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What Is The Most Effective Antidepressant For GAD?

What Is The Most Effective Antidepressant For GAD?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, mental health disorder. GAD is characterized by severe ongoing anxiety and exaggerated worry and tension (even when there is little or nothing to provoke it) that interferes with daily activities. According to the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria, a diagnosis of GAD currently implies chronic, excessive worry lasting at least six months and presenting with three of the possible six somatic or psychological symptoms (restlessness, fatigue, muscle tension, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbance). When posed with the question: What is the most effective antidepressant for an individual diagnosed with GAD? There is no universal answer, as the efficacy of each type of antidepressant medication will depend on each person’s distinct needs. 

Types of Medications for GAD

There are several types of antidepressant medications used to treat GAD, each with respective risks, benefits, and appropriate uses. The Mayo Clinic provides the following breakdown of the various options: 

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): work by slowing the reabsorption of serotonin (the neurotransmitter known to help with mood regulation and anxiety) in one’s brain. Common examples of SSRIs that may be used to treat GAD include, but are not limited to:
  • Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): work by reducing the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine in one’s brain. They can be prescribed to treat anxiety, depression, and some chronic pain conditions. Common examples of SNRIs that may be used to treat GAD include:
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): are prescribed less frequently as they are an older class of antidepressants that can cause more side effects than other options. Some examples of TCAs that may be used to treat GAD include:
  • Benzodiazepines: a type of sedative that alleviates muscle tension and can reduce some of the physical symptoms of anxiety. They are often prescribed to help manage symptoms associated with short-term anxiety. Common examples of benzodiazepines that may be used to treat GAD include:

There are a variety of treatment options for individuals diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. As is true with taking any type of medication there are associated risks. The specific risks will vary from person to person, as they will depend on several contributing factors (e.g., the individual’s health history, the presence of any additional mental health ailments, substance abuse issues, genetics, etc.). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires antidepressant medications to clearly display a black box warning label indicating the possibility of increased suicidal thoughts and behaviors when taken by some individuals under the age of 25. Not all medications will work for every person, but given the array of options, there is typically at least one antidepressant that can effectively reduce one’s symptoms associated with generalized anxiety disorder.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

What Triggers Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

What Triggers Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a mental illness and is characterized by “chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry, and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.” Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania asserts that the median age of onset of GAD is 30 years, although “a very broad range exists for the spread of age at the time of onset. Patients reporting a later onset of their GAD typically will say their symptoms developed in response to a significantly stressful event in their lives.” Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests that GAD can be triggered by situational circumstances such as family or environmental stress, chronic illness, or disease. Generalized anxiety disorder is not uncommon, and in any given year, GAD affects 6.8 million adults, which is equal to 3.1% of the U.S. population. The prevalence of GAD in children and adolescents ranges from 2.9% to 4.6%. GAD develops gradually and can begin at any age, but the years of highest risk are between childhood and middle age.

Signs and Symptoms

Generalized anxiety disorder can manifest as psychological symptoms, behavioral symptoms, and physical symptoms. Common examples of GAD symptoms may include any combination of the following:

  • Psychological symptoms:
    • Nervousness
    • Irritability
    • Nightmares 
    • A pervasive feeling of apprehension or dread
    • Intrusive thoughts 
    • Feeling edgy, restless, or jumpy
    • An inability to tolerate uncertainty
  • Behavioral symptoms:
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Ritualistic behaviors (e.g., repeatedly washing hands)
    • Inability to relax
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Procrastinating 
    • Avoiding potentially anxiety-ridden situations
  • Physical symptoms:
    • Muscle tightness
    • Body aches
    • Fatigue
    • Sweating
    • Heart palpitations
    • Dry mouth
    • Cold or sweaty hands
    • Trembling
    • Shortness of breath
    • Nausea
    • Diarrhea 
    • Chronic headaches

Every individual is different, and the symptoms associated with GAD can vary in severity and duration and will be distinct to each person. 

