Somatic Symptom Disorder: What Is It and How Is It Treated?

Somatic symptom disorder consists of an obsessive focus on physical senses such as pain and fatigue. Patients afflicted by somatic symptom disorder are diagnosed with significant distress and difficulty functioning normally.

Previously referred to as somatoform disorder or somatization disorder, somatic symptom disorder leads to excessive thoughts and feelings about physical symptoms. The belief that you’re suffering from physical pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, or frailness does not go away despite reassurance from medical professionals that you are, in fact, in perfect health.

Somatic Symptom Disorder: What Is It and How Is It Treated?

Symptoms

A person diagnosed with this portrays the following symptoms:

  • Pain, especially in the chest, arms, legs, back, abdomen, and joints.
  • Severe headache, physical disability, weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, and other neurological symptoms.
  • Abdominal pains and bowel complications, diarrhea, constipation, incontinence, and other digestive symptoms
  • Sexual syndromes, including painful sexual activity or painful periods

With symptoms ranging from mild to severe in different patients, most indicate experiencing more than one.

Causes

Commonly diagnosed in women rather than men, somatic symptom disorder results from several factors, including biological susceptibility, childhood trauma, and a learned way of thinking. The main factors are:

  • Extreme anxiety and scrutiny of bodily processes, low pain threshold
  • Stunted emotional development possibly due to parental neglect during childhood
  • Physical and sexual child abuse

Treatment

Treating somatic symptom disorder to improve a patient’s quality of life and relieve anxiety involves medication, therapy, or a blend of both.

Psychotherapy, specifically cognitive behavior therapy, involves engaging the patient to pinpoint negative or illogical thoughts and patterns and working through them.

Antidepressant medication also aids in repressing somatic symptom disorders and anxiety. An ideal combination when paired with psychotherapy, antidepressant medication causes side effects when prescribed initially and should only be medically recommended.

Pandora’s House Psychiatry is dedicated to providing mental health care and raising awareness in the North Dallas area. Contact us to find out more about our psychiatric care facilities.

 

The Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Neurodevelopmental disorders are certain conditions that affect the functions of the brain. These conditions may be mild impairments, which may see people living everyday life, or severe disorders that may require lifetime healthcare. Examples of neurodevelopment disorders include; Schizophrenia, ADHD, Tourette syndrome, Fragile X disorders, Autism, and Language and Speech disorders.

The Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Causes of neurodevelopmental disorders

Neurodevelopmental disorders occur when complex environmental and genetic factors interact to change the development of the brain. Sometimes, these environmental and genetic factors are known, and sometimes they are not known. Neurodevelopmental disorders seem to be inherited within a family where some family members might have different disorders. Although the causes of these disorders might be unknown, it is essential to identify the extent to which they interfere with the patient’s daily life to identify an intervention. Some experiences during pregnancy may result in neurodevelopmental disorders such as

  • Premature birth
  • Substance and drug abuse during pregnancy
  • Low birth weight
  • Environmental contaminants such as lead

Symptoms of neurodevelopmental disorders

The symptoms of many neurodevelopmental disorders start manifesting when a child is young, mostly in preschool age. However, like schizophrenia, signs may start in teenage or young adulthood, and symptoms vary depending on the disorder.

  • ADHD- hyperactivity, lack of attention, impulsivity, and distractibility.
  • Schizophrenia – delusions, withdrawal from family and friends, hallucinations, and disorganized thoughts.
  • Tourette Syndrome- coughing or grunting, ticks such as eye blinking and shoulder shrugging.
  • Autism- resisting touch, self-harm, little or no eye contact, and difficulty communicating.

Treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders

There are no cures for these disorders identified, although effective therapeutic strategies exist that help control some symptoms and signs depending on the disorder and its extent. Some medications reduce agitation, hyperactivity, pulsations, and anxiety. Doctors also offer psychotherapy and behavior therapy to help parents and children manage behavior patterns. Counseling and therapy help people learn coping techniques to control behavior and carry on with their daily life activities. Effective and consistent prenatal care for conditions such as autism and ADHD increases the chances of delivering a healthy, full-term baby, with reduced chances of neurodevelopmental challenges. It is essential to have regular health checks up to identify these disorders and have intervention in place. Schedule an appointment with us today at Pandora’s House Psychiatry.

