By ABCS RCM
Childhood and young adulthood is sometimes a difficult time for individuals. This is a period in a person’s life when substantial physical and neurological change occurs due to puberty as well as other social changes. Additional challenges appear due to the fact that many of these changes are beyond the person’s control. Naturally, these quick and seemingly unpredictable changes create a level of mental stress in children and teenagers.
Puberty or a Mental Health Condition:
Children can experience a variety of mental health conditions including: anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), eating disorders and mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder. When children develop mental health conditions, the illnesses are sometimes expressed differently. For example, depressed children will often show more irritability than depressed adults, who more typically show sadness. Only a trained healthcare professional can properly diagnose and treat these conditions.
As a general trend, researchers are seeing higher rates of anxiety, depression and other mental health condition in children and teenagers. Among the ages of 6 to 17 years, who have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression, the rates increased from 5.4 percent in 2003 to 8.4 percent in 2012. However, in children and teenagers, the normal transition to adulthood sometimes generates behavior that resembles a mental illness. It is normal for teenagers to express some irritability, annoyance and anger.
Due to this fact, parents find that it is not always easy to distinguish between the moodiness created by puberty and mental health conditions that may require the attention of a mental health professional. So parents sometimes are not sure if their child’s behavior is the result of issues related to puberty or a more serious mental health condition.
Questions to Ask:
If parents have questions about their child’s behavior, here are some questions to consider. These questions provide a good starting point for differentiating adolescent growing pains from a more serious problem that requires professional help.
 Does the child have at least one good friend? If a child has no friends, this is often a sign of isolation?
 Do they have at least one adult they can talk to such as a parent, another relative, a teacher or someone?
 Does the child have at least one activity that engages them?
 Is the child never happy or content?
 Are they engaging in self-harming activities.
 Are they engaging in dangerous activities such as using alcohol, drugs and other toxic substances.
Signs and Symptoms:
Beyond asking the previous questions, there are some behavioral signs that parents should be aware of for children and teenagers. If these behavioral signs and symptoms last for weeks or months, and if these issues interfere with the child’s daily life at home and at school or with friends; parents should contact a mental health professional.
Younger children may benefit from a mental health evaluation and treatment if they:
* Frequent tantrums or are intensely irritable much of the time.
* Are in constant motion and cannot sit quietly (except when they are watching videos or playing video games).
* Sleep too much or too little, have frequent nightmares or seem sleepy during the day.
* Frequent stomachaches or headaches with no known medical cause.
* Are not interested in playing with other children or have difficulty making friends.
* Struggle academically or have experienced a recent decline in grades.
* Often check things many times out of fear that something bad may happen.
For older children and teenagers, the symptoms are little different. They may benefit from a mental health evaluation if they:
* Have lost interest in things that they used to enjoy.
* Sleep too much or too little, or seem sleepy throughout the day.
* Are spending more and more time alone, and avoid social activities with friends or family.
* Fear gaining weight, or diet or exercise excessively.
* Engage in self-harm behaviors including smoking, drinking alcohol or using drugs.
* Engage in risky or destructive behavior alone or with friends.
* Have experienced thoughts of suicide.
* Have periods of highly elevated energy and activity, and require much less sleep than usual.
Research shows that parents can have a positive influence on how their children process and handle stress. In this way, parents can help to minimizing the likelihood of mental health difficulties ever occurring. Parents should strive to create a household that develops resilience, self-control, love and warmth in children.
For additional questions about mental health conditions in children and teenagers please contact the staff at Providers For Healthy Living. They have four convenient office locations in the Columbus Metro area. Their mental health programs provide a full range of treatment options for both children and adults.
Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.
By ABCS RCM
When individuals decide to seek treatment for a behavioral or mental health concern, they are sometimes surprised by the variety of mental health providers. There are actually a variety of mental health professionals. But, the goal for all of these professionals is for patients to achieve their recovery goals.
One key difference between these professionals is their medical specialization or focus, as well as their educational background. All behavioral and mental health providers must be licensed by the state in which they are located in order to legally provide treatments and therapy. Yet, healthcare professional job titles and specialties sometimes varying from state to state.
For example, in the state of Ohio, the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) has statutory and regulatory authority over providers of mental health services. However, separate standards can apply depending on the type and level of service(s) provided.
Other differences are whether they are able to prescribe medications and do they treat patients in private practice, group practice or hospital setting. More specifically, some professionals may work in an inpatient facility, such as a general hospital and psychiatric facility. Other providers may work in an outpatient facility, like a community mental health clinic, school and private practice.
With this in mind, the descriptions below are intended to only provide a general overview of mental health providers.
