PTSD Awareness Month

June is PTSD Awareness Month, and Jamaica Hospital Medical Center is doing its part to raise awareness by sharing important facts.

PTSD or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that is triggered after experiencing a traumatic event. A traumatic event can be anything from experience in combat, an assault, an accident, or a natural disaster.

While most of us would have a hard time processing a traumatic event, symptoms resulting from that experience are likely to get better over time. Those who suffer from PTSD find that their symptoms do not get better but get worse because there is a significant impact on how they can function in their day-to-day lives.

Some of the symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Reliving the traumatic event
  • Nightmares
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Loss of concentration
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships.
  • Being quick to anger
  • Self-destructive behaviors, like abusing drugs or alcohol.
  • Hearing or seeing things that aren’t there.
  • Being easily frightened

Like most other illnesses, some people have a higher risk factor of suffering from PTSD than others. This includes people who have already gone through a traumatic event, those who do not have a good support structure like close friends and family that they can rely on, and if there is a family history of mental illness or if they already have a mental health problem.

Here are some ways you can help someone with PTSD:

  • Learning about PTSD and how it can affect loved ones.
  • Listening to the individual when they are uncomfortable with doing certain activities.
  • Being there for them, without trying to fix them.
  • Encouraging them to seek treatment and participate in activities
  • Find support for yourself.
  • Recognizing the symptoms, even in yourself. Living with someone with PTSD can sometimes result in secondary PTSD, which is when the partner or family member feels symptoms that are similar to PTSD.
  • Combating the stigma. Challenge the stigma that surrounds PTSD and mental health. Be mindful of your language and attitudes. Promote open, judgment-free conversations about mental health in your circles. Encourage others to see PTSD not as a weakness, but as a sign of a person’s resilience.

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 Therapy for Trauma Survivors

An older man experiencing receiving trauma support from a therapist.Trauma can have a significant negative impact on your mental health. If you’ve been a victim of a serious injury, abuse, or a catastrophic event in your personal life, you face a higher likelihood of developing conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can create new challenges in various aspects of your daily life. To reduce this risk or learn to overcome conditions such as PTSD, it’s important to seek help from a qualified mental health professional.

Psychiatrists and other mental healthcare providers can use a variety of techniques to help you learn to process your trauma in a healthy way. One of the most effective tools available for providing this care is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on:

  • Finding unhealthy and unhelpful patterns in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
  • Identifying how these patterns contribute to any challenges you experience in your daily life
  • Changing these patterns to help you overcome the challenges you face

Therapists may also use other variations of CBT during your treatment, depending on what particular mental health problems you experience in connection with your trauma. These alternatives include:

  • Cognitive processing therapy, which focuses on challenging and changing beliefs you’ve developed because of your trauma
  • Cognitive therapy, which focuses on helping you evaluate or remember your trauma in a way that is less disruptive or more helpful for your ability to function
  • Prolonged exposure, which helps you learn to approach trauma-related thoughts, feelings, or situations that you may be avoiding

Other treatment approaches, including medication and other forms of psychotherapy, may also be available for people who have experienced trauma, depending on the nature of their symptoms and responsiveness to standard treatment.

You can find compassionate, effective therapeutic treatment or support for trauma-related mental health conditions at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry, as well as our new Trauma Survivors support program. To learn more or 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.

The Effects of Stress on Our Health

Long-term or chronic stress can harm our mental and physical health.  When we are experiencing stress, the body releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which if they persist at high levels can lead to adverse reactions including suppression of the digestive system and immune systems, elevation of blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and disruption in the processes of the brain that control mood, perception, and cognition.

Over time, these negative changes in our body may increase the risk of stroke, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, depression, anxiety, and other health problems.  Furthermore, continued stress makes it more difficult to recover from these conditions.

Reducing or managing stress levels by learning to cope healthily can greatly improve your health and reduce the risk of certain diseases. Here are a few stress management techniques you can try:

  • Learn to identify stressors or triggers, and reduce or eliminate them
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing exercises, or meditation
  • Get the recommended amount of sleep
  • Practice good time management
  • Avoid harmful ways to cope with stress such as binge eating, drinking excessively, using illicit drugs, or smoking tobacco
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Connect with others

Practicing stress-reduction techniques is not a one-size-fits-all approach. If high levels of stress persist and you continue to feel overwhelmed, you may need additional support from a trained professional. A licensed therapist or mental health counselor can evaluate your mental and emotional health, and suggest a plan of treatment that can help you.

To schedule an appointment with a licensed 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.

What Should You Do During a Panic Attack?

A woman putting her hand to her chest as she experiences a panic attack.When a panic attack strikes, it can be difficult to think clearly. Panic attacks can occur suddenly and without warning, causing a feeling of intense fear as well as symptoms that may resemble other medical emergencies, such as heart attacks. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid or pounding heartbeat
  • Hot flashes and sweating
  • Numbness or tingling

While they are not necessarily dangerous to your physical health on their own, panic attacks can have a detrimental effect on your mental health, especially if they become worse or more frequent over time. If you experience one, there are certain steps you should take to get through it and improve your ability to prevent future attacks:

When in doubt, go to the emergency room: The symptoms of panic attacks are similar enough to other serious medical conditions that it may be very difficult for you to distinguish between them in the moment. The safest option is to call 911 and get to the emergency room immediately. If no signs of a heart attack or other medical emergency are found during your visit, it’s more likely that what you experienced was a panic attack.

Get a friend or family member’s help: During a panic attack, you may find it difficult to calm down or communicate clearly, so it’s important to have a friend or family member with you who can help. This person should be able to get you anything you might need while experiencing the panic attack, such as water or a quiet space to yourself, and help you communicate with any healthcare providers who treat you.

Practice deep breathing exercises: Many people hyperventilate during a panic attack, meaning that they breathe too rapidly; this can cause symptoms to worsen and increase the sense of fear that occurs during an attack. Slower, deeper, rhythmic breathing can help reduce these symptoms and make them easier to cope with.

If you experience a panic attack, it’s important to visit a psychiatrist as soon as possible to receive treatment that can reduce the severity and frequency of future attacks. 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.

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.