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For a lot of people, loving and helping are synonymous. We want to help the people we love no matter what the situation. In some cases, we use help as a sign of our love and commitment to make life easier or more pleasurable for the people we care about.
When it comes to addiction and certain mental health issues, however, helping can really be hurting.
What Is an Enabler?
An enabler is someone who encourages or enables poor decisions or self-destructive behavior that only serves to perpetuate a problem.
Enablers make things possible, but in the context of addiction or mental health issues, this is not helpful. Enablers make it possible for addicts, for example, to continue their addiction. They might do this by helping to hide the evidence that there is a problem or making excuses for the person so they do not lose their job.
An enabler also often picks up the slack so someone can function with the addiction or mental health issue instead of seeking treatment. Enablers may also encourage people to accept their condition rather than recognizing that they need help. Sometimes enablers even encourage, inadvertently, behaviors that are dangerous or self-destructive.
How to Stop Enabling Someone You Love
Recognizing that you are an enabler is the first step in ending this behavior. Some signs that you are an enabler include:
- Always putting someone else’s needs before your own
- Ignoring or condoning unacceptable behavior
- Lying to cover up someone else’s mistakes or bad behavior
- Offering help when it is not asked for nor appreciated
- Assuaging someone’s anger to maintain status quo in your relationship
It can be easy to excuse your enabling behaviors as expressions of your love. We want to take care of the people around us, but it is important to recognize that enabling makes you complicit in an addiction or other harmful behavior patterns that will cause long-term damage.
When you stop enabling your loved ones, you do not stop loving them. Instead, you recognize that your efforts to protect them from pain or other consequences are better applied to assisting them in a long-term recovery.
Tips to Stop Enabling Someone You Love
In order to stop enabling an addict, someone with a mental health issue or any other issue that they may need to see help for you will need to take a step back and examine your own behaviors and how they contribute to a long term solution – Do they help or hinder long term well-being?
Consequences are meant to change behaviors. If you keep your loved one from facing the consequences of bad behavior, you are enabling that behavior.
It can be hard to change your own enabling habits, but here are some tips:
- Never lie about what you or someone else has done.
- Do not pay bills that are not your responsibility.
- Stop trying to solve someone else’s problems.
- Clearly communicate your own feelings regardless of the consequences.
- Do not make excuses for other people’s behavior.
- Allow consequences to befall people who make mistakes.
- Do not take responsibility for someone else’s actions.
- Stop protecting your loved one’s feelings from the truth.
Enabling is a type of addiction in itself. Your enabling behaviors started long ago and developed over time. Like any habit, you found some positive results from your behaviors, so you repeated them. You may consider yourself the type of person who just solves everyone’s problems or protects your loved ones, and it can be hard to make changes to your own behavior to stop enabling.
Not Enabling Does Not Mean Abandonment
Since most enablers see their behavior as expressions of their love, it can be hard to withdraw from these activities. How do you leave someone you love to face the consequences when you know you have the resources to help them, even if it’s only a temporary fix? You are constantly trying to show how much you care and abandoning someone you love would send the opposite message.
When you stop enabling someone, you do not abandon them. You are still there in their lives loving and supporting them for the good choices they make. You just stop accepting and perpetuating the bad behavior, and you express your lack of acceptance by withdrawing your support for those activities. Allowing your loved one to face the consequences of their actions will force them to change bad behaviors, and that is a better expression of your love than enabling.
Brookhaven Retreat Can Help
Mental health conditions and addiction is a serious issue that requires professional help to overcome. You may be able to protect your loved one from pain in the short term, but eventually, the addiction will become too big for either of you to handle. The best way to show your love for someone with an addiction is to let them recognize they have a problem and get them the help they need.
Brookhaven Retreat can help you change your enabling behavior and assist your loved one in ending an addiction or coping with a mental health condition. Addiction or mental health and enabling can be two intertwined problems that are best dealt with simultaneously.
We understand how difficult it is to change your behaviors. Contact Brookhaven today to learn more about the programs we provide, so you and your loved ones can get back to living a healthy life together.
Grief is a natural reaction to a severe loss, like the death of a friend or relative. It is an emotional process you go through when you are adjusting to death, but grief is not reserved just for the loss of a person.
