza. The University of Illinois reported in a study that the total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium intake were substantially larger when full-service restaurant food was consumed away from home.

Depression Treatment Recommended

No matter what kind of diet you are eating, getting help for your depression is the best choice and recommended option for living your life to the fullest. A comprehensive mental health evaluation will provide an accurate diagnosis of the type of depression you have and allow treatment to begin immediately. Nutrition plays a big role. Changing your eating habits and lifestyle can be addressed throughout your depression treatment. Call the office for a confidential appointment.

Holiday Depression Dampens the Spirit

During this time of good cheer, bright and colorful decorations, advertisements and commercials showing happy times seemingly enjoyed by all except for maybe you, makes being depressed all that more noticeable to others and to one’s self.  Signs of holiday depression or sadness may bring comments like “Don’t be a Grinch,” or being called “Scrooge,” which certainly do not help cheer you up at all.

Holidays Not Always A Happy Time

The months of November and December may not be in reality so cheerful. The store window dressings, magazine decorating articles, food ads, and holiday shows belie what may really be going on in people’s lives. The end of the year is often extremely stressful trying to plan for the holidays with limited finances, end of year deadlines and responsibilities. In addition, social work events, poor eating and drinking habits, or dealing with increased family stress also occur. Add holiday stress on top of dealing with the loss of a loved one during increasingly cold and dark winter days, and holiday depression finds its way into thousands of lives.

Sadness or Depression

It can be normal to be sad or depressed at any time of the year. The stress of the holidays may trigger sadness or depression for many. Seeing others happy and cheerful, full of generous spirit, may make one feel there is something wrong with them if they do not feel that way. During the months of November and December the stress and anxiety experienced may cause those who are normally content with their lives to experience loneliness, a lack of fulfillment, sadness or depression.

Signs of Holiday Depression

The most common signs of depression are crying, loss of interest in usual activities, fatigue, social withdrawal, feelings of sadness, thoughts of being worthless; additionally, irritability, changes in sleep, weight, appetite, blaming oneself or feeling guilty about a situation or event are commonly seen. These symptoms can come and go during the year. If they become severe or last for more than a couple weeks, it may be more than the holidays causing this. It is time to get professional help, turn your life around letting some joy back into your life.

Statistics of Holiday Depression

Part of feeling depressed can come from being alone, or from having limited support of family and friends. In the U.S. 43% of adults are single and 27% live alone. With senior citizens 17% are single, divorced or widowed over the age of 65 often with health and mobility issues. Women have twice the risk as men for depression. After development of heart disease, depression is the next most debilitating illness for women, 10th for men.

Holiday Depression Help

Holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, but some people find them anything but happy times. Call the office for a confidential appointment to determine if you have seasonal affective depression, a bout of the blues, or are clinically depressed. Help is available. Call today.