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Why Spending Time Alone Is Good For Your Mental Health

Did you know that spending time alone can help you improve your quality of life?

Alone time is something that people either enjoy or fear. Unfortunately, many people struggle with being alone because they’re unsure of what to do.

While being alone can seem daunting, alone time benefits people in many ways if they know how to take advantage of it.

Here at Solara Mental Health, we regularly help people turn their lives around by changing how they think about being alone. We’ll outline why spending time alone is essential so you can also live a better life.

Read on to learn about how to spend time alone and the benefits of doing so.

The Benefits of Alone Time

When spending time alone, many people find it difficult to see what the benefits are. However, you can reap the benefits of alone time if you know how to approach things.

One of the main things we want people to understand is that being alone isn’t the same as loneliness. Alone time is simply time spent away from others, whereas loneliness is the feeling of being without someone.

Voluntarily spending time away from others can allow you to do the following:

Self-Reflect

When you’re constantly interacting with others, it can be challenging to think about yourself. However, self-reflection is crucial if you want to live a healthy lifestyle, as it also comes with many benefits.

Alone time will make it much easier to self-reflect because you won’t be focusing on others. Approach self-reflection with a positive mindset and use the time to improve yourself as a person.

Become More Productive

Alone time benefits those that are looking to get things done. If you’re never alone, you’ll have a hard time doing anything productive (unless it requires others).

Spending time alone will give you the chance to complete that project you’ve been putting off. The sooner you get things done, the quicker you can go back to being social.

Focus on Health

Similar to self-reflection, spending time alone lets people focus on improving their health. Whether it’s physically or mentally, alone time will ensure you can eliminate toxicity in your life and allow yourself to “reset.”

During alone time, think about the foods and beverages you have when surrounded by others. Not only will an unhealthy diet negatively affect your physical health, but it can also affect your mental health. Things like depression caused by a poor diet can increase the likelihood of feeling lonely, even when around others.

Find Comfort

If you’re someone that struggles with loneliness, spending time alone can help you learn how to find comfort when away from others.

Those who are afraid of being alone often feel that way because they’re unsure how to use their time. If you can learn how to get the most out of being alone, you can have more control over your life. The comfort that comes with accepting alone time will increase your overall happiness.

How to Get the Most Out of Being Alone

Learning how to spend time alone isn’t difficult; you’ll just need to use that appropriately. If you find that being alone isn’t comforting, you can fill up that time with things to do. Whether it’s work or school obligations, exercise, or hobbies, doing activities will help.

Getting the most out of being alone can be done by planning your alone time and eliminating distractions. Here’s how to do that:

Plan Everything

It’s easy to feel lonely when you have nothing to do, and no one’s around. This can be prevented by thoroughly planning how your days will go.

From the moment you wake up until you go to bed, your entire day should be planned, including the time you’ll dedicate to doing nothing. While it may seem excessive, it’ll help you stay active, so you don’t end up feeling lonely.

Creating structure in your life will make the time spent alone more enjoyable, especially if you don’t go out much. If you’re someone that actively hangs out with others, you’ll eventually start cherishing the time you get to yourself.

Get Rid of Distractions

Aside from planning your day, you must eliminate distractions if you’d like to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Distractions can prevent you from getting things done, which will make you feel worse if you’re alone.

Whenever you’re working on something, you should never start browsing social media or random things on the internet. Instead, leave your phone in another room and consider getting something that’ll block certain websites so you can work productively.

Another type of distraction is thinking about negative things. For example, you may be watching TV, and a negative thought may cross your mind. Instantly you want to go down the rabbit hole; next thing you know, your upset with yourself because your thoughts took you to a dark place.

Reframe your thoughts and put your thoughts into perspective. Stop the train of thought you are going down and tell yourself out loud that what you’re doing is not right. This will strengthen your mind in order to take control of your thoughts.

It’s best to be engaged with something as often as possible. You’ll notice that relaxing after a long day of work is enjoyable, even if you’re by yourself. This is because you’ve gotten the most out of being alone.

Start Spending Time Alone More Often

With all of this information, you’re ready to reap the benefits of alone time. All you must do is start spending more time alone to get a better understanding of what exactly makes you feel lonely.

We encourage you to prioritize obligations to make your days more satisfying. If you still feel lonely after getting everything done, you can pick up some hobbies to keep your mind off things.

If you’re having a hard time in life, contact us to learn about how we can help you.

Pursuing Passion: 5 Tips to Finding Your Passion and Living a Fulfilling Life

Passion is the fuel that burns the desire to achieve greater results. Metaphorically, it is the ball of fire under your butt when you do the things you love.

Routines and negative mindsets can diminish the power of passion in our lives, but what if you don’t feel passionate about anything from the start?

Don’t worry. You’re not doomed. You just need to take some time to discover yourself or reignite that fire.

Here are five tips that will help you in finding your passion and living a more fulfilled life.

1. What Would You Do For Free?

On the quest to finding your passion, you might have encountered people who asked you, “what would you do for free?”

There are lots of things we already do for free. If we breathe, we walk, and we spend time with friends for free. The question should be; how do we serve others for free?

The point is to give back; serve others, and impact their lives. What would you do that could help others in some way? When you live only to serve yourself, you might become passionless about the things you do. Life is more meaningful when we include others.

Furthermore, studies conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found evidence to support this. They performed brain scans of participants who acted either to benefit others or to benefit themselves.

Those who acted to benefit others showed increased activity in the parts of the brain associated with rewards. They also experienced less stress measured through blood pressure.