Causes and Risk Factors

To conclusively understand the precise cause of generalized anxiety disorder, additional research is required, however, clinical findings do point to a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors contributing to its development. Risk factors that may increase an individual’s propensity for developing generalized anxiety disorder could include both environmental and genetic factors, such as the following, provided by Healthline

  • Family history of anxiety disorders
  • Recent or prolonged exposure to stressful situations, including personal or family illnesses
  • Excessive use of caffeine or tobacco can exacerbate existing anxiety
  • Childhood abuse or bullying
  • Certain health conditions such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias

The University of Rochester Medical Center asserts that an imbalance of two chemicals in the brain (norepinephrine and serotonin) most likely plays a part in the development of GAD. Experts suggest that “those living with GAD may experience certain activation in areas of the brain associated with mental activity and introspective thinking when they encounter situations that could cause worry.” According to Winchester Hospital, it is not uncommon for other anxiety disorders to co-occur in a person with generalized anxiety disorder. 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

 

What Is The Drug Of Choice For Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

What Drugs Are Commonly Prescribed For Depression?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a mental illness. Mental Health America explains that GAD “is characterized by six months or more of chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that is unfounded or much more severe than the normal anxiety most people experience.” According to the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria, a diagnosis of GAD currently implies chronic, excessive worry lasting at least six months and presenting with three of the possible six somatic or psychological symptoms (restlessness, fatigue, muscle tension, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbance).

Psychiatric Times asserts “GAD typically presents in an episodic pattern of moderate improvement or remission and relapse characterized by a chronic and complicated clinical course.” The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) explains that generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most “common mental disorders in the United States, and can negatively impact a patient’s quality of life and disrupt important activities of daily living.” Although the exact cause of generalized anxiety disorder remains unknown, research has deduced that it likely involves a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors. However, additional research is required to conclusively understand the precise cause of generalized anxiety disorder. In any given year, GAD affects 6.8 million adults, which is equal to 3.1% of the U.S. population, and women are twice as likely to be affected.

Treatment: Psychotherapy and Medication

GAD is a chronic condition that does not yet have a universally recognized cure. Nevertheless, depending on the severity of an individual’s GAD symptoms, it can be effectively treated. The two main treatments for generalized anxiety disorder include psychotherapy and medication. There are many psychotherapeutic treatment options for generalized anxiety disorder. Some of the common therapeutic modalities incorporated into one’s treatment plan for generalized anxiety disorder could include one or more of the following: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), expressive arts therapy, and/ or interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT). There are several different types of medications that can be used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, including:

  • Antidepressants: used to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs); examples include Lexapro (escitalopram), Zoloft (sertraline), Prozac (fluoxetine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), Effexor XR (venlafaxine), and Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Azapirones: mild anti-anxiety medications, suitable for long-term use; example Buspirone 
  • Benzodiazepines: fast-acting medications intended for short-term, sporadic use; examples include Xanax (alprazolam), Rivotril (clonazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Anti-convulsants/ antipsychotic medications: less frequently used, but approved for treating generalized anxiety disorder; example Stelazine (trifluoperazine) 

The first-line treatment for GAD, which could be referred to as the drug of choice or the initial medication prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. In most cases integrating a combination of both psychotherapy and medication into one’s treatment plan yields the most successful long-term results.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

What Are Major Depression Symptoms?

How Do You Test For Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Major depression also referred to as major depressive disorder (MDD), depression, or clinical depression is a common mental health disorder that is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Major depression is characterized by persistent sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities resulting in significant impairment in one’s daily life. Every individual is unique and as such the symptoms of depression will manifest distinctly in everyone. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and will directly depend on the individual and his or her circumstances. The Harvard Medical School asserts that the most prominent symptom of major depression is a severe and persistent low mood. Other common examples of symptoms that could be indicative of major depression may include, but are not limited to any combination of the following, provided by the American Psychiatric Association (APA):

  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight fluctuation
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed pastimes
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/ or pessimism
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Increased fatigue 
  • Feeling worthless and/ or guilty
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Moving and/ or talking more slowly than usual
  • Suicidal ideation

It is important to note that not all signs and symptoms must be present for an individual to have depression. More specifically, to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, an individual’s symptoms must fit the criteria outlined in the DSM-5. A person must be experiencing five or more of the following symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure:

  1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
  2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  3. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  4. A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  5. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  6. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  7. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
  8. Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

These symptoms must cause the person clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The symptoms must also not be a result of substance abuse or another medical condition. If left untreated, the symptoms of depression can lead to severe short and long-term consequences and in some cases could be life-threatening. 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Is There Any Test To Detect Depression?

