Addressing the Physical Symptoms of Mental Health

Addressing the Physical Symptoms of Mental Health

Seeking aid for someone’s struggles with anxiety, depression, or other mental health complications is a step in vulnerability and hope. Beginning therapy requires an open, introspective mind that is willing to challenge its own beliefs and past conditioning — all in hopes of adjusting a person’s way of thinking to give them a more positive future. However, addressing someone’s mind is often only part of the equation. We must also focus on the physical body and the symptoms present that are intricately connected with our mental health.

Addressing these physical symptoms is equally as important as addressing the mental feelings and symptoms that someone may be experiencing. We can’t heal our body without our mind, nor heal our mind without our body.

Identifying the Physical Aspects

Anxiety and depression are two conditions that are not just confined to the mind — they can cause a number of physical effects on the body as well. Headaches, nausea, extreme tiredness/lethargy, increased heart rate, hyperventilation, and feelings of weakness are all common symptoms for anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression can also worsen existing symptoms that have a negative impact on a person’s health, such as chest pains, muscle strings, or migraines that seem to be worse during depressive episodes or times of high anxiety.

Avoid Making Symptoms Worse

Being aware of the holistic nature of mental health symptoms and keeping a healthy lifestyle is important in both mental and physical health recovery. Maintaining healthy practices that don’t worsen these symptoms is the first step in recovering from them. For example, caffeine can continue to accelerate the heart rate of someone already experiencing anxiety, just as alcohol can. Eating an unhealthy diet can add to the lethargy or lack of motivation a depressed person feels. A lack of physical exercise can cause headaches and feelings of weakness to worsen.

While exercising and cooking healthy meals may not be at the forefront of a person’s mind during difficult bouts of anxiety or depression, establishing them as part of a daily routine can help in making the practices normalized. Anxiety and depression can sap a person’s motivation and energy, leading to a continuous cycle of feeling bad until the physical symptoms can be managed appropriately.

Schedule a Physical

While the physical and mental components of anxiety and depression are unequivocally linked together, finding the biological source of some ailments can create a better picture of what someone’s recovery path will look like. Scheduling an appointment with a physician to get a physical can help outline the overall health aspects of a person’s daily life, so they can begin implementing practices that will benefit their physical healing. While daily exercise may not be a cure for depression or anxiety, it can help in many other ways. For example, it can mitigate some of the physical ailments that may be blocking other parts of recovery. Exercise can also instill a higher degree of self-confidence, stronger body image, and greater pride in one’s progress. All of these can be motivational tools for dealing with the anxiety or depression that so many of us face.

A physical can also help determine the source of any physical symptoms that a person is experiencing. While some symptoms, such as nausea or diarrhea, can often be traced to a combination of anxiety, depression, and dietary choices, others may have unclear origins. A physical can help determine what is a physical aspect of mental health recovery, and what may be psychosomatic in nature and need to be addressed through other means.

Evidence-Based Healing

Being able to identify and then categorize a person’s symptoms during recovery is a very powerful ability. It can help the person become more self-aware and build a plan for how they will deal with certain individual aspects of their own recovery. Seeing the different strategies and self-care in action can help create an evidence-based view of how the person is recovering, as well as how their bodies are changing for the better. Seeing progress in motion is important throughout the recovery process, and keeping a healthy lifestyle in regards to the mental and physical aspects of recovery is a visible, definable kind of success that can help keep the process going strong.

Each dimension of healing needs its own strategy in order to address it. The physical symptoms that come with anxiety and depression are just as important as the overarching mental health components. Each aspect of recovery produces its own unique set of challenges. Addressing them all with the attention and serious concern they deserve is the hallmark of a holistic model of recovery. Not only does managing physical symptoms produce a healthier standard of living, but it also instills an array of skills that are necessary to treat mental health conditions effectively.

Achieve Medical is prepared to address the holistic needs of each patient. If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, depression, addiction, and any other co-occurring mental health disorders, we are here to help. By employing an evidence-based, malleable treatment plan for each individual, Achieve Medical creates a plan that is unique to you to help you reach your goals. Let us guide you on your journey to a happier, healthier life. To schedule a consultation, call us today at (858) 221-0344.