Ask yourself what you would do to help others without expecting anything in return. Your answer might be the key to finding your passion.

2. What Do You Love To Do?

Now, this might sound quite obvious; doing what you love will help you find your passion. Of course, but that’s why you’re reading this. You might be wondering, how do I find what I love to do? What is my passion?

Here’s a tip on how to find your passion: what would you do even when your body is dead tired? What is something you still reach for even when it seems like you don’t have the energy?

The same logic applies; eliminate the money, eliminate responsibilities, and eliminate the pressure even to do it.

What do you gravitate towards? For some, it might be cooking. Making a nice meal for yourself at the end of a long day just hits home, even if you’re tired.

For some, it might be cleaning. It feels especially warming to fall asleep when your home is nice and clean. Perhaps, at the end of a long day, you still want to move your body and dance.

You don’t have to push your body beyond its limits to find something you love to do, even when you don’t have energy.

But, notice what you love to do even at the end of a long day. It might give you a nudge on finding your passion.

3. What Feels Right To You?

People will tell you to work out because it’s good for you. It’s good for your body and your health; doctors recommend it.

However, some people just aren’t passionate about working out and exercising. That doesn’t mean that they don’t still want to be healthy.

A key to finding happiness and living a fulfilling life is to find what works for you. Figure out what feels right to you. It doesn’t matter what everyone else says or thinks.

If you want to move your body and keep in shape, but you hate running, you don’t have to push yourself to love running. You can try participating in a sport that makes exercising feel more manageable. That could be dancing, taking spin classes, kayak or swim.

You’re still working towards the same goal: staying healthy. You’re just doing it in a way that feels right for you, not going off what everyone else says and thinks you should do.

It applies to more than exercising. Figure out your goal or your purpose, and adjust your means of getting there.

4. Be Open or Change Your Perspective

Enough with the questions; on to the doing.

One thing you can do to help yourself find your passion is to be open to trying something you haven’t done before.

You don’t have to do something that scares the pants off you; just do something new.

If you don’t like change, your immediate reaction might be to reject the idea of trying something new outright. You might think, I’m fine doing what I’m doing. I just don’t feel passion for it.

That’s okay.

If you want to find a passion for doing the things you’re already doing, you can. You just have to adjust your mindset to achieve that mental clarity.

“Problems can’t be solved with the same mindset that created them,” said Albert Einstein.

Try to look at things from a different angle. You can’t solve your problem of a lack of passion with the same perspective. Your customer service job is an opportunity to practice your empathy skills. Your tedious desk job still gives you the opportunity to work with an amazing team.

Invigorated passion requires either being open to doing something new or looking at the same things from a different perspective. Whichever the case, be open to giving yourself completely to the deed.

5. Don’t Quit Your Job Yet

Some people romanticize the idea that finding your passion will automatically solve all of your problems. Finding your passion will lead to living a more fulfilled life, but you still have to be practical.

Don’t quit your day job until you have some kind of a safe landing.

You’ll have to figure out how to survive whether or not you have a job. You might as well be safe and have a cushion so that you don’t come crashing down.

Live your life. Pursue your passion. Just be smart about it.

Finding Your Passion For A More Fulfilled Life

There are questions to ask yourself and steps to take for finding your passion. None of that matters though, if you don’t try.

Passion doesn’t just drop onto your lap out of nowhere. It takes action and reflection to learn what you’re passionate about.

When you find that mental clarity about something you enjoy doing, keep on doing that thing that fills you with energy and quite literally gives you life. It can improve your mental health, and that is priceless.

For more tips on how to live a fulfilling life, check out more from our blog!

If you’re in the San Diego area and are looking to take charge of your mental health, get in touch with us at Solara Mental Health Center. We look forward to serving you.

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What We Can Learn From San Diego Depression Statistics

California’s a place known for its gorgeous beaches, sunny weather, and breezy attitudes. But that’s just how it looks from the outside.

Research has shown that there’s a darker reality for those who live in our West Coast state. Forty-four percent of Californians say they experience high levels of anxiety and depression.

But that’s taking a look at the statistics through a wider lens. What about San Diego?

As it turns out, San Diego depression statistics aren’t much better. Here’s what you need to know.

San Diego Depression Statistics: The Current Situation

Our city already has had a mental health crisis on its hands. For reference, 429 people committed suicide in 2019.

Those figures came in before the outbreak of COVID-19. Since then, mental health has gotten worse for many of us. This isn’t just a San Diego problem, either: worldwide, people have suffered from depression more than ever because of changes and closures caused by the pandemic.

That’s one way that experts have explained the rising suicide rates in San Diego. Gun-related suicides increased three-fold during the pandemic, so it’s easy to see a cause-and-effect relationship. People who felt lonely, isolated, or hopeless during lockdown could have felt like there was no escape.

A Look at the Statistics in the Past — and Across Demographics

This isn’t to say that mental health is a new issue in San Diego, though. Records from 2015 indicate that five percent of the city’s residents dealt with such issues in that year.

And it’s not an equal spread across all demographic groups, either. Low-income San Diegans tend to experience mental health issues more frequently than those with higher paychecks.

In San Diego, mental health and homelessness go hand in hand, too. Nearly 5,000 people in the city are homeless, and almost half of them have some sort of mental health diagnosis.

The San Diego veteran population accounts for some of the mental health diagnoses, as well. This group is more likely to suffer from PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

As our city’s number of elderly residents increases, then there will be more people with mental health needs within our borders, as well. These types of diagnoses are quite prevalent in older adults.

