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. Mottsin Thomas, 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!
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 Mottsin Thomas, 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. Thomas 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 Mottsin Thomas, 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. Thomas. “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.