- Mental Health 101
- Does Christian Addiction and Mental Health Treatment Really Work?
- Mental Health Basics
- Mental Health Struggles Are Everywhere
- Mental Health Stigma
- Mental Health Issues
- Mental Health Hope and Healing
- Anxiety Disorders Addiction
- Types of Anxiety Disorders
- Signs and Symptoms
- Underlying Causes
- Anxiety and Substance Abuse
- Helping a Loved One with Anxiety
- Treatment Options
Many people today feel lost, confused, and unsure of their future. Drug and alcohol addiction, emotional struggles, and psychological disorders are all issues that can lead a person away from the path of happiness and fulfillment, and leave them depressed, angry, and in need of help.
There comes a point in every person’s life when they feel like they are unable to find their way in this world. Are you struggling right now? Are you wondering how you got to where you are and where you truly belong? Do you question your potential and wonder if you will ever be happy again? Asking for help is the best way to stop the confusion and get back to living the life you were designed to live. Fallen Leaves Recovery can help.
Fallen Leaves Recovery is dedicated to assisting all who are affected by any mental health issues. We provide counseling and continued support through our Christian-based services. We provide guidance through our devotions (stepping stones) for those looking for strength from God’s word to manage their emotional turmoil.
Mental Health 101
Mental Health Is Simpler Than We Think
Mental Health issues are so complex, but everywhere we look, someone offers quick fix solutions or answers for the psychological problems that have plagued mankind since our first sin. The Bible says God wonderfully and intricately designed us – so I have good news and bad news. The good news is God gave us a powerful mind. The bad news, God gave us a powerful mind.
Thankfully, our powerful mind allows us to experience a wide variety of emotions, relationships, dreams, activities, and deep awareness of our self and the world around us which drive value, purpose, and passion. But sometimes our mind is so powerful, it seems to work faster than we can keep up with and we feel like we are no longer in control of it. We are thinking thoughts, feeling emotions, and doing certain things that are uncomfortable, harmful, or just don’t make sense and wondering ‘what the heck just happened?’
Fallen Leaves Recovery will help you discover that our mind is not as complicated as we think. God provides us with psychological science to use as a tool allowing us to take in Biblical principles and truths. Once you understand the mechanics of decision-making and psychological aspects of life, you can begin to piece them together to form the purpose of Christ in your life. We desire your psycho-spiritual healing and transformation and have seen peoples’ lives changed as they are equipped with more psychological principles and skills. These skills help you believe in and practically apply the incredible instructions, promises, and encouragement in the Bible. Fallen Leaves will provide resources about various mental health issues using science to explain God’s design and healing to renew your mind! Our team and our prayer partners hope you, and those you love, are blessed by these resources.Back to Top
Does Christian Addiction and Mental Health Treatment Really Work?
Coupling Faith with Treatment Gives the Patient a Greater Chance for Healing
It sounds like the perfect math problem. Take a drug and alcohol addiction treatment program and add christian-based principles and values, which will hopefully equal healing and restoration. But does the equation really add up?
Can Christianity and treatment work together?
Do science, medicine, faith, and biblical teachings really mesh?
Absolutely, in fact, patients have a much better chance of beating addiction when faith plays a role in the treatment.
We can clearly see, both in research and from experience, the Christian way of life brings to the table characteristics that can battle everything from drug addiction and eating disorders to depression and suicidal thoughts. We know without a doubt that when we couple christian-based principles with treatment, there is a greater chance that the life will be restored.
Studies show that matching a patient with a counselor of the same faith and infusing faith and spiritual principles into addiction and mental health treatment greatly improve the outcomes, and he offered these 10 reasons why Christian drug treatment really works:
- Instills greater hope.
- Encourages the patient more deeply.
- Connects us to a power greater than ourselves, which can help us overcome temptation.
- Promotes humility and honest self-assessment.
- Teaches the practical life management skills taught in the Bible.