And then, there’s the teenage population to look at, too. As of 2016, more than 40 percent of students reported feeling overwhelmed by their day-to-day lives. They also have the stressors of their social lives — both in real life and online — with which to contend. So, that may be why more of today’s adolescent youth have depression and anxiety than before.

What These Mean and How to Move Forward

San Diego depression statistics may seem bleak. But there’s a light at the tunnel — and, if you’re feeling depressed, you aren’t alone.
At Solara Mental Health, we have an in-residence program for people who are dealing with depression. We’re here to help — call us today to learn more.

What Does the Mental Health Services Act Mean for California Residents?

Since the first of January in 2005, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) has been working to support mental health programs in California. Otherwise known as Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act focuses on progressing the resources and funding for mental health services.

No matter the age of the person or the problems that that person is facing, the Mental Health Services Act is for them. If you live in California, the MHSA covers you and your mental health.

To learn more about the Mental Health Services Act and how it affects you, keep reading.

What Is the Mental Health Services Act?

The Mental Health Services Act, or MHSA, is a piece of legislation that the government in California passed in 2004. Once it went into effect in 2005, the proposition worked to strengthen mental health services in California.

Specifically, the MHSA in California works to provide funding, staff, and other resources for country mental health programs across the state. This monumental piece of mental health legislation in California also works to create a goal-oriented mental health approach for people and families of all ages.

By spreading their reach the Mental Health Services Act works to combat all kinds of mental health disorders, including those that Americans are most worried about.

Who Does the MHSA Serve?

If you live in California, the MHSA is here for you and your mental health. The act is not isolated to those with serious mental health conditions.

Instead, the MHSA works to provide resources for all Californians who want them.

Overall, this reduces the impact that untreated mental health conditions can have on individuals and families. In turn, this also takes some pressure off of state and local budgets.

Considering that the government intended that these budgets provide services that insurance companies typically don’t cover, the government was seeking a way to pull resources from other sources. The Mental Health Services Act was the way to go.

Where Does the MHSA in CA Get Its Funding?

This California mental health proposition gets funding from the higher-earning residents in the state. Those individuals who earn more than $1 million must pay a 1% tax on their income. This money provides funding for various mental health services and programs throughout the state.

This simple 1% tax makes more than a billion dollars of difference. Yes, each year this tax brings in over a billion dollars in funding to mental health services in California.

Where Does the Funding for the MHSA Go?

The Mental Health Services Act addresses a broad selection of mental health needs across the state. This includes prevention and early intervention programs that aim to get mental health problems under control before they become more serious.

The more than a billion dollars that go into the MHSA every year are distributed among different areas like infrastructure, technology, and training as well.

There are five components that the government has required that the MHSA cover across the state:

  1. The CSS (Community Services and Supports) component requires direct funding to individuals that have a serious mental illness
  2. The CFTN (Capital Facilities and Technological Needs) component requires funding towards an increase in technological capacity as well as building projects for the improvement of mental health services delivery
  3. The INN (Innovation) component requires funding to underserved populations with the intent to further collaboration across entities and increase the quality of services
  4. The PEI (Prevention and Early Intervention) component requires officials to spend 20% of the MHSA funds on outreach programs that focus on spreading information about the early warning signs of mental illnesses
  5. The WET (Workforce, Education, and Training) component requires funding for the purposes of increasing the capacity of mental health services across the state

All of these components work together to stretch the impact of the Mental Health Services Act and ensure that any and all Californians can benefit from mental health services in California.

What Has the MHSA Accomplished So Far?

The Mental Health Services Act has been rolling out changes since the government implemented it in 2005. It’s been more than 15 years since its beginning, and there have been several changes in the condition of health in California.

The Mental Health Services Act has worked with several other programs in the San Diego area to impact the health of its citizens. In their annual report, Live Well San Diego reports the changes that all of these programs worked to make in the area.

Here are some of the most notable changes as depicted in the annual report:

  • 12% fewer deaths associated with preventable health threats
  • 22% fewer heart attacks in San Diego County
  • 1% increase in life expectancy
  • 3% increase in people who are 25 years of age or older and have a high school diploma or GED
  • 9.2% increase in households that spend less than a third of their income on housing
  • 10% fewer homeless individuals living in San Diego
  • 17% lower youth disconnection rate
  • 76% fewer youth arrests
  • 26% lower crime rate

Together with other programs in San Diego, the Mental Health Services Act has helped initiate these changes. By helping those individuals with mental health issues, the city and the state as a whole are looking out for their citizens.

By caring for citizens’ mental health, the state is reducing problems that arise as a result of mental health problems.

How Can I Benefit from the Mental Health Services Act?

If you feel that you can benefit from the Mental Health Services Act, there’s no better time than now. There are plenty of mental health facilities in the state of California that can help you with your mental illness, whether you’re in the early stages or have a serious condition.

If you’re looking for proven successful results, we recommend coming to Solara. Our mental health facility is focused on helping you cope with your mental health conditions. With the highest success rate of any comparable program, we’re sure that you’ll find the help you need with us.

Call now at 844-600-9747 to get into contact with us. Otherwise, contact us online so that we can talk about how we can help you.

What Are Behavioral Health Services?

It’s easy to think that mental and physical health doesn’t affect each other. Research, however, tells us the opposite is true.

Your mental health affects your physical health in various ways, and vice versa. Conditions like addiction and mental illness have major impacts on your body.

So, how do you effectively address both sides of this equation?

