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.

Suicide Prevention- Pay Attention to The Signs

Suicide prevention-467918329Over 1 million Americans attempt suicide each year. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

Most people who committed suicide had treatable mental health disorders that went unnoticed.

Suicide can be prevented if the signs of mental health disorders are recognized and addressed immediately.

Here are a few warning signs of suicide we should not ignore:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Self-loathing
  • Changes in sleep patterns; which can either be excessive sleep or a deprivation of sleep
  • Irritability or anger
  • Talking about harming themselves
  • Loss of interest in daily activities or things they were once passionate about
  • Reckless behavior
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • A preoccupation with death
  • Getting their affairs in order in preparation for death
  • Verbalizing thoughts such as “ Everyone will be better without me”  or “I  have nothing  to live for”
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye

If someone you know exhibits the following behaviors, do not dismiss them as a passing phase. These actions are a cry for help.

It is important to let your loved one know that you have recognized changes in their behavior, they are not alone and you are there to support them through this difficult time.  Speak openly about what they are feeling and ensure them they will not be judged because they feel suicidal.  Seek the help of a mental health professional immediately.  Insist on accompanying this person to their consultation or treatment. Continue to demonstrate your support during treatment by reminding them to take prescribed medications, keeping up with physician appointments and encouraging a positive lifestyle.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or demonstrating suicidal behaviors, get help immediately. Call 911, 1-800-SUICIDE, or 1-800-273-TALK

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.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression experienced by people during the beginning of the fall months through winter. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

The exact cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is unknown; however, according to the American Psychiatric Association, “SAD has been linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter.” Decreased levels of sunlight have been found to disrupt melatonin (a hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle) and serotonin (a chemical that regulates mood) levels in the body.

Those affected by the disorder may find that they have sleep issues, difficulty concentrating, and increased cravings for unhealthy foods that can contribute to weight gain and low energy, as well as other symptoms associated with depression such as feelings of hopelessness or thoughts about suicide.

Treatment for SAD may include phototherapy, medications and psychotherapy. Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes such as increasing your exposure to natural light.  This can be achieved by doing more outdoor activities such as walking, jogging and hiking.  Increasing physical activity is also strongly encouraged as this has been found time and time again, to reduce levels of stress and anxiety which improve symptoms of SAD. In addition to improving your mood, physical activity can help to control or lose weight.  

Paying attention to your eating habits is very important. Those with SAD are at an increased risk for emotional eating and making poor dietary choices. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can help you to manage your weight and sustain energy. Avoiding alcohol is highly recommended. Alcohol acts as a depressant, which in excess can worsen depressive symptoms

Practicing meditation or yoga  as well as receiving acupuncture or massage therapy have been found to decrease anxiety and stress levels, improving mental and physical health overall. It is also important to surround yourself with friends and family, this allows for less alone time and strong social support.

If the symptoms of SAD persist, consider cognitive psychotherapy and or SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) treatment to relieve depressive symptoms and address underlying difficulties.

If you are struggling with SAD, you do not need to feel alone. It is estimated that 10-20% of Americans suffer from SAD. It is important to seek help if you are experiencing issues at work or school, substance abuse or other signs of mental health disorders, especially suicidal thoughts.

To speak with or see a Family Medicine doctor about Seasonal Affective Disorder, please call  718- 206-6942

Marwa Eldik M.D.

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.

Worry vs. Anxiety- What Is The Difference?

Treating Anxiety At Jamaica Hospital

Although many use the words worry and anxiety interchangeably; the two are very different psychological states.    

According to Psychology Today, “Worry tends to be more focused on thoughts in our heads, while anxiety is more visceral in that we feel it throughout our bodies.”

When we worry, our thoughts are often caused by realistic or specific concerns we can resolve by problem solving. An example of a worrying thought is “If I don’t study hard enough, I will not pass my test.”  Once you have identified the problem and arrived at the solution- which is to study hard; you are likely to move on from this thought and diminish worry.

On the other hand, when we are experiencing anxiety, our thoughts can be irrational or vague. They can linger for extended periods of time and can impact our lives in a negative way.  An example of this is persistently thinking something will go wrong every time you take a test.  As a result, you may experience fear or other emotions that will cause your body to react negatively.

Worry and anxiety affect our bodies in different ways.   Because worrying tends to be temporary, the effects are mild. You may experience short-term emotional distress or tension. The physical reactions caused by anxiety, however, can be more intense. Someone with anxiety may experience symptoms such as tightness in the chest, an increased heart rate, rapid breathing, headaches, trembling, gastrointestinal problems or trouble sleeping.

The symptoms of anxiety can serve as warning signs of serious health conditions such as anxiety disorder, panic attack or depression.  You should speak with a doctor if symptoms are persistent and interfere with daily activities.

A mental health professional can diagnose anxiety by performing a psychological examination.  Treatment may involve medication and psychotherapy.

To schedule an appointment with a mental health professional 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.

Claustrophobia

claustrophobia, phobia, anxiety, panicattack, panic

Categorized as a “phobia”, claustrophobia is diagnosed when the patient exhibits persistent (usually 6 months or longer) unreasonable or excessive fear due to the presence or anticipation of a specific situation.  That fear will often times cause an anxiety response that may lead to a panic attack.

People with claustrophobia will go to great lengths to avoid what triggers their anxiety, such as:

  • Being in a small room without windows
  • Riding in an airplane, small motor vehicle or subway car
  • Being in a packed elevator
  • Undergoing medical testing such as a MRI or CT scan
  • Attending large gatherings like a concert or party
  • Standing in a closet

While in the throes of an episode, the person with claustrophobia may experience one or more of these symptoms:

  • Sweating and chills
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache and numbness
  • Tightness in the chest, and chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Lightheadedness, fainting, and dizziness
  • High blood pressure and an accelerated heart rate

In severe cases, claustrophobia may cause reactions that can interfere with the person’s everyday life, professional life and relationships.

If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of claustrophobia and would like to speak with a mental health professional at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-206-7160 to schedule an appointment.

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.