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Monthly Archives: May 2021

untreated mental illness

The Dangers of Untreated Mental Illness: Why Treatment Matters

Untreated mental illness is a growing problem around the world. In the United States alone, the National Alliance on Mental Illness suggests that more than half of Americans who suffer from mental health issues don’t seek proper treatment. This statistic is troubling since an estimated 51.5 million adults suffer from some type of mental illness as of 2019. Basically, one out of every five adults has a mental illness.

There are many reasons why people don’t seek treatment for mental health problems. Sometimes, they’re simply unaware that how they feel is abnormal. Whatever the reason, though, it’s important to note that the consequences of untreated mental illness are dire.

Why People Don’t Seek Treatment for Mental Illness

It probably isn’t much of a shock that a large majority of people don’t seek treatment for mental health problems. The World Health Organization says that between 30% and 80% of the people who have mental health issues around the world don’t seek treatment. The question is “Why?”

One of the biggest reasons is the stigma that surrounds having a mental health problem. Because of this stigma, people feel afraid and ashamed that they have a mental illness. People don’t want others to label them as crazy or mentally ill because they believe it will negatively impact their lives.

Another issue is a simple lack of knowledge. Oftentimes, people don’t seek treatment because they’re unaware that they need it. They tell themselves that there’s nothing wrong and that what they feel is normal. Unfortunately what these people are feeling isn’t normal. Thus, continually dismissing their mental illnesses will only cause them more and more problems in life. 

Some people report that they don’t seek mental health treatment because they believe that they can’t be helped. This feeling of hopelessness not only prevents them from getting better but also causes more mental health problems. For example, let’s say that an individual struggles with anxiety and doesn’t believe that there’s a treatment. This hopelessness can lead to depression, and now that person has two mental health problems.

Lastly, some people don’t seek treatment because of physical barriers. These could be money, work, or family responsibilities. For instance, some people simply don’t think that they can afford to get mental health treatment. Others don’t think that it will fit into their busy work schedules.

Addressing These Concerns

Frequently, the reasons why people don’t seek mental health treatment are all in their heads. Individuals that are concerned about seeking mental health treatment should speak to their loved ones and friends about any concerns that they may have as their loved ones are often able to help alleviate these concerns. Also, in many cases, the support that loved ones give helps people overcome the fear and shame that they feel from having mental health issues.

Physical barriers can be difficult to overcome, but there are options. Negotiating with employers, arranging for transportation, and requesting child care assistance can provide free time to get mental health treatment.

If money is an issue, keep in mind that the expansion of health insurance benefits has opened the door to more mental health care opportunities. Before those changes, it was hard to get insurance to pay for even a fraction of mental health treatment. Now, seeking mental health treatment is much more affordable. 

Consequences of Untreated Mental Illness

People can face many consequences for untreated mental illness. In fact, untreated mental illness can cause both interpersonal and social consequences. Understanding the issues that can arise when people leave their mental illnesses untreated might motivate them to take the first step toward getting help.

Relationships With Friends and Family

Mental health issues change people and put a strain on their relationships with friends and family. Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and other conditions can interfere with communication. As a result, relationships quickly unravel, and those with mental health issues alienate themselves. Typically, this alienation only exacerbates their symptoms.

Opening up to friends and family about mental health issues can help motivate individuals to receive the mental health care that they need. Besides, loved ones tend to be more understanding than what many people think. People with mental health disorders can even create a support group for themselves out of their supportive loved ones. 

School and Work Performance

Problems with mental health can cause a lot of issues with school and work performance as well. Even depression can prevent people from going to work or school. People often worry that taking time away to deal with their mental health could cost them their jobs. In the long run, though, trying to work with a mental health problem is more likely to cost them their jobs.

Parents who have kids with dropping grades should pay attention to their kid’s mental well-being. While mental illness isn’t always the reason for falling grades, it could be the reason. 

Failing grades combined with changes in behavior may be a sign of mental health issues or substance abuse. The quicker that parents spot the signs of these conditions, the easier it is for the parents to get help and prevent their kids from entering a downward spiral.

Development of Other Mental Health Issues

Once the brain develops a mental health problem, it becomes susceptible to developing others. Experts point out that it’s very common for people to suffer from more than one disorder at a time. A common example is anxiety and depression disorders.

When people suffer from anxiety disorders, such as separation and social anxiety, they find themselves continually worrying. If they fail to get help, the pressure of living with the disorder overwhelms them and can send them into depression.

On the flip side, people with depression might worry if they’ll ever come out of depression. Eventually, the worrying associated with depression can develop into anxiety. Then such people, once again, are suffering from more than one mental health issue. Suffering from more than one mental health issue is not a good thing, as many mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, can worsen each other. 

