Managing Stress with SMART Goals

Stress is a common part of life for most Americans. It can often be traced back to the workplace, with approximately 83% of workers experiencing work-related stress, but major world events and aspects of daily life such as the COVID-19 pandemic have also had a widespread mental health impact.

While stress is unpleasant to experience in itself, it can also lead to various other problems when it comes to interpersonal relationships, productivity at work, and overall mental and physical health.

Effective stress management is essential for living a healthy life. It’s important for you to set realistic expectations for yourself, identify controllable factors in your life that are causing you stress, and tackle them directly. One effective way to do this is to set SMART goals.

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. They allow you to understand the process required for achieving a goal and accurately track your progress. For example, you might be facing stress related to a job opportunity you’re applying for. You can set a SMART goal of pursuing that opportunity by:

  • Outlining the specific factors that are most important for getting the job
  • Making those factors measurable
  • Setting an attainable goal for improving the factors you’ve outlined
  • Identifying the relevance of those factors to your overall desirability as a candidate
  • Making the goal time-bound by setting a date by which you’ve improved the factors you identified

If you need help setting SMART goals or managing your stress, you can schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Mental Health Clinic by calling (718) 206-5575.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Building Mental Resilience

The American Psychological Association defines resilience as, “the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences.”  In other words, it is our ability to effectively manage our psychological health and adapt to challenging life events.

Building mental resilience or strength helps us to cope with loss, trauma, stress, or other difficulties in a healthy way.  Additionally, according to the Mayo Clinic, “Resilience can help protect you from various mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.”

Here are a few tips you can try to help build mental resilience:

  • Have a positive mindset
  • Build strong and positive relationships
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Practice meditation
  • Practice stress-reducing techniques
  • Accept change
  • Take care of yourself
  • Take a break
  • Be proactive
  • Remain hopeful
  • Build self-esteem

It is important to remember that being resilient does not equate to being unaffected by stressors in life. You may still experience emotions that correlate with challenging events; however, resilience can help you to better adapt or recover.

Building resilience will take some time and practice; therefore, being patient is key. Everyone’s experience with building resilience is unique. What may work for one person, may not work for the other.

If you continue to feel overwhelmed, do not hesitate to seek help from a mental health provider. To schedule an appointment with the Mental Health Department at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-5575.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Anxiety Triggers

Anxiety is defined by the National Library of Medicine as, “a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness.” Having these feelings occasionally is normal; however, they become a health concern when they are excessive and interfere with the ability to live a normal life.

The exact cause of anxiety is still not fully understood, but it is believed that the following factors play a role:

  • Genetics
  • Environmental stress
  • Brain chemistry
  • Certain medical conditions

Although the exact cause of anxiety is unknown, there are certain triggers such as life events, lifestyle changes, or daily habits that can lead to or worsen this response. These include:

  • Financial insecurity
  • Traumatic experiences
  • Caffeine consumption
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Meeting new people
  • Stress
  • Relationship problems
  • Exposure to violence
  • Taking certain medications
  • Substance misuse
  • Loneliness or isolation

Anxiety triggers are unique to each individual. However, the most important steps anyone affected by anxiety can take is identifying what their triggers are and learning how to cope with them.  Here are a few tips for coping with anxiety:

  • Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • Exercise
  • Use stress management or relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing
  • Maintain good sleep health
  • Try to minimize negative thoughts and think positively
  • Journal or write down your thoughts
  • Speak to someone about how your feeling
  • Adhere to your treatment plan

Anxiety affects many people, and no one should feel ashamed if they struggle with the disorder or other mental health disorders.  If you or someone you know is affected by anxiety, consult a mental health professional to explore possible causes and treatments.  Your mental health provider may recommend lifestyle changes,  psychotherapy, or medication.

To schedule an appointment with a mental health provider at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-5575.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression In Teens

It is estimated that one in five teenagers will experience depression during their adolescent years.  However, many teens do not receive the help they need because the signs of depression are often confused with typical teenage behaviors.

It may not always be easy to tell the difference between depression and teenage mood swings, but here are a few warning signs and symptoms parents can look out for:

  • Unusual and frequent irritability
  • Loss of interest in regular activities
  • Excessive phone and internet use
  • Sadness for no apparent reason
  • Angry outbursts
  • Reckless behavior
  • Violent behavior
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained aches and pains such as headaches and stomach aches
  • Sudden changes in sleep
  • Sudden changes in eating habits
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Problems at school
  • Negative self-talk
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Talks of self-harm or suicide

If you think a teen might be depressed, start a conversation.  Speak about concerning behaviors in a non-judgmental, loving, and supportive way.   Acknowledge their feelings, do not minimize what is being said and resist the urge to be critical.

Initially, a teenager may be resistant to these conversations but gentle persistence from an adult is advised.

Untreated depression can lead to serious problems; therefore, it is important that you seek professional help as soon as possible. A mental health professional can create a treatment plan based on an evaluation.  Treatment depends on the severity of depression and may include therapy or medications.

