Alison

OCD Defined: How to Spot OCD Symptoms

Recognizing and understanding the signs and symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are the first steps to helping a loved one living with this mental disorder. OCD often receives the cliché of maintaining cleanliness for fear of contamination. Whereas this may be a relevant symptom, there is a lot more that goes into it. At its core, OCD is the obsessive fear of the unknown and compulsive actions are a way to justify control over the unknown, mentally.

Obsessions: Individuals living with OCD commonly have unrelenting obsessive thoughts and behaviors that creep into the mind and are difficult to get rid of. Unwanted and unrelenting mental images or urges are signs of compulsive thoughts that can interfere with daily life and cause anxiety to the individual. These obsessions can be particular to the person living with this illness, but there are many that overlap from patient to patient.

Compulsions: Control is a powerful trait of humanity. To be in control of one’s behaviors, actions, and outcomes creates a peace of mind for those that may feel threatened otherwise. Historically, control is either the goal of the action or the main piece to reach the goal. As aforementioned, people living with OCD live in a constant state of mind that they are not in control. Compulsions are the action of mentally maintaining control. Without this perceived control, the obsessions may take hold in a larger and more significant way.

Obsessions and compulsions can be minor, evolve to harmful and life-threatening situations, and everything in between. Here is a small list of common obsessions along with the compulsions that often overlap with people diagnosed with OCD:

O: Fear of contamination

C: Repetitive washing, cleaning, and sanitizing.

O: Being unsure if [...]

The Effects Of Depression

Major depressive disorder (MDD) can be debilitating and have devastating affects if not properly treated. Melancholy and disinterest in daily life are two red flags that may lead to further evaluation by a medical professional. Recognition of the signs of symptoms of depression could help you or a loved one and is crucial to understanding and managing this disorder.

Everyone has bad days here and there, but once it becomes a struggle to get out of bed, or perform simple tasks, it could be a sign of a much bigger problem. Mental exhaustion can have a significant effect on the body. For instance, people living with depression tend to lack energy, are resistant to take part in activities with others, are sluggish, and may subsequently lack motivation to seek help. These physical effects may stem from the feelings of worthlessness or guilt and depleted mental energy. MDD patients that don’t want to face the day ahead due to these feelings may turn to hiding from the world as a temporary solution.

Often, holidays can enhance the feelings of loneliness for people living with depression. Holidays, such as the 4th of July include gatherings of friends, family, and loved ones. During these times, depressed individuals can often withdraw from social interaction and feel enhanced feelings of low self-esteem. A strong support system and mindfulness from loved ones can provide encouragement and assistance for individuals living with depression.

If this sounds like you or a loved one, it is important to contact a medical professional to receive the treatment that may be right for you.

 

Pharmasite Research in Pikesville, MD is enrolling people diagnosed with MDD for a clinical research investigational treatment. Sign up and see if this clinical research [...]

The Relationship Between Athletes and Mental Illness

Athletes are often perceived as people with higher self-esteem who are immune from mental health issues due to their accomplishments and status. Often, people tend to view their sports heroes, role models, or idols as superhuman. The truth is that athletes are as human as anyone else and are just as susceptible to mental illness. Depression in athletes is so prevalent that research studies have been conducted to determine just how many athletes suffer from mental health conditions and substance and alcohol abuse. In 2016, ‘Psychology Today’ published a study that found 6.3% of collegiate athletes met the threshold for clinical depression[1]. On the professional end of sports, a study from the ‘British Journal of Sports Medicine’ found that 19% of elite athletes had alcohol abuse problems and 34% of current elite athletes suffer from anxiety and depression[2]. So why are athletes so susceptible to mental illness?

Stress and Failure

Life, preparation, and expectations can put a significant strain on any person within the boundaries of a job, a school, or even parenthood. The same concept can be applied to athletes. Often, when an athlete sets their goals to accomplish great and spectacular feats it comes with a great deal of stress to perform at the highest possible level. Aside from the personal expectations, these expectations can also be set by coaches, parents, family, friends, teammates, and fans. Olympic gold medalist and icon Michael Phelps has admitted to alcoholism, loss of identity, and suicidal ideation all due to the pressures of being one of the most regarded elite athletes. In his HBO Sports documentary, “The Weight of Gold” Phelps speaks in depth about his battles with these mental health issues. In the documentary, he vocalizes [...]

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease and its Effects

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia and a common disease that affected an estimated 5.8 million Americans 65 years and older in 2020[1]. This disease can also take a large toll on the patient’s loved ones. Why is this? Alzheimer’s causes an individual to forget aspects of their life, extending to the point at which they may have no recognition of their loved ones. The patient may no longer recognize their close loved ones visiting them, even though they may have known them for years. Although this devastating effect of Alzheimer’s disease may be the most known symptom, there are many others that people may not know about. Follow along as we take a look at the other symptoms to help you or a loved one understand a more in-depth view of Alzheimer’s.