3 Effective Strategies of Quitting Substance Abuse

Health experts consider using a substance to be crossing the line if it is causing impairment such as mental health issues, failure to meet responsibilities, social problems, and disabilities. Society has determined the use of harmful substances to be illegal and has prohibited their use. Preventing their use is primarily to protect the wellbeing of society and avoid the costs involved in crime, lost productivity, and healthcare of individuals. However, people within society still abuse illegal drugs and are struggling to end the habit. Here are effective strategies to help with quitting.

3 Effective Strategies of Quitting Substance Abuse

1. Recognizing that you have a problem and determining to change

It is normal to feel unready to start the recovery journey. You may feel unsure of how to cope without the drug you have been abusing. Weighing options for what you will be using once you leave the drug may be troublesome and cause discouragement. It is a familiar feeling to feel torn between quitting or not. However, take the bold step of committing to being sober. Keep reminding yourself of the many reasons you want to leave substance abuse.

2. Explore addiction treatment options

Explore treatment options available depending on the drug you have been abusing. Do your research or consult a health practitioner to guide you. As you explore, consider detoxification, behavioral counseling, medication, and the necessary follow-up. As you explore the options, consider a facility that will address your substance abuse issue and the root cause of the habit.

3. Identify support for your recovery journey.

Do not go alone. Have a positive influence and a solid support system to help you through. Identify several people who will support your choice to change, and the more they are, the higher the chances of your success. These may be your family, close friends, a sober living home, or the combination of all. The support system will keep you on your toes on the set goals and encourage you when you feel discouraged.

Contact us at Pandora’s House to access mental health care and treatment.

Three Eating Disorders And Their Most Common Victims

There are a few things that are central to life’s joys and pleasures, like food. Our Birthdays, our anniversaries, our graduation parties are as memorable as the food that was cooked—and heartily enjoyed. Yet while food can be the source and center of unalloyed happiness, it can also be the cause and trigger of untold pain and suffering. About 30 million Americans are victims of eating disorders and a whopping 7.8 million of this group attempt suicide. Here, we look at four common eating disorders and those who are most susceptible.Three Eating Disorders And Their Most Common Victims

 

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder that’s usually characterized by an obsessive concern about weight. Victims of Bulimia undergo episodes of uncontrollable eating followed by a compulsive determination to shed any consequent real or imagined weight gain.

Studies show that about 0.28% of Americans, or 920,000, suffer from Bulimia. While the exact course is not known with certainty, societal ideals of beauty, weight, and shape are thought to be contributing factors.

The Most Common Victims of Bulimia Nervosa

Perhaps because of the nature of their occupations, swimmers, athletes, and gymnastics enthusiasts are the most susceptible. Females are up to five times more susceptible than their male counterparts. Almost all victims of Bulimia (95%) have at least one other psychiatric disorder.

Anorexia Nervosa

This eating disorder is evidenced by abnormal anxiety and fear of weight gain. As a result, those who suffer from Anorexia adopt a harmfully restrictive diet with serious health consequences recognized by extreme thinness.

Studies from the National Institute of Mental Health show that about 0.6% of the American population suffer from Anorexia. This translates to about 2 million. Family history, perfectionism, and a desire to conform to society’s expectations and values are thought to be contributing factors.

The Most Common Victims of Anorexia Nervosa

A remarkable two-thirds of Anorexia Nervosa victims had some traumatic event that occurred before the onset of their condition. These traumatic events are broad but include sexual trauma, emotional abuse and neglect.

Teenage girls and young women in their early twenties are at an elevated risk of developing Anorexia. But perfectionism and related personality traits are also important associations.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder, characterized by compulsive and excessive eating, is the most prevalent eating disorder in the United States. Its prevalence rate is 1.2% or 4.7 million. A combination of psychological factors (including stress), dieting, and family history are thought to play a role in the development of binge-eating disorder.

The Most Common Victims of Binge Eating Disorder

Females are twice as likely to suffer from binge-eating disorders as are their male counterparts. Teenagers are particularly prone.

If you or your loved one is struggling with any eating disorder, you should consider seeing trained and Board-Certified Psychiatric practitioners as a matter of urgency. Contact us today and schedule an appointment.