Substance Abuse and Untreated Mental Illness

While there are many different consequences for untreated mental illness, substance abuse is the one that occurs more often than not. Typically, people start to abuse substances when they try to manage their mental illnesses all on their own.  

Let’s say that an individual struggles with social anxiety disorder. Just going to work every day causes anxiety. Instead of getting professional help to address the problem, the person may self-medicate with alcohol or another drug.

In the short term, the alcohol provides some much-needed relief. It lessens the effects of social anxiety and allows the individual to function normally. Once the buzz wears off though, the anxiety comes back full force. 

Many people in this situation make the poor decision to drink more and more to keep the symptoms of their anxiety at bay. Unfortunately, doing this often causes people to develop an alcohol addiction on top of their anxiety. Once individuals suffer from a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder simultaneously, it will become even harder for them to function unless they seek treatment for both disorders.   

At the end of the day, self-medicating is never the answer. All it does is cover up the true problem and lead people down a path towards addiction. Instead of trying to deal with mental health problems alone, individuals should seek professional mental health treatment.

Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

As a result of the relationship between substance abuse and mental illness, most rehab centers offer dual-diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis treatment simultaneously treats two or more disorders that feed off of one another and are occurring within one person. 

Individuals that suffer from two co-occurring disorders should attend dual diagnosis treatment rather than treat each disorder one at a time. This is because treating one co-occurring disorder without simultaneously treating the other one could cause the lingering disorder to trigger the reoccurrence of the treated disorder. 

People mistakenly believe that simply treating addiction is enough. However, people with dual diagnosis disorders that just focus on treating their substance addictions put themselves at risk of relapsing. This is because they aren’t treating the underlying cause of their substance addictions, which is their mental illnesses.

Let’s consider people who struggle with anxiety and substance abuse. If such people treat their substance abuse problems, what happens once they leave rehab and run into their anxiety issues again? They’re likely to deal with it the only way they know how, with substance abuse.

Had these individuals undergone dual-diagnosis treatment rather than just regular addiction treatment, they would have learned healthy ways to deal with their anxiety while also treating their addictions. 

Let’s End the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health Issues

Unless people have dealt with mental health problems firsthand, it’s hard for them to understand the stigma surrounding these issues. However, everyone can help end the negative stigma surrounding mental illness by simply educating themselves about mental health issues. Knowledge is power.

For those who struggle with mental health problems, it’s crucial to remember that it’s not your fault. You shouldn’t feel ashamed of the problems that they have to live with on a daily basis, nor should you struggle alone. 

Individuals that suffer from mental health disorders can get the help that they need to overcome their mental illnesses in a safe way. The more people open up about their mental health problems, the easier that it will be to dispel the stigma surrounding these issues.

Reach Out to Florida Center for Recovery

Are you looking for a rehab center that offers co-occurring disorder treatment? Do you struggle with both substance abuse and underlying mental health disorders? If so, consider reaching out to the friendly staff at Florida Center for Recovery.

We offer a wide range of programs that can help people just like you overcome substance abuse and the underlying cause. Some of the programs that we offer include:

Don’t settle by receiving addiction treatment at a rehab center that doesn’t understand how important it is to treat underlying mental health disorders. Reach out to Florida Center for Recovery to overcome both your substance use and mental health disorder once and for all. Contact us today to take your first steps toward a better you.

co-occurring disorder

7 Things You Should Keep in Mind About Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment

Dealing with any substance abuse disorder is difficult. Dealing with a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder at the same time can be a weight too difficult to bear. When an individual simultaneously suffers from a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder, that person has a co-occurring disorder, or dual diagnosis

1. The Type of Mental Health Disorder That a Person Suffers from Can Affect The Likelihood of Developing a Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder

Studies show that nearly 2 in 3 (66%) of patients seeking treatment for substance abuse also have a co-occurring mental health disorder. In addition, as many as 1 in 4 (25%) of people with a mental health disorder will also develop a substance use disorder at some point in their life. 

Substance use disorders are particularly prevalent with patients struggling with mood or anxiety disorders, such as schizophrenia, depression, or general anxiety disorder. The presence of one of these disorders can make a patient almost twice as likely to develop a co-occurring substance use disorder. 

Such mental health disorders change how a person feels and behaves, thus changing how that person interacts with others and perceives the world. Thus, patients with mood disorders will often turn to substances, such as alcohol, as coping mechanisms for their seemingly uncontrollable behaviors.

Mood disorders stem from chemical imbalances in the brain that lead to impulsive or dysfunctional behaviors. Even prescription substances that aim to help with these imbalances can be misused, which can then cause a person to develop a dual diagnosis disorder.  