That’s where behavioral health comes in. In this article, we’ll be discussing what behavioral health services are, who needs them, and what benefits they bring.

What Is Behavioral Health?

Behavioral health describes the connection between your behavior and well-being. It describes the overall health of the body, mind, and spirit. How do things like drinking, exercising, or eating affect your physical and mental health? The key is looking for a connection.

In past decades, behavioral health was seen as singling out behaviors that prevented illness or affected health. Later, it became concerned with behaviors that help manage diseases.

There’s also been much more attention paid to how mental health affects our behaviors. We’re realizing more and more how traumatic events affect our physical state of being.

Behavioral health looks at how conditions like addiction affect other symptoms like anxiety.

Behavioral Health vs. Mental Health: What’s the Difference?

Behavioral health often gets mixed up with mental health. This is because of their similar focus on how a person’s mind affects their everyday lives.

When talking about these two disciplines in tandem, it’s important we don’t confuse these terms.

Behavioral health is a blanket term that includes mental health. It looks at how behaviors affect someone’s physical and mental health.

In other words, mental health is a single category of behavioral health.

Mental health has a variety of factors including biology, habits, and psychology. Behavioral scientists look at how those habits are affecting a person’s mental and physical health.

A behavioral scientist might address an eating disorder differently than other doctors. They’ll track down behaviors and habits that contributed to that person’s disorder.

What Are Behavioral Health Services?

So, what do behavioral health services look like?

We’ve established how behavioral health encompasses a wide range of symptoms and issues. This complicates our definition of behavioral health services.

In other words, behavioral health services look different for each patient. One person might need help overcoming addiction. Another person might need help addressing their anxiety or eating disorder.

When patients engage with a behavioral health service program, they have a wide range of professionals to choose from.

Behavioral health professionals include:

Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists are the most qualified physicians when it comes to things like mental health and addiction. They can diagnose your condition and single out behaviors that might be affecting your overall health.

Social Workers

These professionals are part of institutions aimed at helping people overcome mental and physical health issues. Child, family, or substance abuse social workers are pivotal in addressing behavioral health symptoms.

Psychologists

Psychologists offer help to those that need psychotherapy or a more specific psychological diagnosis. They can help narrow down psychological symptoms that might be affecting your behaviors.

Counselors

Counselors don’t provide specific diagnoses or prescribe medication. Instead, they help patients address a specific condition or issue, such as addiction or marital issues.

Benefits of Behavioral Health Services

But what are the benefits of behavioral health services?

Behavioral health looks at a person’s health from a holistic perspective. This means addressing their addictions or issues this way improves both physical and mental health.

This means no stone is left unturned. Behavioral health services help patients find the root cause of some of their symptoms.

As such, positive behavioral health leads to happier lives. It means you can be more productive at work. You’ll be able to cope better with everyday stresses since you know where your stressors come from.

It helps eliminate negative behaviors like addiction. This means healthier eating or sleeping habits.

Who Benefits from Behavioral Health Services?

Broadly speaking, almost everyone will benefit from behavioral health services. The CDC claims that more than 50% of Americans will suffer from mental illness at least once in their lives.

As we’ve established, there are also connections between mental health issues and medical issues. Heart disease, respiratory illness, and other physical health challenges are often connected to mental health.

Behavioral health services can benefit anyone who suffers from these problems. Professionals can help get to the root of those issues and address it in a healthy and meaningful way.

Let’s look at two examples of people who benefit from behavioral health services here:

American Workers

These mental and physical health challenges often intersect in the American workplace. Over 60% of American adults are part of the workforce, and nearly 1 in 5 are struggling with mental illness.

Behavioral health services in the workplace can help address some of these issues. It can lead to better work engagement, happiness, and productivity.

It can also prevent further health complications for workers. Addressing their mental health early decreases the risk of heart disease or other physical health issues down the line.

Addicts

People struggling with addiction benefit greatly from behavioral health. For example, counseling and therapy can break down someone’s behaviors and habits that are leading to substance abuse.

It combines counseling with medication to get at the root of the issue. Behavioral health services help manage these symptoms to the point where people can use other strategies to overcome addictions.

Leverage Behavioral Health Services Today

Addressing mental health or substance abuse is always complicated and doesn’t have one convenient solution. Behavioral health services look at finding those solutions in a productive and holistic way.

Use this article to understand what behavioral health does and how it can help those in need.

Are you or someone you know suffering from mental illness or substance abuse? Contact us today and we can help you find the right solution.

Talkspace vs Headspace vs BetterHelp

There are over 1,000 mental health apps available to smartphone users.

These apps cover a broad scope, touching on everything from therapy with a live counselor to guided meditations. Some of the apps connect users to licensed therapists, while others are personally-oriented and don’t offer access to medical professionals.

Having these apps as supplements, tools, and guides is a fantastic option, but it’s worth noting that only about 14% of them include evidence such as clinical research. Doing your own research before downloading and using is a wise idea.

That’s likely why you landed here, where we compare Talkspace, Headspace, and BetterHelp — three of the more notable offerings. If you’re curious, keep reading for an honest look at the pros and cons of each.

Talkspace

First on our list is Talkspace, the #1-rated online therapy app that boasts over one million users.

Talkspace attempts to take the place of an in-person therapist. Users take a brief assessment, which pairs them with a list of recommended therapists. If you end up choosing one, you’ll begin a therapy journey with that counselor.

Here’s what you need to know.

Pros

Talkspace provides 24-hour access seven days a week. Often, a person can’t predict when they’ll genuinely need a conversation with their therapist. Talkspace provides access when you need it.