Benefits of Group Therapy for Treating Anxiety and Depression

Benefits of Group Therapy for Treating Anxiety and Depression

All humans go through some type of struggle. It’s inevitable, and it defines our species. We are tribalistic at heart and consistently want to be understood. We also desire being surrounded by people who are like us. Group therapy is a modern-day tribe that provides protection, perspective, support, and acceptance for all. Being in an environment where you can talk about your struggles with peers who understand, provide advice, and give you a shoulder to cry on can be immensely helpful in your journey.

It’s normal to want to spend time with other people who are most like us or can relate to what we are going through. It’s important to prep yourself for group therapy and go in with an open mindset so that you can get the maximum benefit from each session. You will likely develop close bonds with the people who attend with you regularly, and there is a great deal of trust that comes with group therapy.

This type of psychotherapy is designed to engulf you in support and perspective from your group that can translate into everyday life and strengthen your relationships. If you suffer from anxiety or depression, there are many benefits that you can gain from attending group therapy sessions.


Bringing an issue that has been a burden on you or your life to a group of people who may have gone through something similar is a great way to learn how to deal with that issue. The individuals who are part of your group therapy can give you advice on how to handle the situation, how to act, or what to do next. It’s a wonderful support system for people who benefit from a community-based therapy environment. Having a group of individuals who you can gain some insight from is an effective way to find new and different coping mechanisms while dealing with the issue at hand.


It’s no secret that many of us find it difficult to navigate emotions, situations, and experiences in our day-to-day lives. Coming to a group therapy session and leaning on your peers for support and strength to get through a particular situation or making sure that you handled a certain predicament in a healthy way can help you make great progress. Having a group of people who you meet with regularly to form bonds and friendships with can also be a wonderful outlet. The goal is to find supportive individuals and group leaders who focus on coping strategies that can benefit everyone involved.


Feeling like you’re out of place or different does not help an individual grow or learn from mistakes and trauma. Joining a group of people who understand you and what you’re going through can be life-changing for those who have never felt unconditionally accepted. It’s important to note that you should accept all others who enter the group as well to reap the mutual benefit.


Group therapy is also a way to become comfortable interacting with other individuals and developing your own voice. Being able to navigate how you feel about certain situations and people, but also how you feel about yourself when conversing with others, is what group therapy teaches you to do. There is a common misconception about group therapy — that people take turns having individual therapy with the counselor while everyone else. This is absolutely not the case. Think of group therapy like a specialized classroom that gives you the life skills and coping tools you need to successfully manage your condition.

What Does Research Say?

Research studies continue to confirm the positive benefits of group therapy. In one study of people who were experiencing anxiety and/or depression, researchers found a direct correlation between group therapy with a significant other of the patient’s choosing (mother, father, sibling, significant other, etc.) and a reduction in anxiety. The patient’s skill set and overall recovery efforts also improved.

Depression can be effectively treated with both medication and psychotherapy, although the National Institute of Mental Health notes that psychotherapy is typically the best option for mild to moderate depression in adults — whether it’s administered one-on-one or in a group setting. In many cases, group therapy is less expensive than individual therapy, but still provides the same important benefits.

Group therapy can offer a safe space for everyone. The idea of attending group therapy may seem intimidating or nerve-racking at first, but it’s worth the opportunity to grow and learn how to cope with situations that are holding back. You might just make some lifelong friends as well.

Achieve Medical is a unique, multidisciplinary, private psychiatric and mental health practice. We specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric conditions that affect children, adolescents, young adults, and adults. If you or a loved one is struggling, we are here for you. Working together, our team can help you achieve the happiness and success that you and your family deserve. To learn more about our comprehensive and compassionate mental health services, call us today at (858) 221-0344.

The Scientific Side of Addiction

The Scientific Side of Addiction

Studies on the scientific side of addiction are still relatively new. Since the 1930s, many have believed addiction to drugs or alcohol to be a moral failing of some sort. It was something that someone wholly chose to do by themselves, and they could stop at any point if they wanted to. While it is now known that this is not the case in any way, many depictions of people suffering from addiction are still framed through this kind of mentality.

Deconstructing the notion that addiction is a personal failing is important in establishing strong, effective recovery methods. Establishing the science that makes up addiction is the first step in breaking down preconceived notions and re-establishing addiction as a medical issue, rather than a moral one.

