The holidays are a time when many of us feel an increased sense of stress. The pressure to spend time with family, buy gifts, maintain your routine, and be merry can be too much. You may be especially vulnerable to holiday stress triggers that pop up this time of year if you struggle with your mental health.
It's important to remember that you may feel different during the holidays, and that's okay. Likewise, you may need to take extra care of yourself right now, and that's also okay. All said, there are a few things you can do to help make the holidays a little easier on yourself and keep your stress levels at bay.
1. Don't Compare Yourself To Others
There are a lot of expectations placed on us to be happy and festive this time of year, but that doesn't mean you have to force yourself to feel jolly if you aren't. If the thought of Christmas cheer makes you want to curl up in a ball and hide away until New Year's, that's perfectly understandable.
Does this mean it's the best solution for your mental health? No, but it's okay to acknowledge how you're feeling. Plus, you are less alone in feeling this way than you think. And when you need a mantra or reminder: think, more patience, and less pretending.
2. Don't Try To Do Too Much
There's so much going on this time of year! It seems like we're expected to attend events, get-togethers, and parties – whether or not our mental health hinders us. But you don't have to overextend yourself just because it's the holidays.
It's okay to say no when you're feeling overwhelmed. Unrealistic expectations (especially the ones made up on social media) can bring down the best people. Instead, prioritize your time and energy, focus on what matters most, and let the rest go.
3. Take Some Time For Yourself
Schedule some downtime daily to relax and recharge if you want to be proactive about managing holiday stress. There may be a hobby or book you've wanted to pick up. Use this time to do something that brings you joy.
4. Set Boundaries For Yourself And With Others
It's essential to remember that we always have the right to set boundaries, even during the holiday season. For example, if there's an event that you know will be too triggering or stressful, it's okay to say no.
The same goes for your loved ones. If certain family members or friends bring about added anxiety, negativity, or stress, then it's okay to set limits on how much time you spend with them. However, if that's not an option, practice saying no gracefully.
Don't be afraid to put your mental health first this holiday season. Remember, you deserve to enjoy this time of year and choose where to put your time and energy.
5. Reach Out For Support
Talking about your stress can help to lessen its impact. If you're overwhelmed by holiday stress, reach out for support from family and friends, and lean on your support system for tasks or errands when needed. They'll be happy to pitch in and provide relief.
And remember, there's no shame in admitting that you need extra support to handle holiday stress and feel better this time of year. At Pacific Mind Health, we're here and available to support you through the holiday season and beyond. Our professional psychiatric services (including TMS Therapy) can help you find your own kind of peace and joy this season.
Forgiveness is sometimes one of the hardest things we extend to others. As our own harshest critics, you can imagine that forgiving ourselves can be even more challenging.
It's easy to get bogged down in our own mistakes and feel like we can't move on, stuck in a muddy pit of regret. But when we turn away from the forgiveness and compassion we might not feel we deserve, we forgo the opportunity to free ourselves from the chains of guilt and self-blame.
Of course, we know that self-forgiveness is the key, but how do we access it? It's not something we can go looking for anywhere outside of ourselves. No number of apologies to someone we hurt can set us free.
Part of the reason is that self-forgiveness isn't about forgetting and letting go but acknowledging and looking inward — before looking forward. If self-compassion is at the root of our efforts to forgive ourselves, we can finally break free from shame, blame, and regret.
Self-compassion is the key that opens the possibility of healing. Here are five self-compassionate steps to guide you through the process of self-forgiveness:
Acknowledge the Pain
The first step is to acknowledge the pain you're in. Be honest about how much pain you're in and allow yourself to sit with those feelings. You can't start healing until you truly feel pain and see the hurt.
Turn Toward the Pain
The second step is to turn toward the pain rather than away from it. What have you had difficulty forgiving? See if you can pinpoint the pain or sensations in your body when you think about what happened.
Connect with your pain with a few deep breaths. With every inhalation, say to yourself, "I'm here" or "This is painful." Then, on each exhalation, release some of the tightness in your body.
Turning toward your pain doesn't mean wallowing in it or dwelling on it but simply acknowledging that it's there and that you're ready to face it. It can be helpful to imagine yourself holding the pain like a wounded animal or a small child.