For instance, when you get divorced, you may need to mourn the loss of your marriage and the ideals or potential that is gone. Various types of trauma may trigger the grieving process as well. Working through the emotions following an accident or serious physical injury can also be similar to grief you experience after the death of a loved one.
The Stages of Grief
Grief is a mental and emotional process with a number of different components you’ll work through in your own time. No matter what event triggered your grief, you are likely to move through these five stages:
- Denial: The initial defense mechanism that kicks in when you learn of a death or severe loss is denial. You do not want to believe it has happened. You may try to ignore the information in front of you or isolate yourself from others who are experiencing the same loss.
- Anger: When experiencing grief, your anger may be directed at anyone or anything. You may be angry at someone that you see as responsible for the event or even just someone involved in it. Anger can also extend to people not involved in the situation and even inanimate objects.
- Bargaining: At some point in the grief process, you will go through the, “if only…” thoughts. If only we had tried harder. If only she had turned right instead. If only I had known. This is how most people create “bargaining” situations in their minds, trying to change the outcome. There is often guilt in this stage of grief as well.
- Sadness and regret: Sadness and regret – often referred to as the “depression” stage – are often part of grief. You may feel guilty for things you said or didn’t say, or things you did or didn’t do. You may also start to feel sorry for the time and energy your grief has taken away from others in your life. You might even think about your own death and what that would mean to your loved ones.
- Acceptance: Some people describe this stage as being able to live with the loss without grief disrupting their daily activities. It is not a feeling of happiness, but more of a resignation to what was lost and an intension to carry on without it.
These stages of grief do not always present in the same order. During your period of grief, you may also repeat one or more of the stages. Grief is a very personal experience, and each time you go through the grieving process can be unique.
When Grieving Leads to Depression
There is no set time period for the grieving process. In each instance, it takes as long as your body needs – physically and emotionally – to process your emotions and work through the grief to arrive at some form of acceptance. The longer the mourning process continues, however, the more likely it is to develop into clinical depression.
Specifically, the length of time you remain isolated in your grief can affect the transition to depression. When you do not get the support you require from other people, it can be harder to cope with the emotions you feel during a loss. This is also one reason we have funerals and other social rituals for mourning — they can help you reach the acceptance stage of grief and find the ability to move forward.
Am I Grieving or Depressed?
It can be difficult to tell the difference between grief and depression. There are some similarities with sadness and isolation that might indicate either condition. The true difference is in the severity of your symptoms. The sadness of grief comes in waves triggered by thoughts or stimuli of the loss. Over time, even if it is very slowly, the sadness of grief begins to go away. With depression, the sadness is always there. It can be like a wet blanket weighing you down even during pleasant activities. The severity of sadness in depression does not lessen.
Complicated Grief Disorder
The sadness and anger in complicated grief disorder also does not lessen. When experiencing complicated grief, you may become fixated on the loss and take on behaviors that exacerbate your pain. With complicated grief, people can even become self-destructive or suicidal.
Additionally, intense sadness can be accompanied by anger. The period of isolation may become extended, or you may not be able to accept what has happened. Forcing yourself to remain in a state of disbelief can be indicative of complicated grief disorder.
When It’s Time to Get Help
Grief can turn to depression or complicated grief, and it can threaten your overall well-being and quality of life. You want to be patient with yourself, allowing enough time to work through your grief naturally. At some point, though, you may need help dealing with your grief.
When you experience physical symptoms of depression, like insomnia or sudden weight changes, it is a good idea to seek help. If you have thoughts of suicide, reach out for help immediately. Brookhaven Retreat is a private recovery center for women where you can get the help you need with your grief or depression in a safe and comfortable environment.
Contact Brookhaven today for more information about recovering from grief.
The long months of winter sometimes seem to have no end. The sun rarely peeks out from behind an oppressive shroud of clouds, and temperatures force us to bundle up and rush from one indoor sanctuary to the next.
You have probably heard people talking about SAD — an apt acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder — during the winter. SAD is a type of depression tied to the seasons. The darker and colder months of the year can disrupt your sleep schedule, cause your serotonin levels to drop and put you in a poor mood. Approximately 10 million Americans say they experience SAD. While it’s four times more common in women, anyone — man or woman — can experience the symptoms of this disorder.
While we might still be in the grip of the grim winter months, spring is closer than it seems. The days are starting to get longer, and we have more sunlight and warmer temperatures to look forward to. If winter can have such a profound effect on our mental health, it only makes sense that spring would have the same power.