Addiction Can Happen to Anyone

Drugs and alcohol affect people on a biological level. Prolonged use makes the symptoms of addiction easier to notice, but each drink and each use of a drug has its biological effects. Addiction has nothing to do with a person’s education level, income level, skin color, or religion. Addiction can happen to anyone — nobody is immune. Environmental factors can play a large part in someone’s decision to engage in drugs or alcohol, but the actual addiction can form in anybody. There are also genetic components that can leave certain people with a higher predisposition to addiction. In other words, if a close family member has become addicted in the past, it’s possible that addiction may set in faster for another member of the same family.

Effects in the Brain

Alcohol and drugs inhibit the brain’s neurotransmitters and receptors — the two key parts that transport serotonin and dopamine in between neurons. Dopamine and serotonin are chemicals that “reward” the brain and are typically released when someone is feeling good, happy about an event, or any other joyous occasion. As a person uses more drugs or alcohol, they continue forcing their neurotransmitters to release these chemicals. The more that a drug or alcohol is used, the more the brain begins to require in order to forcibly release these chemicals and once again achieve that “good” feeling.

After time, the brain begins to expect a certain amount of drugs or alcohol in order to process serotonin and dopamine. A person’s brain will take notes on the time of day, situation, physical location, and any other measurable aspect when using drugs or alcohol and begin to connect them to the usage itself. Eventually, the brain will form a lens around someone’s own environment, causing the person to perceive their surroundings through a lens of addiction. The body and brain drive the person to compromise other aspects of their health and responsibilities in order to maintain the usage of drugs or alcohol.

A Lot More than a Lack of Willpower

Addiction is definitely not born from a lack of willpower. Rather, it takes an immense amount of willpower to even take the first step to recovery. Recovering from addiction requires an overhaul on almost every level. All the environmental factors and connections that the brain made while using drugs or alcohol have to be addressed, as well as the biological components that the brain is accustomed to.

First and foremost, these connections have to be deconstructed, but that doesn’t mean that recovery is over — far from it. The next step is establishing new practices that can replace that “good” feeling the person needs in order to be happy. Establishing these new, healthier ways to find joy takes time and involves many people to be successful.

The biological component is also why recovery is something that lasts a lifetime. Even people who have been sober for years can still get urges to use drugs or alcohol again. They can come at unexpected times, involving those past connections that the brain made between usage and a physical location, event, or time. It’s not a lack of willpower that leads to addiction — but it does require a lot of willpower to acknowledge the addiction for what it is and take steps in order to rectify it.

Hope for the Future

As researchers continue to study the medical nature of addiction, it is our hope that perceptions will change in the future. The notion that addiction is the result of a moral failing does a great disservice to the people who suffer from it — and also leads to a false sense of security that a person could “never” become addicted. Addressing the medical side of addiction even in conversation can help those fighting addiction find the help they need faster, while also establishing a culture that seeks help as a positive thing.

Achieve Medical addresses the medical nature of addiction first and foremost, and couples that with therapies designed to instill the necessary coping and life skills that a person needs throughout their daily life. Creating a comprehensive approach to addiction recovery that involves mental health assessment as well as a physical and biological approach, Achieve Medical addresses the personal needs of each individual in their own path to sobriety. We are here to help you find your path as well. For more information about our programs, call us today at (858) 221-0344.

Group vs. Individual Therapy — Find the One That’s Right for You

Group vs. Individual Therapy — Find the One That’s Right for You

When seeking treatment for an addiction, it’s important to find the right kind of program that suits each person. Not everyone will respond the same way to all kinds of therapies, and each person will have their preferences. The most common decision that someone has to make when going through recovery is deciding between an individual therapy or a group therapy program. Each therapy offers its own benefits, and it will be up to each person to decide where they want to begin their newfound sobriety.

Taking the First Step

Before deciding where they should go for treatment, be sure to reward the person for even asking themselves these difficult questions. Addressing an addiction takes a lot of willpower — it’s a constant war between what their body is telling them they need and what their mind is fighting against. Because of this, seeking any kind of treatment is a huge step in the right direction.

In the event that the person changes their mind after going to individual or group therapy and decides that maybe the other option is better, do not hesitate to make that known. There is nothing wrong with seeking the type of therapy that someone thinks is best for them. There are always options available, so they can make changes until they find the right formula that works for them.

