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6 Common Mental Health Disorders That We Treat

We at Ashwood Recovery in Boise are now offering outpatient mental health treatment. This is for those who have a primary diagnosis of a mental health condition. Our partial hospitalization program (PHP) is designed to provide our clients with intensive treatment on an outpatient basis following an inpatient stay. Regardless of your mental health disorder, continued care may be very important. In this blog post, I’ll be going over some of the more common mental health conditions that we come across.

1. What is Depression?

Depression is often referred to by a few different names. It can be called major depressive disorder or clinical depression. Either way, it is an extremely common mood disorder. The symptoms it causes can become severe, and they have a way of affecting everything you do. People with depression often find that they struggle with:

  •     How they feel.
  •     What they think.
  •     How they manage their daily activities.
  •     How they sleep.
  •     Their work or school schedule.

There can be multiple variations of depression as well, and they include:

  •     Postpartum depression
  •     Seasonal affective disorder
  •     Persistent depressive disorder
  •     Psychotic depression
  •     Bipolar disorder

Common Symptoms of Depression

The symptoms of depression are continuous; they don’t just appear on some days and go away on other days. Most people experience them daily, and they receive a diagnosis after they have been present for at least two weeks. Some of the more common symptoms of depression include:

  •     An ongoing sad or “empty” mood.
  •     Feeling hopeless or pessimistic.
  •     Feeling irritable or easily irritated.
  •     Feeling guilty.
  •     Feeling worthless.
  •     Feeling helpless.
  •     Excessive fatigue and less energy than normal.
  •     Problems with concentration or making decisions.
  •     Sleep problems, including waking up too early or sleeping too much.
  •     Changes in weight and/or appetite.

It’s very important to note that people with depression frequently feel it in their physical bodies. They may complain about various aches and pains throughout the body, and they are a symptom as well.

How is Depression Treated?

There are many common types of treatment for depression, but this mental illness is very unique for each person. That means that effective treatment methods are those that are highly individualized. Most people will go through psychotherapy and take medications to treat their depression symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavioral activation, and interpersonal therapy are three examples of effective therapies to treat these conditions. Some of the medications that people may take include:

  •     Effexor
  •     Cymbalta
  •     Pristiq
  •     Norepinephrine
  •     Esketamine
  •     Parnate
  •     Marplan
  •     Elavil

If you are in need of ongoing treatment for depression, please know that your treatment plan should change every now and then. Sometimes doctors find the exact right medication that appears to work for a while, and then it needs to be adjusted later. This is completely normal and it should be expected considering how the brain adapts to medications. Also, the method of therapy can change too, depending on your needs.

2. What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that may also be called manic-depression. It is a disorder of the brain that can lead to strange mood swings, varying energy and activity levels. Many people with bipolar disorder have a difficult time carrying out their normal, everyday activities and tasks. There are four different types of bipolar disorder, and they are:

  •     Bipolar I Disorder
  •     Bipolar II Disorder
  •     Cyclothymic Disorder
  •     Unspecified Bipolar Disorder

What are the Signs of Bipolar Disorder?

It can take some time before a doctor diagnoses a patient with bipolar disorder. This is because the condition is so complex, and the individual typically cycles through different moods over time. In the simplest of terms, people with this mental illness basically demonstrate symptoms of either mania or depression. The symptoms of mania include:

  •     Feeling unstoppable; like they can accomplish anything.
  •     Having a lot of excessive energy.
  •     Experiencing trouble sleeping.
  •     Feeling jumpy or agitated.
  •     Speaking quickly and erratically about a variety of topics; sometimes all at once.
  •     Engaging in risky behaviors such as excessive spending and reckless driving.
  •     A feeling of being more important than others.

The symptoms of depression include:

  •     Becoming forgetful.
  •     Feeling sad.
  •     Excessive sleeping or insomnia.
  •     Chronic fatigue.
  •     Loss of enjoyment in life and daily activities.
  •     Very little energy.