Extend Compassion To Yourself
The third step is to give yourself the compassion you deserve. This means being gentle with yourself, speaking kindly to yourself, and treating yourself with care. Just as you would for a friend or loved one, turn toward your pain with gentleness and understanding.
Start by cultivating a more compassionate mindset. For example, it might help to imagine what you would say to someone else in your situation or to think about how you would want to be treated. Loving-kindness meditation and soothing rhythmic breathing for calming your nervous system are also helpful ways to arrive in this headspace.
If you continue with a breathing exercise, now is an excellent time to create space for yourself, your pain, and your mistakes. With every inhalation, imagine that point in your body expanding – or follow your belly or ribcage. With each exhalation, breathe new oxygen into your entire body. Allow that breath to present itself as whatever you need: strength, patience, gentleness, warmth, gentleness, or peace.
The fourth step is to forgive yourself. This doesn't mean forgetting what happened or excusing your behavior but accepting it and letting go of the shame and blame. Again, it's essential to realize that forgiveness is a choice and that it's something you can give to yourself.
You might engage in a forgiveness dialogue with yourself, whether aloud or in a journal. For instance, write a letter to yourself in which you express your pain and explain what happened. Then write a response letter in which you forgive yourself. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and honest, without judgment or self-criticism.
Moving forward doesn't mean forgetting what happened but rather committing to learning from it and doing better in the future. It might help to set an intention for yourself, such as vowing to be more patient or present. It's important to realize that you are not your mistakes and can choose to live in the present moment.
If you're struggling to forgive yourself, it might be helpful to seek professional help. A mental health professional can provide support and guidance as you work through self-forgiveness. You are not alone.
Unlock The Compassionate Key To Self-Forgiveness
Forgiving yourself is not a destination, but it can be an incredibly rewarding, worthwhile journey. And like any journey, it begins with a single step. So, start today by giving yourself the compassion and understanding you deserve.
There may be times when you need to revisit these steps or start again from the beginning. Be patient and remember that you are not your mistakes - you are so much more than that. You are worthy of forgiveness.
Can You Have Too Much Empathy In Life?
Do you often find yourself caught up in the pain and suffering of others? It's not just that you recognize another person's feelings – you feel them!
To a certain extent, this level of empathy has made you a better person. For example, when you listen to a loved one talk about their problems, you share in their distress, enabling you to offer genuine support. Likewise, when you read about the death of a hometown hero, it moves you to want to reach out to their family, do something for your community, or be a constant, compassionate presence in an otherwise chaotic world.
Yet, in a world where every day seems to bring new disasters, war, heartbreaks, and difficulties, there comes a time when you start to feel the opposite. It's not that you've stopped caring, but you've lost the energy to keep caring so much.
Empathy extends beyond cultivating perspective and compassion for sensitive beings like you. Instead, your empathy leaves you feeling burned out and withdrawn, wondering how you've gone from big-hearted to cold-hearted - feeling even more confused because you know this isn't who you are.
It's important to understand that while empathy - the ability to share feelings of another - is a beautiful quality, it can also be emotionally draining if you don't know how to share and process your feelings.
Here are a few expert tips from our therapists at Pacific Mind Health that will allow you to remain compassionate and supportive to others without reaching the point of emotional exhaustion:
Improve Your Emotional Regulation Skills
As a sensitive person or empath, you need strong emotional regulation skills. This means being able to effectively manage and process your emotions so that you don't get overwhelmed by the emotions of others. There are many ways to improve emotional regulation skills, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and therapy.
Set Healthy Boundaries
Empathy is a beautiful quality, but everyone has their limits. When you care so deeply about others that it threatens your well-being, it can make you feel inauthentic, isolated, and emotionally exhausted.
Setting and maintaining emotional boundaries will help you control the extent of the emotions you take on. This doesn't mean that you become cold or callous. Instead, it could mean knowing when to take a break from engaging in specific conversations or watching the news.
Emotional acceptance means accepting your feelings, even the difficult ones. When you accept your feelings, you're less likely to judge yourself or try to push them away. This can be a complicated practice, but it can help you manage empathy fatigue.
Focus On Self-Care
If you're constantly putting yourself in other people's shoes and not giving yourself time to recover, you'll quickly become overwhelmed. So, when you're feeling drained or notice yourself getting agitated, it's a sign that you need to take some time for yourself. To minimize the impact of emotional vulnerability and fatigue, ensure you get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and spend time doing things you enjoy.