The Benefits of Individual Therapy

Individual therapy is a one-on-one setting with a professional to discuss the specific trials of the patient, including their successes, their progress (or lack thereof), and their ultimate goals from treatment. This style of therapy is preferred by those who greatly value their own privacy. While opening up to people about their addiction is important, people may seek individual therapy if they are very selective about how much each person knows about their recovery. The sense of privacy provided by individual therapy can lead to building newfound trust. It also allows the person to explore how they address their own issues and vocalize their struggles and goals.

Individual therapy allows the pace of recovery to be set by the person themselves and can speed up or slow down depending on their individual needs and progress. This agency over pace-setting ensures that everything is constantly focused on the individual person and fits within their schedule. For some, schedules can be very busy each and every day. Individual therapy allows for more options throughout the week to meet with a professional about the issues that are plaguing them, encouraging more people to regularly attend their sessions.

The Benefits of Group Therapy

Group therapy involves other people who are there for each step of the recovery process. The group atmosphere is built with people who understand and have lived through their own troubles — which are often similar in nature — and are exploring their own avenues to success. Because of this, group therapy often builds a tightly-knit community of people who can support one another. The sense of community that comes with group therapy can be very influential, encouraging people to open up more readily and begin practicing their social skills in a safe environment.

Having people around who understand the unique difficulties of recovery also means that there is always a plethora of ideas to try, simply by modeling other people who have been successful in different areas of their recovery. We are often more inclined to try something after we see it work with our own eyes. This can lead to future successes, or simply broadening someone’s horizons through the process.

Group therapy also teaches individuals not only how to receive support, but how to give it as well. This is a necessary skill for building relationships both old and new throughout recovery. This process builds support by receiving encouragement through difficult times, along with the trust that comes by being the one providing it to someone else. Sharing in success and seeing success in motion is a highly-motivational tool in and of itself. Group therapy also provides a safety net when things get difficult.

Stay Committed

Both individual and group therapies have their benefits and drawbacks. Even when someone decides which type may work better for their own experiences and goals, no two recovery stories will be exactly the same. Things will adjust, and some aspects will be focused on more than others. The crucial part is that when someone finds a therapy that works for them, they continue on that path.

There are therapy options available for everyone. Achieve Medical employs a comprehensive, evidence-based system for each of our patients suffering from anxiety, depression, addiction, and any other co-occurring disorders. By using a mental health examination as well as a physical to establish a biological component, Achieve Medical addresses the specific needs of each patient on an individual level. If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health disorders or addiction, Achieve Medical’s caring staff is here for you. Call us today at (858) 221-0344 to learn more about our programs or set up an intake appointment.

What Is an Eating Disorder?

What Is an Eating Disorder? [Infographic]

What Is an Eating Disorder?

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An eating disorder is an illness that disrupts a person’s eating behaviors and can cause a person to become preoccupied with food, food intake, and/or their body weight. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate associated with any mental illness, and at least 30 million Americans deal with an eating disorder, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

What Causes an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders have been associated with a variety of potential causes, and a combination of some or all of these factors is believed to contribute to an eating disorder.

  • Biology: Studies have shown that individuals sometimes have brain circuitry variants that may contribute to an eating disorder.
  • Genetics: Research indicates that certain genetic variations may contribute to an eating disorder, and an individual with a family history of eating disorders is seven to 12 times more likely than others to develop an eating disorder.
  • Personality: People who are prone to obsessive thinking, harm avoidance, and impulsivity have an increased likelihood of developing an eating disorder.
  • Trauma: Physical and/or sexual abuse or other traumatic events may make a person more susceptible to shame, guilt, and other feelings, which can lead to an eating disorder.

What Are the Types of Eating Disorders?

Common eating disorders include:

  • Anorexia Nervosa: Causes severely low body weight, a distorted view of weight, and extreme fear of gaining weight; people struggling with anorexia are typically below a healthy weight.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: Leads a person to eat large amounts of food (binge), then purge to eliminate extra calories; people struggling with bulimia may be within a normal weight range.
  • Binge-Eating Disorder: Causes recurring episodes in which an individual eats large amounts of food and feels unable to stop eating.
  • Pica: Involves craving or chewing ice, clay, soil, and other items that have no nutritional value.
  • Avoidant or Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): Results in highly selective eating habits, interrupted eating patterns, or both; ARFID is similar to anorexia, but it does not cause distress related to body shape or size or an extreme fear of gaining weight.

