Gooden Center
A residential drug treatment center for men located in Pasadena, CA. The Gooden Center is a proud member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP).

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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Tragedy and Anxiety

Posted on: October 13th, 2017 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Tragedy and Anxiety

When tragic events occur it can trigger intense stress, sadness and feelings of anxiety. Tragedy and anxiety are closely connected because tragic events can lead to both a temporary increase in anxiety and in some cases permanent issues with an anxiety disorder. When young children experience a tragedy early on in their life then it can cause problems with anxiety for them well into adulthood if they don’t have the right kind of support and guidance to recover.

As adults we experience different levels of tragedy, from national events like natural disasters and mass shootings to events that occur on a more personal level such as the death of a loved one. Tragedy is a part of life and whatever type of tragedy we are faced with it is important to manage symptoms of anxiety and find healthy ways to process your feelings about it. Sometimes getting professional help is the best option in order to cope with a tragedy and be able to move on without it interfering with your life.

Helping Children with Anxiety After a Tragedy

When children see or experience a tragedy it can have a tremendous impact on them because they are more vulnerable. Children are sensitive and can feel the tension and anxiety in the adults around them. They may be too young to put the event in perspective and may experience feelings of helplessness and a lack of control.

Talking to children about their feelings can give them an outlet so that they can sort through the thoughts that they have following a tragedy. They may have interpreted the tragedy as a personal danger to themselves and the people they care about so it is important to discuss with them and learn about their perspective. Every child responds differently to certain events so it is important to find out what is going on in their mind so that you can deal with their particular issues.

After a tragic event, children need lots of comforting and reassurance in order to feel safe and it is important that parents provide that whenever possible. Parents shouldn’t avoid talking about the tragedy but should instead be honest and open about it so that the topic doesn’t become taboo and kids can talk about their feelings. Children can learn to express their feelings in different ways such as talking, drawing, or playing.

Very young children may exhibit signs of anxiety after a tragedy such as wetting the bed, thumb-sucking, or fear of sleeping alone. After national tragedies such as shootings or natural disasters it may be a good idea to monitor their media viewing if it is causing them stress to see the images on the news. You can schedule an activity during news shows such as reading or drawing so your child won’t be affected if you want to watch it.

Coping with Tragedy as an Adult

Children that struggled with tragedies and never learn the right coping skills may continue to deal with anxiety when they get older. Adults may also have trouble handling tragedies and feel just as overwhelmed and confused by a tragic event. People with existing symptoms of anxiety may find it hard to handle negative events on the news as it may affect their sense of safety.

Seeing violent events unfold on the media can cause people to feel nervous and have trouble sleeping or concentrating because they worry that it could happen to them. One way for adults to cope with tragedy is to consider how rare these events actually are and that few people actually experience a violent incident. Another way to frame these types of incidents is to understand that people who commit violent crimes are often experiencing their own darkness and painful problems that drive them hurt others.

The important thing to remember is that even though it may seem like these tragic events happen all the time they are actually few and far between. You can continue about your daily routine and be completely safe knowing that violence is extremely rare. Sometimes the best solution is to go about your daily routine in order to realize that life goes on as normal even after a tragedy.

If your anxiety doesn’t seem to subside then you might consider talking to a professional counselor about your feelings. You can try one on one therapy to discuss what you are experiencing or attend support groups if you feel you need to connect with someone and share stories. There are many resources available for people who have had their own experience with tragedy and need to recover from the event.

Any tragic experience can cause grief, sadness and anxiety because these are normal human responses. If these feelings begin to interfere with your life or you are having trouble moving on, seek help from a therapist.

UCLA Offers Voluntary Mental Health Screening For All Students

Posted on: October 6th, 2017 by The Gooden Center No Comments

UCLA Offers Voluntary Mental Health Screening For All Students

College can be a stressful time for many students who are going through a difficult transitional phase and facing a lot of pressure in school. UCLA recently announced that they will be offering free mental health screenings for incoming students as well as treatment for those who need it. The school is hoping to reduce the number of students suffering from depression and anxiety and give them the opportunity to get help before their symptoms worsen.

Students often struggle with issues of perfectionism, worrying about their grades and coping with fears of failure and the stress of handling difficult courses. They are also learning to live on their own, pay their own bills and deal with being independent from their family. College life can become overwhelming for many kids who start to exhibit symptoms of anxiety and depression because they are not able to balance these issues and adjust to changes.