To speak with a mental health specialist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-5575.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How Bipolar Disorder Can Affect Your Sleep

Getting the appropriate amount of sleep, along with maintaining a nutritious diet and exercising regularly are considered the three most important aspects to living a healthy lifestyle. For those living with bipolar disorder however, getting the right amount of sleep is both very important and a major challenge.

Bipolar disorder, also referred to as manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). While experiencing the manic or hypomanic phase of the illness, those with bipolar disorder can go on little or no sleep for lengthy periods of time.  Conversely, during the depression or low phase, individuals may require excessive amounts of sleep (up to 14 hours per day).

Bipolar disorder can affect sleep in many ways, including:

  • Insomnia – Insomnia includes not only difficulty falling asleep, but problems staying asleep or getting too little sleep.
  • Hypersomnia – A condition marked by over-sleeping, which is sometimes even more common than insomnia during periods of depression in bipolar disorder.
  • Delayed sleep phase syndrome – Delayed sleep phase syndrome is a circadian rhythm disturbance. It can be associated with depression.
  • Irregular sleep-wake schedule – When people with bipolar disorder have a lack of a sleep routine, the irregular cycle can greatly interfere with appropriate treatment of the disorder.
  • Nightmares, vivid dreams and night terrors – These may also affect people with bipolar disorder.

Disrupted sleep can aggravate a mood disorder so it’s important to address some of the issues that can affect sleep.  There are several ways a person with bipolar disorder can attempt to get regular sleep. These methods are known as sleep hygiene and can include:

  • Creating a schedule – Establishing a regular time to go to sleep and to wake up can be beneficial as it can reduce the changes in mood that accompany bipolar disorder.
  • Optimizing your bedroom – Try making the bedroom as comfortable as possible. This can include having the right kind of bedding and pillows as well as eliminating light, noise, and other distractions.
  • Limiting activities – The bedroom is a place reserved for sleeping. Try to limit other activities, such as watching TV or working on your laptop, in the bedroom.
  • Diet and exercise – Avoiding alcohol and caffeine use before bedtime as well as eating large meals can help improve sleep. It’s also a good idea to keep a few hours between exercise and bedtime.
  • Take time to relax – If you can, wind down before bedtime. Consider a warm bath, some pleasure reading, or meditating before turning off the lights.

Your doctor may also suggest light therapy, certain medications or sleep aides to help you improve your sleep patterns. To make an appointment with a mental health professional at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s outpatient Mental Health Center, please call 718-206-5575.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Adult ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder.

Most people associate ADHD with children who have trouble focusing, are overly active or have difficulty controlling impulsive behaviors.  While ADHD does commonly affect children, it can also occur in adults. In fact, it is estimated that 4% to 5% of adults living in the United States have the disorder.

ADHD begins in childhood and can continue into adulthood. However, many adults are unaware that they have ADHD. This is because the disorder was never recognized or diagnosed during childhood.

In adults, the symptoms of ADHD may present differently than they do in children and are unique to each person. They can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Trouble coping with stress
  • Poor listening skills
  • Getting easily distracted
  • Difficulty paying close attention to details
  • Struggling to complete tasks or multitask
  • Poor organizational skills
  • An inability to control impulses i.e., Interrupting others during conversations
  • Acting without consideration for others
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Forgetfulness
  • Often losing things i.e., keys, phones, wallets

These symptoms can interfere significantly with an individual’s relationships, career, finances and other aspects of daily life.

With an accurate diagnosis, symptoms of adult ADHD can be treated or managed appropriately to reduce the risk of developing social, emotional, or occupational problems.

To accurately diagnose ADHD in adults, the American Psychiatric Association recommends a comprehensive evaluation which typically includes a review of past and current symptoms, a medical exam and history, and use of adult rating scales or checklists.

Treatment for adult ADHD typically involves education ( learning more about ADHD), medication,  therapy and other behavioral treatments, or a combination of methods.

If you are experiencing symptoms associated with adult ADHD, you should speak with a doctor. To schedule an appointment with a doctor at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How COVID-19 Can Affect Your Mental Health

Many people who were diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past year and a half have reported a variety of long-term symptoms.  The conditions that have received the most attention focus on either the physical effects of the virus, such as shortness of breath or fatigue or cognitive deficits, such as confusion or memory loss. For some, however, there are other lingering symptoms that can affect their mental health.

Recent research has concluded that nearly one person in five diagnosed with COVID-19 now also suffers some form of a mental health disorder. This can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia

Other patients may experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Patients experiencing PTSD typically have spent time in a hospital, more specifically in an intensive care unit, or were on a ventilator.

While it is difficult to determine is if these mental health symptoms emerge in patients as a result of neurological reaction to the virus or are due to the stresses of contracting the virus, it is important to raise awareness of the issue and provide resources to get these individuals the necessary help.