Clinicians, Counselors & Therapists:
These healthcare providers possess a master’s degree in mental health specialty. The degree is either an M.S. or M.A. in a mental health-related field such as psychology, counseling psychology, marriage or family therapy. As a mental health professional, they are trained to evaluate a patient’s mental health. They also use various therapeutic techniques and strategies based on their specific training programs.
As mental health providers, they provide treatments under a variety of titles ranging from counselor, clinician or therapist. Their titles may vary depending on the treatment setting. The licensure & Certification varies by specialty and state. A few examples of the licensure include: LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), LPCC (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor) or LICDC (Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor).
Social workers have obtained a bachelors or master’s degree in social work. The degree is either a B.S.W or a M.S.W. Similar to counselors and therapists, these healthcare providers are trained to evaluate an individual’s mental health. They will administer therapeutic techniques based on specific training programs. However, they are also trained in case management and advocacy services.
For social workers, licensure and credentials vary state by state. A few examples of licensure include: LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and LISW (Licensed Independent Social Worker).
A psychologist has earned a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, counseling or education. This is beyond the level of schooling that a counselor, therapist or social worker typically receives. The degree is a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in a field of psychology or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.). As a healthcare provider, they are trained to evaluate a person’s mental health by using clinical interviews, psychological evaluations and testing. They can make diagnoses as well as provide individual and group therapy sessions. Psychologists are licensed and credentialed by licensure boards in each state.
Psychiatrists are licensed medical doctors who have also completed psychiatric training. This means that they are able to prescribe (and monitor) medication to their patients. For degree requirements, psychiatrists must have earned a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO). They also need to have successfully completed residency training in psychiatry. Psychiatrists must be a licensed physician in the state that they are practicing. In addition, some providers have earned certification as Board Certified Psychiatrist.
Beyond prescribing medication, Psychiatrists are trained to offer assessments, provide diagnoses and administer therapies. Many of these healthcare professionals have completed additional training in specialties such as substance use disorders or adolescent mental health.
These are only a few of the main mental health providers that patients may encounter. There are other healthcare provider types who can deliver mental health services. However, the previous descriptions provide prospective patients with a good frame of reference.
Who We Are:
For more information about the types of mental health providers and the treatments they can administer, please contact Providers For Healthy Living. Since 2011, they have provided experienced mental health services in Central Ohio. They strive to have every patient feel more hopeful after interacting with a member of their staff. Their practice was built on the values of quality, hope and personal responsibility. To speak with a staff member, please call 614-664-3595 or 419-605-9817.
By ABCS RCM
The LGBTQ+ community has made major advancements in recent decades in breakdown barriers and overcoming prejudice and discrimination. Yet, this population of Americans still experience higher rates of mental health conditions.
Research by mental health professionals has verified this trend. The American Psychological Association (APA) has stated that members of this community are at a greater risk of experiencing harassment and violence. A fact that likely creates an elevated risk for LGBTQ+ individuals to develop mental health conditions and substance abuse disorders. The statistics are particularly troubling when examining mental health traits among LGBTQ+ adolescents and young adults.
Other institutions and researchers have noted this trend. Some resources have been directed towards treating the negative effects of a still present LGBTQ+ stigma.
The stigma surrounding mental health is well-known, but there is a parallel to the stigma also surrounds people who identify as LGBTQ+. Similar to mental health conditions, a person’s sexuality is not visually apparent. Groups such as women or people of color can more readily form support and affinity groups. However, much like mental health treatments, some people do not want friends, family and co-workers to know.
For many people, they still experience harassment and intimidation in their daily lives. For example, the Esteem Program at the Yale School of Public Health is creating mental health interventions for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) as well as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have also worked in this endeavor.
Mental health Treads Among LGBTQ+ Youth:
There are some troubling statistics among American youth who identify as LGBTQ. Recent data reported by the Trevor Project, which is a nonprofit LGBTQ+ advocacy organization. They polled more than 34,000 young people in 2018 to compile the largest ever survey on LGBTQ+ youth mental health in America.
shows that nearly 40 percent of young people, ages 13 to 24, who are LGBTQ have contemplated suicide in the last 12 months. When this data is narrowed to only include transgender and gender-nonbinary youth, the percentage increases to 54 percent. Additional details report that 57 percent of transgender and non-binary youth who have undergone conversion therapy report a suicide attempt in the last twelve months.
Here are five additional key findings from the survey:
 About 67 percent of people in the survey reported that someone tried to convince them to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
 71 percent of LGBTQ+ youth reported feeling sad or hopeless for at least two weeks over the last 12 months.
 Less than half of the survey respondents stated that they were “out” to an adult at school.