During a depressive episode, people with bipolar disorder may also start thinking about suicide or death. People can even develop psychosis or become catatonic, which means they cannot speak or move.

How is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

A person who is not receiving treatment for their bipolar disorder can appear to act out of control at times due to manic behavior. They can also sink into a deep depression that can last several months at a time. Treatment is essential, and there are many ways to help people with this condition. Psychotherapy is very important for people with bipolar disorder. Several methods may be recommended and used, such as family-focused therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Most experts recommend a combination of psychotherapy and medications. Some of the more commonly prescribed medications for bipolar disorder include:

  •     Lithium
  •     Valproic acid
  •     Quetiapine
  •     Olanzepine and Fluoxetine (given together)
  •     An antidepressant medication


3. What is Anxiety?

It’s very normal to experience anxiety on occasion, and many people do. But when anxiety threatens to take over your life, that’s when it becomes a serious problem. At that point, it is called an anxiety disorder, which is a condition that must be treated in order for it to improve. For someone who struggles with an anxiety disorder, their worries and fears are persistent and they don’t go away. Over time, symptoms only tend to get worse unless the person seeks treatment. There are many types of anxiety disorders. They can exist on their own, or in combination. They include:

  •     Panic disorder
  •     Generalized anxiety disorder
  •     Phobias
  •     Social anxiety disorder
  •     Separation anxiety disorder

What are the Signs of an Anxiety Disorder?

Far too many people have anxiety disorder symptoms but don’t realize that’s what they’re experiencing. This is why many turn to alcohol or other drugs as a way to make their symptoms go away. It’s so important to understand what the signs of anxiety are, and they include:

  •     Feeling restless.
  •     Feeling fearful or nervous.
  •     Having panic attacks.
  •     Excessive sweating.
  •     A faster heart rate than normal.
  •     Shaking.
  •     Feeling fatigued.
  •     Feeling weak and dizzy
  •     Problems with concentration.
  •     Sleep difficulties.

It’s quite surprising for many people to find out that anxiety disorders can also lead to physical symptoms. It is not uncommon for people to have digestive issues, heart problems, issues with urination and breathing problems. The immune system may also be impacted, which can lead to more viruses and illnesses.

How is Anxiety Typically Treated?

People who have shorter periods of anxiety may be able to treat their conditions at home. But the same is not true for people with more serious forms of the condition. For them, professional treatment is needed to help with their symptoms. Therapy is a vital part of the recovery process for people with anxiety disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is often used, as are other types of psychotherapy. Medications are also typically recommended. Most people are given a prescription for a medication that needs to be taken every day. In some cases, a “rescue” medication may be needed for times of high anxiety, or for panic attacks. Some of the more common medications that are prescribed for anxiety include:

  •     Imipramine
  •     Clomipramine
  •     Valium
  •     Xanax
  •     Citalopram
  •     Fluoxetine

4. What are Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

A trauma is an event that was perceived as particularly scary or shocking. It can have long-lasting effects, and when it does, it typically becomes post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Most people find that when they go through a traumatic situation, they are able to resolve their feelings and their responses naturally. But it is not that way for everyone. People who have PTSD may feel scared or stressed when they experience a trigger. They do not have to be in danger to have these feelings, and most people aren’t. This is a condition that is very typical of veterans who have been in combat. But it can happen to anyone, and the event does not have to be “life-changing” on a grand scale. If it was life-altering to the person who experienced it, it can result in PTSD.

What are the Signs of Trauma or PTSD?

There are a number of symptoms a person needs to be experiencing before they can be diagnosed with PTSD. These symptoms are placed into four clusters or categories. The re-experiencing symptoms include:

  •     Having recurring nightmares.
  •     Having frequent memories or upsetting thoughts about a trauma.
  •     Having flashbacks of the event.
  •     Have strong feelings of distress when reminded of the event.
  •     Having a physical response when reminded of the event (sweating or a faster heart rate, for example).