Memory Loss: As aforementioned, memory loss can have a damaging effect on personal relationships. This is not the only troubling effect from the loss of memory. Memory loss may cause crucial mistakes in a patient’s life. Examples may include misplacing money or important objects, trouble keeping up with bills and other tasks that were once simple and routine, getting lost in public, and trouble remembering how to do work, which may lead to termination.

Dwindling Attention Span: People living with Alzheimer’s disease can often find it difficult to pay attention. Unintentional disruption and lack of attentiveness may occur in activities such as reading books or magazines, watching television shows and movies, or paying attention to someone in a conversation. Not being able to concentrate or carry out once basic enjoyments may lead to a patient experiencing frustration and a potential outburst of anger.

Incontinence and Lack of Bodily Control: Bodily functions may be [...]

Know the Options for PTSD Treatment

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that takes an exhaustive toll on the those living with it.  The disorder begins when trauma from a traumatic event manifests in the form of anxiety, triggers, and intrusive memories or flashbacks. Traumatic events can include but are not limited to serious incidents such as a car accident, exposure to a traumatic event, loss of a loved one, physical assault, childhood or domestic abuse, sexual assault or rape, and torture. Military soldiers are especially prone to PTSD, as violence from war can be deeply traumatic for those involved. PTSD can begin within one month of the event.

Treatment for people living with PTSD exists in multiple forms. Below is a list of PTSD treatment options and tips that may help you or a loved one.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This form of therapy, also known as CBT, involves a therapist who can assist with processing the traumatic event. Often, PTSD symptoms can affect how the individual handles adverse events and can diminish their self-confidence or sense of control. At its core, CBT aims to help the person living with PTSD regain control of their life.
Medications: A person living with PTSD may want to contact their doctor about medication options. SSRIs and SNRIs are common PTSD and antidepressant medications that are used to increase the serotonin level of the patient. Serotonin can often fight fear and anxiety as the hormone plays a large role in stabilizing mood, happiness, and the feeling of well-being. When considering medication, it is important to talk to your doctor or medical professional to see what medications may be right for you.
Coping Mechanisms to Use and Avoid:

Use: If [...]

Helping A Child Treat Their Migraines

Migraines can be painful for at any age – from adolescence to adulthood. Migraines are intense headaches that can create a throbbing on one side of the head. These debilitating, throbbing pains can also come with a variety of other symptoms, from nausea and vomiting, to visual and hearing impairments, and even a numbness of the face.

Migraines are so prevalent in children and teenagers that about 10% of children live with migraines and just over a quarter of the population of teenagers between the ages of 15-19 years old[1] live with them as well. Seeing a child suffer can be hard. How can you help your child in need? Below are a few ways to help lessen the impact that migraines may have on your child.

If applicable, utilize a 504 plan. A 504 plan ensures a student has the proper resources to adapt to any medical needs necessary. These resources can include test taking in a quiet space, changes to instruction, and changes to how a curriculum is presented to the student. These optional resources for the student or child in your life may provide a safety net in case a migraine occurs.
Dehydration can play a major factor for triggering migraines. Each child should have the proper amount of water intake relative to their age. Children 4 – 8 years old should maintain an intake around 5 cups of water daily, whereas children 9 years old and older should maintain a daily intake of 7 – 8 cups of water.
Taking note of your child’s stress levels can help monitor migraines triggered by stress. Stress can manifest in many ways. Sports, puberty, and school are some of many contributing factors [...]

4 Tips for Living with Depression

Depression can feel like a daily struggle. After all, it can lead to a lack of interest in daily life, impact drive, and poor hygiene dietary, and exercise habits. Relationships can be impacted in a negative way and performance in the workplace can become poor. How can you take preventative action to lessen the impact of depression in your everyday life? Consider these 4 tips:

1.)Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is vital for proper motor function and allows the brain to reset to take on the next day. Better sleep can help build a positive mindset by allowing the brain to think more clearly, which can allow for better productivity at the workplace. Adults are recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. To get the most out of those hours, consider shutting off electronics an hour before bed for a more peaceful sleep.

2.)Eat healthy. The body and mind depend on a healthy diet to function at its best. A healthy diet can have a positive effect mentally and physically. Although there is no diet that cures depression, these foods may help with depression:

Water: Stay hydrated with 8 or more cups per day
Dark leafy green vegetables: Help fight against inflammation
Walnuts: Full of brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
Blueberries, oranges, cantaloupe: Rich with cell-repairing antioxidants
Avoid excessive alcohol use: Excessive alcohol use and depression can create a terrible spiral. Using alcohol to avoid the problems at hand is not the answer to a healthy life.