When Your Teen is Struggling with Anxiety

As a parent, one of the toughest things to witness is your teen struggling with anxiety and mental health.  It is often easiest to explain it away as a normal adolescent phase; a rite of passage.  However, sometimes, the best call is not always to ignore what could be a real problem.  Here’s why.

When Your Teen is Struggling with Anxiety

Normal teen angst… or something more serious?

According to resources like The Child Mind Institute, “Untreated anxiety disorders are linked to depression, school failure and a two-fold increase in risk for substance abuse.” Given this information, and the soaring increase in diagnosed mental health issues among teens today, coming to the realization that mental health intervention is not only helpful, but necessary, can make all the difference in providing your child with the tools they need to find their way through the mire.  Knowing that parents have their back when it comes to concerning issues, as well, goes immeasurably far towards building trust for adolescents, an important asset for them during turbulent years.

Ignoring Mental Health is a Thing of the Past

Exactly why anxiety is up among our youth is a complicated issue involving many factors within their thorny world today.  You may find, surprisingly, that your teen is all too willing to seek help and this speaks volumes.  With the average teen having friends already in therapy, empowering kids to access appropriate interventions is becoming a norm, and a way to teach them early on that problems have solutions to be sought out, and accessed.  Sending the message that you think getting help is not only ok, but a good strategy to establish for life, is one that will empower them toward valuing their comprehensive healthcare into adulthood.

Finding the Right Help is Just as Important as Finding Help

Finding the right therapy, medicine if indicated, or coordinating psychiatrist to properly manage and diagnose disorders, can understandably be an overwhelming pursuit as caregivers come to terms with the idea that their child is needing care.  Navigating the jungle of providers and the cost of services can be extremely confusing, with an array of practicing mental health professionals in a marketplace that is often difficult to understand; one that often requires the comprehensive integration of many.  Met with a diversity of choices among those specializing in anxiety in teens, from psychologists to behavioral therapists to internal medicine practitioners, it can be difficult to know where to start.  All the while, your child’s continued suffering is at stake should you choose wrong, or find a poor fit.

To make things simple for those with children with anxiety or other related mental health issues, in our office, we integrate standard clinical treatments with medication management if needed, therapeutic treatment referrals and close follow-up care; so no one falls through the cracks. We start with a diagnosis from our trained psychiatrist or our highly credentialed psychiatric nurse practitioner; something critical in discerning the best treatment efforts moving forward and ensuring that optimal insurance coverage for each patient can be balanced in as well whenever possible. This, so you don’t have to waste time and money with failed attempts at finding your child, good help.

The Bottom Line

With the knowledge that increasing teen suicide rates over the last ten years may speak to a vast majority of failed applications of the system, we know much is at stake for today’s parents struggling with concerns over the mental health of their children.  With less than 1% of teens being treated within the first year they begin experiencing symptoms of anxiety, we are motivated to do right by every contact we make, expediting results with special attention to our youngest patients.  Because we know that every parent seeking to do what’s best for their child’s mental health, may just need, a little help and a hand to hold.  If you’re worried your child is struggling with anxiety, contact us today for an initial evaluation.  We would be happy to help.

Major Depressive Disorder: More Than the Blues

Major Depressive Disorder is a mood disorder that causes a loss of interest and persistent feelings of sadness. It affects many areas of your life and can lead to a variety of physical and emotional problems. It’s one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States and tends to affect more women than men, though more women tend to seek treatment.

Major Depressive Disorder: More Than the Blues

Causes
The actual cause of depression is unknown. There are, however, several factors that may contribute. A combination of stress and genes can affect brain chemistry and the ability to maintain mood stability. Other factors include abuse, alcohol or drug use, other medical conditions, and certain medications.

Symptoms
To be diagnosed with depression, you must meet the criteria listed in the DSM-5. One example is that you must experience a change in the way you previously functioned. Symptoms must also occur for two or more weeks. One of the symptoms must be loss of interest or pleasure or depressed mood.

In that time, you must also experience five or more of the following symptoms:

Feelings of sadness or irritability through most of the day, nearly every day.
Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.
Sudden weight loss or gain or changes in appetite.
Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping.
Fatigue or lack of energy.
Difficulty concentrating, thinking, or making decisions.
Thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Treatment
When treating depression, medications and psychotherapy work well for most people.