Understanding Depression and Depressive Disorders

Depression is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as major depressive disorder, and is sometimes referred to as a clinical depression. It is characterized by persistent and intrusive depressive moods, and/ or a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities resulting in significant impairment in daily life. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life.” There is currently no laboratory test used to detect or diagnose depression. There are, however, tests (e.g., blood tests) that may be used to check for any other underlying conditions to rule out depression. Certain medications and illnesses (e.g., thyroid disorder, viral infections, etc.) can cause symptoms that mimic those of depression. The diagnosis process for depression is typically comprised of a thorough evaluation where a medical professional will ask in-depth questions about one’s mood, behavior, daily activities, and family health history. An individual may also be requested to complete a depression-rating questionnaire (e.g., the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale, etc.) to gauge one’s level of depression. A diagnostician confirms a diagnosis of depression by differentiating it from other psychiatric conditions, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria

To be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, a person’s symptoms must fit the criteria outlined in the DSM-5. An individual must be experiencing five or more of the following symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure:

  1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
  2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  3. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  4. A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  5. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  6. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  7. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
  8. Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

These symptoms must cause the individual clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The symptoms must also not be a result of substance abuse or another medical condition.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Is The Best Antidepressant For GAD?

What Is The Best Antidepressant For GAD?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a mental illness. The Mayo Clinic characterizes GAD as “severe ongoing anxiety that interferes with daily activities.” While experiencing bouts of anxiety is natural, experiencing persistent and debilitating anxiety may be indicative of GAD. The exact cause for developing generalized anxiety disorder remains unknown. Research has shown that it is likely due to a combination of contributing factors such as psychological, environmental, genetic, and developmental factors. When posed with the question: What is the best antidepressant for a GAD? There is no universal answer. The best antidepressant medication will depend on each person’s distinct needs.

Types of Medications for GAD

There are several types of antidepressant medications, each with respective risks, benefits, and appropriate uses, which include the following, provided by the Mayo Clinic

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): work by slowing the reabsorption of serotonin (the neurotransmitter known to help with mood regulation and anxiety) in one’s brain. Common examples of SSRIs that may be used to treat GAD include, but are not limited to:
    • Celexa (citalopram)
    • Lexapro (escitalopram)
    • Prozac (fluoxetine)
    • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): work by reducing the reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine in one’s brain. They can be prescribed to treat anxiety, depression, and some chronic pain conditions. Common examples of SNRIs that may be used to treat GAD include:
    • Cymbalta (duloxetine)
    • Effexor XR (venlafaxine)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): are prescribed less frequently as they are an older class of antidepressants that can cause more side effects than other options. Some examples of TCAs that may be used to treat GAD include:
    • Tofranil (imipramine)
    • Elavil (amitriptyline)
    • Pamelor (nortriptyline) 
  • Benzodiazepines: a type of sedative that alleviates muscle tension and can reduce some of the physical symptoms of anxiety. They are often prescribed to help manage symptoms associated with short-term anxiety. Common examples of benzodiazepines that may be used to treat GAD include:
    • Xanax (alprazolam)
    • Valium (diazepam)
    • Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
    • Ativan (lorazepam)

There are a variety of treatment options for individuals diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. As is true with taking any type of medication there are associated risks. The specific risks will vary from person to person, as they will depend on several contributing factors (e.g., the individual’s health history, the presence of any additional mental health ailments, substance abuse issues, genetics, etc.). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires antidepressant medications to clearly display a black box warning indicating the possibility of increased suicidal thoughts and behaviors when taken by some individuals under the age of 25. Antianxiety medication can be incredibly effective in reducing one’s symptoms associated with a generalized anxiety disorder when taken exactly as prescribed. 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

Is GAD A Serious Mental Illness?

Is GAD A Serious Mental Illness?

Yes; generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a serious mental illness that is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). It is characterized by “chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that is unfounded or much more severe than the normal anxiety most people experience.” While experiencing bouts of anxiety is natural, experiencing persistent and debilitating anxiety may be an indication that something is awry. The exact cause of generalized anxiety disorder remains unknown; however, research has deduced that it likely involves a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Winchester Hospital identifies several known risk factors that can increase one’s propensity for developing GAD, such as:

  • Family history of anxiety disorders
  • Medical conditions, as people with chronic illness, have a greater risk of GAD
  • Substance abuse
  • History of stressful life events (e.g., traumatic event, childhood abuse or neglect, divorce, etc.)

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) explains that generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most “common mental disorders in the United States, and can negatively impact a patient’s quality of life and disrupt important activities of daily living.”

Signs and Symptoms

There are a variety of common signs and symptoms associated with GAD. The signs and symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder can present in any combination with varying levels of severity. The Mayo Clinic provides examples, some of which include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Overwhelming worry and fear
  • Isolation 
  • Agitation
  • Muscle tension
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Dysphoria
  • Low self-esteem/ low self-worth
  • Tension
  • Anxiety 

The diagnostic criterion provided in the DSM-5 for GAD is somewhat different for adults and children. An adult is diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder when at least three of the above symptoms persist for a minimum of six months. In younger people, however, only one symptom is needed for diagnosis, provided it has been exhibited regularly spanning over a period of six months. 