The avoidance symptoms include:

  •     Avoiding thoughts, conversations or feelings about the event.
  •     Staying busy to avoid thinking about it.
  •     Avoiding people or places that remind you of the event.

The hyperarousal symptoms include:

  •     Angry outbursts.
  •     Increase irritability.
  •     Problems with concentration.
  •     Sleep problems.
  •     Being startled easily.

The negative thoughts and beliefs symptoms include:

  •     Losing interest in important activities.
  •     Difficulty remembering parts of the event.
  •     Feeling distant from other people.
  •     Difficulty with having positive feelings, like love or joy.
  •     A feeling of doom; as if you may die sooner rather than later.

How are PTSD and Trauma Treated?

If left untreated, PTSD and trauma will only get worse. It will not improve on its own. Treating PTSD typically involves using a combination of medications and therapy. There are several different types of therapy that have been shown to be effective in treating PTSD. Prolonged exposure therapy, cognitive processing therapy, and eye movement desensitization therapy (EMDR) are among the most common. Additionally, neurofeedback may be used, and it has shown very promising results. When combined with therapy, medications can be very effective at treating the symptoms of PTSD. Some of the more common medications that are prescribed include:

  •     Zoloft
  •     Prozac
  •     Effexor
  •     Paxil
  •     Serzone
  •     Tofranil
  •     Nardil

5. What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is not nearly as common as the mental health conditions we have mentioned so far. But its symptoms are extremely debilitating. Someone with this condition is impacted in every way possible; including how they think, feel and act. At times, they can appear to have lost touch with reality. Schizophrenia can result in hallucinations and delusions. Individuals with this condition may have trouble thinking clearly, and this fact alone inhibits everything they do. It is an extremely disabling disorder.

What are the Signs of Schizophrenia?

The symptoms that people with schizophrenia experience can vary from person to person. This is a very unique condition, and people present it in different ways. In fact, it may not be possible to tell if someone has it at all until they start talking about their thoughts. The symptoms of schizophrenia can be divided into four categories. They are:

  •     Positive symptoms (psychotic symptoms)
  •     Negative symptoms (things that are lacking)
  •     Cognitive symptoms (thought processes)
  •     Emotional symptoms (negative emotions)

The symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  •     Having delusions.
  •     Having hallucinations.
  •     Erratic thoughts that are hard to follow.
  •     No motivation.
  •     Problems expressing appropriate emotions.
  •     Becoming socially withdrawn.
  •     Problems with concentration and planning ahead.

As we mentioned earlier, people with schizophrenia tend to live in what seems like their own little world. The hallucinations and delusions seem so real to them, and they often can’t decipher between them and the world around them.

How is Schizophrenia Treated Professionally?

It’s important to note that schizophrenia typically doesn’t go away, but its symptoms can be treated. If you have this condition, you will most likely need to remain in treatment for the rest of your life. But the right care can provide you with the support you need to live as normal a life as possible. Medications are often recommended for people with schizophrenia, and for good reason. Antipsychotics can help to relieve the symptoms of hallucinations and delusions. Some of the more commonly recommended medications include:

  •     Thorazine
  •     Haldol
  •     Navane
  •     Abilify
  •     Clozaril
  •     Zyprexa
  •     Seroquel

Psychotherapy is also highly recommended for anyone with schizophrenia. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, cognitive enhancement therapy, and supportive psychotherapy can all be effective.

6. What is Antisocial Personality Disorder?

Antisocial personality disorder is defined as a mental condition that involves a history of manipulation, exploitation and the violation of the rights of others. This person typically has no remorse over their actions or how they impact other people. Their behavior can lead to serious problems at work or in relationships. There are also times when it is criminal in nature. People with antisocial personality disorder are often some of the most interesting people to be around. They tend to be very charming and witty. They can be a lot of fun. But they also tend to lie about others, and they don’t care who they hurt.