 87 percent of respondents said it was important for them to reach out to a crisis intervention organization that focuses on LGBTQ youth.
 98 percent of the individuals stated a desire for a safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth.
A Digital Community for Outreach & Support:
Researchers are finding that many young individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ are seeking information and help online. Studies have shown that these youth are utilizing the internet more than youth who identify as cisgender or heterosexual. The internet and social media are used to find information about behavioral and mental health topics. This includes reading blog post, watching YouTube testimonials to participating in private Facebook groups.
Young people in the LGBTQ+ community are finding that online spaces are important. People use these digital spaces to find information and support. This is particularly important if these individuals live in a stressful environment. The internet allowed individuals to remain anonymous which is important for people who do not wish to “come out” online. The Trevor Project found that about 36 percent of young LGBTQ+ people have shared about their sexual orientation online, while 30 percent shared their gender identity. The internet and social media allow for passive information gathering without the fear of overt disclosure.
Surveys like this show that youth who identify as LGBTQ+ still face discrimination and threats of violence. This additional stress may generate higher rates of mental health disorders. In the end, it is clear that society needs to do more to support these youth.
About Providers For Healthy Living:
For questions about LGBTQ+ related behavioral and mental health topics, contact the staff at Providers For Healthy Living. They have been delivering mental health services since 2011. With four locations in Central Ohio, their staff and behavioral health services are based on the values of quality, hope and personal responsibility. For more information call 614-664-3595 or 419-605-9817.
By ABCS RCM
Video games are now part of modern culture. From the United States to South Korea, video gaming is a serious hobby. But can a hobby be taken too far? Is video game playing an addictive activity? Is excessive video game playing a diagnosable mental health disorder?
Video game playing is now considered a mainstream activity with millions of people playing games like Fortnite, Call of Duty or World of Warcraft. Research states that in 2014, there were 1.8 billion people who were considered active gamers. By 2018, this number had increased to 2.3 billion. Trend lines predict that by 2021, the number of active gamers will rise to 2.7 billion people.
Gaming as a Mental Health Disorder:
With the increasing popularity and sophistication of video games, behavioral health providers are concerned that symptoms of addiction will become more prevalent among gamers. The expansion of access to high-speed internet will allow more people to play online video games. A trend that could make this new mental health disorder more common.
Children diagnosed with mental health disorders are a growing population in the United States. Video game addiction, along with the use of social media, is increasingly creating concern among parents, healthcare professionals and educators. People are especially concerned about the impact of video games on the adolescent brain. However, video game addiction can also appear in adults.
As of 2016, 1 in 10 gamers were actually considered addicted to video games. Similar to other addictions, like gambling, internet gaming can create addiction-like behaviors that hook people through the psychological rewards that are scattered throughout the games. People with this addiction are at a greater risk of experiencing depression, impaired work/school performance and damage to relationships.
Not everyone who plays video games, particularly the online version, will develop an addiction. As a behavioral health condition, addictions are a complex health condition. Many environmental and genetic factors influence the development of addictions. Most people do not display any addictive behaviors, while a minority of players experience negative impacts on their everyday life activities due to excessive game play.
In the United States, there has been some debate as to whether video gaming is actually a mental health disorder. The World Health Organization (WHO) first added the term "gaming disorder" to its medical reference book known as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) in 2018.
The American Psychiatry Association’s manual, the DSM-5 which is used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental disorders; did not list video gaming as a disorder. Instead, the American Psychiatry Association (APA) stated that additional research was needed on the subject. Addiction to gaming is described in the DSM-5, but the manual stated that there was not sufficient evidence to determine whether the condition is a unique mental disorder. However, it did recognize "internet gaming disorder" as a condition that warrants additional research.
In the most recent version of ICD-11 has formally adopted the term Gaming disorder. The revision to the ICD-11 takes effect on January 1, 2022. The language of the new disorder is very close to the language for gambling disorder. Both of these disorders are organized under the category of Disorders due to addictive behaviours.
The ICD-11 describes Gaming disorder is characterized by:
“A pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online ( i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by:
1. impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);
2. increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and
3. continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.
The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.”
Signs of a Potential Gaming Disorder:
The following are a few of the signs to watch for in individuals who routinely play video games. Even though the DSM-5 does not officially list “gaming” as a disorder, it does include a section that lists the warning signs of problem video gaming. Individuals need to display at least 5 or more of the 9 signs over a year to meet the criteria of a potential gaming disorder.
Here are the 9 signs of a gaming disorder:
Keep in mind, the act of excessive video game playing may be an avoidance or coping behavior. In fact, another mental health condition may exist as the primary driver of the behavior, like depression.
