Social Anxiety Disorder affects roughly 12% of the population in the United States, according to the NIH, the National Institutes of Health. And roughly 20% of individuals diagnosed with SAD experience addiction and other negative coping methods. The impacts of the current pandemic has certainly led to increased anxiety for all individuals regarding our social interactions. Statistics compiled in the coming years will most likely reflect the impact of Covid-19 and whether more individuals with a predisposition to the mental disorder find themselves on that spectrum.
Generally, the holiday season requires more social interactions as we gather together to celebrate with family, friends and co-workers throughout the closing months of the year. This year we will likely see a reversal of that trend, however, as the lack of social interactions due to the pandemic will increase sentiments of loneliness, sadness and anxiety tied to our lack of agency. Still, individuals diagnosed with social anxiety disorder face a different set of factors. Therapists would do well to discuss how the changes in how we interact virtually has either increased or alleviated the anxiety that their patients experience. A Zoom meet-up could be more anxiety provoking for some. But it can be more manageable than face to face interactions for others given the ability to participate without being seen.
Despite how different this holiday season may be, the close of the year brings many types of holiday events that pose challenges. Yet, there are steps that you can take to minimize feelings of anxiety if you are among the thousands of individuals that have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.
Step 1 – Prepare yourself ahead of time. If you know the type of group setting that you will encounter, whether it be a holiday gathering or a family dinner for example, try to prepare yourself for the types of interactions that you might experience. If you know that there will be a large group of attendees, perhaps limit your time at the event or arrive early so that there are fewer people to greet initially. Enlisting the help of a friend or family member who you trust, beforehand, can help provide a buffer from uncomfortable interactions or be a source of comfort.
Step 2 – Control your breathing. Be aware of how a specific interaction may raise your anxiety level and take a break to calm yourself through controlled breathing exercises and positive self-talk. Practicing various forms of muscle relaxation and breathing techniques can help release tension and keep you calm.
Step 3 – Take the focus off of yourself. A source of social anxiety is the fear of judgement and risk of humiliation. If you can take the focus away from your negative thoughts and instead listen to others more intently while in conversation, then you can put more energy into asking questions that help you stay focused on what they are saying rather than on your own thoughts of what others might be thinking. This can help minimize misreading body language or misinterpreting what someone has said.
Ketamine Health Centers seeks to provide relief for individuals who suffer from anxiety of all types. Whether due to increased social anxiety or the depression that may set in due to the lack thereof, Ketamine infusion therapy has a proven record of effectively reducing anxiety overall.
Numerous studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that Ketamine infusion therapy is far more effective at treating anxiety than more traditional methods of talk therapy or psychopharmacological approaches. As stated often, a multifaceted approach to treatment is always more effective. Contact us this holiday season to learn more about the many services we provide that offer relief for anxiety and other mental health disorders that tend to intensify during this time of year. Our clinics throughout Florida provide telemed services to help us interact with you despite the challenges posed this year. We are committed to providing exceptional service and care.
This remarkably difficult year has forced us to change how we approach every aspect of our life. Perspectives and coping skills have been challenged as quite heavy concerns weigh on us. So many individuals and families have experienced multiple traumas and losses this year as we cling on with sheer survival skills. Given these trying times, it is important to highlight that we are blessed with an opportunity during this season of gratitude, even as we enter a difficult period both in terms of the seasonal changes that always raise unique challenges and the special circumstances that this strange year imposes on us. As neuroscientific research catches up with collective wisdom, we now understand better the benefits of practicing gratitude as part of our daily living. One proverb affirms, “gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings” as stated in this fantastic article on “The Neuroscience of Gratitude” detailing the benefits of Thankful Thinking.
The neurological benefits of gratitude, as we have come to learn, foster happiness and emotional and social strengths via a cascading effect of wellness. Gratitude can be considered a “natural antidepressant” as research shows that the brain produces greater amounts of feel-good dopamine and serotonin when individuals both give and receive sentiments of gratitude. Neuronal rewiring and the creation of new neural pathways help restructure our cognitive connections to think positively with more permanence. A neurological change can help foster new perspectives and help reduce anxiety and stress, crucially important for all of us these days! As another article on the benefits of writing gratitude letters indicates, it is not the abundance of positive thinking that helps establish long-lasting effects of gratitude, but rather the absence of negative thinking that leads to sustained wellness and happiness over time. Individuals that wrote gratitude letters experienced better mental health at 4 weeks and even more so at 12 weeks, even if they did not share their letters with the intended recipients, as compared to individuals who were given a negative-style writing assignment or no writing assignment at all. Moreover, with our technology overload and its detrimental effects, these days harking back to antiquated modes of communication, such as letter writing, would be a wonderful break from video calls and perhaps even more beneficial than hearing the words spoken once. A letter allows you to revisit that feel-good emotion every time you reread it.