The UCLA chancellor Gene Block announced the new mental health screening and treatment program in September as part of an effort to combat depression at the school and also reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and receiving treatment. All mental health screenings are voluntary for incoming freshman students and transfer students to get a clinical assessment and know more about the state of their own mental health. The screening is part of the many options available for new student orientation that are designed to ease the transition into college.

The screening focuses on mental health issues including depression and related traits such as anxiety, mania and suicidal tendencies. Any student that exhibits symptoms of these issues via the screening will be offered treatment through the UCLA program. The screenings are now offered to new students but eventually will be made available to the entire UCLA community.

Reducing Mental Illness in College

When the chancellor announced the new program he spoke about how much depression affects the college community and ultimately the whole world. With 350 million people suffering from depression worldwide it is still a widespread and persistent mental illness that unfortunately remains overlooked and understudied. Block expressed concern that depression has not yet been identified as a number one health issue and still continues to affect all ages and backgrounds.

The free mental health screenings are part of the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge which is a campus wide effort to reduce the both the health and economic impact of depression by half between now and the year 2050. The new screening and treatment program is thought to be the first-ever campus wide mental health assessment in any university. Chancellor Block is now focusing on the importance of mental health understanding and implementing policies and practices that benefit the students and faculty.

The screening itself consists of an online survey that takes a few minutes to fill out and provides them with the option of taking a free cognitive behavioral treatment online. The treatment is a self-guided program that will help the individual identify their problem areas and teach them to think and react differently to certain issues and situations. Students that are identified as having greater needs will be referred to a psychologist or treated within the UCLA network of therapists.

Identifying Depression Early

One of the reasons this type of screening is so beneficial to students is that it will allow them to identify their own symptoms of depression early on before they experience more stress and pressure in school. Depression can negatively affect a student’s ability to adjust to college life and can hurt their future if they are struggling with academic issues or feel hopeless about their career outlook. Relationships can be a difficult issue in college as many students are just beginning to take dating more seriously.

If depression derails a student during their college experience it could affect them later on as an adult as they try to get started in their career. Identifying and treating depression as early as possible can help students get back on track and have a more fulfilling experience in school that will adequately prepare them for their adult life. College students are just beginning to establish their life trajectory so improving their mental health is crucial at that stage in their development.

One of the goals of this type of screening is to help students learn to be more compassionate to themselves and to reduce the stigma surrounding depression. College students often worry about getting perfect scores and how their grades affect them instead of learning to accept mistakes. They need to practice more self-care and feel less ashamed about getting help for their issues.

If students can feel more comfortable about receiving treatment and making efforts to work on better mental health then they are more likely to fare better throughout college.

The 7 Best Books for Depression

Posted on: September 20th, 2017 by The Gooden Center No Comments

7 Best Books for Depression

If you have been diagnosed with a mental problem or simply struggle with symptoms of depression from time to time there are sources available for help. Some people don’t know enough about depression to understand what they are going through or why they are experiencing certain feelings. If you are seeking help for depression you should look for every resource you have to get better beginning with professional treatment.

In addition to attending regular therapy sessions you might find it helpful to read some books on the subject of depression to give you some information you need to cope. The more you understand about the symptoms of depression, why they happen and how to recover, the better you will be able to handle your disorder. Spending time doing research can help your depression seem less overwhelming and more manageable.

These are some of the best books you can find to help you learn more about depression

  1. Healing the Child Within by Charles Whitfield

One way to understand and heal from depression is to process some of the traumas you may have been through in childhood. If you had a dysfunctional upbringing then you may need to get in touch with you inner child and heal your pain from the past. This is a classic book that has helped people handle their depression through understanding their most difficult memories.

  1. Control Your Depression by Peter Lewinsohn

This book is a practical guide to understanding depression and developing self-help techniques that will combat your symptoms. It provides insight into what depression is and how it manifests itself differently in certain people and situations. It also gives readers ways to reduce depression through relaxation, self-control techniques and ways to modify self-defeating thinking patterns.

  1. Feeling Good by David D. Burns

Focusing mainly on cognitive behavioral therapy and how it can alleviate depression, this book helps readers understand how to change their moods. It describes how distorted thinking can fuel depression and what you can do to reduce negative thinking and ease suffering. Challenging negative beliefs and self-image issues can quickly help depressed people feel better.

  1. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon

A longtime sufferer of depression himself, the author takes both a personal and intellectual approach to examine the disorder and understand its intricacies. He draws on his own experiences with depression as well as interviews with fellow sufferers, doctors and scientists, drug designers and philosophers. The book provides insight into various aspects depression and helps to define the illness from multiple perspectives.