What Are the Symptoms of an Eating Disorder?

A person dealing with an eating disorder may display one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Food rituals
  • Uncomfortable eating around others
  • Skipping meals or consuming small portions at meals
  • Preoccupation with weight and/or diet
  • Mood swings
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Gastrointestinal issues like constipation and/or stomach cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle weakness

How to Treat an Eating Disorder

Common eating disorder treatments include:

  • Medication: Antidepressant and/or anti-anxiety medications are sometimes used to help patients manage their eating disorders.
  • Psychotherapy: Talk therapy allows a patient to discuss his or her eating disorder thoughts and feelings with a mental health counselor and develop coping strategies.
  • Dietary Changes: A nutritionist can help an eating disorder patient create and implement a balanced, nutritional diet.

Explore Eating Disorder Treatment Options Today

To learn more about eating disorder treatment, please contact Achieve Medical Center online or call us at (858) 427-5060.

New Year's Resolutions

How to Best Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions When You Battle Depression

The new year is fast approaching, and now may be a great time to start considering a New Year’s resolution for 2020. However, for those coping with depression, the stress, anxiety, and pressure that goes along with developing and keeping a New Year’s resolution often adds up quickly.

Depression is a mood disorder that can affect people at all stages of life. It causes emotional and physical problems, and sometimes makes a person believe that life isn’t worth living. If a person dealing with depression experiences sadness and hopelessness when thinking about the new year, this individual may put off a New Year’s resolution entirely.

Depression can also make it difficult for a person to think and concentrate. As a result, depression can impact a person’s ability to make decisions, and can cast doubt on a person’s ability to follow through on a New Year’s resolution.

Fatigue is a common depression symptom as well. If a person feels tired and exhausted due to depression, this individual is unlikely to feel any urgency to create a New Year’s resolution or stick with it for an entire year.

In addition to these hurdles, if a person manages to make a New Year’s resolution and fails to stick to it, the emotional consequences can be severe. Sometimes, depression can cause extreme feelings of guilt and worthlessness associated with not meeting a New Year’s resolution, which can then cause recurring thoughts of death or suicide.

How to Cope with Depression While You Establish and Follow Through on a New Year’s Resolution

A New Year’s resolution should be a positive thing — a resolution that a person can look forward to completing in the new year. With the right approach to creating a New Year’s resolution, a person coping with depression can develop a realistic resolution and stay with it in the foreseeable future.

It is important to remember that a New Year’s resolution doesn’t require a person to go to extremes. Instead, a simple lifestyle change like performing exercise for a few minutes a day can help a person develop a successful exercise regimen in the new year. Or, gradually replacing unhealthy foods with healthy alternatives can help a person build and maintain a healthy diet in the new year.

Trial and error is usually a good way to go with a New Year’s resolution, too. For instance, a person dealing with depression who wants to relax more in the new year could try a few minutes of meditation each day. If, after a few days or weeks, meditation helps a person improve relaxation, this individual can continue with the routine. On the other hand, if meditation is ineffective, it’s ok to try deep breathing exercises, mindfulness activities, or other relaxation techniques in lieu of meditation.

Using a buddy system can also be an effective way to stick with a New Year’s resolution. With support from a family member or friend, there is no telling how successful an individual may be in accomplishing a new year’s goal.

There is no need to implement more than one New Year’s resolution, either. By choosing a single New Year’s resolution, a person can be fully committed to getting the best results.

How to Get Started on Creating a New Year’s Resolution

One of the best ways to get started on creating a New Year’s resolution is to establish priorities. This allows an individual dealing with depression to establish goals for the new year, then prepare accordingly.

After a New Year’s resolution is in place, it is helpful to set milestones and track progress toward achieving the resolution. This enables a person to celebrate accomplishments throughout the year while working toward achieving a bigger goal.

Finally, the medical clinicians at Achieve Medical Center are happy to help patients find ways to manage depression so they can accomplish their New Year’s resolutions. We provide a wide array of depression therapies, and each depression treatment is tailored to a patient’s requirements.

Depression challenges men, women, and children, but there is no need for it to dampen the new year. At Achieve Medical Center, we offer medication, psychotherapy, and other treatment options to help patients manage their depression symptoms. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, please contact us online, or call us today at (858) 427-5060.