Medication
Some different types of medications used include:

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
Atypical Antidepressants
Tricyclic Antidepressants
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy refers to treatment by talking about your condition and related issues with a mental health professional. Some examples are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy.

Psychotherapy can help you:

Adjust to a stressful event or crisis.
Replace negative behaviors or beliefs with positive ones.
Improve communication skills.
Find healthier ways to solve problems and cope with challenges.
Increase self-esteem.
Regain sense of control and satisfaction in your life.

At Pandora’s House, we are committed to helping individuals and families transform their lives with dedicated, comprehensive care. Please contact us to schedule an appointment and learn more about the benefits and methods of treatment.

Psychiatry vs Psychology: What’s The Difference?

While it may be common for people to use these terms interchangeably, psychology and psychiatry are not the same. Although both of these professions deal with mental health, the doctors and the methods of treatment they use differ in many ways.

You may be wondering which option is best for you? Let’s take a look at each and what they focus upon.

Psychiatry vs Psychology: What's The Difference?

How are they different?

Psychiatry. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (MD) that graduated from medical school. They can prescribe medication and clinically diagnose mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar, OCD. They are able to run lab tests and review the patient’s medical history to rule out any other possible medical issues that could be causing the symptoms in question. Along with prescribing medication, they also offer treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy and light therapy. Some may offer talk therapy as well, while others will refer you to a psychologist to receive counseling.

Psychology. While a psychologist does hold a doctoral degree (Ph.D.), they did not attend medical school and are not medical doctors, therefore they cannot prescribe medication. They focus on healing through talk therapy(psychotherapy) rather than focusing on medication. This includes counseling and teaching methods to cope with issues the patient is going through, such as addiction, divorce, grief, trauma, and handling life changes. Talk therapy is used to help the patient focus on their feelings and how to deal with them.

Because both doctors work with the healing of mental health, it’s possible that your treatment will involve seeing both doctors for the same issue.

 

Don’t put your mental health to the side, the proper treatment can improve the quality of your life. Whether it is a short term need or ongoing, we are here for you.

Give us a call today! Pandora’s House Psychiatry offers in-person and telehealth treatment in Farmersville, Texas.

What Is ADHD Like in Adults?

You may often associate ADHD with children, as most of the symptoms that come with it are more obvious in younger patients. It can also be diagnosed in adulthood, however, oftentimes by going unnoticed until later in life or not at all.  This can lead to increased frustration and stress in daily life, which is why it’s important to know how the disorder changes as one grows older.

What Is ADHD Like in Adults?

Background

To understand adult ADHD, we must first look at its effects during childhood. According to the NIH, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder in which patients often present with symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. In children, this can look like a quick loss of interest in certain activities, discomfort when trying to sit still, or a tendency to do things without considering the consequences. Important to note is the fact that these behaviors cannot always be easily controlled by the child, as we already tend to have a less developed sense of self-control as children.

How Is Adult ADHD Different?

Adult ADHD, to put it simply, is like the more mature version of the childhood disorder. For example, where there was once difficulty paying attention in school, there may now be difficulty paying attention at work. As described by Mayo Clinic, Many undiagnosed adults don’t realize they may have it due to their beliefs that common activities are simply more difficult for them. Some ways this may be seen include:

  • Difficulty prioritizing or managing time well
  • Difficulty focusing on any number of tasks
  • Restless behavior/Impatience
  • Effects on mood (partly caused by the symptoms above)

Pairing these symptoms with a better sense of self-control that an adult has over a child, it’s easy to see how an adult with ADHD may not be aware of it at all. Because of the similarities between adult ADHD symptoms and natural behaviors, it can often be difficult to tell the difference.

If you or someone you know have experienced any number of these symptoms often, or if you are unsure, please reach out to us to receive a more personalized evaluation. We are dedicated to serving our Collin County community with diligent psychiatric care delivered with sensitivity, understanding, and trust. At Pandora’s House, we strive to increase access to mental health care and raise awareness of the many benefits of treatment. Feel free to call us at (972) 784-3064 or visit our website to schedule an appointment today.

