Recognizing the Signs of Online Gambling Addiction

A man holding his face in his hands in distress while using a computer for online gambling.When you’re virtually betting on a football game or playing casino games like poker or roulette through a website or an app, there are plenty of opportunities and platforms available today for online gambling. However, with such an increase in options for gambling virtually, there is also an increased risk of developing a gambling addiction, so it’s important to be able to identify the signs of this kind of addiction in yourself as they appear.

A gambling addiction, also known as gambling disorder, involves a compulsion to repeatedly gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve a desired level of excitement, even when this behavior is causing financial harm to yourself and your family. Gambling can be as addictive (and, potentially, as destructive) as alcohol or drugs; in fact, the American Psychiatric Association places gambling disorder in the same classification level as these substance use disorders.

Gambling disorder develops gradually, so you may not immediately recognize signs of this problem when they begin to appear. According to the American Psychiatric Association, a doctor may diagnose a person with gambling disorder if they recognize four or more of the following symptoms:

  • Compulsion to gamble with increasing amounts money for excitement
  • Restlessness or irritability while trying to reduce gambling
  • Repeated unsuccessful attempts to limit time spent gambling
  • Frequent thoughts about gambling
  • Gambling as a result of distress
  • Often attempting to win back gambling losses
  • Hiding gambling activity
  • Risking relationships, employment, or educational opportunities to continue gambling
  • Relying on other people for help with financial problems while gambling

For people who gamble virtually, the risks of developing an addiction are significantly higher than someone who only does it in a physical location, as opportunities to continue gambling are always available and accessible. Some steps you can take to prevent or treat gambling disorder in this situation include:

  • Reaching out for mental and emotional support from trusted people or support groups
  • Distracting yourself with different activities
  • Thinking about what will happen when you gamble, particularly in terms of damage to relationships and opportunities
  • If necessary, deleting gambling-related apps from your device
  • Getting help from a licensed psychiatrist

If you need professional help coping with gambling disorder, you can schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Outpatient Psychiatric 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.

Making Your Mental Health a Priority This Year

Person writing out a note card about improving mental health as a New Year's resolution.Many people experience chronic mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. These issues can be caused by a wide variety of factors, some of which can be directly changed or coped with in a healthy way.

As the new year begins, you can use this time to start identifying mental health issues you experience, some of the potential causes of those issues, and how you can work to improve them. Some specific steps you can take to start making positive changes for your mental health include:

Improving your physical health: Your physical and mental well-being are deeply intertwined and have a strong impact on one another. Improving your diet, developing a regular exercise routine, and getting enough sleep each night can lead to major improvements in your mood, outlook, and ability to think clearly, allowing you to cope more effectively with mental health challenges.

Recognizing positive things in your life: If your mind often drifts toward negative thoughts and emotions, it’s important to recognize and be thankful for aspects of your life that are positive. This can be anything from having a strong social support system of friends and family, simply having a roof to sleep under each night, or being in good physical health.

Developing effective coping mechanisms: Coping mechanisms are an important tool for anyone who experiences mental health problems. These strategies allow you to adjust the way you mentally process things that distress you, making them easier to deal with. Some healthy examples of coping mechanisms include:

  • Looking for ways to resolve the cause of distress, if possible
  • Viewing the problem from a different perspective
  • Talking to someone who supports you

You can make positive, effective changes to improve your mental health this year with the help of a psychiatrist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Mental Health Clinic. To schedule an appointment, 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.

Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

Woman looking sad in front of a Christmas tree.For many people, the holiday season can be a stressful time. Whether you’re experiencing financial difficulties, relationship issues with loved ones, or health problems that interfere with your ability to enjoy the holidays, it’s important to have effective ways to manage these causes of stress to prevent them from disrupting your holiday season. Some steps you may consider taking include:

Setting reasonable expectations for yourself: Circumstances such as cost or availability may sometimes make it difficult to accomplish certain things during the holiday season, such as getting an expensive gift for someone or hosting a big family dinner. To avoid stress, don’t over-extend yourself; instead, recognize what you can reasonably accomplish with the time and resources you have. Set realistic expectations for any gift-giving, hosting, or other responsibilities you have for the holidays.