The Treatment Process

The two main treatments for GAD include psychotherapy and medication, and they are not mutually exclusive. There are several different types of medications that can be used to treat generalized anxiety disorder, including:

  • Antidepressants: used to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs); examples include Lexapro (escitalopram), Zoloft (sertraline), Prozac (fluoxetine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), Effexor XR (venlafaxine), and Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Azapirones: mild anti-anxiety medications, suitable for long-term use; example Buspirone 
  • Benzodiazepines: fast-acting medications intended for short-term, sporadic use; examples include Xanax (alprazolam), Rivotril (clonazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Anti-convulsant/ antipsychotic medications: less frequently used, but approved for treating generalized anxiety disorder; example Stelazine (trifluoperazine) 

There are many psychotherapeutic treatment options for generalized anxiety disorder. Some of the common therapeutic modalities incorporated into one’s treatment plan for generalized anxiety disorder could include one or more of the following: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), expressive arts therapy, and/ or interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT). Every person is unique and will respond distinctly to the various treatment options available. In most cases integrating a combination of both psychotherapy and medication into one’s treatment plan yields the most successful long-term results.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Is The Root Cause Of Trust Issues?

What Is The Root Cause Of Trust Issues?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines trust as a “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” Trust is generally viewed as one of the foundational pillars of any authentic, healthy relationship. It can take years to develop trust in a relationship, and only moments for it to be destroyed. A tendency to distrust others can lead to a slew of unwanted consequences (e.g., exacerbate depression, loneliness, antisocial behaviors, etc.). Trust issues are largely characterized by fears of abandonment, betrayal, and manipulation. There are different frequently exhibited signs with which an individual struggling with trust issues may present, including the following examples, provided by Good Therapy:

  • Lack of intimacy or friendships
  • The mistrust that interferes with a relationship
  • Dramatic and turbulent relationships
  • Suspicion or anxiety about friends and family 
  • Terror during physical intimacy
  • The belief that others are deceptive or malevolent without evidence

Unresolved trust issues can cause problems in romantic relationships as well as non-romantic relationships and can interfere with one’s ability to cultivate and maintain future healthy relationships. 

Where Do Trust Issues Come From?

There is no single root cause that universally and accurately encompasses why chronic distrust, colloquially known as trust issues, develops. Rather, in most situations, the cause of trust issues is often due to a confluence of contributing factors. Trust issues can develop because of past or present experiences. Common causes of trust issues could be attributed to:

  • Childhood experiences: research has found that people who have endured a troubled childhood are more likely to develop trust issues later in life. For some individual’s the development of trust issues may be attributed to exposure to the following examples at a young age:
    • A parent making false promises to a child 
    • A friend failing to follow through on their words 
    • Caregivers with poor parenting skills
    • Abuse (e.g., emotional, physical, sexual, psychological, etc.)
    • Parental neglect
    • Parents with psychiatric conditions
    • Parental anger issues
  • Toxic relationships: unhealthy elements of relationships that could ignite trust issues may include:
    • Jealousy
    • Possessiveness 
    • Unreasonable rigidity 
    • Emotional infidelity 
    • Physical/ sexual infidelity
    • Relational game playing 
    • Lack of reliability and/ or dependability 
    • Lack of emotional support 
    • Lack of financial compatibility 
    • Lack of mutually supportive goals
  • Traumatic incidents: the effects of trauma can interfere with an individual’s ability to let their guard down and trust others. A traumatized individual (e.g., a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, extreme bullying, etc.) often feels unsafe in society and may begin to anticipate potential danger in all relationships, which can cause confusion regarding whom to trust and emitting vulnerability. 

Psychology Today explains that some individuals’ trust issues could partly be a matter of personality, as people that are naturally less agreeable tend to be more prone to distrusting others. However, it is important to note that people are not born with trust issues. Trust issues gradually develop as a cumulative impact of the various negative experiences one encounters in his or her life, beginning in childhood.  

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Dissociation Feels Like

What Dissociation Feels Like

Dissociation is a mental process of disconnecting from one’s feelings, thoughts, sense of identity, and/ or memories. The Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors, explains that dissociation is a psychological phenomenon that “describes a state in which the integrated functioning of a person’s identity, including consciousness, memory, and awareness of surroundings, is disrupted or eliminated.” Dissociation is specifically influenced by the disruption of four areas of personal functioning (identity, memory, consciousness, and awareness of oneself and surroundings) that are designed to operate automatically and seamlessly. The exact causes of dissociation remain unknown, but various sources have identified certain risk factors (e.g., drug abuse, exposure to life-threatening or traumatic events, such as extreme violence, war, kidnapping, childhood abuse, etc., the presence of other mental health conditions) that may increase one’s susceptibility.  