About Providers For Healthy Living:
For additional questions about video game playing and gaming disorder, contact the staff at Providers for Healthy Living. Their mental health services provide a full range of treatment options for both children and adults. In addition, they have four convenient office locations in the Columbus metropolitan area.
By ABCS RCM
When discussing physical and mental health the question of “nature versus nurture” is eventually asked. What diseases and conditions are pre-programed in a person’s DNA versus occurring due to lifestyle choices and behavior patterns? But, this is not the best way to look at this question.
A better way to discuss "nature or nurture" is to rephrase the debate as a question of “nature and nurture.” This is due to the fact that a person’s overall health is the result of dynamic interactions between genes and the environment. This makes it difficult to cleanly separate one over the other. For example, both genetics and lifestyle factors—such as diet, physical activity and stress—affect a person’s high blood pressure risk.
Research has already indicated that people’s genetic code determines most of their physical appearance. However, newer studies are linking behavior to genetics. How much of an individual’s behavior is linked to genetics? How many conditions like addiction are controlled by a person’s DNA?
What does the term genetics mean?
All people possess DNA which contains their genetic code and individual genes. These genes are the functional units of DNA that make up the human genome. Surprisingly, research on human genetics shows that after DNA sequencing, on average any two people share 99.9 percent of the same DNA. Yet, it is this 0.1 percent of DNA that has strong influence on people’s physical and mental health.
When mental health professionals are administrating treatments, they often find substantial variability in how individuals respond to these treatments. Part of that variability is due to a person’s genetic makeup. Genes influence the numbers and types of receptors in peoples’ brains as well as how quickly their bodies metabolize medications. Genetic variation even influences how well people respond to specific drug treatments.
What is an addiction?
A straightforward definition of addiction describes the condition as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking. This behavior continues even though if creates negative consequences for the individuals. It is considered both a complex brain disorder and a mental illness, and creates long-lasting changes in the brain. Drug addiction is a medical illness caused by repeated misuse of a substance.
Some researchers argue that there are three distinct stages of addiction. They characterize addiction as craving (preoccupation), binge (intoxication) and withdrawal (negative) affect. Experts who study addiction have long argued that it is a disease of the brain, that affects people’s behavior, altering both the way they react to stress and their ability to control their individual actions.
Overall, addictions are a diverse set of common, complex diseases that are to some extent tied together by shared genetic and environmental factors. They are frequently chronic and often have period of relapsing behavior.
Is addiction a genetic trait?
According to newer research, genetics has a role in the development of an addiction. Some people are more likely to develop the disease than others. For this reason, some people develop prescription drug problems while others do not. Some research suggests that addiction can even run in families and are moderately to highly heritable. But, there is more to consider than just people’s genetics, due to the fact the environmental factors also influence addiction.
It is clear that both genetic and environmental variables contribute to the use of addictive substances. Family, adoption and twin studies reveal that an individual’s risk tends to be proportional to the degree of genetic relationship to a relative that has an addiction. The Virginia Twin Study revealed that in early adolescence the initiation and use of nicotine, alcohol and cannabis are more strongly determined by familial and social factors. These gradually decline in importance during the transition to young and middle adulthood. At this point in people’s lives, the effects of genetic factors are the strongest, declining somewhat as a people continue to age.
Addiction as a brain disease:
Over the last two decades, newer research has supported the conclusion that addiction is a disease of the brain. The brain disease model of addiction has yielded effective preventive measures, treatment interventions and public health policies to address substance-use disorders. However, some societal views still see addiction as a moral failing or personal choice. Yet, this outdated view is slowly changing.
Most diseases, like addiction, are incredibly complex. The variations among the many different types of genes likely contribute to a person’s overall level of addiction risk or resistance. While genetics play a major role in people’s risk for addiction, genes are not the only thing to consider. Unlike other genetic diseases, individual choice and environmental factors also play a crucial role in the development of an addiction. The influence of parents and people’s surrounding peer group generates benefits or risk. These environmental factors intermix with a person’s genetics to produce a variety of health outcomes.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, significant advances in neurobiology are helping researchers clarify the mechanisms that drive addiction. These underlying mechanisms create profound disruptions in people’s decision-making ability and emotional stability. Thankfully, researchers are learning more about the genetic, epigenetic and neurobiological bases of addiction. This is advancing the overall science of addiction and how professionals view the mental health condition.
About Providers For Healthy Living:
For questions about addiction and role of genetics in this disease, please contact the staff at Providers For Healthy Living. With four locations in central Ohio, they are available to treat a wide variety of behavioral and mental health conditions. They are guided by a well-established principle to have every patient feel more hopeful after interacting with a member of their staff.