Spring is a time of renewal and growth. We can shed not only our layers but also bad habits that we would rather let go of. Here is a look at how spring affects us psychologically and how we can take advantage of the season to build lasting, healthy habits.
The Psychological Effects of Spring
Spring brings with it sunny days, warmer temperatures and a sense of hope. What does spring have to offer, and how does it affect our minds and bodies?
Sunlight affects our brain chemistry, which in turn influences our mood and how we feel physically. Exposure to sunlight affects our serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has a tremendous impact on our bodies. It plays a role in not only our general mood but also our sleep pattern, memory, appetite and sexual desire. Lack of sunlight can lead to a drop in serotonin, which can make sleep difficult, change how much we want to eat and how our body processes what we do eat and negatively affect sexual desire and function. The lengthening days of spring can start to reverse that serotonin dip.
Sunlight also affects the brain’s production of the hormone melatonin, which is released in greater levels when it is dark out. This hormone helps us sleep. When we get less sunlight, our bodies tend to produce more melatonin, hence the sluggish feeling you often encounter during the darker months of winter.
Light from the sun also plays a large role in getting your body the vitamin D it needs. When our skin comes into contact with ultraviolet rays from the sun, our bodies produce vitamin D, which helps keep bones strong and healthy.
Overall, getting more sunshine helps our bodies feel more awake and puts us in a better mood. Just remember, you still need to wear sunscreen and stay properly hydrated when you spend hours outside on a spring day.
2. Warmer Weather
Many of us feel more active during the warmer months. You don’t have to put on so many clothes that you feel like you’re wearing battle armor every time you step outside. During the spring, you can throw on a light jacket or no extra layers at all on nicer days.
Rising temperatures also give our immune systems a break. During the winter, we have to contend with cold and flu season. Everywhere you go someone seems to be coughing, sneezing or sniffling. Our immune systems are working overtime doing the best they can to keep us healthy and warm during the cold months. When the days start to get warmer, our body doesn’t have to commit as much energy to keeping our immune systems in overdrive.
Warmer weather can also affect our mindset. Some studies suggest that spending time outside in a warmer climate is linked to an increase in creativity. Spring is usually a time of temperate weather. You can enjoy the benefits of the warmth without sweltering heat that may come later.
3. A Time for New Beginnings
The spring season has long been considered a symbol of renewal and hope. After months of dreary, cold weather, the world starts to come alive with color and warmth. New plants start growing from the earth. Sunshine brings more light into the world.
You can seize this feeling of hope and use it to fuel your optimism and, as it turns out, health. A study of more than 5,100 adults conducted by the University of Illinois found that optimists were 76 percent more likely to have blood sugar and cholesterol in a healthy range.
Embrace spring as your perennial opportunity for change and personal growth. Optimism can help you become more engaged in your life and see failure as a chance for a fresh start. Allowing yourself to hope opens you up to new experiences and ideas. Let spring be the start of your commitment to healthy habits.
Spring Mental Health Tips
Mental health is so often overlooked. Let the renewal of spring be your cue to look at your mental wellbeing. Here are ten spring tips that will help you get a fresh start to the new year.
1. Get Outside
Remember how much of a drag those long, dark winter days can be? When the tides start to turn toward spring, make it a point to regularly get outside and soak up that sunshine. You will get your daily dose of vitamin D, and you’ll be able to practice feeling grateful for the small things — like birdsong or new flowers.
It’s easy to stick with our winter routines even once the weather starts to warm up. We go to work, we go home and we set up camp on the couch. Nothing is wrong with days like that, but try to find creative ways to work in time outdoors. Maybe take a 15 to 20-minute walk on your lunch break. If you like team sports, consider joining an outdoor league. If you have the yard space, take up gardening. Use the warm weather as a reason to try something new.
Spending time outside is a great way to stay active, which in turn does your mental health a big favor. Get outside and savor life.
2. Commit to an Exercise Routine
Exercise has been shown to help reduce and manage mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Naturally, more physical activity is a common New Year’s resolution, but the middle of winter can be a hard time to start working towards that goal. The weather is brutally cold, and making excuses to avoid going out is all too easy. No wonder the gym is back to the regular crowd after the first few weeks of January.