If you begin your journey with one therapist and find the connection isn’t working for you, you can switch—at no extra cost. Additionally, Talkspace has several plans that fit a wide range of budgets.

Talkspace also specializes in treating teens (13-17) or couples.

Cons

Unfortunately, many things can be missed when one does therapy over the phone—even slight behavioral changes that are noticeable in-person.

Humans are nuanced creatures, and diagnosing someone virtually may prove to be more difficult for severe mental health disorders.

Headspace

Headspace is a guided app that covers a different part of mental health: meditation.

If you find meditation challenging to do on your own, Headspace makes the practice easier and more rewarding. It aims to help its users be “less stressed,” “more resilient,” and happier.

We talk about its advantages and negatives below.

Pros

Headspace can be done for minutes at a time, offering users a world of convenience. Perhaps you arrived to work five minutes early, you’re sitting in your car in the driveway after a long day, or you’re about to make a major decision. Simply pull out your phone and allow yourself that brief but meaningful escapism.

Headspace also covers a wide range of topics, allowing users to find something specific to their current needs. Maybe you want to learn more about mindful eating, how to sleep better, or wish to cultivate a more mindful office space.

Headspace talks about all these subjects and more.

Cons

While Headspace does provide its users with a handful of free meditations, it’s likely you’ll soon want to upgrade.

The free ones tend to be shorter in length and are limited, meaning you can make your way through the entire selection—ten sessions—quickly.

Headspace is a wonderful supplement to your regular mental health routine. Still, those with more serious disorders will need something besides the app, such as a program, to care for themselves adequately.

BetterHelp

Finally, we have BetterHelp — another app like Talkspace that connects its users with licensed therapists that offer counseling sessions.

BetterHelp also specializes in individual therapy, couple’s therapy, and therapy with teenagers.

Pros

BetterHelp allows users to connect with their therapist in several ways. One can communicate over the phone, through video, or through messaging or chat options. This feature lets you choose a preference that’s most comfortable for you.

Additionally, BetterHelp doesn’t require the use of appointments. One can message their therapist at any time, and from there, schedule a live session at the next convenient moment.

Cons

While you can message your therapist at any time, that doesn’t mean there’s a specific time when you’ll hear back. This point can leave some users feeling dejected.

While you can switch therapists if you find your match doesn’t quite fit, BetterHelp encourages its users not to choose their own.

Rather, BetterHelp wants to connect you with a therapist of its choice based on answers you provide to a questionnaire. Again, like Talkspace, this process may feel a little impersonal to some. It may also cause the app or its therapists to miss something that could be important to your mental health journey.

Finally, the cost of BetterHelp is about the same cost as a traditional, in-person therapist.

Of course, you won’t have the convenience of speaking to them from the comfort of home (or elsewhere)—but some see that as a reason to have reduced costs. Expect to pay anywhere from $60 to $90 per session with BetterHelp, or $240 to $360 a month if you do weekly sessions.

Are These Mental Health Apps Right for You?

Having options is a good thing. It allows you to work with individual apps or use two or more in tandem.

Perhaps you find you enjoy using Talkspace to speak with a therapist, followed by a quick guided meditation on Headspace. Or, maybe BetterHelp is enough for you.

Either way, we hope this article provided you with transparent insight into each of these apps. At Solara Mental Health, we care about providing honest information and compassionate help. Our priority is you.

Click here to learn about our own programs, which provide anything from screenings and assessments to family programs or 24-hour, in-person programs. We look forward to hearing from you.

5 Important Complex PTSD Symptoms that You Shouldn’t Ignore

Post-traumatic stress disorder, otherwise known as PTSD, affects about 8 million people each year in the United States.

While you may have heard of PTSD, there is another type called complex PTSD, or C-PTSD.

But what is the difference between C-PTSD and PTSD? What are come complex PTSD symptoms and how do they overlap with PTSD?

In this article, you’ll learn more about C-PTSD and what symptoms you need to be aware of.

What is Complex PTSD?

To start, PTSD is a mental condition that arises due to intense traumatic events such as a car accident, a death, war, sexual trauma, or other similar instances. PTSD doesn’t discriminate and affects people at any age, even children.

Complex PTSD is a bit more involved. There are different symptoms and the duration of C-PTSD is longer, known as chronic trauma. It’s more likely to occur if the person experiences repeated trauma, such as domestic violence, neglect, sexual abuse, or any other trauma that seems inescapable.

This is why C-PTSD is stronger in people when the trauma occurs in childhood because children may be under the supervision of a parent or caregiver who is causing the trauma.

While the DSM-5 does not acknowledge C-PTSD as a complete mental disorder, it does agree that there are other symptoms that need to be recognized that may indicate a greater level of PTSD. However, it is included in the ICD-11.

Complex PTSD Symptoms

There are many symptoms of PTSD and not everyone will experience the same ones. Symptoms may appear a month or so after the event, but some could take longer. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Guilt
  • Sweating
  • Feeling sick
  • Distrust of others
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of the traumatic event
  • Anxiety or hyper-arousal

While some or all of these symptoms are present in C-PTSD, there are additional symptoms that point to C-PTSD. Here’s a list of possible symptoms you might find in someone with C-PTSD.

1. Preoccupied With Abuser

The relationship between the person and their abuser is a toxic one, and it’s likely to remain that way.

A person with C-PTSD may be preoccupied with their abuser. This could mean having a distorted image of them, allowing them to have dominance or control over you, or possibly plotting revenge.