  1. Undoing Depression by Richard O’Connor

Another author who has gone through bouts of depression himself, O’Connor is also a licensed therapist who understands how to minimize symptoms through changing personal habits. He describes the type of patterns that develop for people with depression and how to replace those habits with new skills. The book encompasses many schools of thought and ultimately provides readers with useful approaches so that they can begin to“undo” their deeply ingrained patterns of depression.

  1. The Mindful Way through Depression by J. Mark Williams

Most people are at least familiar with mindfulness as a method of handling stress but this book describes mindful methods as a way to help break the cycle of unhappiness. In this book four experts explain how people can spiral into further depression even as they try to change their own habits.

Using a combination of eastern philosophy and cognitive therapy the author shows you how to avoid habits like self-blame and rumination by being more mindful of your emotions. Mindfulness allows you to pay attention to your emotions and truly experience them instead of letting avoidance worsen your depression.

  1. Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Life by Martin Seligman

The author of “Authentic Happiness” and one of the founders of positive psychology, Seligman has spent more than twenty years researching how optimism can change people’s quality of life. He believes learning a more optimistic attitude can be one of the key factors in overcoming depression. The book explains how to breaking the habit of giving up on things because of pessimistic beliefs and start the process of creating a more positive interior dialogue.

  1. Listening to Depression by Lara Honos-Webb

This book explains depression in a way that most people wouldn’t think to consider. It suggests that depression is not just a disease but a warning signal that your life has gotten off track and you need to heal.

The author argues that we too often try to cut off our emotions and ignore problems instead of listening to our feelings and what they are telling us about our lives. She reframes depression as a kind of gift that helps us understand what we need to change or adjust to improve our situation.

Google’s Depression Assessment Tool

Posted on: September 17th, 2017 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Google Depression Tool

When you type in the word “depression” on Google, you might find resources explaining the disorder and its symptoms but soon you will also be prompted with a self-assessment tool. Google is partnering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness to make depression screening a part of searches on the subject. Google announced that when you search for “clinical depression” you will have the option to tap a button saying “check if you’re clinically depressed” which will bring you to page with a questionnaire.

Although the health screening questionnaire is clinically validated to test a person’s likely level of depression, the assessment tool has already caused some controversy. Some mental health experts are worried that the tool will lead to overdiagnosis of depression and possibly over-prescription of antidepressant medications. One professor claimed that the Google tool was actually funded by the major drug company Pfizer which profits from sales of antidepressants.

The goal of Google’s assessment test is not necessarily to provide a diagnosis but to encourage people to take the results to a psychiatrist for a proper assessment. The search company asserts that they worked closely with NAMI to ensure that the questionnaire is accurate and useful. In a NAMI news release it was noted that 1 in every 5 Americans will experience an episode of depression in their lifetime while only half of them actually seek treatment.

NAMI’s intention in partnering with Google for the tool was to help people become more aware of depression and seek treatment instead of allowing the symptoms of their mental illness to worse over time. According to the organization, people wait an average of 6 to 8 years before getting professional treatment for symptoms of depression. The intention is to motivate people to get help if the quiz indicates that they might have some mental health issues that need to be addressed.

Mixed Response from Mental Health Experts

Some experts are on board with the assessment tool and others are concerned about the possible effects of people scoring high for depression on the questionnaire. While NAMI’s claim that the tool could help people take the extra step into getting the necessary help is promising for many experts hoping to reduce depression numbers, others worry that may lead to over-treatment. The test results include links to materials and phone helplines for people with higher scores to set up with treatment immediately.

Experts who believe the tool can be helpful emphasize the fact that it is not meant to be an actual diagnosis. People with high depression scores will only receive treatment if they are get a professional diagnosis from an actual psychiatrist. They believe people taking the quiz will simply be more informed and empowered to get the help they need.

Others in the field of mental health are concerned that unregulated screening could be ineffective and end up causing more harm than good. Some believe that Pfizer was involved in funding the tool and that data generated from the quiz could be used to market antidepressants. Google says that the questionnaire will not threaten privacy because it does not store or log any results.

Aside from privacy issues, some experts are concerned that people will take the quiz and mistake temporary psychological distress that they are experiencing in that moment with a more pervasive clinical disorder. Google has received some criticism from experts for bypassing the usual checks and balances that are in place for screening tools in order to prevent the risk of overdiagnosis. Certain clinicians even believe that this type of unregulated screening tool will cause harm rather than improve people’s health.