Use springtime to build your exercise routine. Start small. Don’t buy a gym membership if you feel intimidated or don’t like the idea of all those machines. Try walking or running. Listen to your favorite music while you do. Combine exercise with something you already enjoy so you can make it an activity you look forward to, not dread. Make small commitments and then larger ones until exercise becomes a regular habit.
3. Reset Your Sleep Cycle
As many as 40 million people struggle with some kind of sleep disorder. Maybe you are among them, or maybe you’ve just let winter get you into some bad sleep habits. Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis is bad for your mental health. Moving through the day unrested leaves you feeling drained and more vulnerable to stress.
Instead of letting your unhealthy sleep habits follow you from winter into spring, look for ways to get more quality sleep. Do your best to go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day. Remove digital distractions, like your phone or your tablet, from your bedroom. Like any other habit, building a good sleep schedule takes time. You can use apps or set alarms to help remind you it is time to go to sleep. If you live with someone, enlist their help in removing those digital distractions.
4. Try Some New, Healthy Foods
Maintaining a good diet may sound like a tip for purely physical health, but what we eat also affects our mental health. Caffeine can exacerbate anxiety. Eating mostly foods lacking in vital nutrients often affects how alert you feel.
Focus on adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. You can start small by picking a day for salads. If you like to cook, look up different recipes for healthy meals and play around in the kitchen. Healthy foods do not have to be a burden on the taste buds.
If you find you do not have the time to cook regularly — or you just don't like to — think about signing up for a meal prep service. These types of services deliver all the ingredients for a healthy meal right to your door. All you need to do is some minor assembly.
5. Drink More Water
You have probably heard the age-old advice to drink at least eight glasses of water per day. It sounds like a lot, but if we do not drink enough water, we leave ourselves at risk of dehydration. Even minor dehydration can change how we think, give us headaches and make us feel less than great.
Find ways to add more water to your daily routine. Drink a glass when you first wake up in the morning. Set aside designated water breaks during your work day. It might motivate you to keep it up if you keep track of how you feel after staying properly hydrated.
6. Do Some Spring Cleaning
Spring cleaning can be a literal uncluttering of your home and your workspace, which is great for your mental health. It gives you a sense of productivity and an organized space to help clear your mind.
Spring cleaning can also mean clearing some of the less obvious clutter from your life. Do you notice that you've fallen into any toxic relationship patterns? Is there a friend or acquaintance that always seems to come with drama and negativity? Try to answer that question honestly, and make moves to change how it affects your life.
7. Try to Unplug More Often
Much of the world today revolves around our ability to stay connected online. Being able to communicate so readily can be a good thing, but too much of a good thing has its downfalls. Endlessly scrolling through social media can make anyone’s self-esteem take a hit. Staring at a computer screen all day can be a recipe for a headache.
Give yourself time to put aside your phone or tablet and step away from the computer. Fill that time with something else you enjoy. Take a walk. Read a book. Have a cup of tea. Spend time with a friend.
8. Take a Deep Breath
This might be the simplest tip for improving your mental health this spring, but it’s also one of the easiest to overlook. Next time you are caught up in the rush of your routine or the tangle of your thoughts, take a moment to step back. Stop what you are doing and try some deep breathing. Try to do this for five to 10 seconds.
Deep breathing can help you reduce your stress levels. It can even boost your immune system. When you feel like you’re going to get swept away, allow yourself just a few seconds to breathe.
9. Plan Ahead
Spring is like a reinvigorating breath of fresh air. Capitalize on that feeling of renewed energy and plan ahead. Is there something you have always wanted to do, but never found the time for? Make yourself a goal and break it down into manageable steps. Look to your future with a sense of excitement. Achieving even minor goals allows a great boost for self-confidence and offers a good way to foster your mental wellbeing.
10. Practice Self-Love
Many people fall prey to perfectionism, regrets and grudges. Those things weigh heavily on the mind, but they are rarely productive. Take spring as an opportunity to be a little kinder to yourself. Accept that you are not perfect, but celebrate that you are trying. Try to forgive yourself for the past, and look forward instead. Also try to forgive others for past wrongs.
