Online Therapy

Psychotherapy is a great tool in mental health and is often used to combat the symptoms of depression, anxiety, panic disorder, schizophrenia, and many other mental health issues. However, for some people accessing a therapist just isn’t feasible, whether due to transportation issues, disability, or physical limitations, meaning that traditional therapy likely isn’t an option. Fortunately, there are new ways to access the same care received with talk therapy without even needing to leave your home through online therapy.

A major benefit the American Psychological Association (APA) has seen with online therapy is the comfortability level of being online rather than face to face. Patients, especially young adults, find that sharing their personal thoughts and concerns with a stranger is less intimidating via email, text, and even video calls.

There is still much to be pioneered in the future of online therapy. One of the most recent developments has been the tool named the  Mind Elevator. “A client enters a thought or feeling, hits submit and the tool evaluates that thought or feeling on a colorful scale that is like a big rainbow with sad and happy faces. The tool then provides a sentence of feedback and encourage the person to modify that thought or feeling to make it more positive, less self-critical or less negative or pessimistic. It also keeps track of several successive entries, so it responds to a whole chain of thoughts and feelings, not just the one that was most recently submitted,” as described by Dr. Sherry Benton in her article titled Reducing mental health disparities through online therapy. Artificial intelligence tools such as this can help aid those who are in need when a friend or a therapist isn’t available. They are specifically beneficial to patients with low-intensity needs and high motivation for engagement.

There are a few factors to be cognizant of when beginning your online therapy. In the United States especially, laws regarding psychiatry, psychology, therapy, and counseling differ from state to state. It is important to check the licensing of any “professional” you seek out as it is easy for someone to imitate these types of professionals online. Because of this, many insurance companies do not support this type of mental health care, therefore will not cover the cost. Just like starting at any other doctor’s office, make sure you do the proper research because the benefits you reap from online therapy can be extremely rewarding.

How Effective is Medication in the Treatment of Addiction

Treatment for addiction with medicine-based therapy does not amount to pushing the envelope in the process of curing any addiction but it can make people productive again and lead normal lives as opposed to craving and seeking an illegal substance.

Misinformation or a lack of knowledge on Medication-Assisted Treatment/Therapy (MAT) may drive you to search for other methods of recovery from addiction.  This is why it is necessary to get well-versed with MAT.

Medication-Assisted Treatment/Therapy works by using opiates that are released in the neurological system. They cross the barrier of blood-brain and attach to receptors that are present on the brain cells. This process triggers an outpour of neurotransmitters and generates a high that is felt by the receiver.

This medicine-based treatment technique generally works in one of the two ways:

  1. Doctors may prescribe patients opioids that will trigger the same receptors that but are      absorbed in the blood over a longer period of time, rebutting the withdrawal symptoms and breaking a psychological link between consuming a drug and instantly feeling high.  Methadone is an example of such a medication, and is officially referred to as a full mu-opioid receptor agonist.  Another example isbuprenorphine which is a partial mu-opioid agonist.
  2. Doctors may prescribe antagonist opioids such as naltrexone or naloxone. They are drugs that cover the same receptors and creates barriers against them. And if the condition of any patient deteriorates or relapses, they should not feel euphoria if an illegal opioid is used, unless that dose is large enough to displace the blocking drug.  Opioid cravings are reduced as well and there is no abuse potential with naltrexone, or naloxone.

Is MAT genuinely the way to go to cure any addiction?

So far, the data and the statistics that show the success rate of MAT is significantly high enough to outweigh any drawbacks. Better outcomes are seen with this form of therapy than those without medication assistance. It reduces the danger of relapses, has the potential to prevent grave diseases like HIV, and has been known to be effective in preventing overdoses.

In spite of all the positive outcomes, experts believe there are quite a few gaps in this technique. One of the gaps is determining the suitability of each drug for an individual. It is of utmost importance to choose the right drug for the right patient. Each drug has different risks and benefits for different psychological states. For instance, the patient can overdose and die on methadone whereas they cannot have any such ill effects from naltrexone and with buprenorphine it becomes less likely.

