Hoarding Disorder

Living area of someone with Hoarding Disorder

Hoarding disorder (HD) is a mental health condition characterized by the inability to part with or throw away items due to a perceived need to save them.

People diagnosed with HD accumulate an excessive amount of possessions regardless of value. Unlike collectors who collect specific types of items such as model cars, those who hoard acquire random items that are often useless or of little value to most people such as paper bags. This acquisition often results in disorganized piles of objects overcrowding living spaces. Some people who hoard may also begin to acquire living things such as animals, resulting in unsanitary living conditions.

Common reasons why people who hoard accumulate these possessions include:

  • Not wanting to be wasteful and believing  items will be needed in the future
  • Feeling safe when surrounded by items
  • Holding on to items perceived to have emotional significance
  • Believing  their items are unique

Symptoms of hoarding typically begin to present during an individual’s early teenage years, the average onset is 13 years old.  As a person ages, symptoms often become more severe. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, symptoms can include:

  • Severe anxiety when attempting to discard items
  • Great difficulty categorizing or organizing possessions
  • Distress, such as feeling overwhelmed or embarrassed by possessions
  • Suspicion of other people touching items
  • Obsessive thoughts and actions: fear of running out of an item or of needing it in the future; checking the trash for accidentally discarded objects
  • Functional impairments, including loss of living space, social isolation, family or marital discord, financial difficulties, health hazards

Although the cause of hoarding disorder is unknown,   there are several factors that put some at risk of developing this condition more than others.  The risk factors include having a family history of HD, encountering stressful or traumatic life events, having an indecisive personality, receiving brain injuries or experiencing material deprivation such as childhood poverty.

Those living with hoarding disorder are often likely to have other mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit /hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or alcohol use disorder.

People with hoarding disorder typically do not recognize hoarding as a problem; therefore, many do not seek the help they need.  Hoarding disorder is often identified when individuals seek treatment for other mental health conditions or when loved ones or local health departments intervene.   

Hoarding disorder is diagnosed by performing a psychological examination. The most common form of therapy used to treat hoarding disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy.  This kind of therapy helps individuals to become aware of harmful thought and behavioral patterns, and develop new strategies to engage in healthier ways of thinking and behaving. Treatment of HD may also involve learning organizational and decision making skills, as well as medication therapy.

If you or someone you know are experiencing symptoms of hoarding disorder and would like to receive assistance from a mental health professional at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-670-5562.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Social Anixety and Alcohol Abuse

socialanxiety, SAD, alcohol, alcoholism

According to the Anxiety and Depression Society of America, about 20 percent of people with social anxiety disorder (SAD) also suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence.

Social anxiety is defined as a disorder that is triggered by social situations where your emotions may arise causing you to have difficulty talking to others, fear being unjustly judged by others, become self-conscious while in the company of others or get physically ill at the thought of attending a social event.

By consuming alcohol, you could possibly experience the illusion of reducing the symptoms of SAD, but it can also lead to an additional issue with alcohol dependence and abuse.

For some, alcohol and SAD are a dangerous combination; since alcohol may give you a false sense of calm when in social situations.  Additionally,  it can also you to delay your decision to seek treatment.  It may also interfere with an existing treatment.  While seeming to help quell the anxiety, alcohol can actually worsen the symptoms of SAD.

If you have been diagnosed with SAD and consume alcohol to ease the symptoms, you may experience the following:

  • Drinking more or longer than you intended
  • Have difficulty limiting your consumption of alcohol
  • Experience strong urges to drink
  • Continuing to drink even though your anxiety is increasing

When alcohol is over consumed, it can lead to worsening the symptoms of social anxiety as well as causing:

  • Morning hangovers
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood sugar

Most anxiety disorders can be treated in similar ways.  Some effective ways to calm your social anxiety are to sleep regularly, limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol consumed, eat a healthy diet, and implement relaxation methods such as taking deep breaths, keeping a journal, thinking positive thoughts, yoga, painting or listening to soothing music until the anxiety begins to dissipate.

If these methods are not effective, you may want to seek professional help.  If you have uncontrolled social anxiety disorder and are compensating with alcohol, you may want to speak with a mental health and addiction specialist at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Mental Health Center.  Call 718-670-4416 to schedule an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Caring For A Loved One With Mental Illness

mental illness, caregiver, depression, bi-polar, panic disorder, anxiety, obessive compulsive disorder, depression

Clinical diagnosis for mental illness such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression can be difficult.  It is especially difficult when it is a loved one that is experiencing these conditions.

When a loved one has mental illness, family members can often feel emotions of embarrassment, anger, worry, self-blame or grief. Parents, specifically, can feel powerless over the disease and at a loss for what the best course of treatment for their child.

The focus becomes the person with mental illness, but studies have shown that it is just as important to maintain your own health while caring for a person with mental illness.

Some ways to maintain your health while being a caretaker are:

  • Maintain relationships with other family members
  • Seek professional support for yourself and your family
  • Participate in groups and family sessions with your loved one
  • Make time for yourself
  • Ask for help to lighten your responsibilities
  • Address one issue as a time to avoid burnout

As the caregiver, you are the tie that keeps everything together.  The more educated you are about the disease your loved one is facing and the time you set aside for yourself will be what helps you navigate the obstacles.

If your loved one has mental illness and you are seeking professional help as a caregiver, call the Mental Health Center at Flushing Hospital Medical Center at 718-670-5562 to schedule an appointment.

