Mental Health

Drug Assessment: What to Expect

Posted on November 2nd, 2017

A drug assessment is usually one of the first steps in treatment when entering a drug or alcohol rehab. These evaluations help clinicians develop an appropriate detox and treatment plan based on the types of substances abused and severity of addiction. Specific drug assessment tools vary by treatment program and provider. According to substance abuse and co-occurring disorders assessment guidelines created by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), some of the main components of a mental health and drug assessment might include the following:

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Holiday Loss: Grieving Toxic Relationships

Posted on October 30th, 2017

In recovery, you must leave behind the lifestyle, and the people, who enabled you to maintain your active addiction. Studies show that peers have a strong influence on drinking and drug use. Intimate partners can also sway you to indulge in old behaviors. Thus, people who drank or did drugs with you cannot be part of your new, sober life if they are still active in those habits.

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Tips for Supporting a Loved One With an Eating Disorder During the Holidays

Posted on October 17th, 2017

For those with food-related challenges or an eating disorder, the holidays are full of events that can trigger addictive thoughts and behaviors.

Triggers can be anxiety-provoking and stressful, setting a negative tone for the entire holiday season. Depending on which type of eating disorder your loved one has, giving in to temptations — or even just being exposed to the temptations on display — may trigger feelings of shame and guilt that set off a pattern of uncontrolled binging, purging or starving that continues through Thanksgiving and the rest of the holidays like a rolling snowball.

Helping someone with an eating disorder and ensuring the holiday season is less stressful may require using a few tips to eliminate triggers that might disrupt their recovery plan and overwhelm them with an avalanche of obsessive thoughts and difficult emotions around food.

Tips for Supporting Your Loved One Who Has an Eating Disorder

If your loved one has received eating disorder treatment or participates in a 12-step support group for people with food issues, it is very likely their recovery plan includes getting extra support in certain environments.

“Holiday challenges with family and food can be a huge trigger for those struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating,” says Shannon McQuaid, LMFT, LISAC, CDWF, CSAT, executive director at Promises Scottsdale. “Some general coping tips for those in recovery are to attend events with a supportive friend or family member who knows their struggles, discuss a plan before the event or schedule time before or after to attend a support group.”

You can support your loved one in these ways, and here are five additional tips to assist you in helping someone with an eating disorder:

#1 Ask your loved one which triggers they must avoid.

Because recovery plans for eating disorders are highly individualized, it can be tricky to know how to help your loved one avoid their particular set of triggers. If they are open about their eating issues and you are going to be hosting them at your house over the holidays or organizing a party or outing, it is OK to call them in advance to ask them what they need for support or if there is anything they must avoid to stay strong in recovery. Let them know you want to help them stay on their program. Knowing which triggers to steer clear of is key to helping someone with an eating disorder avoid relapsing.

#2 Organize a get-together that doesn’t revolve around food.

You can break with tradition by planning a holiday gathering that does not involve food or eating. You might organize a hike in a nearby park, a trip to the local ice-skating rink, or a group visit to a museum to see the latest exhibit. The focus of a gathering like this is on making connections with loved ones and enjoying your time together during a fun activity, rather than on gathering around a table to feast on indulgent foods. Meals can be extremely anxiety-provoking for people with eating disorders, so removing a meal from the equation by hosting a non-food event is likely to be appreciated by your loved one.

#3 Advance-plan for a holiday event at a restaurant.

If a holiday event must be held at a restaurant and your loved isn’t restricted from visiting restaurants as part of their recovery, there are some measures you can take to make things easier on them. Get the restaurant’s menu in advance and share it with everyone on your guest list, asking them to choose what they will order before you make the reservation to simplify the ordering process during the event. It may help your loved one if they know in advance what they will be eating and that the event won’t undermine their recovery with unexpected triggers.

#4 Circumvent difficult people or situations that may trigger relapse.

For many people with substance use disorders and eating disorders, triggers for relapse can include being around people they find difficult, or situations that have problematic dynamics for them — negative emotions can be triggers. Helping your loved one avoid the triggers for their eating disorder may involve not inviting the person who triggers them to visit your home at the same time — stagger your invites so you are able to see both relatives, but days apart. Likewise, if you know that visiting a relative’s house triggers your loved one’s disorder, visit that relative on your own and be understanding if your loved one chooses to decline the invitation.

#5 Make meals as “normal” as possible.