2. Consciousness and Detachment

Trauma actually changes the brain in areas like the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex. This can lead to a change in consciousness, meaning the person can actually forget the traumatic times.

It also includes feelings of detachment, in which you physically feel detached from your emotions. This type of detachment is called dissociation.

3. Difficulty Managing Emotions

The person may have difficulty managing their emotions. They may be prone to outbursts of anger, feelings of suicide, or extreme sadness. They may engage in self-destructive behaviors or isolate themselves from others.

4. Relationship Troubles

People with C-PTSD may find their relationships challenging, whether they’re in a new relationship or with family.

This is due to a lack of trust in people in general. The person may also search for someone to save them from their trauma or seek out a person similar to the abuser because they have no portrait of a healthy relationship.

5. Negative View of Self

Sadly, C-PTSD may result in a negative self-image. Because of the long-term trauma, those with C-PTSD do not view themselves in a positive, healthy light.

They likely have the same emotions similar to PTSD, but may have guilt, shame, feel helpless, or feel like they’re on a completely different planet than others. This makes it hard to connect with other people as well.

Remember, just as in PTSD, you may or may not have all of the symptoms associated with C-PTSD. It’s important to evaluate your symptoms and which ones appear and interfere with your life.

How is C-PTSD Diagnosed?

Because there’s no test for determining if someone has C-PTSD, it might be a little more difficult to pin down, especially since it’s newer to the mental-health world. However, your doctor can help you determine if there’s a diagnosis.

They may ask you to keep track of your symptoms and the severity of them. Then, the doctor may ask you about any traumatic events you’ve experienced and if you, or anyone in your family, have a history of mental health issues.

You may receive a diagnosis of PTSD, but if the trauma was chronic, they may diagnose you with C-PTSD.

Treatments and Management of C-PTSD

There are some treatments available for someone with C-PTSD, but it just depends on how severe the symptoms are and what symptoms are present.

A variety of medications are available to help control symptoms. Other therapies like cognitive processing therapy, holistic therapies, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing also may provide some relief.

Supporting Those With C-PTSD

C-PTSD is difficult to understand for those who’ve not experienced trauma. But it’s a serious condition that needs to be dealt with gently. They may seem like a different person or reject any good thing or thought you try to help them with.

Though it’s sad, this is a normal part of C-PTSD.

Support groups exist for those that suffer from C-PTSD. Encourage the person to get help or therapy, and learn as much as you can about C-PTSD.

C-PTSD: There is Hope

Knowing complex PTSD symptoms can be helpful in differentiating between PTSD and C-PTSD. Because it’s a serious condition finding help sooner rather than later may result in a better quality of life.

Is someone you love suffering from C-PTSD? Our team of experts can help. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

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What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)? How Well Does it Work to Treat Depression and Anxiety?

speaking with mental health professional about treatment

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Depression and anxiety have a new treatment option, and it is becoming more widely used all across the United States. What is transcranial magnetic stimulation, otherwise known as TMS?

How well does TMS work?
Does it sound too “science fiction-ey”?

More than 16 million adults in the United States experienced a major depressive episode between 2017 and 2018, and with medical science advancing as rapidly as it is, it’s no wonder that new technologies and therapies are beginning to take the stage as options to conventional mental health treatment plans.

What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?

TMS is a magnetic stimulation technique intended to target nerves in your brain that affect your mental health. More specifically, the magnetic field, delivered through a special device you wear on or over your head, stimulates the brain cells known to affect mood. The levels of magnetic energy used are in low amounts, at an individual’s unique brain frequency.

Most TMS sessions take 20 to 60 minutes, and don’t require any time to recover afterward. About four to six weeks into treatment (daily, five days a week) is when most patients start noticing significant results, and after that initial treatment, patients only need to go on an “as needed” basis. Regardless of the fact that it’s not meant to be a permanent cure, patients who undergo TMS therapy feel much better overall for several months up to a full year afterward.

Many lifelong depression and anxiety patients who have undergone TMS treatments for at least a month to six weeks will tell you that they begin seeing positive results immediately after each treatment.

TMS was approved in 2008 to treat depression and in 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approved TMS therapy to treat some migraine conditions. In the fall of 2018 the FDA went on to approve TMS to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and studies are currently underway to see if it can be a viable treatment for other mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Some aspects of TMS appear to simulate what some medications do, e.g., the release of dopamine that happens after a TMS session is similar (but not exactly the same) to what a medication can do.

But TMS can restore functionality, and that’s the important thing. Patients who undergo TMS treatment report “feeling normal” again, compared to patients on psychotropic medications who feel “different” than they do normally, because of some of the medication’s side effects.

What’s so Great About TMS?

TMS is part of a newer generation of developing technologies informed by neuroscience and easier to use than current technologies. It could very well be a look at the future of mental health care: it’s non-invasive, immediately effective after the first month to six weeks of treatment for long periods of time, and it’s especially effective for those with more severe depression and anxiety.

After the brief treatment, patients can get back to being engaged with their lives immediately, with a more positive outlook, and all the energy they need to do all the things they normally do. Further research shows that even just a few minutes of TMS daily can make a significant improvement in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

TMS side effects are few and they are mild. Common side effects include minor headaches, lightheadedness, and some scalp discomfort during treatment sessions. Some facial muscle spasms, and tingling or twitching of these muscles has also been reported during treatment sessions

What’s the Difference Between TMS and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)?

TMS has shown itself to be a viable alternative to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for patients who are resistant to conventional mental illness treatments.