Different substances have different effects on different brains, but no matter the condition, a dual diagnosis can complicate treatment and increase the likelihood of relapse.  A good understanding of mental health and addiction is an important piece to helping you or your loved one begin treatment for a dual diagnosis

Common Co-Occurring Disorders

Although a dual diagnosis can take many different forms, there are some substance use and mental health disorders that are commonly found together. Some of the most commonly occurring dual diagnoses are: 

  • Major depressive disorder and cocaine addiction
  • Alcohol addiction with depression and anxiety disorders
  • Alcoholism and drug addiction with schizophrenia
  • Borderline personality disorder with multi-drug use

In many cases, substance use disorders are caused by an underlying mental health disorder. The opposite can be true at times too. 

Substance use disorders can also stem from the same factors that mental health disorders do. For example, family history, brain chemistry, and trauma can cause a person to develop a mental illness or start using substances to cope. Any treatment for a dual diagnosis must focus on treating both substance use and mental health disorders at the same time in order to produce lasting, effective results. 

2. A Substance Use Disorder Can be Confused for a Mental Health Disorder

Mental health disorders can lead to substance use disorders, and vice versa. In addition, some of the side effects of substance use disorders can mimic the effects of different mental health disorders. 

Much like medical symptoms that can worsen other medical symptoms, people who suffer from mental illness often experience serious symptoms when drug or alcohol addiction is involved. Mental health disorder symptoms may also overlap with the symptoms of previously occurring addiction disorders. 

Some of these overlapping symptoms can include:

  • Intrusive depressive thoughts
  • Anxiety or fear of social situations
  • Inability to function in work and personal relationships 
  • Sweating, sleep issues, and increased heart rate

The more a substance is used, the higher the likelihood of developing an addiction to that substance. If left unchecked, addictive behaviors can lead to mental health disorders or symptoms that mimic mental health disorders. Thus, it’s easy to see why a dual diagnosis can present a complicated situation. 

3. A Dual Diagnosis Can Have Serious Life-Altering Effects

Both addiction and mental health issues can create serious problems on their own. Thus, it’s easy to imagine that a dual diagnosis can seriously complicate someone’s life. Someone with a dual diagnosis will experience adverse effects emotionally, physically, and socially.  

Emotional Effects of a Dual Diagnosis

Stress is a natural byproduct of both substance use and mental health disorders. Such stress can cause a person to feel disconnected from friends, family, and the workplace. As a result, lower self-esteem ad guilt can become daily struggles. All of these issues can weigh heavily on someone and can be made worse with ongoing substance use. 

Different substances produce different emotional effects and interact with their mental health co-morbidities in different ways. The end results, however, can often be the same- anxiety, depression, and even suicidal behavior. 

Physical Effects of a Dual Diagnosis

While the health consequences of a dual diagnosis depend on the disorder and the substances misused, it is a guarantee that co-occurring disorders will have negative health effects. In addition, because a person with co-occurring disorders can experience more chronic and extreme effects, that person will often be more likely to neglect personal care or put off seeing a doctor. 

Prolonged substance use and unchecked mental disorders can lead to serious long-term effects. 

Long term health effects associated with substance abuse include:

  • Heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Risk of stroke
  • Increased rate of many types of cancer, including liver and lung
  • Risk of HIV/AIDS from unprotected sex or drug use
  • Hepatitis 
  • Lung diseases, such as emphysema and cancer

Untreated mental health disorders are associated with increased risk, including:

  • Nutritional deficiency and metabolic disorder
  • Heart disease 
  • Lung deficiency
  • Muscle and bone weakness
  • Sexual performance issues and infertility

Social Effects of a Dual Diagnosis

Social difficulties will inevitably stem from both substance use and mental health issues and this will be compounded by a dual diagnosis. Because a patient with a dual diagnosis is experiencing double the problems of a single diagnosis, that patient may find relating to society and interacting with people extremely difficult.

As the effects of substance use compound mental illness, many people will distance themselves from friends and family, who, in turn, will find it difficult to maintain close due to erratic behavior. 

A dual diagnosis will also increase the likelihood of encountering financial problems, employment disruption, and housing loss. Increasingly unpredictable behavior accompanied by health struggles can lead to disruptions in our lives that can affect even the most stable-seeming people. 

A dual diagnosis can even increase the stigma surrounding an individual as behavior and health become less predictable. This will lead to poor support systems and loss of relationships with friends and family. Effective treatment for a dual diagnosis will address the disorders themselves, as well as aid in reintegration into social structures. 

4. Dual Diagnosis Treatment is Complicated

Treatment for a dual diagnosis can begin only once a professional has made an official diagnosis. Patients dealing with both substance misuse and mental health issues tend to have symptoms that last longer, are more extreme, and are more resistant to treatment than those with individual disorders. 