While some programs for people with disordered eating encourage abstinence from certain foods that serve as triggers, (i.e., sugar and flour), others do not encourage abstinence from any foods or food groups. Instead, they teach moderation, not elimination.

“To support someone you love with disordered eating or an eating disorder, it is important to not change and adjust the menu, eliminate foods or make the person feel guilt or shame, or as if they are being singled out,” says McQuaid. “I would suggest making the celebration as ‘normal’ as possible and empowering your loved one to have a support person available to call, if needed. You can facilitate this by finding out where a local Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA) meeting is located, and get them there. The most significant help you can provide your loved one is making sure they don’t isolate after the event and that they have someone there with them to share and support their struggles.”

Sources

Types and Symptoms of Eating Disorders. National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).
https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/types-symptoms-eating-disorders

Eating Disorders. National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. February 2016. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml

Eating Disorders. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, September 2017.
https://medlineplus.gov/eatingdisorders.html

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Casting Light on America’s Maternal Mental Health Crisis

Posted on June 2nd, 2017

Every year some 4 million women give birth in the United States, and as many as 20% will suffer from some type of maternal mental health disorder during the postpartum period.

The American Academy of Pediatricians refers to postpartum depression as “the most common but most underdiagnosed obstetrical complication in the country.” Only 15% of the 800,000 women who suffer from maternal mental health disorders in any given year will undergo therapy for their conditions, adding statistical strength to this assertion.

In fact, postpartum depression is not the only type of maternal mental health disorder. Postpartum anxiety disorders are also common among new mothers, and in rarer instances a more serious illness known as postpartum psychosis may also be diagnosed. The latter is an extreme condition that if left untreated can lead to hospitalization, suicide and even infanticide, but thankfully it only affects about one out of every 500 women who give birth.

Postpartum mental disorders are distinct from the “baby blues,” a moderate-intensity condition marked by fatigue and depression that affects up to four out of five new mothers. The onset of true maternal mental health disorders can occur anytime up to a year after a child is born, and it is believed to be caused (at least initially) by hormonal changes that persist throughout the first few months of the postpartum period.

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Are You a People-Pleaser? Here’s How to Break the Habit

Posted on May 25th, 2017

It’s time to hit the pause button on your regularly scheduled life and do some self-reflection. Read the following statements and mark them true or false, based on whether they apply to you.

  • I often find myself putting other people’s needs ahead of my own.
  • I have trouble saying no to people because I don’t want to disappoint them or have them disapprove of me.
  • Making other people happy, having them rely on me, earning their appreciation or praise, is incredibly fulfilling to me.
  • I have a tendency to go out of my way to please people, try to get them to like me, or give them what I think they need.
  • I frequently go along with what other people want or defer to their preferences to keep the peace or make them happy.

If you marked any of these statements true, you’re personally familiar with the people-pleasing habit. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make other people happy or to have a positive effect on them. But if you find yourself going to great lengths to please other people and sacrificing or shortchanging your own needs consistently to do so, the need to please has become a problem.

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6 Ways DBT Can Help You Handle Distress

Posted on May 19th, 2017

By Kelsey Harper, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist and Program Director at Promises Malibu

Some people can sail through a crisis or upsetting event while others are overwhelmed by mild stress. What’s your coping style? One way we find out is through dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which we use to assess distress tolerance skills, identify the ways a client typically reacts to stress, and teach tools for accepting and dealing effectively with the realities of any given situation. 

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Celebrities Open Up About Having Anxiety and Other Mental Health Issues

Posted on May 5th, 2017

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and many celebrities and prominent public figures are using the month as an opportunity to speak out about the mental health issues that affect them. Mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), dyslexia, autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and others will be highlighted and humanized through various national campaigns and activities in May.

One of the most buzz-worthy platforms celebrities are using to discuss mental health in May is the Child Mind Institute’s Speak Up for Kids campaign. Following the campaign’s theme of #MyYoungerSelf, stars are telling their younger selves the things they wished they had heard when they were growing up with mental health issues, and struggling with feelings or problems they didn’t understand.

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How Physical Treatments Affect Mental Health

Posted on March 24th, 2017

Chemical interactions in the brain are the basis of all mental health. When the correct chemicals are present in the correct amounts, your mood remains stable and you have a positive outlook on life. When the chemicals become imbalanced, you may experience mood swings or get stuck feeling severely depressed, manic, anxious or paranoid, to name a few.

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