What Does It Feel Like?

Dissociation is an overload response that works as a subconscious coping mechanism for an individual to temporarily avoid a traumatic situation, alleviate emotional overwhelm, and/ or evade negative thoughts. Every person is unique and therefore, dissociation is inevitably different for everyone. A study published in Access Advances in Psychiatric Treatment explains that general symptoms of dissociation often include changes in bodily senses and a reduced ability to react emotionally. The symptoms of dissociation can range from mild to severe and are often broken into the following five overarching categories:

  1. Depersonalization: feeling detached from one’s thoughts, feelings, and body
    • Becoming fully engrossed in something (e.g., a movie, a book, etc.) to the point of becoming unaware of what is going on in one’s surroundings
    • Having an out-of-body experience (e.g., an individual feeling as though he or she is floating away or watching themselves from a distance)
  2. Derealization: feeling disconnected from one’s environment
    • Daydreaming
    • Zoning out (e.g., scrolling through social media and suddenly noticing hours have passed)
  3. Dissociative amnesia: experiencing retrospective memory gaps 
    • Unable to remember important information about one’s life, history, and/ or identity
  4. Identity confusion: feeling unsure of one’s sense of self or place in the world
    • Obsessive behaviors (e.g., an individual repeatedly looking in the mirror to check and make sure that they are real)
  5. Identity alteration: the sense of being markedly different from another part of oneself

Severe symptoms of dissociation, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), could include perceptual alterations, emotional or physical numbing, distorted sense of time and space, unreal, unstable, or absent self, etc. The severity, combination, and duration of symptoms will vary from person to person. Individuals that dissociate do not necessarily experience symptoms from all five categories simultaneously, and further, dissociation can present as symptoms that may only be attributed to one of the above categories.  

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment. 

What Does A Certified Addiction Professional Do?

What Does A Certified Addiction Professional Do?

The purpose of a certified addiction professional is to provide treatment and guidance to individuals recovering from substance use disorder. Certifications are earned through programs or services that may be based within or associated with a healthcare organization. According to the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC), “the purpose of credentialing is to standardize the quality of addiction prevention, intervention, treatment, and continuing care services…[and] to set a benchmark for professionals and monitor the abilities of those who treat addictions.” Certified addiction professionals are employed in a variety of settings, such as:

  • Drug treatment centers
  • K-12 schools
  • College and university systems
  • Mental health centers
  • Hospitals and healthcare systems
  • Insurance and managed care organizations
  • Probation and parole agencies
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Private practice (e.g., therapist)
  • Human services (e.g., social services worker)

There are different levels of certifications available for addiction specialists, each enabling the accredited individual to provide additional services. For example, the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals offers three different types of addiction counselor certifications:

Addiction counseling certifications must be renewed through the NAADAC every two years. There are also continuing education requirements (40 hours of continuing education every two years) that addiction counselors must complete as a component of the renewal process, as well as submitting one’s two-year work history. 

What Do They Do?

The purpose of certified addiction professionals is to help individuals overcome addiction and related mental health issues. According to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, they are clinical practitioners who “follow evidence-based practices to provide treatment for people with substance used disorders.” Common responsibilities of certified addiction specialists that are also licensed counselors could include:

  • Identify an individual’s addictive behaviors
  • Assign a diagnosis
  • Schedule intake assessments
  • Develop strategies that overcome destructive, maladaptive, negative, and unhealthy behaviors
  • Perform urinalysis to determine if individuals are remaining drug-free
  • Maintain records
  • Assist with insurance billings
  • Work with and provide support to family members and loved ones, who are affected by the individual’s addiction
  • Assist individuals with making new housing arrangements when needed
  • Educate the public on the dangers of substance abuse and addiction
  • Provide counseling services (e.g., one-on-one therapy, group sessions, workshops, other activities, etc.) and support to individuals struggling with substance use disorder

Certified addiction specialists collaborate with other healthcare providers and work with individuals struggling with substance use disorder to develop a customized treatment plan that is specifically informed by his or her nuanced recovery needs to help them maintain their sobriety. It is important to bear in mind that the duties of a certified addiction specialist vary widely based on their place of employment and the role they fill. 

Disclaimer: 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.