Ultimately, the decision is made through discussions between the patient and the medical professional who decides the best course of treatment. Working together is the best course to determining what the right treatment for each patient will be.

How Common are Mental Health Problems?

Mental health problems in the U.S. are more common than you realize; every year over 42 million people in the U.S. suffer from some kind of mental illness such as bipolar disorder, depression or schizophrenia. Other types of mental illness are anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, eating disorders and personality disorders.

Additional mental health problems include stress response syndromes. Stress response syndromes happen when a person develops emotional or behavioral symptoms when faced with a stressful event or situation. Stress events that cause stress responses are a major illness, a natural disaster like a tornado, death of a loved one, divorce or marriage, or a major move overseas. Those who suffer from these dissociative disorders suffer with severe disturbances or changes in memory or identity.

Keep in mind; there are many things which can cause mental illness such as inherited traits. It probably is no surprise that mental illness is more common in those who have blood relatives who have a mental illness, and genes linking certain conditions are being described frequently. Another factor is exposure to environmental stressors before birth such as alcohol or drugs.  In utero exposure or circumstances can bring about epigenetic changes which will shape one’s life for better or for worse.  Imbalances in neurochemistry or brain chemistry are often biochemical reason or a cause of mental illness.

It’s no surprise, I’m sure especially to the younger generation which carries much school debt that stressful life situations include financial problems and can be an additive factor to one suffering from mental illness.  A childhood with abuse or neglect, and a limited social network can set the stage for mental illness.

There are several effective strategies that can be taken that reduce and in some cases reverse mental illness.  One of these pillars is psychotherapy.  Psychotherapy is when mental illness is treated by a trained mental health professional through counseling discussions. Psychotherapy delves into a person’s feelings, thoughts and behaviors to begin heal or improve a person’s well-being. Medication is also prescribed for some mental illness conditions. Case management is another way to treat mental illness and coordinates services for a person with the help of a case manager which can be likened to a “project manager”.  Hospitalization may be necessary for certain patients given circumstances.  Group therapy through support groups, or peer support also may be beneficial in numerous cases.

Other treatments that you can do for yourself, include treating yourself with respect and kindness, not being overly critical of yourself, making time for hobbies or other relaxation strategies.  Even small things like finding time to read a book or do a crossword puzzle. It can not be emphasized enough how important it is to eat nutritious food, exercise, get enough sleep, and to be surrounded by positive or nurturing people; those who are family-oriented and those who support you with your way of life.  Giving back by volunteering to help others, being mindful and learning how to deal with stress through journal writing or simply looking for the humor in life. Taking a moment to be grateful or just going outside for awhile and appreciating what you see; all are activities that can help treat and prevent certain mental health problems.

To conclude, mental health problems in the U.S. are more common than you realize; however, there are many effective treatment strategies which can mitigate mental illness or ideally prevent.

Opioid Use in the United States

The use of opioids is widespread and common in many first-world countries and is only globally second to cancer medicines in the rate of usage. Hundreds of millions of pain prescriptions are written each year, for various reasons, and the market for opioids is around $24 billion, an astronomical amount. While you would think that this number would be distributed throughout the world, it’s unfortunately mostly concentrated in the United States. This number works out to around 80 percent of opioids being used in the United States.

Lack of limitations

One of the reasons that the United States leads with the amount of opioids prescribed and used is likely the past lack of limitations on the drug. Previously, people who used opioids for pain relief were easily able to get multiple prescriptions from different doctors or have prescriptions renewed before they should be in an effort to take more medications. Another difference between the United States and other countries in opioid prescription is medical culture.  American doctors were much more willing to prescribe the pills for people suffering from acute and chronic pain. In other countries, opioids are only prescribed in extreme trauma cases, like childbirth, severe burns, and end-of-life care. Studying in Europe it was rather rare to see patients ask or receive the various potent opioids inappropriately.  Conversely, when I started my training nearly ten years ago the culture was to liberally give out opioids at the slightest whimper.  Since U.S. doctors were more willing to prescribe opioids, less serious medical conditions were and sometimes are treated with opioids.  Only now is the pendulum swinging the other way and there have been new regulations limiting opioid prescribing.  