Mental Health Trends in Children
By ABCS RCM
How common are mental health conditions in the United States? In particular, what are current mental health trends for the most vulnerable members of American society – children. Research is suggesting that rates of reported mental illness are on the rise for kids across the nation.
Rates of Mental Illness in America:
Mental health is especially important due to the fact that it is a key indicator for overall physical health. Mental health conditions, especially depression, increases the risk for many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Similarly, the presence of chronic health conditions can increase the long-term risk for mental illness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mental illnesses are the most common health conditions in America. The CDC states that over 50 percent of Americans will receive a mental illness diagnosis or have a disorder at some point in their lifetime. Roughly 20 percent of the U.S population will experience a mental health condition in a given year. For more serious, debilitating mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression; 1 in 25 Americans will have their lives disrupted by these mental disorders.
Out of these sobering statistics, 20 percent of American children either currently have, or will develop a debilitating mental illness at some point in their life.
Schools, Mental Health and Children:
Some observers have called this a silent public health epidemic. With the CDC reporting that 1 in 5 kids displaying signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year. However, the vast majority of children who need mental health services will not receive any treatment or therapy. This is creating a hidden crisis that is affecting millions of students in the United States.
Whether these behavioral health conditions are treated or not, the problems that these illnesses generate are visible in the educational data. Chronic absenteeism, disruptive behavior, failing grades and dropping out of school are all indicators of deeper mental health problems.
Some experts argue that schools could do a better job of identifying struggling students and providing them with the necessary social and academic supports. However, this is a role that most schools are unable to fully provide. According to NPR, U.S. education does not have the necessary resources to sufficiently treat childhood mental illness. Many schools suffer from a lack of resources which means struggling kids may not receive the support that they need.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Children:
The nationwide health insurance provider Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) recently released their Health Index. This report looked at the overall health of the nation in a variety of demographics and health conditions. For children’s health, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was the second most impactful condition in the United States. Children diagnosed with ADHD struggle with paying attention, controlling impulses and are often considered overly active.
BCBS states that this mental health condition accounts for 16 percent of all health conditions for this generation which is named Generation Z (ages 0-19.) In 2017, about 2.4 million commercially insured children were diagnosed with ADHD. This was over a 30 percent increase over the past eight years. ADHD is now the most prevalent as a mental health condition among middle school-aged children ages 11-13 years old. Out of this group, boys are diagnosed with ADHD at about twice the rate of girls. With ADHD diagnosis on the rise, it is crucial to better understand the impact of this condition on the health of American children.
Children and Psychiatric Emergency Department Visits:
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there has been a significant increase in psychiatric emergency department (ED) visits for children and young adults. The AAP conducted the study in April of 2019 investigated emergency department visits between the years 2011 and 2015. What was discovered was that there was a 28 percent increase in overall psychiatric visits among children and young adults, ages 6 to 24 years of age.
The largest increases in ED visits occurred among teens, young adults and non-white youths. Among adolescents, there was an increase in suicide-related visits. This increase in visits was nearly 2.5 times greater in 2015 when compared to the data from 2011.
More than half of these visits lasted longer than three hours. Yet, out of all of the emergency department visits, only 16 percent of patients received treatment from a mental health specialist. Surprisingly, when the ED visits were for suicide or self-harm, only 36 percent of the cases involved treatment by a mental health professional.
The AAP study concludes that the lack of behavioral health providers in U.S. emergency departments is a missed opportunity for a better treatment experience. Clearly, there is a need for mental health professionals in emergency departments.
Beyond Children - From Generation Z, Millennials and Generation X:
The upward trend of mental illness in younger generations of Americans has already been documented. Perhaps, the rising rates of mental illness in children is part of a larger overall health trend in the United States. The previously mentioned health index report from Blue Cross Blue Shield also looked at statistics on the Millennial generation. This cohort of U.S. citizens is made up of roughly 73 million people and includes individuals born between 1981 to 1996. Out of this population group, 55 million Millennial Americans are commercially insured through BCBS.
Additional data analysis by BCBS compared millennials to generation X members when they were in the same age range. This analysis indicated that older Millennials have higher prevalence rates for chronic and acute health conditions for nearly all of the top 10 conditions than did Generation X members. This means that the rise in mental health conditions among Generation Z could also be reflected in the younger population of Millennials.
With American children facing health challenges at earlier ages than previous generations, it is critical that more resources are allocated to this area. Otherwise, the long-term health and wellness of the children are at risk.
