In the mental health field, there is now a shift in the focus from mental illness to mental wellness. The treatment does not stop with resolving the presenting issues that brought them to our office. In addition to treatment, we also help individuals live a meaningful life that goes beyond a diagnosis. Many people come to me asking for a diagnosis for their symptoms. Although, we have an official book (the DSM 5) that is used to diagnose individuals with symptoms, I always tell my patients, they are complex human beings that transcend a diagnosis. I like to treat each patient individualistically and tailor a treatment that works best for them. I believe in helping patients achieve a good quality of life, building on the strengths that they had even before they sought treatment. I believe in working as partners in their mental wellness, helping them to see beyond the limitations of a mental illness.
Depression affects people of all ages. Everyone goes through bad days but depression is a prolonged period of sadness. Additionally, individuals may present with lack of motivation, inability experiencing pleasure or a decreased interest in activities. They may also have other changes in their mind or body like poor concentration, a change in appetite or a change in sleep. If persistent and severe, individuals may have thoughts of death or dying. Children or teens may present with stomach issues or headaches and it can affect their performance in school and friendships. Depression runs in families and can affect every family member. There are great treatments including medications and therapy that have been proven to help individuals and families that are suffering. Suicidal individuals would be best served by getting an urgent psychiatric evaluation at a hospital emergency room.
People go through ups and downs but bipolar disorder is an extreme form of mood swings. Individuals may go through prolonged periods of up phases where they are too happy or irritable, talkative, their minds are racing, they are not sleeping, they are working on multiple projects, doing impulsive and dangerous activities and even having delusions or hallucinations. They also go through down phases where they are depressed, withdrawn and even suicidal. Children and teens may present differently with more irritability. There are medications that can help "even out" an individual's mood. Family therapy can help families cope with the stress of managing an family member with bipolar disorder. Individual therapy can also be helpful to help people gain better insight and control of their symptoms.
Anxiety comes in many forms: social anxiety, specific phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. Worrying is essential because it helps us to be prepared and protect ourselves against danger. However, if it gets out of control like anxiety, an individual's quality of life can suffer. For kids, this could lead to problems making friends and going to school. It can also lead to bodily manifestations like panic attacks, gastrointestinal issues, headaches and muscle pain. The treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy as well as medications for severe cases.
When people are born, gender is often the first thing that is used to identify an individual. However, gender is not binary (meaning to describe girls or boys) and is increasingly being viewed by society as fluid (changing in the course of an individual's lifetime). For some individuals, they experience extreme distress that their physical sex is not the same as their assigned gender. This can be seen at a young age, where individuals have gender nonconforming behavior like playing with toys of the opposite sex (ex. girls playing with trucks or boys playing with dolls) or cross dressing. There is also the consistent message from the individual that they say they are not a "girl" or not a "boy" and identify with the opposite sex. An evaluation by a psychiatrist can be helpful for addressing this gender dysphoria or extreme dislike of their assigned gender. Gender affirming treatment can also be helpful in the form of hormone treatment or surgery by an endocrinologist or an educated primary care doctor. Additionally, psychiatrists can help to treat comorbidities for gender dysphoria which are often depression, anxiety and substance use. Families are also affected as they are integral in the enhancement or the diminishment of the child. Individual and family therapy can be helpful in navigating this identity search.
post-traumatic stress disorder
Post traumatic disorder can affect people who witness or personally experience a life threatening event or injury. Individuals may have repetitive thoughts of the trauma or experience it in the form of flashbacks (reliving the event) or nightmares. They may also notice body changes like difficulty sleeping, feeling hyper-aroused, aware of their surroundings and have a hard time concentrating. PTSD may also change how an individual views themselves and the world around them. It can lead to avoidance and impair their social and work life. With children, PTSD can occur from physical or sexual abuse, neglect or witnessing violence. There are treatments for PTSD that can address the anxiety, insomnia or depressive symptoms. Medications can be helpful for severe bodily symptoms but therapy is imperative in helping an individual move on from their past and adjust to their present. The best evidence based treatment for children with PTSD is trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy.
Social phobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by extreme fear of judgement by others. Individuals may have a difficult time speaking in front of others, making friends, ordering or eating at a restaurant or using a public restroom. In severe cases called selective mutism, individuals may not talk at all in front of strangers or in a classroom, but are able to talk at home or one-on-one. The best type of treatment is comprehensive, involving teachers, therapists, speech therapists and a psychiatrist. With selective mutism, kids need a good therapist that can ease them into having the courage to speak. There is a lot of hope for people with social anxiety with the right kind of treatment and support from family and teachers.
medications and herbs
Use the following website to look up information on medications, herbs and supplements.