Learning to de-escalate (or avoid) conflicts: Some holiday gatherings may bring family members together who don’t get along well. Conflict at these gatherings can create negative experiences for everyone involved, so it’s helpful to consider ways in which you can de-escalate them. If you’re hosting, try to steer the conversation into a more friendly direction; if the conflict escalates, remove the involved members from the gathering. Alternatively, it can also help to remove yourself from the situation, particularly if you’re one of the people directly involved in the conflict.

Keeping up with therapy: If you regularly attend therapy sessions for your mental health, try to maintain this schedule during the holiday season. While this part of the year can become extremely busy for many people, therapy can be an important outlet for stress, as well as a tool to help you learn coping mechanisms throughout the holidays.

If you need a psychiatrist to help you manage mental health problems, such as severe stress, that worsen during the holiday season, you can schedule a therapy appointment at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry 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.

National ADHD Awareness Month

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in the United States among children, affecting nearly 10% of all children between the ages of 3 and 17. It can also occur in adults, affecting up to about 5% of all adults in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), doctors must determine if a patient’s symptoms demonstrate a clear pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity to diagnose ADHD. For children, six or more of these symptoms must remain consistent for at least six months; for adults, only five symptoms need to present in this manner to provide a diagnosis.

Some common symptoms of inattention that doctors may take into consideration when diagnosing ADHD include:

  • Failure to pay close attention to tasks during school, work, or other activities
  • Difficulty holding attention on tasks or play activities
  • Failure to listen when spoken to directly
  • Failure to follow through on instructions for schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace
  • Frequent trouble organizing tasks and activities
  • Avoidance, dislike, or reluctance to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework)
  • Frequently losing things necessary for tasks and activities
  • Often easily distracted
  • Often forgetful in daily activities

Symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity, on the other hand, often display persistent, excessively high energy levels in a variety of settings and activities. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Frequent fidgeting with or tapping hands or feet, or squirming in seat
  • Frequently leaving seat in situations when remaining seated is expected
  • Often running about or climbing in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may just feel restless)
  • Inability to play or take part in leisure activities quietly
  • Excessive talking
  • Blurting out an answer before a question has been completed
  • Impatience
  • Often interrupting or intruding on others

Several symptoms from either of these categories need to have been present before the age of 12 and in two or more settings (such as at work, school, or home). There also needs to be clear evidence that these symptoms are disrupting the individual’s normal functions in school, work, or social settings, and that the symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder.

Whether you’re an adult with symptoms of ADHD or the parent of a child presenting these symptoms, it’s essential to begin working with a doctor to get the medical care needed to manage these symptoms and reduce their disruptions to daily life as much as possible. You can schedule an appointment for diagnosis and treatment at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center by calling (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.

Rumination

We have all had negative thoughts, and in most cases, that’s normal.  However, when negative thoughts become excessive and repetitive, this pattern of thinking may be cause for concern.

Rumination is a thought processing disorder that is characterized by obsessional thinking that involves repetitive, negative thinking, or dwelling on negative feelings that interfere with normal functioning.

Rumination is often described as a loop of negative thoughts. This cycle of negative thinking can contribute to the development of depression and anxiety or worsen already existing mental health disorders. Rumination can also affect a person’s sleep and physical health, as a result of stress.

People ruminate for several reasons. The American Psychological Association listed the following as common reasons why people may have ruminating thoughts. They:

  • Believe they are gaining insight into a problem.
  • Perceive they face constant, uncontrollable stressors.
  • Had traumatic experiences.
  • Possess personality characteristics such as perfectionism or neuroticism.
  • Have low self-esteem.

The first step to addressing rumination is recognizing that there is a problem.  If you realize that you are ruminating, you can try these tips to help break the cycle of negative thinking:

  • Distract yourself by doing activities that can disrupt negative thinking.
  • Identify triggers that you can or can’t change.
  • Learn how to set realistic expectations.
  • Work on improving self-esteem.
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Practice positive affirmations

Lastly, if ruminating thoughts persist and are interfering with your life, try seeking assistance from a mental health professional.

The most common therapy used to address rumination is rumination-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on redirecting a person’s thought process and improving coping skills.

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.

Coping With Mental Health Challenges After A Heart Attack

Having a heart attack can be frightening; therefore, it is common for people to experience anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or depression after surviving this life-changing event.  In fact, the risk of depression is three times higher in heart attack survivors when compared to the general population; more than 25% of survivors experience anxiety after a heart attack, and 1 in 8 heart attack survivors experience symptoms of PTSD.