Work on Building Healthy Habits You Can Maintain Year Round
Healthy habits for women can be any number of different things related to exercise, diet and a good night’s sleep. Use the spring season as the spark for starting healthy habits, but do not let that spark die out as spring moves to the busy social calendar of summer and then onto the colder and darker months of fall and winter. Take your new jogging routine, fresh and fruity menu and regular bedtimes with you.
Of course, building new habits and sticking to them can be tough. Here are a few tips for building habits you can maintain all year.
- Pick a habit that makes sense for you: Do you hate biking? Don’t choose that as your exercise habit. Find something you either already like or could imagine growing to like.
- Get your friends and family involved: Turn to your support system for help. It is harder to break a habit if you know your workout buddy is waiting for you or your mealtime companion is counting on you for that healthy dish.
- Keep track of your progress: Why keep a habit if you don’t notice any change? Monitor what your healthy habits are doing for your mental and physical health. Are you gaining that muscle mass you wanted? Do you feel more refreshed after sticking with your sleep schedule? Results drive us to keep going.
- Reward yourself: Find small ways to reward yourself for sticking with your good habits. When you hit a benchmark, take yourself shopping, enjoy a dessert you love or spend time doing something you love.
If you need some extra help getting through depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, challenges with substances or another mental health or addiction problem this winter or spring, rely on Brookhaven Retreat. We offer a private, voluntary residential program for women, and we’ll help you start down the path to mental wellness.
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by severe changes in mood, usually changing from extreme depression to mania. Bipolar disorder may make you feel out of control and isolated, but you are not alone – many people suffer from this disorder.
Approximately 2.8 percent of people in the United States have bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is equally common in men and women, and the median onset age of the disorder is 25 years old. While bipolar disorder is a serious condition, people affected by it can get effective treatment. Here is a guide to bipolar disorder facts and bipolar treatment.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is also called manic-depressive disorder because it causes a dramatic shift in moods. People affected by bipolar disorder commonly experience mania — periods of extreme energy and elevated mood — and depression — periods of feeling sad and low-energy. While this is the general description of bipolar disorder, there are several different types.
- Bipolar I disorder: Bipolar I disorder is usually the diagnosis when a person experiences extreme manic episodes, or hypomania. These episodes can be severe enough to require hospitalization. A manic episode is followed by a period of depression that lasts approximately two weeks. It is possible for people with bipolar I disorder to have periods with characteristics of both a manic and depressive episode.
- Bipolar II disorder: Bipolar II disorder has cycles similar to bipolar I disorder, but the periods of hypomania tend not to be as intense. Manic episodes will be followed by periods of depression. It is possible for people with bipolar II disorder to experience a stable mood between cycles of mania and depression.
- Cyclothymic disorder: Many doctors consider cyclothymic disorder to be a milder form of bipolar disorder. People who have cyclothymic disorder experience the same cycle of mania and depression as people with bipolar disorder, but the mania and depression are not as intense. It is possible for the nature of the cycles to change over time.
- Bipolar disorder NOS: Bipolar disorder not otherwise specified is a term applied to bipolar symptoms that do not follow the pattern of either bipolar I or II disorder. Someone with bipolar disorder NOS might have episodes of mania and no depressive episodes. It is also possible to experience only some of the symptoms of a manic or depressive episode.
- Rapid cycling: Rapid-cycle bipolar disorder applies to a person who experiences four or more episodes, either manic or depressive, during a single year. Rapid cycling can accompany any type of bipolar disorder. It is possible for rapid cycling to be a temporary experience for a person with bipolar disorder.
There are no definitive causes of bipolar disorder, but genetics can play a role. When both parents have bipolar disorder, there is a 50 to 75 percent chance their child will also have bipolar disorder. There is also a possibility brain structure chemistry plays a role in bipolar disorder.
While things like genetics, family history and brain chemistry are outside anyone’s control, there are also specific things that can trigger either manic or depressive bipolar episodes. For example, changes in your sleep pattern can be a big factor. Stress related to your job or the relationships in your life can also precipitate an episode. Things like alcohol and drug use can also affect people with bipolar disorder.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
One study found it can take an average of six years to get a bipolar disorder diagnosis. Though symptoms can be severe and incredibly disruptive to a person’s life, health professionals often have trouble distinguishing between a variety of different types of depression and bipolar disorder.