- Helps patients connect to a community with powerful ties and support.
- Offers us forgiveness for all our mistakes.
- Helps us forgive others and let go of old wounds.
- Goes deeper than surface behavior, delving into the underlying core issues of addiction.
- Pain and discomfort are the driving forces behind dysfunctional relationships that can often lead to addiction, and the Bible explains how God heals pain and hurt.
Likewise, resiliency-necessary for successful addiction treatment-is rooted in Biblical teachings and principles. According to Dennis Charney, M.D., Dean of Research at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, some of the major characteristics of resiliency can be developed via Christian counseling and christian-based treatment programs, including optimism, altruism, faith, humor, a moral compass, a true meaning for life and having a powerful role model in Jesus Christ.Back to Top
Mental Health Basics
Psychology is the study and understanding of how our mind works to create the life we live. How we take in all the information around us, process it, formulate a plan or a decision, and then carry out our decisions. To process the information we use our thinking skills, memory of past experiences, and our emotions.
Brain Chemistry is the hardware, the circuitry the operating system of our mind works through. All the powerful different specialized parts of the brain are interconnected and communicate using electrical impulses and chemicals (Neurotransmitters) to allow us to have a zillion thoughts and experiences everyday.
Faith and spirituality provide the guidelines, values, morals, and clear lenses to both view and process the information as well as evaluate what a good decision is. Not only does Christianity provide guidelines from our Creator Himself in the instruction manual, the Holy Bible, but Christianity also has the added benefit of connecting us to God to access the divine power of God to help us see and respond in the healthiest way.
We have used many terms over the years to describe psychological struggles: Psychiatric, Psychological, Emotional, Functional, Chemical Imbalance, Behavioral Health (which encompasses addictions and mental health), and the most common term, Mental Illness. So the efforts to treat or fix mental illness are put under the term mental health.Back to Top
Mental Health Struggles Are Everywhere
39.4% of Americans will have a major mental health issue in their lifetime
99% of the world population will have a mental health issue markedly disrupting their functioning for at least 1-2 weeks in their lifetime.
Suicide Stats in the U.S.:
- #2 cause of death for ages 10-34
- #4 cause of death for ages 35-54
- #2 or 3 cause of death or one every 30 seconds
- Official statistics report over 42,773 people taking their own life in 2014
- Many accidents, overdoses, or "suicide-by-cop" not called suicide due to stigma
- Many "passive suicides" in 55+ as depressed people stop taking their meds or refuse more treatments as they lose their will to live.
Mental Health Stigma
Even though we all will struggle psychologically at some point in our lifetime, the shame, embarrassment, and lack of knowledge still cause a huge stigma. Most people, when struggling with a psychological issue, feel weak, like failures, broken, or doomed to always be this way. So many are afraid to divulge their struggles, don’t know treatment is available, or are hesitant to seek treatment.Back to Top
Mental Health Issues
Psychological Issues have many ways of expressing themselves, some with medical diagnoses, and some with general descriptions of what we see happening. These are some common categories and examples, but there are many more and they look uniquely different for each personBack to Top
Mental Health Hope and Healing
Thankfully, God has provided hope and healing, and the source is Jesus. Jesus is the only perfect man, including perfect brain chemistry and a perfect mind. You and I and everyone else you know are psychologically defective. We all have a chemical imbalance. Although Jesus performed many physical healings, the main reason He came to earth was to deliver mankind from despair and provide the psycho-spiritual healing we desperately needed. To accomplish this healing, He taught how to manage our mind, role-modeled how to do it under extreme adversity and injustice, and then died to free us from sin’s impact on our mind and life.
God also provides us with psychological science to use as a tool, allowing us to squeeze the big Biblical principles and truths into small enough bites for us to take in, use, and not be overwhelmed by them. Or allowing us to squeeze the life-giving living water, every last drop, out of the rich Biblical instruction manual.Back to Top
Anxiety Disorders Addiction
Treating Addiction with Anxiety Disorders
More Americans suffer from anxiety disorders than from any other type of mental illness, with over 18 percent of adults in the US experiencing some form of anxiety, according to the National Institute on Mental Health.