For questions about counseling services for children and adults, contact Providers For Healthy Living. They have been providing experienced behavioral health treatments since 2011. They strive to have every patient feel more hopeful after interacting with a member of their staff. Their practice was built on the values of quality, hope and personal responsibility.
By ABCS RCM
The connection between a person’s body weight, eating behavior and overall health is complex. People can sometimes fixate on what they perceive as an ideal weight, which can distort their relationship with food. This unhealthy relationship with food can eventually develop into an eating disorder. However, a mental health approach that combines the therapeutic support of a nutritionist with experienced behavioral health treatments is a highly, effective method for treating an eating disorder.
Obesity and Overall Health:
Body weight, obesity and health are complex health issues. With genetics, eating behavior, societal influences and lifestyle choices all affecting an individual’s health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that excessive body weight is a serious concern because it is associated with poorer mental health outcomes, reduced quality of life.
As a health condition, the CDC cites obesity as one of the leading causes of death in the United States and worldwide, which includes illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, stroke as well as some types of cancer. However, simply prescribing weight loss as a solution to a person’s body weight concerns is not always the best solutions. When people attempt to reduce their health risks, their actions are sometimes ineffective and even harmful.
When people fixate on their body weight, this can create a dangerous cycle of weight gain and severe dieting. To many people’s surprise, this severe dieting does not produce permanent weight loss. Instead, this behavior can produce an unhealthy dieting behavior where a person’s body weight is not consistent. Extreme diets can damage people’s metabolism and their mental perceptions of food and eating. This means that individuals can end up in a worse place versus when they started dieting. Overtime, this behavior is actually very dangerous.
Research from Harvard Medical School states that eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating; impact over 30 million Americans. Beyond this number, many more Americans engage in disordered eating and unhealthy weight control behaviors. As a statistical fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder in the United States.
Misinformation and Unhealthy Attitudes:
Previously unsuccessful attempts to lose weight can lower people’s satisfaction with their body image. This, in turn, creates additional negative emotions and unhealthy behaviors. People who struggle with their body weight tend to have lower self-esteem. Their feelings of being overweight can help to set up a cycle for additional weight gain or the development of eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia.
Individuals at all body weights can respond to stress and anxiety by eating. This emotional-induced eating will likely only encourage more weight gain. An increase in body weight can create a feeling of lower self-esteem and anxiety in a person. People quickly become trapped in an unhealthy feedback loop of weight gain and dieting.
There is considerable confusion and misinformation about how body weight impacts people’s overall health. People should not view obesity or excessive body weight as the measure of their psychological happiness. Having excess body weight is not a moral failing and it is physically dangerous for people to have this attitude.
Instead, people should have a holistic understanding of mental and physical health and how this connects to their body weight. People should focus on healthy behaviors and physical well-being instead of body weight. A more effective approach should focus on behavior changes such as exercise and healthy eating. Body weight is only one piece of important health information. However, many people have a difficult time doing this alone. This is why they need the help of a trained nutritionist.
The Role of a Nutritionist:
Some people may not know what role a nutritionist plays in mental health treatments. A registered dietitian (RD) or registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) provide help medical nutrition therapy. An RD or RDN will help people to:
* Talk about their eating habits and dieting approaches.
* Set realistic health goals, such as creating a realistic exercise plan.
* Generate a personalized nutrition plan.
An experienced nutritionist and/or dietitian can create a positive and nurturing relationship with individuals who are struggling with their body weight and unhealthy eating behaviors. This relationship is crucial if individuals are going to fully engage in nutritional counseling without out feeling judged or ashamed. A trained nutritionist can help patients understand their irrational feelings about food and body weight while also encouraging healthier associations with eating and body image.
A nutritionist is responsible for designing a meal plan based on their patient’s specific needs. A full nutrition assessment reveals current dietary intake, eating patterns, beliefs about food and weight, supplement use, who prepares meals as well as an overall history of that person’s body weight. Patients are encouraged to express their emotions, feelings and fears around food and body weight as well as the goals they wish to achieve. Ultimately, a nutritionist can help people challenging distorted feelings about food and eating. In time, patients will replace these mental distortions with more positive and healthy emotions and perceptions.
Who We Are:
For additional questions about the connection between body weight, obesity, physical health as well as mental health, contact the staff at Providers for Healthy Living. They have four convenient office locations in the Columbus Metro area. Their mental health programs provide a full range of treatment options for both children and adults. For more information about this topic, contact us at 614-664-3595.
By ABCS RCM
Mental health treatments from an experienced behavioral health professional is a powerful tool for treating mental illnesses. Yet, for some people, certain level of shame or stigma still lingers around this illness. Even for a behavioral health condition like depression, which is a more common, there is a general lack of understanding and social stigma.