What is most important to consider for individuals who experience mental health illness, especially depression and anxiety, is that a multifaceted approach to treatment is always essential. We should all be practicing Thankful Thinking and paying-it-forward for our social and emotional wellbeing, which in turn will help strengthen our physical and mental states. But for individuals who need to strengthen that neurological foundation first (in order to establish those neuronal connections that will then lead to stronger emotional and social development) practicing gratitude along with exploring the benefits of alternative methods of treatment that target and enhance that neurological restructuring would greatly increase the chances of healing and self-growth.
Ketamine Health Centers is grateful to provide these services to enhance your current treatment plan, or to help you develop one with our exceptional professional staff. Together we can help you or a loved one begin to experience the many blessings that each of us can come to recognize, foster, and pay-forward as we grow as individuals and as a society. We wish you all a Happy and Healthy holiday season!
Boundaries are essential for the proper growth and functioning of all things. They are equally necessary for our healthy engagement with social issues that matter most. Social justice concerns, along with this year’s general elections, have forced us to take stock of where we are as a nation. For many young people, changing the course that we are on has become a catapult to activism. Whether you are moved to action on a local, national or global scale, there are ways to mitigate stress and the burnout that inevitably ensues over the long term if left unchecked. Whether you are a seasoned activist or new to the cause, if you are unable to set boundaries for your emotional health and wellbeing there is a higher chance for the onset of a physical or mental health crisis.
Burnout is a mental health issue that many of us may encounter in our work life. It is characterized by a depletion of energy and feelings of exhaustion. Moreover, there are degrees of emotional distance that develop impeding the work at hand to levels of crippling ineffectiveness in one’s capabilities. Burnout can eventually lead to overall cynicism. People that work against the social grain are moving against the current often in emotionally hostile environments, for there is always push back to change. For these individuals, burnout may come sooner than for someone in a “traditional” workplace. Setting boundaries that allow for a healthy detachment from one’s cause is essential for an activist; and for the movement itself, since these feelings can easily extend from the individual to the activist community.
Political activism is intense and can be short-lived if it follows election cycles. However, even for the “casual” political activist, the intensity and length of campaigns have grown over the decade making the possibility of burnout more acute. Especially in a campaign year when there exists a greater political divide. Activists that are pushing for larger changes in the political system experience a different type of advocacy and as such may be in ‘activist mode’ for a sustained period. It is important to recognize the signs of stress, whether acute or chronic. Individuals will react to stressors differently and over differing periods of time.
Social activists, such as those protesting for social justice issues that have directly affected their communities, are moved to action for deeply personal reasons and often layered existential threats in nature. The vulnerability to one’s emotional and physical wellbeing is felt immediately, and no doubt intensifies with time. And as one would imagine, setting boundaries for a healthy detachment may be more difficult, yet even more necessary to accomplish. Talking through one’s fears, hopes, daily struggles with those in the movement is crucial. A daily check of one’s mental and physical wellbeing is essential, and all facets of self-care should be in place.
There are some, such as environmental activists, who have been advocating for the global cause for many decades only to face more opposition in our current social and political climate than could have been imagined twenty years ago. For these individuals who may express that we are moving backwards rather than forwards as regards to the cause, the feelings of cynicism and disillusion can be devastating. But there are ways to establish the necessary boundaries to allow you the space to recharge and heal so that, if you so desire, you can carry on and refocus your energies on moving the needle forward.
The first step in establishing a healthy detachment is to take a daily assessment of the feelings that consume you. If you are feeling hopelessness, map out the issues that cause you anxiety and stress to visualize what you have control over and what you cannot immediately change. Then write one or two things that you can do, no matter how small, to influence only those things that you can change. Take stock of what you feel most hopeless about. Then remind yourself as a mantra that you can impact others to help you move the needle on those larger issues, but that you will put your immediate energy into the feasible changes first. Then visually let go of the stress regarding what you cannot yet change.
Recognize your physical stress signs. Do a daily scan of your body, mind and spirit. Identify your body’s stress reservoirs, those areas that absorb the anxiety and manifest it physically. Focus on releasing energy in those areas, for example by massaging a shoulder knot, running to release negative emotions, or doing something that makes you laugh and smile. Simply stretching each day is an important way to relieve stress reservoirs, relaxing a tense body. Make it a point to do meditative breathing exercises to help release anxious energy and breathe in calm, throughout the day, but especially right before falling asleep as you stretch out in bed. This will help mitigate the build-up effect of stress that leads to physical illness and burnout, and possibly mental health issues such as depression and addiction.
As with any career, you must allow yourself downtime, and more often for activists. The nature of the work makes one feel that you cannot stop until the desired end-result is achieved. But it is important to recognize, as history has shown, some activists will not see the changes come to fruition in their lifetime. Therefore, a measured perspective must be at the forefront, providing a healthy balance between expecting that one’s hard fought struggles will bear fruit with a realistic understanding that change may not resemble the imagined result, but progress is being made, simply by the act of your participation.
The general election may be wrapping up. But no matter the outcome, political activism will continue. Social justice movements will persist. And the effects of the pandemic and economic downturn of 2020 will linger. We all must take stock of how the events of this year has created for many of us the conditions for burnout syndrome. Let us be conscientious and compassionate with ourselves and with others, that we may create the space and necessary boundaries to recharge, to change perspectives when required, and provide the positive energy necessary to move our society forward.