Holiday Stress

4 Causes of Holiday Stress and How to Cope with It

The holiday season is here — and so is the stress that impacts many people during the season.

Holiday stress can be problematic, and the holiday season is sometimes filled with loneliness, sadness, and anxiety, all of which can contribute to this issue. Fortunately, people who understand the causes of holiday stress can take steps to cope with it.

There are many reasons why people feel stressed around the holidays. Now, let’s examine four causes of holiday stress, as well as strategies that you can use to manage holiday stress.

1. Holiday Gatherings

The holiday season is often the perfect time to get together with family members, friends, and other loved ones, even distant relatives who you have not seen in a long time. Yet dealing with toxic relatives that you otherwise avoid throughout the rest of the year can cause stress that dampens your holiday spirit.

People struggling with depression sometimes face a stigma when dealing with toxic relatives during the holidays. For example, in certain instances, toxic relatives might believe a person coping with depression is lazy or that the condition is all in an individual’s head, which is never the case.

To deal with stress related to holiday gatherings, it is important to remember that the holidays are a great time to focus on forgiveness. Even though you may not be able to change a relative’s view of you or your depression, you can focus on self-care. You can also accept the fact that maintaining a healthy state of mind is a top priority — and do whatever you need to do to feel happy and healthy during the holiday season.

2. Holiday Shopping

Gift-giving is common around the holidays, but the temptation to spend above and beyond your means to purchase the perfect present can cause serious financial stress during the holiday season and after it ends.

Ultimately, it helps to create a holiday shopping budget and stick to it. You can also give gifts that don’t require you to spend money, like a handmade present or the gift of quality time. This allows you to provide exceptional holiday presents that show who you are to the people you love — without breaking your budget.

3. Holiday Obligations

You want to make the most of the holiday season, so you may try to attend as many holiday parties, parades, and other events as possible. In addition, you may commit to decorating a Christmas tree, preparing holiday cookies, and performing other holiday activities.

As much as you may try to plan ahead for holiday obligations, the sheer volume of obligations can sometimes lead to increased stress. In this situation, you may be susceptible to less sleep, overeating, and more drinking during the holiday season, WebMD states.

If you say yes to every holiday event or activity, you could burn out quickly. So, when it comes to holiday obligations, remember that it is ok to say no if a holiday event or activity causes your stress levels to rise.

4. Memories

The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year for many people, but for others, it can bring up memories that incite feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and guilt. For instance, people sometimes dwell on memories of the past or memories of deceased loved ones during holiday events, and this can make it difficult to celebrate in the present.

If certain memories affect your ability to enjoy the holidays, professional help is available. In fact, Achieve Medical Center offers a wide range of psychiatric and mental health services to help people cope with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), anxiety, and other mental health conditions before, during, and after the holiday season.

Holiday stress is sometimes unavoidable, but Achieve Medical Center helps patients find the best ways to cope with this issue. Achieve Medical Center’s clinicians are passionate about patient care, and treat the biological, psychological, and social aspects of the individual. They also offer modern, non-invasive treatment options, along with personalized treatment programs to accommodate each patient’s needs. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, please contact us online, or call us today at (858) 427-5060.

Holiday Depression

A Guide to Coping with Holiday Depression

The holiday season fosters excitement, joy, and other positive feelings. Yet for some people, holiday depression is a serious problem. If holiday depression is ignored and goes untreated, it can hinder your or a loved one’s ability to celebrate and enjoy the holidays.

What Is Holiday Depression?

Holiday depression refers to feelings of sadness, loneliness, and anxiety that occur during the holiday season. It happens for a variety of reasons, such as stress, fatigue, financial worries, and unrealistic holiday expectations.

There are many symptoms associated with holiday depression, including over-eating, insomnia, headaches, and excessive drinking. In addition, holiday depression can begin at the start of the holiday season, and continue after New Year’s Day.

Holiday depression is not always preventable, but people who can identify the symptoms of this problem can develop and use techniques and strategies to manage their symptoms. That way, these individuals can take steps to cope with depression symptoms before they dampen their holiday season.

How Can a Person Cope with Holiday Depression?

One of the best ways to manage holiday depression is to set realistic expectations for the holiday season from the get-go. For example, a person can choose to follow a few past holiday traditions, but also be open to accepting a few new ones. This can help a person avoid stress, anxiety, and other depression symptoms frequently associated with the idea of trying to have a “picture-perfect” holiday season.