What is a Stigma?
A mental health stigma is when people or society view individuals in a negative way because of their mental health condition. Some people describe a stigma as feelings of shame or judgement that are projected at particular persons. Individuals can even project a stigma at themselves and have internalized feelings of shame and embarrassment. Living with a mental health condition is a challenge. The isolation, guilt and secrecy that is associated with a stigma only creates additional challenges.
According to data from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), roughly 16.1 million (6.7%) adults in the United States are considered depressed (major depressive disorder). It is for this reason that misunderstandings and lingering stigmas about behavioral health therapy are dangerous. People who are suffering from this condition are either too ashamed or embarrassed to seek professional help. This fact is troubling due to the fact that depression is a complex condition by itself. Adding the stigma inspired shame and discrimination can encourage some people to actually hide their symptoms and behave as a person with high-functioning depression.
Educating society about mental health conditions is the first step in minimizing the influence of stigma.
How to Minimize a Stigma?
People experiencing mental health conditions sometimes face judgement, anger and discrimination. People who are impacted by a mental health stigma need to learn how to avoid and address these negative feelings. People with mental health conditions should not project these destructive feelings of shame upon themselves. Once individuals are able to accomplish this task, their ability to recovery is easier. The first step in fighting a stigma is not to have one for yourself. The overall goal is not to hide from the world in shame, but to become a productive member of society.
Proper education provides valuable information to people so they can make better informed decisions about mental illnesses. Research suggest that when people have a better understanding of mental illness, they are less likely to endorse the negative emotions that are connected to this stigma. In this way, proper information about mental illness seems to lessen negative stereotypes.
The stigma that surrounds mental health is a complex and directly affects people with mental illness, as well as their family, friends and local community. When more people understand this stigma, it is easier to reduce the negative impact on individuals with mental health conditions. For people who suffer from mental health conditions, any reduction in the social stigma that surrounds these conditions will help. National organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) are a good place to gather information about the complex topic of behavioral health and stigmas.
Seeking Professional Help:
A major hurdle for individuals is the act of reaching out to a mental health professional in order to obtain the needed support. The stigma that sometimes surrounds mental health can create shame and fear which may prevent people from seeking treatment. However, people should not let fear stop them.
When people are living with mental health conditions, they are often afraid to discuss this condition. They may be afraid that it will affect their lives and livelihoods. Unfortunately, the less this topic is talked about, the more difficult it is to humanize and normalize mental health issues. Through open and honest discussions, society can stop the cycle of stigma, prejudice, and discrimination.
Who We Are:
For questions about the social stigma that can sometimes accompany mental health treatments, contact us. At Providers For Healthy Living, we have been delivering mental health services since 2011. As an experienced mental health provider, we strive to have every patient feel more hopeful after interacting with a member of our staff. Our practice was built on the values of quality, hope and personal responsibility.
By ABCS RCM
Depression is a serious mood disorder that can have dangerous consequences. Equally as threatening are eating disorders, which if left untreated; are also dangerous. However, there is actually a connection between these two health conditions. Some people do not realize that major depression and eating disorders can often occur together. Mental health professionals are aware of the correlation between depression and eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and binge-eating disorder (BED).
Understanding These Conditions:
People must understand that depression also inflects many people with more well-known eating disorders like anorexia. In medical terminology this is known as comorbidity. Individuals with anorexia usually fail to consume enough food to maintain a healthy weight.
Individuals with BED, a condition that affects 2.8 million people, may also experience depressive episodes. Yet, many people tend to think of eating disorders and depression as separate conditions.
Eating disorders are more common among females. Males account for only 5 to 15 percent of anorexia or bulimia diagnoses. For BED cases, this number climbs to 35 percent of males reported having this condition. Whether these differences are caused by societal pressures or biological factors is still unclear. There is a profound influence of social norms and mass media on a female’s perception of themselves. However, this is a topic for another article. The reality is that this is a disease that has a larger impact women and girls.
In many cases of anorexia nervosa, a psychological condition to rid the body of food, the disorder is usually associated with a negative self-image. This is also one of the primary traits for people with depression (major depressive disorder). Negative self-image can be the cause or effect of depression. The two conditions are correlated to the same mental health issues.
Connections Between Depression & Anorexia:
There are other behavior examples that are displayed by individuals struggling with these conditions. People with severe depression may have trouble attending social events and other festivities. Similarly, people with eating disorders may find the abundance of food at social activities especially stressful. In either case, people who are grappling with depression or an eating disorder will display similar behavior patterns.
