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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mental Health Influenced by Genetics

mental health
Last week, we covered at length the persistence of stigma when it comes to addiction and other forms of mental illness. There is no legitimate reason for shaming people who face mental health problems in the 21st Century. The science is irrefutable; people living with use disorder, depression, and bipolar disorder do not choose to be affected.

Researcher tells us that multiple factors play a role in the development of mental health issues. Scientists have yet to provide a formula for predicting who will face behavioral health or mood disorders. A method for determining when someone will begin experiencing problems is not available. However, it is possible that science will provide a means of foretelling mental illness in the near future.

Again, we do know some of the underpinnings of mental illness. Family history, for instance, is believed to increase one’s risk or protect an individual from dealing with issues in the future. However, a person’s genetics is not the sole cause of having mental health problems. Studies show that there are biological and emotional components, as well.

Those who struggle with mood disorders or behavioral health problems, by and large, have inadequate or underdeveloped coping mechanisms. With the hope of feeling better, people will resort to unhealthy actions in an attempt to alleviate their symptoms. People who engage in the practice of self-medication exacerbate their symptoms and put themselves at risk of developing a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis.

Environmental factors must be considered too when striving to explain the causes of mental health problems. Both nature and nurture, along with genetic predisposition, have a hand in the development of psychological illnesses.

“The exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known, but genetic and environmental factors interact to increase (or decrease) the risk of mental illness for any particular individual,” said Ravi N. Shah, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.

 

The Genetic Underpinnings of Mental Health Disorders


As we move through May at The Haven, we feel it is essential to continue the discussion on mental illness. Being Mental Health Month, we would like to draw your attention to some exciting research out of Australia. The findings of a recent study could help experts determine which individuals are at the highest risk of experiencing a mental health disorder.

Identifying who is at most significant risk could lead to earlier interventions, and potentially prevent some adverse experiences. Scientists at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland, Australia, discovered genes linked to common forms of psychiatric morbidity, ABC News reports. Lead researcher Professor Eske Derks and colleagues identified 70 previously unknown genes linked to severe mental illnesses, including:
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
“There’s a lot of stigma surrounding mental health disorders and again our findings show that genetic risk factors play a large role and that these disorders have a biological component,” said Professor Derks.

The research team observed the activity or expression of more than 300 genes, according to the article. Previous research had already found associations between 261 genes and mental illness. The discovery of 70 new genes could provide a more accurate road map for experts to follow in diagnostics and treatment.

“The important finding is that we now have a better understanding of what these genes are doing in patients with a mental health disorder,” Professor Derks said. “So what we want to do next, and what will be one of our future studies, is to see if there’s any existing drugs that target these genes that we have now found — if they can normalize the activity of these genes and hopefully make the patients better.” 

SLO County Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment


Mental health disorders, addiction or otherwise, are treatable through a combination of evidence-based therapies. It is often the case that patients living with substance use disorder also experience a co-occurring disorder. Simultaneous treatment of both conditions is vital to successful treatment outcomes.

Our Pismo Beach co-occurring disorder treatment provides a continuum of care for individuals with co-occurring chemical dependency and mental illnesses. Please contact The Haven at Pismo today to learn more about the services we offer.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Confronting Stigma: Going Public with Recovery

addiction
Talking about addiction isn’t an easy task. We live in a society that does not always look favorably on behavioral health problems. Even in recovery, people with use disorders still face stigma; members of the general public often view those with substance use issues as being broken souls.

Individuals who have never struggled with drugs and alcohol have a hard time making sense of why others would continue using despite the consequences. The same people wonder about the appeal of using substances in spite of the heartache attached to the practice. Many men and women look down on persons living with addiction.

Those who work a program of recovery are often bombarded by a salvo of questions as to why they no longer drink or drug. One’s addictive history is not anyone else’s business. However, it seems like a few people cannot help but inquire.

Some men and women have no issue talking about why they gave up on drugs and alcohol. Still, many others feel the need to hide the fact they are in recovery. No one (for example) wants to be viewed as being different. Those in recovery are committed to rejoining society; they hope to leave their shame in the past.

The Persistent Stigma of Addiction


Active addiction affects millions of Americans. With assistance, such people can find the path to long-term recovery. Alcohol and substance use disorder treatment helps people break the cycle of addiction, and it introduces them to programs for managing their illness.

12 Step recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are relied on by people around the globe. The word “anonymous” is in the name for a reason; AA was founded in the 1930s. At that time, alcoholics were treated horribly by society. Those affected by addictive disorders were viewed as being morally weak or lacking willpower—even in sobriety.

Today, scientists tell us that addiction is a form of mental illness. No one wakes up and decides they are going to drink and drug until their life is in ruins. Individuals touched by the disease of addiction do not lack moral fiber or a strong constitution. Instead, those affected have a treatable disorder. With assistance, men and women can lead happy and healthy lives.

Despite having a better understanding of the mechanisms of addiction, people still keep their disease to themselves. Stigma persists in the United States to this day. It is unfortunate that society doesn’t view mental health conditions the same way they would diabetes. Both types of illness are not a choice; they are treatable and must be managed in perpetuity.