What are the Signs of Antisocial Personality Disorder?

Recognizing the signs of antisocial personality disorder in someone can be difficult for many reasons. These individuals tend to be very popular within their social groups, and their uncaring behavior can be confusing. Some of the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder include:

  •     Manipulating other people.
  •     Violating others’ rights.
  •     Exploiting other people.
  •     Feeling no concern when others are distressed because of their actions.
  •     Irresponsible behaviors and lack of regard for proper social behaviors.
  •     Problems keeping long-term relationships.
  •     Explosive anger that is hard to control.
  •     Unable to learn from their mistakes.
  •     Lacking guilt.
  •     Blaming others for their problems.

Someone with this condition will also have had a conduct disorder during their childhood years. It is not uncommon for them to repeatedly break the law.

How is Antisocial Personality Disorder Treated?

Antisocial personality disorder is a very difficult mental health condition to treat. Therapy is very important, although the therapist must make sure to personalize the individual’s treatment plan. Young people tend to respond well to family therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help people make changes in the way they think and in the way they act. Behavioral therapy uses a system of rewards and punishments to differentiate between good and bad behavior. It also works to promote good behavior. There are no medications that have been FDA approved to treat antisocial personality disorder. But there are some that can effectively treat some of the symptoms. For example, some doctors recommend Prozac or Zoloft to treat irritability and aggressiveness.

The Connection Between Mental Health and Addiction

Many people who struggle with the above-mentioned mental illnesses – or any other mental illness – also have addictions. Also, the majority of those individuals started having symptoms of their mental health condition prior to using drugs or alcohol. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that as many as 60% of teens in addiction treatment programs also have mental illnesses. The same could be said for adults. Quite often, the mental illness is what led to the substance abuse problem, although this is not always the case. But proving what caused it can be difficult. Both conditions can be the result of common risk factors, such as genetics, environmental influences, stress and many more.

Self-Medicating Mental Illnesses

When a person starts having symptoms of mental illness, they tend to remain in denial. They may not want to face the fact that they’re having mental health issues that need to be addressed. Instead, it’s quite common for them to opt to “treat” their symptoms with drugs or alcohol. This is known as self-medicating. At first, self-medicating may seem to be working really well. Let’s take someone with anxiety for example. That person may choose to drink alcohol (a depressant drug) as a way to calm their symptoms. At first, the results they experience may seem almost like a miracle cure. But what they don’t realize is that those results aren’t going to last for very long.  Alcohol can eventually cause their symptoms of anxiety to become much worse than they were at the beginning. This can lead to adding new drugs into the mix. It can also lead to additional mental health symptoms.

Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

When a person has both a mental health condition and an addiction, the term co-occurring disorder is used. It means that both are present at the same time, and with the same individual. In the past, these conditions would have been treated separately. Typically the addiction would be treated first, through detox. Afterward, the mental illness would be addressed; usually in an inpatient setting. Today, we know that it’s much more efficient and effective to treat co-occurring disorders at the same time. This is known as dual diagnosis treatment. It’s important to help people understand the connection between their mental health and any substance abuse problem they may have. Also, integrating both types of treatment usually results in a much more positive long-term outcome.

Ashwood Recovery: Your Best Option for Mental Health Treatment

At Ashwood Recovery, we know the importance of providing well-rounded services for our clients. Our outpatient program is designed to meet your specific needs; whether you have a mental illness that needs treatment, or you’re battling addiction. We offer both drug and alcohol rehab for those who need it. For those who are only in need of treatment for a mental illness, our newest program in Boise is designed to be exactly what they’re looking for. Trying to cope with a mental illness is draining at best. It’s no wonder people turn to substances as a way to get through their lives. But that does not have to be the final choice you make. You can choose to get the help you need, and Ashwood Recovery is there to assist you every step of the way. Would you like to learn more? Please contact us.