Unlike the normal, healthy reactions that everyone experiences in response to stressful or dangerous situations, clinical anxiety is characterized by persistent, often unfounded fears that can interfere with work, close relationships, and social activities. The symptoms of anxiety can be both physical and psychological, and addressing these symptoms requires a multidisciplinary approach to treatment.
In an effort to cope with their symptoms, it is not uncommon for people with anxiety disorders to misuse alcohol or drugs. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that individuals with anxiety are twice as likely to suffer from substance abuse as the general population. Unfortunately, attempts at self-medication often backfire by intensifying the effects of this psychiatric condition. Alcohol and drug use can worsen the psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety, reinforcing the need to use more of these substances in order to function normally. The result is a cycle of substance abuse that can lead to chemical dependence and addiction.Back to Top
Types of Anxiety DisordersAnxiety can manifest itself in many ways, from a vague sense of continuous dread to a specific, paralyzing fear. There are several types of anxiety disorders, and each requires a multifaceted approach to treatment. Listed below are some of the most frequently diagnosed anxiety disorders:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): In this form of anxiety, the individual suffers from an almost continuous sense of dread that has no specific focus. With GAD, worries move from one topic to another without any apparent connection. People with GAD may dismiss their fixations as “typical worries,” but in reality, their fears are much more powerful and pervasive than the concerns that we all face on a regular basis. Yet no matter how powerful they may be, these fears often have little or no basis in reality.
- Social anxiety disorder (SAD): People with social anxiety disorder — also known as social phobia — have an unreasonable fear of interacting with others. Fears of appearing in crowded places, participating in social activities, speaking before an audience, and other interactions with the public are typical of this common condition, which affects nearly 15 million American adults, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. SAD may go hand in hand with other anxiety-related disorders, such as panic disorder, which can cause episodes of intense fear in public places, or agoraphobia, the fear of places or situations that make the individual feel helpless or out of control.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): This anxiety disorder can develop after an individual experiences a traumatic event, such as military combat, a natural disaster, a violent crime, or a sexual assault. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that about 8 million Americans who experience trauma will manifest symptoms of PTSD, a condition characterized by flashbacks to the event, nightmares, irritability or anger, insomnia, and hypervigilance or paranoia.
- Panic disorder: Episodes of overwhelming, uncontrollable terror are the hallmark sign of panic disorder. Although panic attacks are rarely fatal, a person suffering from one of these episodes may feel an overpowering sense of doom and impending death. Physical symptoms may include hyperventilation, a rapid heartbeat, sweating, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, chest pain, a feeling of choking, and other unnerving side effects. Like other anxiety-related responses, these panic attacks usually are not founded in any real source of danger. In fact, the fear of having a panic attack in public is one of the most common triggers for these episodes. Psychology Today states that approximately 1 million people experience panic attacks each year, with each episode lasting an average of 10 minutes.
- Specific phobias: The irrational, debilitating fear of a particular object, situation, or animal is considered to be a specific phobia. People with this form of anxiety will go out of their way to avoid the object of their fear, even if this avoidance interferes with their everyday lives. Some of the most common specific phobias include the fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), the fear of flying (aviophobia), and the fear of heights (acrophobia). The National Institute of Mental Health states that nearly 9 percent of adults in the US experience a specific phobia in any 12-month period, and that approximately 22 percent of these cases could be classified as severe.