Creating a holiday budget is a great idea to help cope with financial worries that can sometimes cause holiday depression. With a budget in place, an individual will know precisely how much he or she can spend on holiday gifts. Plus, the budget may even lead a person to become more creative with his or her holiday gift-giving, resulting in homemade gifts and gifts of service.

Maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise regimen is often beneficial during the holiday season, too. Junk food sometimes contributes to depression, and the temptation to eat fruitcake, cookies, and other holiday treats may seem overwhelming. So, if necessary, an individual can enjoy a healthy snack before attending holiday events where these treats will be available to satisfy his or her hunger pangs. One can also exercise for at least a few minutes daily, as exercise helps ease depression symptoms.

Should You Seek Medical Help for Holiday Depression?

For those who find that their holiday depression makes it tough to function, or causes suicidal thoughts or thoughts of death, seek medical help right away.

A doctor can perform a physical exam, lab tests, and a psychiatric evaluation to help diagnose holiday depression. If a doctor believes an individual is dealing with holiday depression, medication may be prescribed to help the patient manage his or her depression symptoms. Or, psychotherapy may be recommended to help an individual develop coping techniques and strategies for his or her depression symptoms.

The medical clinicians at Achieve Medical Center can help patients with holiday depression as well. Our clinicians prioritize patient care, and work closely with each patient to provide him or her with a personalized depression treatment plan. We also provide extensive and compassionate mental health and wellness services designed to address the biological, psychological, and social aspects of each of our patients.

Schedule a Depression Treatment Consultation with Achieve Medical Center

The holiday season comes only once a year, but holiday depression sometimes prevents people from enjoying the holiday season to the fullest extent. At Achieve Medical Center, we provide medication, psychotherapy, and other treatment options to help patients manage holiday depression symptoms. To learn more or to schedule a treatment consultation, please contact us online, or call us today at (858) 427-5060.

Seasonal Depression

Educating Yourself About Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Not all forms of depression are the same, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a unique form of mood disorder that takes place around the same time each year. To better understand SAD, let’s examine this type of depression and how it affects individuals at different times during the year.

In certain instances, people with SAD may experience anxiety, moodiness, and other depression symptoms that start in fall, continue into winter, and end in spring. Some SAD patients, however, experience depression symptoms that start in summer and conclude in fall or winter.

SAD symptoms include feeling depressed for the majority of a given day, virtually every day, loss of interest in activities that an individual once enjoyed, fatigue and low energy levels, difficulty sleeping, and trouble concentrating, the Mayo Clinic indicates. In addition, people who experience SAD may be more prone than others to feeling guilty, hopeless, or worthless, as well as experience bouts of agitation or irritability, appetite or weight changes, and thoughts of suicide or death.

The symptoms of SAD sometimes differ based on the seasons. Common winter-onset SAD symptoms include sleeping too much, weight gain, fatigue, and appetite changes. Spring and summer SAD symptoms may include insomnia, agitation, anxiety, weight loss, and poor appetite. Along with the aforementioned SAD symptoms, people coping with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) may experience increased moodiness during certain seasons. This may occur due to seasonal changes, along with reduced sunlight exposure.

Some researchers have theorized that SAD occurs due to hormonal changes. There is less sunlight in fall and winter, which can lead the brain to produce less serotonin leading to abnormally functioning nerve cell pathways during these seasons, resulting in SAD.

The body’s biological clock has also been studied in relation to SAD. Since there is reduced sunlight in fall and winter, there may be a disruption in a person’s circadian rhythm, which affects an individual’s sleep patterns and how the body performs, increasing susceptibility to symptoms of depression.

There was once a time when psychiatrists believed SAD affected women more frequently than men, but recent research indicates that women and men are equally susceptible to SAD. Other factors that may impact a person’s risk of experiencing SAD include a family history of depression, current MDD or Bipolar Disorder symptoms, or living far north or south of the equator.

If a person believes that he or she is dealing with SAD, proper diagnosis and treatment are key. Once a person pursues diagnosis and treatment for SAD, this individual can take the first steps to manage his or her depression symptoms.