There are some key differences between TMS and ECT treatments:

  • ECT requires anesthesia and typically a hospital stay while TMS does not.
  • ECT brings with it the risk of memory loss and cognitive confusion. Patients undergoing TMS have not manifested these side effects.
  • ECT is designed to create a brief seizure in the patient as a part of the treatment session. TMS does not utilize seizures as a way to treat patients.

TMS Accessibility?

If you’ve tried several types of antidepressants or other standard depression treatment, and have not received relief from your symptoms, you may want to discuss TMS with your mental health care professional. Ask him or her about the benefits and risks, and if TMS could be a good addition to your treatment.

TMS currently has one downside: the cost. It costs up to $10,000 to 15,000 for the initial four-to-six-week treatment. Though TMS has been approved by the FDA to treat depression and anxiety after trying one antidepressant medication that proved unsuccessful at controlling depressive/anxiety symptoms, many insurance companies won’t cover the treatment until after a patient has tried at least four different antidepressants. Double check with your insurance company to see if your coverage will cover TMS treatments if you are considering. It is still less expensive than ECT.

As always, maintain your sleep, exercise, nutrition, and stress management techniques as you normally would, even if you do undergo TMS treatment, as it will not be effective if you are not taking care of yourself.

Have you heard about TMS? Post a comment below. . .We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Are you struggling with mental health issues? Mental health is very manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Who Will Save Our Mental Health from Technology?

Saving our mental health

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A Former Google Manager is Spearheading Efforts to Limit the Negative Effects of Technology and Social Media

What are the negative effects of technology and social media on us? We’re aware of its influences on our mental health, with studies linking excessive social media use to depression and anxiety. What other grips does cyber-reality have on us?

In 2012, a young manager at Google named Tristan Harris made an impassioned plea in a presentation for his bosses to attend to “[our] moral responsibility to create an attention economy that doesn’t weaken people’s relationships or distract people to death.”

His ideas for a more ethical digital world gained some traction for a time, and it even got him tapped to be the company’s design ethicist. The company lost focus, however, and shifted its attention to other priorities.

Harris left Google in 2015, and three years later, Google produced a screentime tracker known as Digital Wellbeing, so that Android users could see how much time they were spending each day on each application they tapped into. Apple followed suit with a counterpart app for iPhones.

Continuing the Crusade

Were the new screentime tracker apps enough of a leash? Not according to Harris. In Harris’ estimation, the “free” business model is the most expensive business model ever invented.

More recently, Harris started the Center for Humane Technology and has expanded his thinking to bring more awareness to the negative impacts of the internet on our lives. From misinformation/disinformation being proliferated on various social media platforms (e.g., Facebook and YouTube (owned by Google)), to election tampering and invaded privacy, and finally to political divisiveness in our country, the internet gets blamed for a lot. And probably with good reason. Just think about how much control we give our cyber lives over our actual lives.

Harris continues to grow his audience with various national media appearances, conferences, and additional presentations of his own. The biggest takeaway he wants his listeners to remember is the mistake it is to treat mobile technology drawbacks as mutually exclusive from those inflicted by social media. It’s all part of what he refers to as the “extractive attention economy (EAE).”

Our Private Information Used as a Currency

It’s been said that “money talks.” Well, so does information in the EAE. Its business model is driven by gathering and leveraging data about its users and what they like. In order to keep them engaged online, more and more of what users want to see is constantly being fed to them, faster and faster, by automated platforms. This may sound great and convenient, but it actually gives them more extreme, sensationalized content, which only feeds upon their frailties.

Without any thought, judgment, or intent, people dealing with mental health issues might be looking on YouTube for ways to improve their mental health, while being unwittingly steered via “recommendations” toward videos about suicide and death. The only thing the platforms care about is how the relationships between what users are searching for and what the algorithms calculate they like will keep users online, engaged and clicking.

The Unbearable Lightness of Technology

What happened to “fun” social media? Harris warns that our addiction to retweets, likes, comments, and reshares, is only keeping us distracted and depressed.

Steve Jobs spoke of technology as an “exercise bicycle for the mind.” Harris has responded that the exercise bike is taking us down dark, unfamiliar roads where we might not ever want to find ourselves.

Harris believes that language can help shape reality, but he had to work through a growing fear that the language we were using to define the real impact of cyber-reality on our lives was very much lacking. It wasn’t enough to describe what he warns as a coming hailstorm.

One of his epiphanies was the realization that the real danger we’re in isn’t technology overpowering our strengths (like the cliche science fiction bit when computers take over the world). The real danger is when technology learns to overwhelm and leverage our emotional weaknesses against us… for profit.

Harris and his cohorts brainstormed themselves to a point where they thought that what might be going on was a process of diminishing, of degrading human lives and humanity as a whole. Technology, as we give it more and more of our time and attention, is causing the downgrading of human relationships, of human attention, of our common sense of decency, of democracy itself.

How Social Media Negatively Affects Us

Harris has commented specifically about how various social media platforms negatively affect us:

  • Snapchat turns conversations into “streaks,” redefining how children value real friendship.
  • Instagram glamorizes the picture-perfect life, eroding our sense of gratitude for our real lives, along with diminishing our sense of self-worth.
  • Facebook puts us into separate echo chambers, dissolving our real communities.
  • YouTube auto-plays the one video after the next, within seconds, regardless of what it does to our sleep.

Four Ways Technology is Hurting Us

Harris shares the four main ways he sees our subservience to technology is taking its toll:

Mental Health

The rat race to keep us on screen 24/7 makes it harder to disconnect, increasing stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep deprivation.