Talk To Someone Who Understands
Therapy is a powerful tool! Simply talking about your experiences and feelings with a professional can help lighten the load. If you ever feel emotionally overwhelmed, know that it's okay to take a step back. You don't have to detach from who you are to separate from what drains you.
Let’s Sort Through Your Emotions In Therapy
The average person has over 6,000 thoughts per day - that's a lot to process! But, you shouldn't have to sort through your feelings alone. Our therapists will blend various therapeutic approaches to create a multi-faceted approach that suits your needs. Therapy can help you learn how to process your emotions without experiencing emotional fatigue, anxiety, or general overwhelm.
If you or someone you love is looking for therapy in Long Beach, CA, our compassionate team is here to help! We offer a variety of therapeutic approaches, and we’ll put together a customized care plan based on your history, challenges, and goals. Reach out for support today!
You've heard the saying before, "We all have the same 24 hours in a day." On the surface, it's true because none of us have 25-hour days. But this quote has a more profound message about time management and priorities.
Many of us have daily routines that create a consistent framework for our day. For example, we go to work, maybe hit the gym, make dinner, wash, rinse, and repeat until the weekend or your next day off. But, of course, many other things happen during those hours that make life rewarding, fulfilling, and sometimes stressful.
Like the edge pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, those consistent parts of our daily routine help create a border to keep us on track and a foundation to build upon and grow.
How you spend each day matters, but not every day will be perfect...or consistent! Life happens. And, when it does, it's essential to be intentional about where you put your time, energy, and focus. These five healthy habits will help you make the most of any day regardless of what life throws your way.
Get Enough Sleep
Quality sleep is integral to your overall health and wellness. Poor sleep can have a negative impact on your daily activities, relationships, and family life. This is because there’s a direct correlation between lack of sleep, cognition, and the way you feel.
Sleep is a basic human need essential for your physical and mental health. Your body goes through different phases of sleep throughout the night and usually works on a 24-hour circadian rhythm that helps you know when it’s time to sleep. If you struggle with the timing, quality, and amount of sleep, it could signify a sleep disorder that requires treatment.
Don't get stuck on autopilot! Think about how much time you spend going through the motions each day. When we fall into this mindset, we lose track of our intentions, and what matters. Living life on autopilot can be distracting and make it hard to focus or spark creativity.
On the other hand, practicing mindfulness allows you to refocus your attention and be present in the current moment. When you're mindful, you can cultivate a centered and non-judgmental mental headspace that will enable you to make
empowered decisions with clarity. So be mindful of your time and energy, even on your busiest days.
We often think we don't have time for self-care or that it's selfish, but the opposite is true. When we don't take care of ourselves, we're less effective in everything else we do personally and professionally. So, carve out a little time each day to focus on activities that recharge you physically and emotionally.
Remember that self-care doesn't have to be expensive or take up hours of your day. Self-care can be as simple as reading a book, listening to your favorite song, calling a friend, or going for a walk during your lunch break.
Nurture Meaningful Relationships
Healthy relationships are vital for a happy life. They provide us with love, support, and connection - three crucial things for our well-being. Even if it’s not realistic to see your loved ones every day, there are still many ways to stay connected.
Relationships are built on trust, effective communication, and mutual appreciation. In healthy relationships, both parties are active participants. Take a moment to reflect on all of the relationships in your life to ensure that both parties are committed in meaningful ways. Then, only spend your time, energy, and effort nurturing the relationships worthy of your love and attention.
Build Resilience Through Positivity
You don't always have to be positive or have a good day. On the tough days, focus on building your resilience. You can learn a lot from your mistakes. Stay rooted in positivity and know that you can move forward. When paired together, the combination of resilience and positivity is truly a force to be reckoned with. These two learned mindsets are vital for overcoming adversity and promoting personal growth.
Begin each day by practicing gratitude and making an effort to see the silver lining. Your days will be brighter when you choose to see things in a better light. So choose positivity, even when it's hard. These small things add up, significantly impacting your overall well-being.
We Can Help You Make The Most Of Each Day
Making the most of each day becomes second nature when you live intentionally. You have to take that first step and decide that you're going to do it. We understand that taking that first step is sometimes the hardest. If you or someone you love is looking for a psychiatrist in Long Beach, our team is here for you.