There are several unique challenges posed by dual diagnosis treatment. Any dual diagnosis treatment MUST address BOTH disorders simultaneously. 

Some of the common difficulties presented by a dual diagnosis are:

  • Co-occurring  disorders tend to produce more chronic and severe symptoms
  • Side effects of a dual diagnosis can escalate much quicker
  • Patients with a dual diagnosis are often exposed to many more potential environmental triggers/risk factors
  • Medication options can be limited due to their habit-forming nature and increased risk of addiction

These challenges, and more, can affect a dual diagnosis patient’s approach and response to treatment, making recovery more complicated.

5. Dual Diagnosis Treatment Must Address Multiple Disorders

Proper co-occurring disorders treatment will integrate appropriate treatment for both co-occurring disorders. In addition, there must be counselors and treatment professionals with experience treating a dual diagnosis. Addressing only one disorder can lead to relapse or even new difficulties arising. 

Addressing both disorders together acknowledges that both disorders can have a powerful impact on the person’s life. Thus, it also shows that treating both disorders can lead to positive compounding effects. 

Effective treatment will often target overlapping symptoms of the co-occurring disorders, such as mood swings and impulse control issues. The best co-occurring disorders treatment will even add incentives for change in order to keep patients moving forward. Because drug users crave short-term highs, it’s important to have positive steps in treatment reinforced and acknowledged. 

Any edge that can be found in a dual diagnosis treatment setting can make the difference between success and relapse. This includes bringing family and friends into the journey, utilizing 12 step programs and mentorship, and exploring inpatient or outpatient treatment options. 

A dual diagnosis disorder can bring many different challenges to an individual, as well as friends and family. While a dual diagnosis will absolutely complicate treatment, with proper professional help, there is hope to overcome it. 

6. The Relationship Between Mental Health and Substance Use is Complicated and Complimentary

The relationship between substance use and mental health disorders is a complicated one. It’s true that they can exacerbate each other or even trigger the development of one another. 

As patients cope with mental health struggles, they often can begin using substances. Conversely, as people struggle with substance use disorders, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can often arise. 

Mental Health Disorders Causing Substance Use Disorders

Mental health disorders can lead to substance use disorders in several key ways.

    1. Self-medication: A person struggling with a mental health diagnosis may begin using a substance in a misguided attempt to “treat” their symptoms. For example, a person with a depressive disorder may begin taking a stimulant with euphoric effects, such as heroin, to try and counteract his or her sadness. 
    2. Increased exposure to drug use:  Certain disorders can increase exposure to drugs at an early age and lead to an increased likelihood of abuse later down the line. For example, a behavioral disorder in a young adult can lead to early prescription drug exposure. 
  • The lowered barrier to drug experimentation: Some mental health disorders, such as bipolar or other mood disorders, can lead to wild mood swings and lowered inhibitions. This can lead to a higher likelihood of drug experimentation. 

Way Mental Health Diagnoses Can Lead to Substance Misuse

Conversely, a mental health diagnosis can lead to substance abuse in two important ways:

  1. Biological mechanisms: Long or short-term substance abuse will affect the chemical balance of the brain. Some substances, such as Acid (LSD) can do this in as little as one use. This change in brain chemistry can create or significantly worsen most mental health disorders. 
  2. Environmental effects: Substance use can expose a user to significantly more stress and create circumstances (such as job loss) that increase stress. In addition, drug and alcohol abuse can increase the likelihood of isolation and loss of social support structures that can help stop the development of mental health disorders. 

7. Not All Treatment Centers can Treat a Dual Diagnosis

A dual diagnosis requires a personalized treatment plan.  Florida Center for Recovery has a treatment program aimed specifically at treating co-occurring disorders. Our program will focus on specific substance addictions as well as underlying mental health issues. 

Both substance addiction and mental health disorders affect the brain in significant ways. These disorders are complex enough on their own, but together, require specialized professional help. Personalized plans that focus on treating both conditions simultaneously have successful outcomes.

Florida Center for Recovery is a comprehensive facility. We have a staff who are prepared to help you or your loved one take the steps towards a better future. From the first step of a psychiatric evaluation to the final steps of creating a fresh start in recovery, we are ready to help you begin the process. 

Our FCR medical and clinical staff will work to find the best plan for you. Our approach at Florida Center for Recovery is one that takes your whole mental and physical health into account. From diet to time outdoors, to 12 step programs, we have a solution to every part of the treatment process. 

Please contact us at Florida Center for Recovery so that we can discuss how we can help. We offer a solid understanding of substance use and mental health disorders and are ready to prepare a treatment program for you or your loved one. Our facility in Fort Pierce, Florida offers a peaceful campus where you can begin to gain control of your life.

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