SAD diagnosis typically requires a patient evaluation that involves a series of steps. A physical exam is used to learn about a patient’s health, as well as determine if a physical problem is contributing to his or her depression symptoms. Lab tests like a complete blood count may be used to make sure a patient’s thyroid is working properly. Also, a psychological evaluation or questionnaire may be necessary, and allows a patient to share his or her depression thoughts, feelings, symptoms, and behavior patterns. Criteria from the American Medical Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) may also be used to analyze a patient’s depression symptoms.

Following SAD diagnosis, treatment options are explored. SAD treatment may involve light therapy, medication, and psychotherapy, or some combination of these treatments, Mayo Clinic states.

Light therapy involves the use of a special light box that replicates natural outdoor light to help stimulate brain chemicals linked to mood. Comparatively, antidepressant medications may help treat severe SAD symptoms. If a patient ultimately receives a SAD diagnosis, he or she may be required to start using an antidepressant just before symptom onset usually takes place each year. With psychotherapy, a patient can identify and modify negative thought patterns that lead to SAD symptoms, along with finding safe, healthy ways to cope with these symptoms.

At Achieve Medical Center, we provide comprehensive and compassionate care to patients dealing with SAD and other forms of depression. To learn more, please contact us online, or call us today at (858) 427-5060.

Eating Disorder

How to Handle an Eating Disorder

In order to understand how to handle an eating disorder, it is important to first define what an eating disorder is and how it impacts a person’s life. Ultimately, an eating disorder disrupts your ability to eat, creating corresponding preoccupations about food intake and body appearance, affecting one’s thoughts and emotions to the point of interrupting daily activities and creating health problems. Millions of Americans have an eating disorder, which concerningly carries one of the highest mortality rates among all mental illnesses. The most common eating disorders include:

  • Anorexia Nervosa: Refers to an extreme food restriction that causes a significant decrease in body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, and distorted perception of one’s own weight; people struggling with anorexia are often below a healthy weight.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: Involves consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time, followed by purging to get rid of calories; people struggling with bulimia can actually be within a normal weight range.
  • Binge-Eating Disorder: Involves the consumption of large amounts of food in a short period of time without compensating for calories; unlike bulimia, people with binge-eating disorder do not purge after eating.
  • Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): Involves the development of highly selective eating habits, disturbed feeding patterns, or both.

Oftentimes, eating disorders tend to run in families, and people may be more prone to develop an eating disorder if a blood relative previously dealt with one. Also, low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy, and other psychological factors have been associated with the development of an eating disorder. Society often sets unrealistic standards for appearance, and some people develop eating disorders in their pursuit of the “perfect” body. Furthermore, family or relationship problems, peer pressure, trauma, and other environmental factors can play major roles in the development of an eating disorder.

Eating disorders may occur for many reasons, and the symptoms associated with eating disorders range from emotional and behavioral symptoms like feeling uncomfortable eating around others to physical symptoms such as muscle weakness. Regardless of symptoms, it is important to understand how to address an eating disorder as quickly and safely as possible.

To treat an eating disorder, you may require support from a group of medical professionals, including:

  • Primary Care Practitioner: Treats health or dental problems associated with your eating disorder.
  • Psychiatrist: Provides additional medical guidance and helps you evaluate pharmacological treatment of the physical symptoms associated with your eating disorder.
  • Dietician: Provides nutrition and meal planning insights.
  • Psychologist: Helps you uncover the root cause of your eating disorder and explore strategies to cope with eating disorder

The aforementioned medical professionals tailor an eating disorder treatment plan to a patient, which may involve one or more of the following types of therapy:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Addresses disruptive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that lead to eating disorder
  • Family-Based Therapy: Involves collaborating with family members to cope with unhealthy eating patterns and restore healthy eating habits.
  • Group Therapy: Requires meeting with a mental health professional and other eating disorder patients to explore eating disorder treatment strategies.

In addition to therapy, an eating disorder treatment plan requires nutrition education through which patients understand the importance of getting the appropriate nutrients and develop insights needed to work toward maintaining healthy eating habits and weight. Medications may also be used in combination with psychotherapy to treat an eating disorder. If you are dealing with serious mental or physical problems associated with your eating disorder, you may require inpatient treatment as well.

Many eating disorder treatments are available, and finding the right one is sometimes difficult. At Achieve Medical Center, we offer healthy eating services in conjunction with mental health treatments to help people with eating disorders. To learn more or schedule a consultation with Achieve Medical Center, please call contact us online or call us at (858) 427-5060.