We strive to help create a treatment plan which will help you find a path to wellness whether that means medications, novel treatments, or psychotherapy. Our goal is to provide thorough diagnostic evaluations which will inform treatment choices and increase the likelihood the treatment will be successful.
We’ve all been there before...
You set a goal to motivate yourself and one thing leads to the next. Your job, the kids, baseball practice, the pandemic…where does the time go?! It’s so easy to put your health and wellness on the back burner these days.
Lately, have you found yourself giving more than you take? We know that trying to balance multiple roles in this “new normal” is stressful and sometimes overwhelming. It’s so easy to forget about the importance of caring and loving yourself during these challenging times even though it’s more important than ever!
Self-love is NOT about being selfish.
It’s not about “getting what you want” or overindulging.
Self-love is not selfish… it’s a requirement.
When we are kind to ourselves , that kindness often emulates around us. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it’s a perfect time to focus on the power of self-love!
Here are some ways you can appreciate and take care of yourself each day to help boost your mood.
Set Healthy Boundaries
You really can’t practice self-love properly if you are constantly giving to others and running on empty. Remember that it’s OK to say ‘no’ sometimes! Learning how to politely say ‘no’ can help you preserve your time and energy. Healthy boundaries help you avoid overcommitting so you can remain healthy, refreshed, and happy!
Let Go Of Perfectionism
Give up on the dangerous idea of perfectionism especially during a global pandemic! Choose acceptance instead. Some days, good enough is enough. Embrace your imperfections because someone else may see the beauty in your flaws. Love yourself for who you are! Don’t worry about meeting anyone else’s standards. As a general rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t say it to someone else, don’t say it to yourself!
Don’t let life pass you by chasing the next best thing. Live in the moment and appreciate the ups with the downs. If the past is dragging you down, let it go! A positive outlook can help you view your mistakes and obstacles are opportunities to learn and grow.
“When we practice mindfulness, it helps calm racing thoughts by tuning into what
Try to find small ways to practice mindfulness each day with deep breathing, meditation, and relaxation techniques that can help you move forward in clarity.
Self-Love Means Making Your Mental Health A Priority
You wouldn’t hesitate to reach out for help if you had a heart condition or diabetes. The same should be try when it comes to your mental health. Don’t let the stigma surrounding mental health keep you from getting the help that you need to thrive!
We’re here to help you feel better! You don’t just have to ‘push through’ feelings of depression and anxiety. We believe that treating mental illness in a modern society requires innovation and compassion, flexibility and focus. Pacific Mind Health integrates evidence-based treatments into a customized health plan that optimizes mental health
outcomes. One of our goals is to minimize medication overuse and dependence.
You’ve heard the proverbial phrase before, “Is the glass half-full or half - empty?” Of course, what the question is really asking is, “Are you an optimistic (half-full) or pessimistic (half-empty) type of person?” The answer isn’t always straightforward. Maybe some days you’re a ‘glass half -full’ kind of person and other days you only see it as half-empty. Thanks to COVID-19, social unrest, looming wildfires, and really the entire year of 2020, we’re all feeling a
little more ‘glass half-empty’ these days.
We’ve said it a thousand times before and we’ll say it again…
It’s OK to not be OK!
However, it is important to evaluate your mood, your mindset, and your general attitude in life. Constant negativity can fuel anxiety and depression. The good news is you have the ability to change your mindset - - it’s not set in stone! You can shift your attitude and perspective anytime you’d like.
If you feel like negativity and pessimism have caused a constant grey cloud in your life, watch out for these three negative behaviors that dampen your mood.
Does your brain go from zero to worst-case scenario in situations? Do you tend to see things as far worse than they actually are? People who catastrophize live in a mindset of ‘doom and gloom’ even when they have sufficient resources to deal with the problem at hand.
People who have a negative mindset tend to practice avoidance in order to eliminate risks - even when they are small. If you don't take a risk, you will never learn what you can manage. Often, when you continuously avoid something, it builds and builds to an unmanageable point. Sometimes the things you are avoiding are actually personal triggers and deserve further evaluation from a mental health professional.
Hanging On To Certainty
We all have routines and preferences, but when you never step outside of your comfort zone, you set yourself up for failure. A negative mindset can cause you to view things as threatening just because you don't understand them.
