I ran across this interesting article this week. The former director of the National Institute for Mental Health, Dr. Thomas Insel, discusses how solving America's high prevalence of mental health disorders takes more than neuroscience and therapy techniques. He points to an effective approach that has actually been around for a number of years but has not caught traction until recently: encouraging doctors, therapists, other professions and family members to work as a team supporting the patient in their mental health treatment and recovery. This concept informs new strategies being implemented in the field such as "Wraparound Services." The key to helping someone suffering from mental health disorders is helping that person find connection and support. Read the full about Dr. Insel here:
Depression is a mood disorder that can cause significant disruption to your daily life by making it difficult to function in your home, at work, or in your social life. Depression is typically marked by low moods, loss of interest in almost all enjoyable activities, persistent tiredness, a sense of worthlessness and a feeling of hopelessness. People suffering from depression may also experience sleep disturbances, an inability to concentrate, an unintentional increase or decrease in eating, and thoughts of death.
About 8% of all Americans have a depressive episode each year. Some studies have found that the rate of depression tripled during the COVID pandemic. Depression is part of the human range of moods, and thankfully is treatable. Many people find that medication, psychotherapy, or both provide lasting relief and an increase psychological capability to cope with periods of depressed moods. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy are just two effective treatments.
If you are experiencing symptoms that get in the way of living your life, it's time to look for help. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please seek help immediately. Hotlines are staffed with crisis intervention specialists waiting to help, and most law enforcement personnel are trained on mental health issues. You don't have to suffer.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255
Dial 911 emergency
In Tallahassee and surroundings, Dial 211 helpline
Attachment and attachment disorders have become more commonplace in diagnosing children with social relationship problems. Attachment refers to the deep connection that a child has for their caregiver. Young children with a secure attachment to a caregiver use this base to explore their world. Children who have experienced early problems with attachment - abuse or neglect for example - are theorized to experience social relationship problems later in life. In severe cases children can receive the diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), characterized by a markedly disturbed capacity to social relate to others in an appropriate way.
There are problems with accurately diagnosing RAD, namely that it can exist with other psychological and medical problems such as trauma and fetal alcohol syndrome. However, there are treatment options for repairing attachment ruptures and improving the social capacity in children. These focus on the coping skills of both the caregiver and the child. RAD is not untreatable.
Anxiety is excessive and pervasive worry that disrupts a person’s work, school, family or social life. Symptoms of anxiety include feeling restless, irritable or wound-up; having trouble sleeping; feeling muscle and general body tension; and having difficulty concentrating. Anxiety can arise from a number of triggers including social interactions, personal problems, or an atmosphere of uncertainty.
The United States, Florida, and even Tallahassee are going through a period of heightened uncertainty and change. COVID, unemployment and civil protests can make life suddenly seem unfamiliar and uncertain. You or someone you know may be experiencing anxiety over what the future holds.
Anxiety can be successfully minimized through a little extra focus on mindfulness, body sensation awareness, and the reframing of worrisome thoughts. Anxiety doesn’t have to get in the way of living the full life you want to experience.
Family therapy is more than just getting a family in one room to talk. Family therapy is focused on changing the communication patterns, family roles, and interpersonal boundaries that have contributed to conflict and dysfunction within a family system. Families are viewed as groups of members who are affected by outside events and influences; the family members then in-turn influence and impact each other as a result.
A good example is the family conflict that may arise when a child is impacted by mental illness. A daughter who develops severe depression may become withdrawn, irritable and defiant with house rules. This impacts the other family members: siblings may feel alienated and rejected, and parents may become overly-controlling in an effort to protect their family and heal their daughter. In a case like this, the daughter would typically be treated for depression; in addition, it may be beneficial for the family as a whole to engage in therapy, as normal communication patterns and roles may have changed and caused significant conflict and exasperation.
Family therapy in Tallahassee can be accomplished in different settings including in the therapist office and in the home. Family therapy can help with numerous issues including a child with opposition or conduct problems, a teen with depression, or a parent with substance use problems. Would family therapy in Tallahassee benefit you?
William (not his real name) is a high school student. He suffers from medically diagnosed depression and anxiety disorders which often become hurdles for him in completing school work. He is constantly at risk for dropping out of school because of his poor self-esteem. Whether because of the depression or because of other undiagnosed mental illnesses, William expresses paranoid thoughts about students he doesn’t know laughing at him because “they know all about me”; or teachers plotting to make him fail classes. At home, William displays irritability associated with depression, frequently arguing with and defying his guardian who has become exhausted from the confrontation. William probably lacks the social skills to hold a regular job; it’s hard to tell right now because his anxiety has overwhelmed his desire to actually make a job application.
The backstory is this: William was likely born with some level of substances in his body according to relatives. His parents had substance use disorders. His mother suffers from her own mental illnesses and has never been able to care for him. He probably has a developmental disability but has never been tested because his caregivers didn’t have insurance or had other needs they focused their attention on.
The Community Action Team at Apalachee Center in Tallahassee focuses on difficult adolescent clients like William with circumstances that make it hard for them to meet the norms of society. CAT clients typically have not achieved success with less-intensive mental health treatments and have multiple contacts with law enforcement and the child welfare system. The CAT purpose can be summed up succinctly: Prevent adolescents from entering psychiatric hospitals, the child welfare system and the justice system, while keeping them in school.
The CAT concept is a multi-disciplinary approach that makes a range of services available to the client’s family including nursing, peer mentorship, social services management, medication and psychotherapy. The concept has proven itself through years of pilot projects, which is why the state of Florida expanded teams to every county in 2018.
Back to William. In collaboration with all the people that care about his future, we are working to minimize his mental disorders, instill daily living skills, prepare him for work, and get him to graduation so he can live a full and purposeful life.
Attachment in psychological and therapy terms is simply the bond of one person to another, typically a child to a caregiver. We often think of attachment as the bond between an infant and a mother; early attachment is very important to the subsequent development of relationships and social development later in life. However attachment is important at any phase of life, and ruptured attachments can affect how people cope with relationships as teens and adults. For example attachment problems can arise in teens who experience the death of a parent or caregiver. Without repair of that attachment injury, the teen may become more reluctant or avoidant of forming close relationships as a defense mechanism against further disruptions. Attachment problems can be treated in mental health counseling through attachment based treatments.
Do you have a teen that always seems to defy the rules? You are not alone. In fact, defiant behavior problems are one of the most common reasons youth are referred to mental health services. All children show some signs of conduct and defiance problems at some point in their young lives - its part of testing their independence and establishing their identity. However, these issues can rise to an unhealthy level when they are severe and persist for a long time.
Children can develop conduct and oppositional disorders for a variety of reasons. There is no single cause. Rather, there is often a mix of biology, environment and the presence of other mental health disorders.
Behavior problems are characterized by two disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V): Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and the more severe Conduct Disorder. While these are separate disorders, there seems to be a continuum the exists where children diagnosed with CD were previously diagnosed with ODD at a younger age.
ODD and CD can effectively be addressed through counseling therapy that teach children enhanced skills for controlling thoughts and behaviors. Often causes of these disorders are rooted in family dynamics, which can be addressed using different forms of counseling such as Functional Family Therapy.
If you have questions about defiant behavior or conduct problems in Tallahassee school settings or at home, please call me for a free consultation.