Are You Showing Signs of Depression?

Depression can be a frightening and debilitating experience. Many people who have depression may not even be aware of it. They may notice that something is “off” or not quite right, but they are not exactly sure what is wrong. Depression can show itself in many ways, meaning that people can experience it differently. Which signs of depression do you identify with?

Are You Showing Signs of Depression?

Constant Feelings of Sadness

Typically, a person going through some type depression feels sad and dejected all the time, seemingly without a reason. Depression is more than feeling a little sad about a temporary situation, such as canceled plans with a friend. This type of sadness can be very intense and persistent; it can linger for weeks or months. Some people may feel like they need to cry all the time whereas others feel completely empty and numb.

Unexplained Irritability or Anger

Sometimes, perpetual feelings of sadness can lead to irritability in people suffering from depression. Others may altogether feel angrier and more irritable instead of feeling sad. They may lash out at others or become upset over something incredibly small. These types of outbursts can be particularly noticeable if an individual’s demeanor is typically calm and compassionate.

Inability to Enjoy Preferred Activities

Another widely accepted symptom of depression is anhedonia. This means that an individual no longer experiences pleasure during hobbies or activities that were once considered to be favorites. People who are experiencing anhedonia due to depression usually feel as though their preferred hobbies and interests have lost their luster. Anhedonia can affect people in various aspects of their lives, ranging from independent hobbies (ex. reading books) to social activities (ex. hanging out with friends).

Changes in Sleep and/or Diet

When someone’s mood is frequently fluctuating, this can affect other facets of his or her life. For instance, a person could develop irregular sleep patterns over time. This problem can range from insomnia (difficulty sleeping) to hypersomnia (sleeping too much). A person’s diet and weight can also be affected by depression. Some individuals may gain a considerable amount of weight whereas others may lose it. It’s possible this is because of an unintended change in diet or exercise. Some people report eating more when they are feeling depressed while others rarely have an appetite. It all depends on the person’s own experiences.

Hopelessness and Suicidal Ideation

Lastly, people suffering from depression may feel a sense of hopelessness, like nothing in their lives will get better. This can sometimes lead to thoughts of suicide or wanting to harm themselves. Although these emotions can feel extremely overwhelming, it is important to know that they are only temporary.

If you identify with any of the above symptoms and have been feeling this way for several weeks or months, you may have depression. It is essential for you to remember that you are not alone; you will get through this. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

Anxiety Disorders & Loss of Control

When you have an anxiety disorder, it may be very difficult for you to deal with some things on a daily basis that others take for granted. Anxiety derives from many sources, but there are also many consistent symptoms and situations that increase those symptoms, such as loss of control.

The feeling of loss of control is a primary factor that evokes anxiety among people with anxiety disorders. The experience of losing control can occur in hundreds of different ways, but some of the most common include:

Anxiety Disorders & Loss of Control

Being a Passenger

When we find ourselves in a situation where someone else is driving a vehicle, and we are the passive passengers, we’re likely to experience a feeling of loss of control. While some people have no problem with this feeling, those with anxiety may find it extraordinarily uncomfortable to give-up this control.

Others may call us back-seat drivers, or simply not understand why we feel anxious. It’s important to explain the feelings of anxiety we’re likely to, or are, experiencing to friends, family, acquaintances, coworkers, or anyone we find ourselves in the vehicle with as a passenger. Therapy is also a great way to learn the roots of why we feel out of control as a passenger.

Crowds

Even those without anxiety disorders can experience significant anxiety while in crowds. For those with anxiety, however, the feelings often come from feeling trapped or confined, which again relates to a sense of loss of control. Part of the ongoing healing process of anxiety disorders may include avoiding large crowds, as well as learning breathing and calming techniques through therapy.

Deadlines

Anxiety may also increase when we are faced with deadlines, especially with employment, because we don’t have control over when we complete a task or project. The feeling may start-off small and slowly get bigger as the deadline draws closer. The anxiety then slows us down, and we spend more time dealing with the anxiety than focusing on tasks.

Therapy can help us deal with, and eventually better accept, areas of our lives we don’t have control over, which in turn will help decrease anxiety levels and symptoms over time.

To schedule an appointment with a caring professional counselor in the North Dallas area, contact us today.