Clinging onto certainty can actually hold you back in life, “ said Dr. Joshua
Learn How To Accept Uncertainty
No matter how much you strive to eliminate doubt from your life, the truth is you already accept a lot of uncertainty every day. No one knows what lies ahead but we stay rooted and focused on what we can control.
Unfortunately, for someone with anxiety, irrational fears and worries can take hold day after day. It can be hard to think logically when fear is always in control. Anxiety is that general feeling of worry, unease, or nervousness regarding an imminent event or something with an outcome that’s uncertain. Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life, but persistent anxiety could indicate an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety isn’t something you have to live with, we can help you move forward in wellness. If your anxiety is interfering with your daily life, contact Pacific Mind Health for quality mental health care and support.
Call it a short fuse, bad temper, or just an awful day. Maybe it’s stress about the pandemic or a conflict at home that’s making you extra grouchy these days. Whatever the reason, anger seems to come over you in waves sometimes crashing down and destroying your world.
You don’t understand why you’re feeling this way.
Why you are so on edge?
You’d like the unexplained anger to surpass.
You’re not alone!
Anxiety affects an estimated 40 million people in the U.S. alone. It can also affect the way we think about things especially during a global pandemic. When you are anxious, every situation can feel like a perceived threat. Your mind can take you to the ‘worst-case scenario' regularly.
In some cases, anxiety can leave you feeling physically uncomfortable or tense. It’s also debilitating for those who suffer from more serve levels of anxiety that cause physical sensations like feeling sick, or tightness in your chest.
The truth is, anxiety can present itself in many ways and bring you down. Watch out for these sneaky signs that anxiety is showing up in your life.
You Are Feeling More Tired Than Usual
One sneaky thing about anxiety is that it’s naturally tiring. Constant and excessive worry can cause your energy levels to go up…and crash down. This vicious cycle of fatigue and anxious thinking can impact the way feel and function.
Many people with severe stress and anxiety are also prone to sleeping problems. Do you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night? Do you have trouble falling asleep? All of these disturbances add up in a big way and make it hard for you to focus and stay alert throughout the day.
Things like eliminating technology and stimulation (i.e. caffeine) before bed can help. Some people will find relief from meditation, mindfulness, and yoga. If anxiety is affecting your sleep quality, it’s important to reach out for support as medication and psychotherapy might help you find restful night again
You Get Angry Or Frustrated Easily
People who suffer from anxiety might find themselves getting easily frustrated or just generally on edge. This anger may be directed at yourself or others. Anxiety can cause you to overthink things and become more self-critical. Maybe you feel like you’ve been falling short. Perhaps you are focusing on physical appearance too much and filling your mind with negative self-talk. Or you might find yourself snapping at your partner more than usual.
Unfortunately, untreated anxiety can turn into anger that stems from an underlying fear about something. The cause of anxiety is complex and sometimes hard to pinpoint which can leave someone feeling even more frustrated.
There are several possible causes of anxiety that aren’t fully understood. Life experiences, such as traumatic events, seem to trigger anxiety disorders in people who may be more susceptible,” said Dr. Joshua Flatow, the lead psychiatrist at Pacific Mind Health.
You're Always Busy, But You Can't Get Things Done
Another sneaky sign of anxiety is lack of focus. Do you often find yourself starting a million things but never really scratching anything off of your list? Poor time management, low productivity, and difficulty prioritizing can all be signs that your anxiety is getting worse.
Anxiety disorders can encompass many other psychiatric conditions like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, and ADHD. It’s important to remember that anxiety disorders are not just reserved for people who tend to worry a lot. Anyone can develop an anxiety disorder. There are a number of factors that come into play including your environment, upbringing, genetics, and chemical imbalances in the brain.
Find Relief From Your Symptoms At Pacific Mind Health
The good news is that anxiety disorders can be managed effectively in most cases. With the right treatment plan, it’s possible to lead a very successful and fulfilling life despite your anxiety. There’s no reason to suffer! Treatment should be started as soon as possible.
Like any medical condition, the sooner you can start treatment for an anxiety disorder, the better. The longer it goes without getting help, the more severe your condition can become.
There are many great treatment options available including medication, therapy, alternative treatments, and self-help options. We’re here to help! Schedule a consultation today.
Welcome to May!
We’ll be the first to admit that keeping track of time…or even what day it is…has proven to be somewhat challenging during the quarantine. But now it’s officially May and a great time to move forward in positivity.