One of the criticisms of the questionnaire itself is that it uses outdated ways of thinking about mental health in assessing depression. It focuses on physiological and biomedical symptoms, placing an emphasis on dysfunction and framing distress from the outset as an illness. If someone is distressed following a certain event, they may score high on the quiz even though their symptoms may not be connected to an actual disorder.

Screening for Depression

Google and NAMI assert that their intentions for their screening tool are to get more people the help that they need for depression. Some experts argue that this type of screening is generally inaccurate and could lead to a lot of false positives. Others such as the US Preventative Services Task Force have found evidence that screening improves the accurate identification of patients with depression.

The tool is meant to educate users and prompt informed conversations with clinical professionals so that patients can get an accurate diagnosis. If people use the Google tool as a starting point for treatment that they really need then it could be helpful in preventing gaps in depression recovery. To prevent overdiagnosis and over-prescription of antidepressants people should follow up the test with an accurate clinical assessment from a professional.

Age Of Technology or Age of Anxiety

Posted on: August 20th, 2017 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Technology And Anxiety

Our modern age has made us seemingly more connected than ever but what is the real impact of technology? People have become dependent on smartphones and internet access in order to communicate but they don’t always realize how the experience is affecting them. There are some aspects of the use of mobile phones and social media sites that have been proven to increase anxiety and loneliness in spite of their intention to help people connect.

Although for most people using a smart phone will not cause any mental health problems, the tendency to compulsively check your phone can worsen existing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that the average person aged 18-54 checks their phone 34 times a day and that these checks often occur within 10 minutes of each other. This compulsive checking is an unconscious behavior that causes people to become dependent on and even in some cases addicted to technology.

People who tend to have very addictive styles of cell phone use also generally score higher on depression and anxiety scales. In some cases however, the motivation for going online can influence the effect that technology has on mental health. One study showed that people who use their phone out of boredom rather than a compulsive need to keep checking had no issues with mental health problems as a result.

Dependence and Withdrawal from Smartphones

A common problem associated with the use of smartphones is an intense separation anxiety that occurs when people lose or don’t have access to their phones. It casually referred to as “nomophobia” or the fear of having no mobile phone. People experience a kind of withdrawal when they are not able to use their phone because they are broken, out of battery or have no connection.

Studies have revealed the extent to which smartphones become comfort items to individuals who prefer to always have their phone. In one experiment researchers exposed participants to a stressful situation either with or without access to their phone. Those who were allowed to keep their phone during the stressful event were less negatively affected than those who did not have their phones.

Smartphone access can ease anxiety for some people because they are dependent on their phones. The feeling of being disconnected from technology can be stressful because people worry that they are missing out on something important and wonder what is going on without their knowledge. Studies show that 70 percent of women and 61 percent of men have cell phone related separation anxiety.

Technology Addiction and Anxiety

It is not surprising that people become dependent and essentially addicted to technology as many aspects of apps and social media sites are intentionally designed to keep people coming back compulsively. A former Google employee Tristan Harris has spoken out about the practices of smartphone app designers who often seek out ways to exploit our psychological vulnerabilities.

These company designers use the concept of variable intermittent rewards which basically means the notifications you receive on your phone will unpredictably vary between meaningless and important messages. The more variable the rate the reward, the more addictive the app becomes. This is the idea behind slot machines which are the form of gambling that most quickly leads to problematic behavior.

Harris, a design ethicist, believes that these design features are harmful because of their addictive nature and companies like Apple and Google have a responsibility to reduce efforts to include variable intermittent rewards. Smartphone apps can cause symptoms of addiction, withdrawal and anxiety in many cases making them unethical in design.

Avoiding Smartphone Stress

Even though technology can cause compulsive behavior and dependence, it does not guarantee mental health problems in all cases. It remains unclear whether symptoms of anxiety cause excessive smartphone use or vice versa but there seems to be a connection between the two. For individuals with existing mental health problems they might seek out excessive use of their social media apps to evade negative feelings or seek out social interactions.

People who don’t necessarily have a compulsive motivation to use their phone and simply use it to escape boredom are less likely to experience mental health problems like anxiety or depression. Minimizing the use of smartphones as much as possible and increasing face to face interaction can help to diminish the stress caused by technology. People use certain apps as a kind of social reward, so meeting up with friends or having a conversation with someone can be a better option.

Addiction to technology can cause an increase in anxiety as any type of addiction would. Thinking about your motivation behind smartphone use and whether your habits are compulsive can help you start to make changes. Any efforts toward moderating cell phone usage can be beneficial for improving your social connections and your overall mental health.