As always, Ketamine Health Centers is here to help provide the tools and professional guidance to recharge and heal once again. Contact us today if you or a loved one needs additional support or alternative methods to address depression and feelings of hopelessness. We stand stronger together.
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted many social and civil shortcomings, but thankfully, it has also provided a much needed change in perspectives, sometimes from unexpected corners of life. Overall, while adjusting to the pandemic, daily anxiety levels are on the rise. Now we must shift to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 through the emerging cold and flu season as the winter season sets. Entering a new wave of the pandemic requires us to stay the course with our behavioral changes in hygiene, as well as, maintaining social distancing measures. Coping with the changes faced has put into sharp relief the much needed global focus on mental health.
The sustained stressors, like public health, social institutions, and the environmental changes, increase anxiety and fear for many. The emotions that some individuals have expressed during this pandemic, highlight a reality that individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) live with every day. During OCD Awareness Week we recognize millions of individuals who experience the restrictive fears that OCD, and their various coping behaviors, creating barriers to moving and living freely in the world.
OCD affects about 1% of the population in the United States or 2.2 million Americans each year (visit adaa.org for more facts and statistics on anxiety disorders). With many experiencing the onset of symptoms in their late teens. The realities of managing Covid-19 and the ramifications of a health scare may impact some individuals more than others. Especially, if fears are centered around contagion and the cold season demands of extra hand cleaning and disinfection against germs. This can lead people to a predisposition of developing compulsive behaviors around staying clean. Young adults are a vulnerable age group during the pandemic particularly since the social networks that help strengthen emotional development are constrained and are now more restricted through remote learning.
Psychiatrists have continued to work with OCD patients during the pandemic using effective cognitive-behavioral treatments, yet the nature of the virus has curtailed some of those efforts. Ketamine Health Centers (KHC) can support a traditional CBT with alternative approaches. Ketamine infusion therapy, for example, works at the neurological level to help dislodge old, repetitive behaviors as one is practicing new behavioral patterns through cognitive behavior therapy. The majority of patients claim instantly diminished symptoms early into treatment, which is what makes this treatment option unique. KHC can provide a combination of procedures to augment your existing treatment plan.
Thankfully, many OCD patients have felt little change as a direct result of the pandemic simply because their fears are of a different nature. For some, other fear factors are more immediate than the concerns brought to bear by the pandemic. Yet anxiety, just as mental health in general, works along a spectrum. Before the year began many individuals were already in a fragile place for anxiety and depression. The many layers of difficulties (health, economic, social, emotional) and the ongoing need to re-establish new states of “normal” is too great a challenge to carry alone.
Ketamine Health Centers can provide relief through alternative treatment for an array of mental health concerns. We encourage a multifaceted approach to mental health. Contact our highly trained professionals, at one of our conveniently located clinics, to discuss new treatment options that can strengthen your current practice or take you in a new direction for effective treatment. Set up your free consultation today!
October is Mental Health Screening month! This initiative was started by the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to raise public awareness of mental health issues. One in five Americans is affected by mental health conditions and despite the high prevalence, mental disorders often go undiagnosed, untreated, or under-treated in primary care.
What is a mental health screening?
A mental health screening is an exam of your emotional health and helps you detect a mental health disorder. They are private and anonymous, cost-effective, quick, and accessible. Screening assesses risk factors, which can be genetic, behavioral, or environmental. Additionally, benefits include distinguishing between those who could benefit from minimal intervention and others who may require further diagnostic assessment or possible treatment.
After completing a screening, a mental health provider (a doctor or a therapist) can give you a full assessment and talk to you about options for how to feel better. Screenings are beneficial, because they allow for early identification and intervention, leading to better outcomes. Screenings may also lessen long-term disability, preventing years of suffering.
Why are mental health screenings important?
Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, and PTSD are among some of the most common mental health diagnoses detected from mental health screenings. With a high prevalence of condition related symptoms, often we may be unaware of severe underlying problems requiring extra attention. Instead of creating an environment filled with shame or fear, which stops many from seeking help, Ketamine Health Centers urges everyone to do their part in ending the stigma. Mental health illnesses are real, common, and treatable; recovery is very possible with the right steps.
Participating in a mental health screening is just as important as getting regular check-ups with your doctor. Seven to ten million people in the United States have at least one mental health disorder, in addition to an existing alcohol or drug abuse disorder. Too often, these individuals are treated for only one of the two disorders or receive no treatment at all. In an effort to bridge the gap, mental health screenings help address these discrepancies and allow people to receive not only the help they need, but the help they deserve.
What can Ketamine Health Centers do for you?
At Ketamine Health Centers, we believe mental health screenings play a crucial role in preventative care and overall well-being, so we will be offering free mental health screenings this October. If you or someone you know is in need of a team to help them regain control, please contact us. From our therapy programs to our cutting-edge treatments, our medical team takes the time to get to know you and your goals, personalizing your experience at any of our locations. What are you waiting for? Better days are ahead.