May is a well-known transitional month as we move from spring to summer. We get to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day, but did you know that May is also Mental Health Month? That means we have the spotlight to help shed some light on the realities of mental and emotional wellbeing and the psychiatric conditions that threaten it.
Mental Health Month: 'Tools 2 Thrive'
More than just observing a month like this, let’s use the opportunity to learn what we can do to make a real difference in the life of someone who suffers from a mental health disorder. Mental Health America’s theme this year is “Tools 2 Thrive.” The goal is to help provide practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase resiliency regardless of the situations they are dealing with (like COVID-19).
“One in five people will experience mental illness during their lifetime, but all of us will have experiences that affect our mental health,” said Dr. Joshua Flatow, a psychiatrist with Pacific Mind Health. “Destigmatizing mental illness is an important first step toward getting people the help that they need before they reach a point of crisis. This wonderful national campaign is something we fully support at Pacific Mind Health. The tools we use to help our patients thrive include everything from pharmacologic and therapy-based treatment to innovative treatments like IV Ketamine and TMS Therapy.”
As part of Mental Health Month, Mental Health America has put together a variety of screening tools that you can take individually or offer to a loved one who may be struggling. While these screenings do not take the place of a professional evaluation, they are useful in getting people to recognize symptoms in themselves and to spark dialogue about mental health care in general.
We want to make it easy for you to get well and the right tools matter!
Breaking The Burdens of Shame
One of the most important ways to #endthestigma surrounding mental health is to talk about mental health disorders openly just as we do with a physical illness like diabetes, cancer, or a heart condition to name a few.
Depression is more than just having a bad day. It can be a crippling disorder that forces people to live under a veil of darkness…
Anxiety Disorders can result in a debilitating cycle of persistent, excessive worry day after day…
OCD is not a quirk, a preference for tidiness, or something that you can just ‘get over’
The more we make psychiatric disorders part of casual conversation, the further back we push the stigma associated with this suffering.
Mental Health Awareness Helps Reduce The Stigma
Even though we’ve come a long way over the past few decades when it comes to mental illnesses, we still have a long way to go in acceptance and normalization. The good news is mental health disorders like GAD, Major Depression, ADHD, and OCD are very treatable. The key is to get help as soon as possible. It is possible to lead a very happy and successful life, hold down a career, and have a strong social life despite having a mental illness.
We’re thankful for celebrities who help us normalize mental illnesses by stepping out into the spotlight. Johnny Depp, David Beckham, Howie Mandel, Whoopi Goldberg, Jessica Alba, and Heather Locklear are just a few A-listers who’ve publicly shared their struggles.
“It takes a lot of courage to say ‘My anxiety is flaring up and I need to take a break’ in the middle of a birthday party. Try it, though, and I suspect you’ll have a few other people who follow you to a quiet space,” said Dr. Joshua Flatow, a psychiatrist at Pacific Mind Health in Southern California. “More and more, as people are honest about their struggles, the stigma around mental illness fades. Mental Health Awareness month is intended to empower people to let go of any shame related to a diagnosis and to educate others about how they can openly and usefully support loved ones with mental health issues.”
Pacific Mind Health Can Help You Thrive
Medication and therapy are often effective treatments for common mental illnesses. Our team also embraces Neuroscience breakthroughs by providing cutting-edge treatments like Ketamine and TMS Therapy for hard-to-treat cases of depression.
You can be free of depressive thoughts, despair, and that awful feeling that you don’t belong or fit in. You can live a full and rewarding life. Celebrate Mental Health Month by making your mental wellness a priority. It all starts with an evaluation - call today!
A pandemic, anxiety, and you.
It’s day - who knows what, of week - can anyone remember? and minute - at least 8 trillion of Quarantine 2020.
Families are sequestered in homes that used to be places of comfort but now feel more like institutions of confinement. If you try to escape for a few minutes, don’t dare take a walk around the neighborhood without a mask or you’ll feel like Cersei on her “Shame” walk. Speaking of shame, has TikTok really become our best chance at modern human connection?
All this time in isolation has given us lots of time to think. Normally we long for those quiet moments where our brains can have still reflection, but it is possible to get too much of a good thing. Especially for those with anxiety.