The four most common symptoms of bipolar disorder are:
- Depression: Depression is a hallmark of all different types of bipolar disorder. In people with bipolar I, depressive episodes are distinct from manic episodes. People with bipolar disorder II will also experience periods of depression, though the manic periods may be less distinct than those experienced by people with bipolar disorder I. During a period of depression, a person with bipolar disorder will feel sad, anxious and hopeless. These feelings can be accompanied by difficulty sleeping, sleeping too much, loss of interest in most activities, lack of energy, changes in appetite and suicidal thoughts. This symptom of bipolar disorder is why the condition is so often misdiagnosed as a type of depression. People with bipolar disorder may turn to drugs or alcohol to help them cope with depressive episodes.
- Mania: Manic episodes are a dramatic change from depressive episodes. People with bipolar disorder I will definitely experience mania, while people with bipolar disorder II may experience less severe forms of mania. During a manic phase, a person will have unusually high levels of energy, difficulty sleeping, agitation, racing thoughts and partake in risky behaviors. Mania can become extreme enough to require hospitalization.
- Hypomania: Hypomania is a less serious form of mania, which can make it more difficult to recognize. Hypomania is not uncommon in people with bipolar II. During a hypomanic phase, a person can experience similar symptoms to mania: elevated mood and energy levels, risk-taking behaviors, agitation, difficulty sleeping and racing thoughts. However, hypomania is usually not serious enough to require hospitalization.
- Psychosis: People with bipolar disorder can experience psychosis, but not everyone will. Psychosis refers to a break with the real world. When this happens, a person’s perceptions and thoughts are so distorted they cannot tell the difference between delusions and reality. Psychotic breaks can happen during a particularly severe manic episode. Some studies suggest two-thirds of people with bipolar disorder will have at least one psychotic episode during their lifetime. This symptom of bipolar disorder can sometimes lead to a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia, another type of mental disorder that affects how a person thinks and acts.
People who have cyclothymic disorder will experience the same types of symptoms, but they will be less severe than the cycles associated with bipolar I and bipolar II. People with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder will have the same symptoms, but the shifts between mania and depression will occur more often than in bipolar I or bipolar II.
Recognizing bipolar symptoms in themselves can be difficult for people with bipolar disorder, particularly people who have bipolar II. It may take urging from friends or family to help someone with bipolar disorder to seek proper diagnosis and treatment.
Common Bipolar Disorder Treatment Options
Bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose, and the symptoms can be devastating. Although there is no cure for any kind of bipolar disorder, there is treatment for this condition that can help effectively manage the effects of the disorder.
Common treatments for bipolar disorder include:
Medication can be an effective treatment for bipolar disorder. Nine out of 10 people taking medication for bipolar disorder are satisfied with their medications. Different types of medication prescribed for bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers, antidepressants, antipsychotics and medications for anxiety.
Mood stabilizers can help control manic and depressive episodes in people with bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder who experience psychosis may be prescribed an antipsychotic to help control delusions or hallucinations. Antidepressants can help people to manage their depressive episodes. Anxiety medications can help manage their sleep cycle and relieve anxiety related to their symptoms.
Physicians may prescribe clients a combination of different medications to manage their condition. Everyone is different, and there is no perfect solution. It may take a few different tries to find the right combination of medication that works for you.
It is important to know medication comes with side effects. People with bipolar disorder should always speak with their health care provider about any side effects. Do not change your prescribed medication or the way you take it without talking to a doctor first, as abruptly stopping many of these medications can have serious side effects.
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, can help you manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder could benefit from a type of psychotherapy known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps people recognize and change patterns in their behavior. In the case of someone with bipolar disorder, CBT could help you recognize behavior that triggers a manic or depressive episode.
Sometimes people with bipolar disorder can benefit from electroconvulsive therapy, also known as ECT. During an ECT treatment, an electric current is passed through the brain. This treatment can help manage severe manic and depressive symptoms.
A professional can help you to determine the best form of therapy based on an individual’s symptoms, needs and any other co-occurring conditions.
3. Customized treatment plans
Everyone is different, and that means your doctor will probably come up with a treatment plan tailored to you and your symptoms — which could mean a combination of different kinds of medication and therapy. Your treatment will require commitment from you. Your doctor and/or therapist may ask you to track your symptoms and your progress during treatment.
Customized treatment plans are especially important for people who have co-occurring conditions like depression and addiction.