Researchers have discovered that there is a correlation between low serotonin levels in the brain and disordered eating patterns. As a reminder, serotonin is a chemical in the brain which controls things like a person’s mood and appetite. When mental health professionals correctly understand that the root cause of eating disorders is a neurochemical issue in the brain, it provides for additional treatment options.
Of course, the occurrence of depression and eating disorders in people is more complex then simply chemicals in their brains. There are a variety of different issues that can create dangerous health complications. A person’s behavior and mental health is part of a larger social context. An individual’s mental health is also influenced by factors such as school, work and their home environment. Experiencing traumatic incidents and social pressures have an additional impact on the development of either depression and/or dysfunctional eating patterns.
Depression-based feelings can rise from unrealistic physical expectations of the human body. In this case, people with anorexia try to control the body by excessive exercise and unhealthy weight management. Many researchers argue that this compulsion usually arises from a person’s internal perception that she or he is not meeting society’s beauty standards. In turn, this lack of control and despair is usually cited as a primary cause of clinical depression. However, many binge-eaters turn to food in order to deal with psychological stress rather than facing the circumstances.
The Need For Professional Treatment:
Thankfully, depression and eating disorders can be treated at the same time. However, the recovery from one mental health disorder does not guarantee a recovery from the other disorder. Both illnesses must be treated as separate conditions. This is why is extremely important that people seek professional help from experienced mental health professionals.
Research has documented that untreated depression is deadly. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the majority of people who have depression do not die by suicide. However, having major depression does increase an individual's suicide risk compared to people without depression. The risk of death by suicide is, in part, likely related to the severity of the depression.
Similar statistics exist for individuals with untreated anorexia. Research shows that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. In fact, people with anorexia are 50 times more likely than the general population to die as a result of suicide.
For questions about treatment options for depression or eating disorders, contact Providers For Healthy Living. They have been treating patients with depression and eating disorders since 2011. As an experienced mental health provider, they strive to have every patient feel more hopeful after interacting with a member of their staff. Their practice was built on the values of quality, hope and personal responsibility.
Often in our lives, the stressors of life just become overwhelming. Our journey to health is hindered. This happens for everyone. And many seek mental healthcare to find help in some way to lessen that internal tension. I’ve sought therapy being burned out by work, struggling with the death of a loved one, not knowing how to get everything done that I believe I should, and feeling inadequate in parenting. All these were true, and therapy helped with each.
But it seems that talking about emotions and feelings is not enough. Something, at times, seems to be missing. You see, we live in a country in which social insecurity abounds. Hatred seems to flourish as images on the news remind us constantly and repetitively that we should be afraid. . . very afraid. Racial, gender, economic, and religious tensions exist between us, and the repetitive nature of the broadcasts enhances the fears. And with that the language to effectively talk about this stuff diminishes. Being part of a targeted group or a group targeting effects us. Our moral sense of ourselves is challenged. This is different from yet connected to our emotional and cognitive selves.
None of this lessens the need for coming up with ways to better manage the ups and downs in emotions and anxiety as they relate to specific events and our lives. Those are needed. I’ve used and benefited from them. But often the fear becomes reduced to event specific and the broader insecurity is not addressed.
The need is to recognize that it is often the bigger picture which intrudes into our emotional well being and mindfulness. Events such as the clean water crisis in Flint often dominate our news cycles. I would feel on some level silly, going to a therapist and stating “I feel socially insecure. Have you seen what happened in Flint? My sense of moral safety is eroded” And yet I do retain an awareness that those images affect my emotional well being and connect to many other images in our culture as well. My moral experience surrounding these is difficult to frame.
Beliefs about women, race, gender and sexual identity, religion, . . . the list goes on. . . and our interactions with them, can induce fear in ourselves and sometimes in others if we share them. They challenge our own moral safety. We are challenged by our moral experience of events often seeing the wrongs in them and feeling insecure. We know something is not right. This is not the way things should be. Experiencing a powerlessness and hopelessness but not even knowing how to speak about it.
This moral experience and subsequent moral insecurity can undermine our well being and journey towards health if not acknowledged and addressed honestly. I encourage you to challenge therapists to engage in such discussion to examine the impact of our social insecurities on us so some positive answers can be found. And the journey to health continues.
Please DO NOT use this email address for medication refill requests or for emergency situations.
Click here for refill requests instead of using email:
Medication Refill Request Form
If you have a medical emergency, email is never the appropriate way to communicate your needs, and you should instead call 911 or go to the nearest ER. If you are having suicidal thoughts and need to speak to someone immediately, you can contact Suicide Prevention Hotline at the number (and link) below.
Communications via email are not secure. Although it is unlikely, there is a possibility that the information you include in an email can be intercepted and read by other parties besides the person to whom it is addressed.