Amount of prescriptions

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), a number of opioids prescribed has quadrupled, with close to 300 million prescriptions written in 2012, “which is enough to provide every American adult with a bottle of opioid pills”. Not every American adult has a bottle of opioids, which is even more concerning because it means that others have lots of different opioids they’re constantly taking. While it may be still fairly easy to acquire a prescription from a doctor, many people also receive their opioids from family members or friends who have their own prescription.

High risk of addiction

Opioids whether legal or illegal can be extremely addicting, which is why it’s so concerning at the rate they’re being used in the United States.  In this document, ASAM breaks down a lot of the numbers associated with opioid use and addiction. People are willing to share pain medication, especially when they receive it for less serious medical conditions and then end up having pills or prescriptions left over that they can give to loved ones suffering from chronic pain, or to sell. Unfortunately, opioids are also a gateway to heroin usage. Many people initially start taking opioids and then work their way up to heroin, because they’ve become addicted to their prescription pills and need to get that high. It’s important to limit, or at least carefully monitor, the amount of opioids being consumed in the United States.

Three Early Signs of Opioid Addiction

What are OPIOIDS?
Opioids are drugs that react on the nervous system relieving pain anywhere in the body. Many Opioids are common drugs like Robitussin A-C, Tylenol with Codeine, Empirin with Codeine, Fiorinal with Codeine, Roxanol, Duramorph, and Demerol and others.

Their names sound pretty common, many are everyday medications, and significantly make a difference in the lives of millions of people when properly taken.

OPIOID Abuse
Opioid abuse delivers many effects on the body. It is no longer the relief of pain, or the feeling received with the ease of movement, and a euphoric feeling as the pain subsides. Internally, the effects on the body can go unnoticed because of the relief from suffering is welcomed and enjoyed.

Causes of OPIOID Abuse
Although there is no direct evidence of genetic factors causing addiction to opiates, studies have indicated individuals with a direct family member addicted to opioids are more inclined to become addicted themselves. This could also be a factor of lifestyle and the people a person chooses as close friends.

What Signifies Addiction
The risk of dependency is dependent on the drug was taken. All opioids are addictive, but some are more quickly addictive than others, and dosage of the opioid taken is detrimental to addiction and the person’s health. Also included in the effects of opioids is the height and weight of the consumer and the time frame in which the dosage was taken. Of course, the mixture of alcohol and opioids is forbidden and extremely dangerous. Mixing alcohol and opioids is life-threatening and harmful to bodily organs and their ability to properly function.

As drug use increases, the frequency of doses increases, and the time between doses is shortened as a person gravitates to addiction.

What Are Three Early Key Signs of Addiction?

  • Feeling that you must use the drug regularly, or taking the drug several times each day not only when needed.
  • Feeling more of the opioid drug is required to obtain the same euphoric feeling. Pleasure in feeling euphoria rather than the relief of pain.
  • Doing things you would normally not do just to get a supply of the opioid, keeping a supply on hand for special events.

Recognizing Drug Abuse in Family and Friends

  • School work, attendance, activities and performance drop for no apparent reason.
  • Motivation decreases and health problems begin to appear.
  • The sudden lack of personal hygiene and grooming.
  • Behavioral changes, manners, family connection, secretive, and isolates themselves from family activities.
  • Excessive spending of money or the need for unusual amounts of money.

Creative Treatments for Anxiety Patients

To be clear, every now and then everyone experiences anxiety and stress; that is normal. Examples of anxiety are worries or fears we have about facing an examination or an interview with a potential employer. These emotions are normal; however, when anxiety interferes with your sleep or work, then it becomes a problem. To state anxiety more clearly, anxiety happens when a reaction of ours is out of proportion with what might be normally expected in a situation.

Besides accepted and well-used ways to treat anxiety, there are other more creative ways that can help such as with Yoga or acupuncture. Yoga works for some because it combines breathing techniques, meditation and stretching; all of which can help you relax and lessen your feelings of anxiety. Acupuncture has long been used to help with depression and other health concerns. Acupuncture also treats anxiety. Many think that acupuncture works by stimulating natural painkilling chemicals in the brain. In addition, it is also helpful in reducing or eliminating anxiety.