Signs and Symptoms
Although anxiety takes many forms, all of the anxiety disorders have certain signs and symptoms in common. Some of the key warning signs of an anxiety disorder include:
- An intrusive fear – either general or specific – that occurs on most days of the week for six months or more
- A decline in the quality of relationships, job performance, social activities, or overall satisfaction with life as a result of this fear
- Repeated attempts to resolve the fears without success
- The use of substances such as alcohol, drugs, or tobacco, or behaviors such as overeating, to manage anxiety symptoms
Anxiety can also have a direct influence on the body. People with anxiety may have strong physical responses to situations or objects that do not seem intrinsically dangerous or threatening. These responses may even seem life-threatening under certain circumstances:
- Shortness of breath
- Sweating or clamminess
- Rapid heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Choking sensations
- Stomach pain
In order to meet the diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder, the individual must experience the symptoms on most days of the week for six months or more.
However, people whose lives are affected by disabling fear should not wait to seek professional help. With the right combination of therapies, anxiety can be treated.Back to Top
Although there are many theories about the root sources of anxiety, researchers are still exploring the causes of these complex disorders. In many cases, an anxiety disorder may develop as a result of multiple factors, such as:
- Family history: Having a parent or other close relative with an anxiety disorder can make a person more susceptible to these conditions, notes Mayo Clinic.
- History of trauma: Experiencing a traumatic event, such as child abuse or exposure to violence, increases the risk of developing an anxiety-related condition like PTSD.
- Substance abuse: The misuse of alcohol or drugs can cause neurological changes that may trigger or intensify anxiety. At the same time, anxiety can be a motivating factor in substance abuse.
- Overexposure to stress: Individuals who are constantly exposed to high levels of stress — emotional, psychological, or physical — are more likely to show symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
- Other mental illnesses: Psychiatric disorders often go hand in hand with anxiety. Someone with depression, for example, is more likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder than an individual with no other existing mental health issues.
Anxiety and Substance Abuse
Substance abuse is more common in people with anxiety disorders than in the general population. For example, anxiety disorders have been linked with higher lifetime rates of alcohol abuse and higher relapse rates after alcohol rehab, notes Psychiatric Times, and individuals with anxiety may also experience more severe withdrawal symptoms when they stop using alcohol or drugs.
The existence of a substance use disorder with an anxiety disorder or other form of mental illness is known as a dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorders. There are several reasons why anxiety may trigger the need to misuse substances, or vice versa:
- Self-managing symptoms: One of the most prevalent theories about the relationship between anxiety and substance abuse holds that individuals with anxiety disorders turn to alcohol or drugs in an effort to control their physical or psychological symptoms. For instance, a business manager with social anxiety disorder may use alcohol to cope with stressful presentations or meetings, putting the person at risk of chemical dependence and addiction.
- Biochemical factors: Both anxiety disorders and substance use disorders may be related to chemical imbalances in the brain. For instance, low levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, energy levels, sleep, metabolism, and other functions, have been linked with both alcoholism and mental illness.
- Genetic predisposition: There is some evidence that both addiction and anxiety disorders have a genetic component. People who are vulnerable to anxiety may also be prone to substance abuse and addiction if they come from a family where both conditions are common.
- Effects of substance abuse or withdrawal: The misuse of drugs or alcohol can cause symptoms that resemble anxiety, such as nervousness, agitation, sleeplessness, irritability, and obsessive fears. When withdrawing from the effects of substances, individuals may experience anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia as the brain attempts to recover its chemical balance.
Helping a Loved One with Anxiety
Talking to a family member or friend about anxiety can be challenging, especially if substance abuse is involved. Both topics are very personal and sensitive, and it might seem easier to overlook these issues, hoping that they’ll resolve on their own or that the individual will seek help independently. However, taking the initiative to express your concern to a loved one could be the factor that motivates the person to the next stage of recovery. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when talking to someone about drug or alcohol abuse and anxiety disorders:
- Take a compassionate, nonjudgmental approach. Both addiction and mental illness can take a toll on the quality of relationships, job performance, and overall quality of life. Instead of focusing on the negative consequences of the individual’s substance abuse, focus on the benefits of recovery and the positive consequences of healing.