Treating Bipolar Disorder and Depression
Bipolar disorder and depression can go hand-in-hand, which is why bipolar depression often gets misdiagnosed as a type of depression. In fact, bipolar is also called manic depression. Depression, like bipolar disorder, is a mental illness. During a depressive episode, someone with bipolar disorder will experience symptoms of depression like lack of energy, a feeling of hopelessness, difficulty focusing and changes in appetite. These episodes can even cause suicidal thoughts.
Treatment for bipolar disorder and depression does not differ much from the general treatment options for bipolar disorder. Talk to your doctor about your depression symptoms. Treatment can be a combination of antidepressant medications and different types of therapy, but this will ultimately depend on your individual needs.
Treating Bipolar Disorder and Anxiety
Anxiety can be a part of the agitation symptoms that appear during manic episodes. Anxiety can also be a separate condition from the bipolar disorder that a person is suffering from.
Common types of anxiety that are often found co-occurring in people with bipolar disorder include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Social anxiety
- Panic disorder
- Other anxiety disorders
Treating Bipolar Disorder and Addiction to Drugs or Alcohol
Many people with bipolar disorder have struggled with drug or alcohol addiction at some point in their lives. When it can take so long to get an accurate diagnosis, and therefore the right treatment, many people turn to substance abuse to help cope with their symptoms. These commonly overlapping conditions can both be treated.
Your doctor may prescribe you medication to help you stop abusing either drugs or alcohol. Therapy will also be key to managing bipolar disorder symptoms and substance abuse issues. Behavioral therapy might help you build healthy habits and ways to avoid substance abuse. Integrated group therapy might help provide a support system and insight into the connections between bipolar disorder and substance abuse. A study of people with bipolar disorder and substance dependence found integrated group therapy helped reduce the number of days of substance abuse per month.
Like treating bipolar disorder alone, treating bipolar disorder and substance abuse will take a customized plan. You and your doctor may have to try several different medications and approaches to therapy before you find an effective combination.
Statistics and Facts About Bipolar Disorder
- Mood disorders, including bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization for adults ages 18 to 44 years old in the United States. Bipolar disorder is sometimes thought of as a rare condition, but this is not true.
- While the exact cause of bipolar disorder remains elusive, genetics likely plays a role. Mood disorders can be inherited. For example, bipolar disorder can have 80 percent heritability.
- Bipolar II disorder is the most common type of this condition, accounting for 30 percent of cases. Bipolar I disorder is the second most common type of bipolar, with 27 percent of cases. Cyclothymic disorder comes in third, with 24 percent of cases, while bipolar disorder NOS accounts for 15 percent of cases.
- The median age for the onset of bipolar depression is 25, but that does not mean a person under that age cannot have bipolar disorder. It is even possible for children to have bipolar disorder, but it is more difficult to diagnose in such a young person. Experts estimate 2.9 percent of adolescents have bipolar disorder.
- Getting an accurate diagnosis can be difficult for people with bipolar disorder. Approximately 70 percent of people who have bipolar disorder have received at least one misdiagnosis from a doctor. A study mentioned early in this article indicates the average delay in bipolar disorder diagnosis is six years. Just 25 percent of people with bipolar disorder receive an accurate diagnosis within three years of first experiencing symptoms.
- There is no definitive test, such as a brain scan or blood test, for bipolar disorder. Physicians have to rely on mental health evaluations and clients’ descriptions of their symptoms to accurately diagnose bipolar disorder.
- A study conducted by the Statistics Brain Research Institute found 87 percent of people with bipolar disorder reported experiencing feelings of extreme irritability or an extreme high. Other common symptoms include depression that lasts for more than two weeks — 78 percent of people — and feelings of abnormally high energy with little sleep — 63 percent.
- Bipolar disorder often comes with co-occurring conditions, such as substance abuse problems. Bipolar disorder is also associated with physical health issues. A total of 35 percent of people with bipolar disorder are also obese.
- Bipolar is just as common in men as it is in women, though bipolar disease is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a “women’s disease.” Though bipolar disorder is equally prevalent in men and women, women are more likely to experience rapid cycling — or frequent switches between manic and depressive episodes. Men with bipolar disorder are more likely to be mistakenly diagnosed with schizophrenia, while women with bipolar disorder are more likely to be misdiagnosed with depression.
