When you suffer a devastating personal loss it will change your life forever. In most instances you will find the strength to move on despite the heartbreak, but not before undergoing an extended period of grief.
Intense grief can be triggered by the death of a loved one, but also by divorce, job loss, serious illness or disability, significant financial setbacks, fractured friendships, the loss of your home or becoming a victim of violent crime. Loss and grief are universal human experiences, and all of us will encounter them at one time or another.
“I can’t sleep. I might have to take a couple of Ambien to go to sleep,” actor Heath Ledger told his sister on the phone the night before he died. She knew he had received prescriptions for co-occurring anxiety, depression and insomnia, and warned him not to mix his medications — she understood the dangers.
Ledger’s overlapping conditions were not unusual. It is common for someone who suffers from anxiety to suffer from depression — more than 50% of people diagnosed with depression also have anxiety. Insomnia occurs in 50% to 90% of people with these mental health conditions, so it is not unusual for a person to receive coinciding prescriptions for insomnia, anxiety and depression.
Like many people, Ledger took multiple prescription medications together. Ledger told his sister not to worry, but 24 hours later, the talented performer and aspiring film director was gone at the age of 28. The cause of death? Accidental “acute intoxication” from the combined effects of six prescription medications, including sleep medications, anti-anxiety medications and opioid painkillers.
The medical examiner reported that Ledger’s death resulted from the misuse or “abuse of prescription medications,” but it was their toxic combination that killed him.
Millions of people abuse drugs, and millions end up in the emergency room because of the harmful effects these substances have on the human body. Inevitably, the use of ERs for drug treatment drives up the nation’s overall medical costs. With the help of data collected by federal researchers, we can roughly estimate how much money goes to drug-related ER visits.
It has often been said that if you want to know more about a particular topic, it’s best to go directly to the source, or the horse’s mouth — as it were.
But with social anxiety disorder, things aren’t so easy. Ask me about it and the chances are I won’t be able to tell you much of anything. Not because I don’t know — I do, I’ve suffered from it my whole life.
No, the problem is that those of us who have social anxiety disorder don’t like to answer personal questions. Or many other types of questions, for that matter. We see no upside but plenty of downside in doing so.
People from all walks of life suffer from anxiety disorders. Now a new study sheds light on who is most affected by this oftentimes debilitating condition. The research, published in the journal Brain and Behavior, suggests that women are almost twice as likely to experience anxiety as men. Led by Olivia Remes, PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge, this study also found that people from Western Europe and North America are more likely to suffer from anxiety than people from other cultures.
“Anxiety is debilitating, disabling, and can increase the risk for suicide,” Remes said. “It can cause significant distress in many areas of someone’s life … [it] can make people less productive at work and can also increase the risk for other serious conditions such as depression and alcohol abuse.”
It is important, she notes, that people who think they might be suffering from the symptoms of anxiety — restlessness, muscle tension, an inability to focus, insomnia, constant worry and fear, among others — seek help. If left untreated, anxiety can become quite severe and lead to other mental health problems, which makes treatment of any of the disorders more difficult.
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.
After living with depression or anxiety for an extended period of time, it’s hard to remember what it feels like to be happy and full of energy.
What in your life is guaranteed to make you happy? If you’re struggling right now with your mental health, that is a tough question to answer. When you are having a good day, try this exercise: write an encouraging letter to yourself. Make note of the things that make everyday life a joy. Refer back to the letter when you need a pick me up, or bookmark this webpage for easy reference.
There’s a big difference between being alone and being lonely. Solitude can be soothing and gratifying, whereas feeling lonely, whether you’re by yourself or with other people, can be painful and distressing. That’s because loneliness is a state of mind more than a matter of circumstances; it’s a feeling of being isolated or alone or disconnected from others, even when you’re with them.
Certain characteristics make some people more vulnerable than others to addiction. There is a hereditary component, of course, as we know addiction can run in families. But DNA does not necessarily make addiction a foregone conclusion and likely only contributes to about 50% of the risk of developing addiction. Environment and personality characteristics also play roles in addiction, sometimes contributing to a “recipe” of combined factors that make one person more likely than the next to fall victim to substance abuse.
Susan’s doctor prescribed her the opioid-based pain medication hydrocodone to help manage her fibromyalgia flare-ups. She took the medication as needed and found relief each time.
So when Susan’s friend Jess, who had recently had back surgery, complained of back pain that wouldn’t go away with ibuprofen or acetaminophen, Susan offered her one of her pain pills.
“Oh, I couldn’t take one from you.”
“It’s not a bother,” Susan insisted, rising from her chair and walking into the kitchen. “I have plenty for now and I just take them when it gets bad. Trust me, it’ll help.”
Jess accepted the pill and Susan thought nothing more of it.
People start using substances for a variety of reasons, one of the most common being to self-medicate, to numb-out, in order to ease the day’s stress. However, what may begin as a glass or two of wine or a quick hit of marijuana can slip into a full-blown addiction in what may seem like the blink of an eye.
No one is immune to experiencing hardships in life and some may even be forced to deal with significant trauma such as abuse, or surviving a natural disaster. What matters is how we learn to cope with these events that may challenge or stress us out. In addiction recovery, developing and maintaining healthy coping skills is crucial when one can no longer rely on the crutch of drugs or alcohol.
By Gregory Skipper, MD, Medical Director, Promises Professionals Treatment Program
Why do we physicians become addicted? And, once addicted, why are we likely to deny a problem exists and unlikely to seek help … until colleagues or the medical board step in? The answers to these questions are important because they are directly related to determining the most effective length of treatment for addicted physicians.
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.
Biofeedback therapy is the general term for a range of techniques that rely on information provided by your own body to help you improve your physical or mental well-being. One of the many methods used to achieve this goal is neurofeedback therapy, which relies on information gathered from a specific part of your brain. A closer look will help clarify the differences between these two categories of therapy.
Anger is instinctive, or at least that’s how it often feels. Someone cuts you off in traffic? Anger. Stub your toe? Anger. Think you’ve been unfairly reprimanded by your boss? Feeling angry is probably not far away.