- Be prepared for denial or defensive behavior. Denial is a common symptom of addiction, and many people who are engaged in substance abuse will become defensive or hostile when they’re approached about their problem. In addition, anxiety disorders like PTSD can cause paranoid thinking or delusional beliefs that make communication more difficult. An intervention may be more effective if two or more close friends or family members are involved. Crisis intervention specialists can also be valuable allies, especially if there is a potential for angry or violent reactions.
- Remember that substance abuse and anxiety disorders are both disease processes. Drug and alcohol addiction were once considered to be signs of moral weakness, but now addiction is recognized as a chronic disease of the brain. Likewise, anxiety is not simply a feature of the personality, but a form of mental illness. Both anxiety and addiction can be treated with therapeutic interventions and the support of qualified professionals.
- Offer specific solutions. When talking to someone about addiction, it is useful to be able to suggest specific recovery resources, such as the name of a therapist, physician, 12-Step group, or rehab facility that specializes in treating clients with dual diagnoses of anxiety and substance abuse.
- Offer practical assistance as well as emotional support. In addition to reassuring your loved one of your care and concern, be prepared to provide practical help, such as going along to a 12-Step meeting, giving a ride to a therapist’s office, or making the phone call to arrange detox.
Addiction is a progressive disease process that will continue to get worse without intervention, eventually leading to worsening health complications, disability, injury, or death. It is better to risk offending or angering a loved one than to let the process continue. Professional crisis intervention services are available to help friends and family members who need support in getting a loved on into treatment.Back to Top
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety is highly treatable with a combination of therapy, behavioral modification strategies, and anti-anxiety medications. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the most effective therapeutic modalities for both the treatment of anxiety and chemical dependence. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, clients learn how to identify and modify self-defeating thought patterns that make them anxious and fearful. Clients with a dual diagnosis of an anxiety disorder and substance abuse can use CBT to acquire new coping strategies that will help them maintain their recovery goals, even in the face of high-stress situations. CBT can be applied in individual therapy and in group therapy settings.
Anxiety disorders are often linked with unresolved experiences of trauma. Statistics from Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital indicate that up to 34 percent of males and 59 percent of females in substance abuse treatment meet the criteria for PTSD. There are several therapeutic modalities that target the effects of trauma and help clients cope more effectively with the repercussions of emotional pain or loss. Seeking Safety is an integrated, present-focused approach to treating PTSD and addiction through a focus on discontinuing substance abuse, managing symptoms of both disorders, reducing self-destructive behaviors, and fostering more positive, life-affirming views of the future.
When combined with psychological and psychosocial therapies, medication can be a valuable tool in overcoming anxiety. Medications in the SSRI category (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are frequently prescribed to treat the symptoms of anxiety and help these individuals lead more satisfying lives. Drugs in this category are generally considered safe and effective, and they have a low potential for abuse or addiction. SSRIs — which include medications like citalopram (Celexa), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft) — work by increasing the amount of serotonin available to the brain, thus reducing the negative thoughts and persistent worries associated with anxiety.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, has had positive outcomes in the treatment of clients diagnosed with anxiety and substance use disorders. A study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs showed that eight sessions of EMDR, combined with traditional treatment for patients with dual diagnoses, resulted in an improvement in PTSD and depressive symptoms. In EMDR, therapists work with clients to resolve past traumas by guiding them through a series of rapid eye movements that make new informational connections that help to resolve unprocessed memories. This therapy, which has been applied effectively to PTSD and other psychological disorders, aims to help patients overcome the emotional suffering caused by past events while restoring their hope for the future through positive ideals.
Individuals with a dual diagnosis require specialized treatment that addresses both issues. A comprehensive recovery program for co-occurring substance abuse and anxiety includes several levels of care, beginning with detox and continuing through residential or inpatient rehab, outpatient treatment, and aftercare. Family therapy, 12-Step involvement, and modalities such as equine-assisted therapy also assist in the recovery process by strengthening the individual’s support system and reinforcing a sense of self-worth.