Children

The rat race to keep children’s attention trains them to replace their sense of self-worth with the number of likes they get, encourages them to compare themselves with others, and creates a non-stop illusion of missing out…which can lead to coping problems and mental health challenges.

Relationships

The competition for attention forces social media users to prefer virtual interactions and rewards (likes, shares, etc.) on their screens vs. interaction in a real face-to-face community.

Democracy

Social media unwittingly rewards faux rage, sensational facts, while reducing the role of factual information. It’s dividing us and making it increasingly difficult to agree on what is “real.”

So, where does this leave us? Possibly with additional challenges for those coping with mental health issues brought on by extensive technology use.

The good news is that you can take back control of your life by better managing your social media use.

Curious to hear more?

Do you suspect that excessive technology use and social networking are having a negative effect on your mental health or on that of a loved one? If you or someone you love need to talk to someone about mental illness or feelings of being overwhelmed, we want to help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

7 Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW to Boost Your Mental Health… Naturally

what can i do to feel better right now

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“What can I do right now to improve my mental health?” You may have asked yourself this more than once. Life comes at you fast, and some days can feel like a real uphill battle.

Sometimes external things like traffic, a difficult coworker, your significant other, finances can leave you feeling run ragged. Other things become internal stressors, like anxiety, depression, and excessive stress itself.

Internal battles can be stressful and scary, and sometimes they can leave us drained and feeling flat.

Why does feeling happy feel like so much work sometimes?

Happy and fun feelings aren’t always spontaneous. One thing you should always remember: Keep on doing things you enjoy, even if they feel like hard work. Keep in touch with friends. Meet them for dinner. Keep up with all your favorite movies and shows.

Mental illness often robs you of your “enjoying life” skills. But the good news is, it never has to be permanent. You have to relearn how to do it from time to time. Eventually, things will normalize and you can go back to feeling like yourself again.

There are no magic bullets to immediately relieve depression, stress, or anxiety. But, Mental Health Awareness month is just around the corner, so what better time to pick up some powerful new habits? Let’s walk through some things you can do RIGHT NOW to improve your positive outlook and boost your state of mind:

  1. Get your body movin’. Exercise boosts your endorphins (feel-good chemicals), and over time, it can sustain your good moods longer. It helps you reprogram your brain into positive patterns.

Again, start simple… just walking for 45-60 minutes or so a few times a week will be enough to help you feel accomplished and good about yourself.

  1. Be good to yourself. Speaking of your body, make sure you are:
  • Getting adequate sleep every night (6-8 hours). To help with this, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day and avoid naps. Get your computer and TV out of your room. Before long you’ll notice your sleep improving.
  • Avoiding smoking and drinking
  • Eating a balanced diet and minding portion sizes (stay away from junk food, and go for foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like fish, as well as foods rich in folic acid like avocado and spinach). If you binge eat or overeat when you’re feeling anxious or depressed, getting a better handle on your eating will help you feel better about yourself.
  1. Set some S.M.A.R.T. goals. Depression leaves you feeling like you’re worthless and can’t do anything right. Prove that negative self-talk wrong. Start with small S.M.A.R.T. goals like cleaning and organizing your desk, cleaning out your car, fixing or building something as a hobby.

A S.M.A.R.T. goal is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound. (e.g., “I will clean out my car (or organize my desk), and vacuum it this Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.”)

As you get better and gain momentum, you can start tackling more challenging things. Make a game out of it.

  1. Say “No!” to negative thinking. In your struggles with anxiety and/or depression, much of the battle is mental, and you’ll learn that to win, you need to reprogram the way you think about yourself. Whenever you immediately jump to the worst-case scenario in your head or keep thinking about what a failure you are… You’re a fighter, right? Learn to recognize and logically challenge each one of those thoughts for what they are: just passing thoughts. You’re under no obligation to believe every single thought that passes through your mind.

What evidence do any of these thoughts have, anyway? Over time and with practice, you’ll get in a more consistent habit of sending those negative thoughts off running. And you’ll be in better control of your self-image.

  1. Get yourself into a routine. Depression is often described as the result of feelings of helplessness and despair. You don’t know what to do, and what’s worse, you don’t even know if you care enough to keep on trying. You feel a lack of meaning, purpose, and structure. You feel out of control. If you’re feeling depressed, nothing will help you get more of a grip on your day than getting into a gentle routine to help you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat.
  2. Take on new responsibilities. When you are feeling anxious or depressed, your first inclination might be to turn and hide inward, avoiding other people, the outside world, and life in general. Resist this temptation. Get engaged with life by involving yourself with daily responsibilities.

You can:

  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Get a new job, even if it’s just part-time.
  • Sign up for some online classes.

New responsibilities will give you a sustained sense of accomplishment, self-esteem, and worth.

  1. Try something new. Get yourself out of the rut you feel you’re stuck in when feeling anxiety or depression, even if you have to push yourself a bit. Check out an art exhibit. Go to the library and find some interesting books to read. Take an online class to learn a new language.  You’ll start seeing how interesting life really is.

You will want to touch base with your doctor if you’re thinking of taking some new dietary supplements like magnesium, Vitamin C, St. John’s Wort, or Vitamin B12. This goes double if you’re already taking medications.

Keep in mind that these things can help you right away, and over time, can develop into healthy habits. They will not cure serious depression and anxiety by themselves. For help with severe depression and/or anxiety, be sure to consult with a mental health professional.

What is the latest regarding your mental health? Always remember that it is very treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.