With anxiety, overthinking is a baseline. The brain spirals into thoughts that are often out of proportion with reality. No matter how hard you try, you can’t suppress them, and the frustration of being out of control feeds the anxiety even more. Sometimes it ultimately culminates in the near-death experience of a panic attack. You can’t breathe, your chest seizes up, your vision blurs, your arm goes numb, and your hands clench against your will. You’re convinced this is it -- you’re having a heart attack and a stroke at the same time.
Except you’re not. You’re in the grips of anxiety, experiencing the very real symptoms it brings, and it’s just awful.
“Anxiety is understandably on the rise with the Covid-19 pandemic, not just in patients with anxiety disorders but also in people who typically manage anxiety without issue,” said Joshua Flatow, a psychiatrist at Pacific Mind Health in Los Angeles, Calif. “The constant worry, the isolation, the actual threat of death -- these are legitimate concerns having a significant effect on all of us.”
For those new to anxiety thanks to Covid-19, it seems like this cycle of feeling out of control, worried, frustrated, and trapped will never end. We can’t escape to the gym or a spa to reset because our normal coping places are closed. No more heading to the pub for happy hour with friends to blow off some steam. We can’t get relief from our families because they’re likely contributing to our stress levels. This will not last forever, but what are we supposed to do in the meantime?
Get professional help for your anxiety. Seriously. This is not a time to be coy about struggling.
“Getting help early will not only prevent an escalation in symptoms, but it can also prevent a decline overall,” said Joshua Flatow, a psychiatrist at Pacific Mind Health specializing in anxiety management. “Stress and anxiety can lead to emotional instability, insomnia, abuse of alcohol or drugs, and even depression or suicide. Early intervention can spare patients from getting to the point of crisis.”
To ensure all patients who need it can get timely comprehensive care, Pacific Mind Health is offering telepsychiatry and teletherapy, an easy-to-use service that allows providers to see patients through an encrypted, HIPPA compliant online video service. For those with known anxiety disorders or those with pandemic-induced anxiety, telepsychiatry provides continuity of care and a face-to-face interaction while respecting health-related mandates.
Pacific Mind Health is offering Telepsychiatry and Teletherapy
Several medications exist for the treatment of anxiety, the most common of which are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). SSRIs and SNRIs target neurotransmitters in the brain to increase a person’s threshold for stress and decrease the intensity anxiety responses.
Other medications like buspirone may be indicated for panic attacks, as it provides a rapid calming effect.
Benzodiazepines were historically used for management of anxiety, but as understanding of the underlying causes of anxiety and the long term effects of benzodiazepines increased, reliance on them has decreased. They still have value for short-term, immediate relief of anxiety symptoms, but they are no longer considered a first-line treatment for anxiety.
One exciting new development in the treatment of anxiety associated with depression is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS stimulates brain cells associated with mood control and depression, however many studies indicate it may be useful in treating a range of psychiatric conditions, including anxiety and OCD. To that end, Pacific Mind Health is offering TMS therapy to qualified patients.
In addition to medications and TMS, therapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy, can help patients learn new tools for coping with anxiety, especially in times like these when our normal coping methods are unavailable to us.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is useful in teaching patients how to become aware of anxiety triggers, to explore stressful situations in less frightening ways, and to cultivate better coping and problem-solving skills. Pacific Mind Health offers CBT in person or through its convenient, easy-to-use telepsychiatry service.
“CBT is based on the premise that thoughts dictate feelings,” said Dr. Flatow, who said he recommends therapy to the majority of the patients he treats for anxiety. “By challenging thoughts, you can reprogram negative thinking patterns and stave off anxious feelings.”
The cognitive restructuring cultivated in CBT challenges patients with anxiety to:
“Anxiety is a heightened reaction to input from various areas of life, and this pandemic has essentially pushed most of us into a corner when it comes to managing anxiety. But there is no need to stay in that corner, trembling and worried. There are treatments available. This pandemic does not have to feel like the end of the world simply because anxiety is trying to make it so.” - Dr. Flatow of Pacific Mind Health.
Pacific Mind Health offers comprehensive mental health care for a range of psychiatric conditions, including anxiety and depression. If you are looking for a psychiatrist in Los Angeles or Long Beach, California, or telepsychiatry in California, please contact us to schedule an appointment
By now you’ve probably received an email from your employer, your airline, your phone company, your child’s school, your doctor’s office, and every other entity you’re connected to with some messaging about the coronavirus. We fully expected news coverage of it, and at least a press conference or two from the government, but coronavirus has gone so far as to email us -- repeatedly. It has made personal contact to a private address, bringing with it tips and tricks to avoid it.