Everyone Has a Chance at Recovery


Everyone is eligible for recovery, provided that they have support and compassion. In recent years, a significant number of books are available on the subject of addiction. Many others openly write about what they went through with addiction and their progress in recovery.

Autobiographies about use disorders have the power to inspire some to seek help and provide others the strength to no longer keep their sobriety a secret. Free Refills: A Doctor Confronts His Addiction, a new book by Peter Grinspoon, MD, confronts stigma and discusses the argument for going public with sobriety.

Dr. Grinspoon is in recovery from opioid use disorder and has gone public about his struggles. In an article for the Harvard Health Blog, he points out that “secrets make you sick.” The fact that people in his social network know he is in recovery means they can step in to support him if he begins to struggle again.

Going public also prevents him from having to keep track of what he told each person about why he is sober. While alcohol was not his primary concern, Dr. Grinspoon was required to abstain for five years to get his medical license reinstated. During that time, you can probably imagine how many people asked him why he no longer drinks. The third reason he went public is as follows:

“Finally, I was increasingly intolerant of the blatant discrimination directed at my brothers and sisters in recovery. Contrary to popular wisdom, we are people too. Not only that, but we have a lot to teach the rest of society, knowledge forged out of struggle and remorse (and therapy). Addiction memoirs are crucial windows into the lives of those who have fought and overcome this scourge. I thought that with my memoir Free Refills, I could make a statement against stigma, by confronting head-on the taboo subject of physicians and addiction. I wanted to demonstrate that anyone can get addicted, even (or especially) your well-meaning doctor, and that, provided they have some ability to grow and change, they are afforded the treatment they deserve, and — most importantly —no one gives up on them, everyone has a chance at recovery.”

 

Central Coast Addiction Treatment Center


The Haven at Pismo offers evidence-based, addiction treatment for adults impacted by alcohol or substance use disorder. Please contact our team to learn more about the services and programs we provide. The Haven is the perfect place to renew your best today.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Mental Health Month Inspires Change

Mental Health Month
Mental health is of vital importance to living a stable, productive, and fulfilling life. Those who neglect their psychological well-being are at considerable risk of experiencing significant problems. Fortunately, there are small acts people can do each day that can pay off in the long run. It’s not always simple, but a little bit of effort towards prioritizing mental health is essential.

On the heels of Alcohol Awareness Month, millions of people are focusing on mental well-being. May is Mental Health Month: a national observance that is now 70 years strong. There are many facets to the annual awareness campaign, including educating, speaking out, and encouraging people to share their successes.

In the rooms of addiction recovery, those with lengths of sobriety share what works with the newcomer. The hope is that those with less time will incorporate what they learn into everyday practice. Those who can take suggestions, follow direction, and be honest with themselves can achieve long-term recovery. In doing so, individuals carry these message into the future, and the cycle of recovery continues.

Since use disorders are a form of mental illness, it stands to reason that the same model applies to other conditions. Millions of Americans take steps each day to manage and cope with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Such people accomplish this through various methods. Different techniques work for each person. Still, there is power in sharing about how to make progress; each success is an opportunity to help others.

Mental Health America is asking people who live with mental illness to share their strategies for maintaining overall health. During Mental Health Month, individuals can provide hope and affect change in people who are struggling.

Mental Health Month 2019: Helping Others


Physical and mental well-being depends on taking the time to prioritize eating healthy, exercise, and balance between work and play. The theme of MHM2019 is #4Body4Mind; all month, men and women are speaking out via social media. Mental Health America offers several tools to help guide those who have an interest in sharing their personal experience. Individuals who take part in the annual observance can help others:
  • Understand how lifestyle factors impact the health of the mind and body.
  • Start talking about mental health before Stage 4.
  • Assess their mental health through the use of screening tools.
  • Share their strategies for maintaining overall health by tagging social media posts with #4Mind4Body.
It is worth mentioning that untold millions of people are struggling with mental illness. Many of those who suffer have found it challenging to seek assistance. The stigma of psychiatric issues persists, and the shame that results from it bars people for reaching out for support.

Evidence-based screening tools and treatments exist—recovery is possible. Men and women can benefit significantly from hearing from those who have learned how to thrive in recovery. Sharing about your experience may result in a person finding the courage to seek treatment, recover and lead full, productive lives.

Inadequate social support makes it harder to recover from mental illnesses, while a strong social support system improves overall outcomes, according to research published in Psychiatry (2007). When those who are struggling with mental health find people to relate to, they are more likely to take steps to improve their mental health.

The sense of fellowship is one reason why persons in mutual help groups can break the cycle of self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors. If you’d like to get involved with MHM2019, please click here.

SLO County Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment


The majority of men and women living with addiction have a co-occurring mental health disorder. When a client arrives at a rehab center, concurrent treatment for each form of mental illness is paramount to a successful outcome.

We provide a continuum of care for clients with co-occurring chemical dependency and mental illnesses. Please contact The Haven at Pismo today to learn more about our Central Coast treatment center.

Mental Health Month is an excellent time to reach out for support and begin the journey of recovery. Our dedicated team of professionals is standing by to answer any of your questions. 805.202.3440