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Post-COVID Care Center, located in our MediSys Hollis Tudors Center at 2001-16 Hollis Avenue, offers comprehensive range of services for those living with lingering effects of the virus, mental health services delivered by highly qualified psychiatrists. To make an appointment, please call 718-736-8204.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Parents – Know The Symptoms Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Every parent has experienced their children display difficult or defiant behavior at times. It is normal part of parenting.  Some children and teens, however, may exhibit these traits along with others including anger, irritability, and vindictiveness persistently and for a prolonged period of time.  These children may have a condition known as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or ODD.

ODD is a type of behavioral disorder, mostly diagnosed in childhood. Those with ODD typically act uncooperative, defiant, and hostile toward their peers, parents, teachers, and other authority figures. According to the American Psychiatry Association, children diagnosed with ODD exhibit this pattern of behavior for a minimum of six months.

The cause of oppositional defiant disorder is still unknown, but likely involves a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Children with ODD are generally considered more troubling to others than they are to themselves. The disorder can impact their relationships with friends and family and affect their educational and social interactions.

Symptoms of ODD typically begin during pre-school years, but in some cases, they can develop later. They almost always occur before a child enters their early teen years. Sometimes it is difficult to recognize the difference between a strong-willed or emotional child and one with oppositional defiant disorder, as it is normal for children to exhibit oppositional behavior at certain stages of their development.

Typical symptoms of ODD include:

  • Anger and irritability – Those diagnosed with ODD are characterized as easily losing their temper, are frequently annoyed by others, and are often resentful.
  • Argumentative and defiant behavior – Children with ODD often argue with adults or authority figures, defy or refuse to comply with rules, and often blame others for their mistakes.

  • Vindictiveness – This is defined by repetitive acts of spitefulness or revenge. Children with ODD typically display vindictive behavior multiple times over a six-month period.

It is important for parents to understand that managing a child with ODD is not something you have to do alone.  Recognizing the symptoms and getting help from qualified professionals can be beneficial.

Speak to your pediatrician about recommending a child psychologist or a child psychiatrist with expertise in disruptive behavior problems. A mental health expert can coordinate a behavioral health treatment plan that includes developing learning skills to help build positive family interactions and manage problematic behaviors. Additional therapy, and possibly medications, may also be needed based on the severity of the disorder.

To make an appointment with a pediatric mental health professional, please call 718-206-5575.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Anxiety

The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as, “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”

Experiencing anxiety occasionally is normal; however, if this feeling occurs frequently, and gets worse over time it may be an indication of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental health disorders. Nearly 30% of adults living in the United States are affected at some point in their lives. 

There are four main types of anxiety disorder, including:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
  • Specific phobias
  • Separation anxiety disorder

It is important to note that it is possible to have one or more anxiety disorder.

The causes of anxiety disorders are not fully understood; however, there are certain risk factors believed to contribute to developing them.  General risk factors include:

  • Exposure to negative or stressful life events in early childhood or adulthood
  • A family history of anxiety disorders or other mental illnesses
  • Having certain health conditions such as heart arrhythmias or thyroid problems
  • Taking certain medications that can aggravate symptoms

For those living with any type of anxiety disorder, feelings of excessive worry, fear, apprehension or nervousness are often difficult to control and can interfere with daily activities. These feelings can also lead to physical symptoms such as:

  • An increased heart rate
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Sweating
  • Hyperventilating
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue

If you are finding it difficult to control anxiety, and symptoms are affecting your health or ability to live a normal life, please seek help.  A mental health specialist can conduct a psychological evaluation to help determine a diagnosis. A physical exam may also be recommended to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Treatment for anxiety disorders can include psychotherapy or medications.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Information About Depression

Depression is a mood disorder that makes you feel constant sadness or lack of interest in life.  It can affect how a person feels, thinks and behaves. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. Those living with depression have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes may feel as if life isn’t worth living.

While everyone experiences feelings of sadness at some point in their life, those with clinical depression have prolonged periods of feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless. These feelings are not always tied to a specific incident and can last for many days to weeks. Depression can occur in children, adolescents and adults. Although someone can experience depression only once in their life, most who suffer with depression experience recurring episodes.

Some of the symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

For many people with depression, symptoms usually are severe enough to cause noticeable problems in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities or relationships with others. Some people may feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.

There is no known singular cause for depression. Instead, health professionals point to a combination of contributing factors including a person’s brain structure and chemistry. Hormone and genetics are also believed to play a role.

Help is available for those with depression. A mental health professional can conduct an evaluation and outline a course of treatment based on the patient’s individual needs. Treatment may include:

  • Medications – These can include a combination of antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotic, anti-anxiety or stimulant medications
  • Psychotherapy – Talking to a mental health professional on a regular basis about your depression and other issues can help treat the symptoms.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy – This brain stimulation therapy passes electric currents through your brain to help your neurotransmitters work better.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation – This treatment uses a coil to send magnetic pulses through your brain to help stimulate nerve cells that regulate mood.

Some with depression may experience thoughts of hurting themselves or others. If someone you know is depressed and you think they may hurt themselves or attempt suicide, call 911immediately.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.