There are also nutritional supplements that lessen anxiety such as B-12, Chamomile in tea and the Passionflower supplement. Most importantly, creative arts therapies are an effective way to treat anxiety. Creative arts therapies can be given individually or in a group therapy setting. For example, music therapy for children lets children use musical play to express and regulate emotions, listen to relaxation music to lessen their stress and allow them to communicate their feelings to others.

Another creative way to treat anxiety is with dance/movement therapy. With dance/movement therapy, those suffering from anxiety can develop a deeper awareness of themselves, their emotions and how to manage their body and mind responses to situations that are anxiety provoking. For example, a dance movement therapy session will sometimes bring in role-play often throughout the activities.

Then, there is art therapy. Art therapy works for some because it provides opportunities in self-expression, improved self-regulation and development of coping strategies. Most importantly, art therapy enhances deeper communication into anxiety producing situations by encouraging creativity and then verbally describing how it feels to the therapist.

Other ways to lower anxiety are to exercise, avoid smoking and alcohol, eat a balanced diet, drink more water, get plenty of sleep and massage your muscles.

To conclude, everyone experiences anxiety now and then; however, when it becomes chronic, seek out ways to calm the anxiety, such as those listed above and find relief from anxiety!

References: https://www.cnnh.org/addressing-anxiety-in-creative-arts-therapies/

Understanding Mind Mastery for Complete Mental Health

Today’s society focuses so much on success and material possessions that we often lose sight of our initial goals and aspirations. As a medical professional, I am used to working long hours, rarely taking breaks and pushing myself to extremes.

I’m the first to know the stresses that a busy work life can have on your mental health and overall well-being. This is why I would like to take some time and share with you the importance of re-calibrating your mind and balancing out your life for the better.

What is Mind Mastery?

Mind Mastery is a concept based on tools set in place to help you gain control of your mental state and to achieve personal well-being. This form of elevation stems from our brain and the power that it possesses throughout day-to-day activities. Ferris Jabr of Scientific American talks about the importance of the brain when trying to achieve mind mastery and the importance of slowing down when working in a high paced work environment.

For clarification, mind mastery is not about intelligence or “getting smarter”. It is more about using your brain in a way that brings you peace and tranquility. Those who practice mind mastery learn how to stay both physically and mentally relaxed under pressure while taking on the forces of the world.

An Etymological Map of the Brain

An Etymological Map of the Brain

 

What Can Mind Mastery Do For You?

Whether you are a top executive or serial entrepreneur, mind mastery has many things to offer you. Tania Kotsos author of The Adventure of I talks about the advantages of achieving mind mastery, specifically how to become aware of your “real self”. This idea allows you to re-claim the immeasurable power of your mind, under the direction of your will, which then enables you to say ‘I THINK therefore I AM therefore I WILL’.

In a hectic work environment, this skill is important to obtain because you are the controller of your own thoughts, feelings, and consciousness. We’ve all had moments where we wanted to blow up at work, but the purpose of mind mastery is utilizing the abilities of your mind to get through the day.

By utilizing your mind power at higher degrees of awareness, you wake up from the auto-piloted mode that is behind what appears to be the randomness of your life. In turn, you get to direct your life in ways you’ve never thought was possible.

Philosophy of Yoga

Philosophy of Yoga

Mind Mastery Techniques

Understanding the importance of mind mastery can make or break your success as a business professional. Learning ways to properly align your mind at the end of each work week will relieve stress, promote productivity, and get you back in touch with your passions. Try some of these simple techniques that’ll have you ready to start the work week.

(the following techniques will help you come up with new ideas and charge your mind with natural energy boosters)

  • Frequent meditation
  • Visualizing your goals
  • Yoga
  • 20-minute breaks of physical movement or productive meditation which increase creativity which fosters new ideas
  • Physical Movement
  • Good posture and body language, specifically power posing
  • Going outside for fresh air, and taking deep breaths, specifically 4-8 breathing techniques