Mental health challenges often develop after a cardiac event because there is an uncertainty of things to come or a fear that it can happen again.

Feeling afraid, sad, confused, worried, stressed, or angry is expected in the days or weeks of having survived a heart attack.  However, it is important that these emotions are addressed with urgency and managed because they can affect recovery.  Untreated stress, anxiety, or depression can lead to physical symptoms such as increased heart rate or blood pressure that put a strain on the heart.

Being aware of these negative emotions and learning how to cope can improve mental health.  This can be achieved by identifying triggers and practicing stress or anxiety-reducing exercises such as:

  • Speaking to someone about how you feel
  • Socializing
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Challenging negative thoughts and thinking positively
  • Practicing deep breathing
  • Practicing gratitude
  • Spending time in nature
  • Exercising
  • Eating well
  • Getting enough sleep

In addition to practicing stress management exercises or other coping techniques, it is important to seek the assistance of a mental health provider to create a treatment plan to manage the symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, or depression.

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.

Mental Health Tips for the New Year

The beginning of a new year can bring many major changes with it. You may have a wide range of ideas about what you want or expect those changes to be and are figuring out how to prepare accordingly. However, it’s also easy to become overwhelmed by these expectations in a way that negatively impacts your mental health. Keep these tips in mind to stay focused on what matters and maintain a positive outlook as 2023 begins:

Make plans, not resolutions: New Year’s resolutions have an infamous tendency of falling through once the new year actually begins. This often happens because resolutions indicate a wish more than a serious goal. If you truly intend to pursue a major goal next year, write out a detailed plan for achieving it, including the steps required, your expected timeframe, and any resources you may need.

Avoid dwelling on future possibilities: You may start to consider different events that may occur next year, both good ones such as being offered a new, higher-paying job, and bad ones such as the death of a loved one. Even if these events were to occur, they are only future possibilities and are outside of your control. If necessary, account for these possibilities only as part of a plan for a relevant goal; dwelling on them will only damage your mental health.

Enjoy the present moment: Other than making plans for things you would like to change, you should keep your attention on the present. The friends, loved ones, and circumstances around you may be different in the future, but you can choose to make the most of the time you have with the ones that are in your life right now and give yourself (and them) fond memories to look back on in the future.

Are you suffering from symptoms of anxiety or depression related to concerns about the new year? You can talk to a mental health professional at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Mental Health Clinic. To schedule an appointment, 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.

3 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

The holiday season is a stressful time for many people for a variety of reasons. For some it might be the pressure of buying gifts or the burden of hosting, while others might have concerns about the financial strain associated with the holidays.

No matter your situation, it’s important not to let the natural stressors that accompany the holidays ruin the season for you. Most factors that lead to stress during the holidays are manageable through the application of mindfulness techniques and an active effort to remember the things that matter most: showing love and appreciation to the people around you and making happy memories with those people.

Some tips for maintaining this perspective and preserving the positive energy of the holiday season for yourself and your family include:

Reminding yourself that your efforts are good enough: Strict expectations to find the perfect gift, make your home look perfect before guests arrive, or to cook the perfect holiday dinner may prevent you from enjoying any of these activities (or their results). Remind yourself that there is no need for perfection in any of these areas and that what matters most is doing the best you can to ensure that your loved ones have the opportunity to enjoy the holiday season with you.

Releasing yourself from the expectations and opinions of other people: For many people, the thoughts and expectations of others may cause as much pressure (or more) as their own. However, you cannot control how the people around you view you or your efforts. Instead, resolve to be kind to those around you, regardless of their stated opinions, and make a conscious choice to only hold yourself to your own expectations.

Planning goals instead of making resolutions: As the New Year approaches, people often set “New Year’s resolutions” for themselves that, while indicative of goals they may truly care about, often die out within weeks. An approach that is more likely to succeed involves making a detailed, step-by-step plan for achieving the goal you have in mind, starting small and making incremental progress forward on a set timeline.

If your holiday stress is causing (or stems from) mental health problems, you can schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Mental Health Clinic by calling (718) 206-5575.

If you are experiencing a mental health emergency such as suicidal contemplation, please call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s confidential, 24/7 National Help Line at 1-800-662-4357.

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.

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.