The awful truth is that we simply can’t.
The coronavirus, much like Zika virus and Ebola virus and Swine Flu and SARS and West Nile virus, is in the air. It’s already earned a new nickname, COVID-19, to distinguish it from the other coronavirus strains that most of us mistake for a bad cold. It is a real virus that causes a real health concern, especially for older adults and people who may have chronic heart, lung or kidney disease. It does require vigilance and behavior modifications to protect yourself, especially as it is easily spread.
But does it require panic? Will our heightened anxiety about coronavirus translate into protection? Will waiting in line at Costco with a year’s worth of toilet paper spare us or expose us? What should we be doing to stay healthy?
“Intense, sustained anxiety can suppress the immune system, and given the amount of exposure to the coronavirus information being circulated around the clock, most people are experiencing more anxiety and for longer periods,” said Joshua Flatow, a psychiatrist at Pacific Mind Health in Los Angeles, Calif. “Of course, anxiety will not cause any illness, but the suppression of the immune system can increase susceptibility.”
Consider how the run on supplies may be affecting you. Typically you may go buy bottled water and pick up some hand sanitizer while in the checkout lane. Now you can’t find hand sanitizer. Nor can you buy masks. Bottled water is scarce on shelves, and easy-to-find over-the-counter medications for things like fever and cough are suddenly impossible-to-find.
Last week Amazon had to crack down on people trying to profit off of fear by attaching misleading information about coronavirus to products, and this week it has removed more than half a million products for price gouging. How are we supposed to prepare when we can’t get what we need to be prepared?
You Do Not Need to Buy Anything Special to Combat Coronavirus
The reality is you don’t need to buy anything special to combat coronavirus. You need to be disciplined at washing your hands thoroughly and often. You need to maintain a clean environment, including wiping down surfaces touched by multiple people, especially cell phones. You need to avoid crowds and provide some extra personal space when in lines or congested areas. You need to isolate yourself if you are sick or exposed to someone sick, and resist the temptation to find comfort in denial.
And you need to manage your anxiety.
“As troubling as it is, coronavirus has united us around the world,” said Joshua Flatow, a psychiatrist at Pacific Mind Health in Los Angeles, Calif. “We felt for the whistleblowing doctors and nurses in Wuhan. We tried to imagine what it would be like to be stuck on a cruise ship with infected people and no ability to leave. We felt grief and relief as our calendars cleared with all the cancellations and postponements of events and commitments. The world is experiencing the same worry, and it’s this global concern and connection that has spread fear and spiked anxiety.”
The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 is going to persist until it stops spreading, and anxiety will continue spiraling as well. Many aspects of this outbreak are out of our control, but what we can do is protect our mental health.
Tips for Staying Sane amidst COVID-19 Craziness
Pacific Mind Health is Offering Telemedicine to Our Patients
Pacific Mind Health in Los Angeles, Calif., is offering its patients the opportunity to obtain and continue their care through its easy, convenient telemedicine program. Telemedicine is a form of a secure video appointment that allows patients to connect with a provider from the comfort of home.
Primary doctors and urgent care clinics are also encouraging phone and telemedicine visits for patients, especially those with fever and dry cough, symptoms of COVID-19 infection that arrive 2-14 days after exposure. If you are feeling sick and are unsure if it is due to allergies, flu, or another virus consider these appointment alternatives to contain exposure.
“Anyone feeling extra anxious over coronavirus should not feel hopeless or unsupported,” said Dr. Flatow. “Even people with optimal mental health are struggling with tolerating vulnerability and managing uncertainty associated with an outbreak like this. At Pacific Mind Health, we help patients not only develop effective strategies for coping with this event, but also with everyday life events that cause anxiety.”
Pacific Mind Health offers comprehensive mental health care for a range of psychiatric conditions. If you are looking for a psychiatrist in Los Angeles or Long Beach, California, or telepsychiatry in California, please contact us to schedule an appointment.
For children and adolescents who require medication to treat anxiety, there are two primary classes of antidepressants that are prescribed: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
To read the complete article at University of Cincinnati HealthNews, click here.