 

3.)Find comfort in close friends and family. Having a community of supportive loved ones can create stability in your life. Life can be difficult with depression and you shouldn’t go through it alone.

4.)Create a [...]

Six Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a mental health disorder that requires a medical diagnosis and is the chronic feeling of sadness and loss of interest in everyday life. This illness can affect how a person feels, thinks, and behaves and can lead to a broad range of emotional and physical problems. If you or a loved one are affected by major depressive disorder, be on alert for the following symptoms:

Exhibiting a lack of interest in something one used to enjoy

If you or a loved one has suddenly stopped caring about an activity that once brought you or them joy, this could be a warning sign and a symptom of a much larger issue.

Being tired or lethargic with no energy

A lack of energy in individuals with major depressive disorder can affect how they think, act, and even speak. It is crucial for people living with MDD to get the proper amount of sleep each night as people living with MDD are at a higher risk for sleep disorders. Depression and a cyclic disturbed sleep pattern can worsen symptoms of this illness. On average, adults should sleep anywhere from 7-9 hours every night.

Having trouble concentrating or completing tasks

Along with the lack of energy and disinterest in activities that once brought one joy, can come a difficulty with concentration. This could be an everyday at home task such as cleaning or could affect one’s concentration at the workplace. It is important to address this lack of concentration with a medical professional, especially if it is affecting your quality of life or a loved one’s.

Losing weight or having a sudden change in diet

MDD can play a major role in diet and weight loss. A change in how much [...]

Can You Define What Triggers Your Migraines?

Migraines are painful headaches often accompanied by throbbing on one side of the head, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivities, and sound sensitivities. These headaches can be triggered by certain activities, foods, drinks, substances, or a lack there of.

Movement in the body is a common trigger source for migraines. Activities, or exercise that may trigger a migraine include:

Weightlifting
Rowing
Running
Tennis
Swimming
Football

Choosing what to put in your body should not be taken lightly. Knowing your body and identifying the right foods, drinks, or substances versus the wrong ones can have a major impact on your migraines. Consider changing your diet if these common trigger foods, drinks, and substances are negatively affecting your migraines:

Too much caffeine or caffeine withdrawal
Alcohol
Tobacco and nicotine
Foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG)

MSG is an additive to foods that enhances the flavor for many processed foods

Foods and drinks with tyramine – a natural compound formed in foods rich in protein

Red wine
Aged cheese
Smoked fish
Peanuts and other nuts and seeds
Bananas
Dairy foods, especially certain cheeses

Nitrates – foods that contain nitrates are a common headache trigger

Bacon
Hot dogs
Salami
Chocolate

Onions – the strong scent of an onion has the capability to induce a migraine
Processed, fermented, pickled, chemically enhanced, or marinated foods

Not eating can also impact the severity of migraines. Remember this the next time you think about skipping a meal. A meal planner to track food induced migraines will help you monitor how your diet affects your headaches.

Migraines may also occur because senses and hormones are affected. Sensitivity and migraines are directly correlated, leading [...]

Menopause, Triggers, and the Hot Flash Cycle

What is a hot flash?

A hot flash is an instant warm feeling, usually most fiercely over the face, neck, and chest. Excessive sweating and a rapid heartbeat usually accompany these symptoms. Hot flashes are the most common symptom of and are synonymous with menopause. Approximately 75% of women living with menopause will experience hot flashes, as they are the most common symptom.  Each individual occurrence can last anywhere from 2 minutes to a half-hour.

What is menopause?

Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when her periods become erratic and then stop altogether due to the natural decline in hormones. This natural occurrence usually happens around the ages of 40 to 50 years old.

How does stress affect menopause and hot flashes?

Stressors during menopause can worsen symptoms because of the natural hormonal imbalances taking place. Often, hot flashes can disrupt sleep cycles which in turn can affect mood swings and mental health. Many women report experiencing hot flashes when they’re having an emotional response to something. This occurs because emotional responses make the blood rush towards the skin’s surface, in turn triggering the hot flashes. The fluctuation in hormones can affect mood swings, physical reactions, and even trigger relapsing mental illness. Everything from hot flashes to night sweats to fatigue and insomnia can be irritated and triggered by mood swings, which are the product of the imbalance in hormones. All these triggers are connected and can affect each other in an unrelenting intertwined cycle.

How can hot flashes be managed?

Staying hydrated and drinking the standard 8 cups of water a day is important for the management of hot flashes, as dehydration can increase the severity of hot flashes. Other tips include layering clothes, laying off spices, and [...]