- Bipolar disorder can be extremely disruptive, and it cannot be cured. Although this is true, the symptoms of this order are highly manageable with the right treatment. More than 75 percent of people with bipolar disorder are successful at their jobs.
Bipolar Disorder Treatment for Women
After getting an accurate diagnosis, getting the right treatment for bipolar disorder is essential. Women can have a hard time reaching out for help when they need it. Just two in five people who have issues with a mood disorder or substance abuse reach out for help when they first start to experience symptoms. Mental health disorders often carry a stigma, which can stop people from getting the help they need.
Instead of staying silent, find a place that will make you comfortable and address your needs. At Brookhaven Retreat, we offer a comprehensive program for women struggling with bipolar disorder. Our holistic approach takes into account individual needs in a safe, private, women-only environment. We can help you with not only your bipolar symptoms, but also any co-occurring conditions you may have.
Brookhaven Retreat combines the clinical aspects of care with a unique approach to therapy through The Lily Program®. Our peaceful location allows you to explore individual therapy, group therapy, art therapy, equine-assisted therapy, garden therapy and more. After undergoing treatment at Brookhaven Retreat, you can turn to us as a part of your support system through the aftercare program.
If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or your loved ones have urged you to seek treatment for bipolar disorder, do not hesitate to seek the help you need to manage your symptoms. Brookhaven Retreat can help you get the individualized treatment you need.
Anxiety often comes on slowly, but it can become a debilitating issue and a heavy burden to bear alone. One of the most common types of anxiety is Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD.
Although people with the disorder may feel alone, Generalized Anxiety Disorder actually affects over 6 million people in the United States, or around 3% of the adult population.
What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by six months or more of persistent worrying, along with other symptoms of GAD, which may include insomnia, fatigue, headaches and many others.
GAD is a chronic illness that requires no provocation, and those with GAD often feel a loss in control. They cannot stop worrying, even if they realize their fears are unrealistic. People with GAD constantly fret over pending disasters, health issues, money, family and work. Those with mild GAD are usually able to hold a job and fit in socially without problems, but some can find it difficult to complete even day-to-day tasks and cope with the uncertainty of everyday life.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
This type of anxiety is characterized by consistent worrying throughout the day. The focus of these fears can easily shift from one subject to another and do not necessary concentrate on only one topic alone. One sign of having GAD is frequently imagining the worst-case scenarios, leading to indecisiveness due to fear of making the wrong decision.
People diagnosed with GAD tend to be easily irritated, startle suddenly, have trouble focusing, are restless, and have difficulty sleeping.
In addition to these mental and emotional GAD symptoms, some common physical symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:
- Muscle tension
- Hot flashes
- Loss of breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Diarrhea/irritable bowel syndrome
This disorder is often seen with other mental health disorders and substance abuse. Co-occurring disorders may include:
- Panic disorder
- Suicidal thoughts
- Substance abuse
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Causes
Many factors are thought to play a part in causing GAD, including genetics, past experiences, brain chemistry, personality and development. Research suggests that it may be triggered by the amygdala, which initiates a fear response in the brain. While this has not yet been proven, we do know that genetics and experiences interact to cause anxiety and affect the way threats are perceived and processed in the brain.
Some people may be more likely than others to develop GAD, including those who:
- Have a family history of anxiety disorders
- Had past negative experiences, sudden life changes or recent traumatic events
- Have other medical or mental illnesses
Getting Treatment for GAD
There are a number of options available for GAD treatment. These include:
- Medication: Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are regularly used to treat GAD. The use of medication will depend on the needs of the individual along with any other co-occurring conditions such as depression or substance abuse.
- Therapy: Therapy is another common treatment for GAD, including psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Psychotherapy gives people with GAD a way to talk about the fears in a safe environment with a professional so that they can begin to work through them. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has also shown to help change individual thinking patterns, the way people with GAD react to stressful situations and allows individuals to confront these fears in a safe environment. In some cases, group therapy is also helpful.
Contact Brookhaven Retreat for Help Today
If you or someone you know may be suffering from GAD, don’t be afraid to ask for help. At Brookhaven Retreat, we specialize in mental health treatment for women. We offer individualized treatment programs from caring professionals at our beautiful private treatment facility in Tennessee.
We understand that you may feel a loss of control, and we want to help put your life back in your hands. Contact us today!