For more information for caring for a loved one with mental illness, visit American Phychological Association https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/serious-mental-illness.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

Flushing Hospital can diagnose memory loss

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month which gives us the chance to make the public aware of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease being very important health issues.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s have profound effects on many people. There are an estimated 5 million people with the disease and 15 million people who are caring for them. It is said to be the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

It has been said that Alzheimer’s is the only disease that can lead to death that cannot be slowed down, cured, or prevented. It acts by slowly killing brain cells which affects all of our ability to function normally.

Brain exercises may help mental functionality in areas of memory, focus, concentration and understanding.

Some suggested ways to keep our brains healthy are:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Staying physically active
  • Eating properly
  • Not smoking
  • Challenging your mind with social interaction
  • Taking classes
  • Being aware of challenges that could lead to depression

If you would like to schedule an appointment at Flushing Hospital, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Try Gardening to Reduce Your Stress Levels

With spring weather finally upon us, there is an opportunity to get outside and relieve some stress. One particular springtime activity that is highly recommended to reduce tension and anxiety is gardening.

Flushing Hospital Suggests You Try Gardening to Reduce Stress

Research has proven that gardening can be one of the most effective ways to reduce stress levels. In one particular study, subjects were asked to perform a stressful task and then asked to either garden or read for 30 minutes. While both groups experienced a decrease in stress, the gardeners experienced a significantly greater decline (as measured by stress hormone levels), as well as a full restoration of a positive mood while the readers actually experienced a further decline in mood.

The reasons why gardening is so helpful in reducing stress are numerous. Some include:

  • Being Outside – Sunlight is not only good for your physical health, but it can actually help improve your mood. Also, just being outdoors helps you feel more removed from the stressors of everyday life.
  • Getting Exercise – The manual labor associated with gardening, whether it is digging, raking, planting, pruning, or weeding provides a physical outlet to release the tension that is stored in our bodies.
  • Creating Beauty – The wonder of nature is a stress reliever in itself, but when you are responsible for creating and nurturing that beauty, it can be very uplifting. Gardening is an exercise in hope.
  • Meditative Qualities – The act of gardening is time consuming, quiet and repetitive. These attributes provide a peaceful atmosphere for contemplation and reflection.

So if you are feeling stressed, take advantage of this beautiful spring weather and try gardening. It doesn’t matter whether you are tending to a large backyard or a small patio garden – the benefits can be great.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Why is it Important to Keep the Brain Active ?

 

Why is it important to exercise your brain? Just like we exercise our bodies to keep it in good working order, research has shown that it is equally important to exercise our brain to keep it sharp and potentially to lower the risk of developing dementia.

A few of the activities that can help exercise the brain are:

  • Working on puzzles
  • Socializing with others
  • Reading books and newspapers
  • Playing board games or cards
  • Volunteering or joining a club
  • Learning how to play an instrument
  • Visiting a museum or going to the movies

 

It is normal for the brain to slow down with age. We tend to be less active physically and this can affect our brain activity. Therefore in addition to keeping our brains active we should exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. Maintaining our physical health helps the process of neurogenesis which is the creation of new brain cells. Exercise also helps the flow of blood to the brain

If you would like to discuss with a physician any issues concerning the brain functioning, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Learning the Facts About Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is a mental condition where an individual consistently displays no regard for right from wrong and is indifferent to the feelings of others.

In some cases, those with ASPD can appear witty, charming, and generally fun to be around, but they may also lie, antagonize, manipulate, or exploit others and not feel guilty about the consequences of their actions. They may also act destructively without regard for the law, or for their safety of the safety of others.

Modern diagnostic systems consider ASPD to include two related but not identical conditions:

A “psychopath” is someone whose hurtful actions toward others tend to reflect calculation, manipulation and cunning; they also tend not to feel emotion and mimic (rather than experience) empathy for others. They can be deceptively charismatic and charming.

By contrast, a “sociopath” has more of an ability to form attachments to others but still disregards social rules; they tend to be more impulsive, haphazard, and easily agitated than people with psychopathy.

People with ASPD may often do the following:

  • Lie, con, and exploit others
  • Act rashly
  • Be angry, vain, and aggressive
  • Fight or assault other people
  • Break the law
  • Not care about the safety of others or themselves
  • Not show signs of remorse after hurting someone else
  • Fail to meet money, work, or social duties
  • Abuse drugs or alcohol

ASPD is uncommon, affecting less than 1% of the population. It affects men more than women. While there is no direct cause of ASPD, genetics is considered a possible factor, as is exposure to a traumatic or abusive atmosphere as a child. Brain defects and injuries during developmental years may also be linked to ASPD.

 A diagnosis of ASPD cannot be made until age 18, though to be identified as having the disorder a person would have to have shown symptoms before age 15.  Symptoms of ASPD are usually at their worst during a person’s late teenage years and in their 20s, but may improve on their own over time.

Unfortunately, many people with ASPD don’t seek help for the condition because they don’t believe they need assistance, but for those seeking treatment for ASPD, participation in either individual or group therapy has proven to be beneficial. A mental health professional may also prescribe certain psychiatric medications like mood stabilizers or some atypical antipsychotics to treat symptoms like impulsive aggression.

If someone close to you has ASPD, consider seeking help for the disorder from a mental health professional. To make an appointment at the mental health clinic at xx Hospital, please call 718-670-5562.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Dealing With Holiday Stress

During the holiday season, many of us struggle to complete an extensive list of tasks in what often feels like very little time.   We run rampant decorating our homes, attending social gatherings, shopping for loved ones, volunteering, traveling or cooking.  These activities are often added to our already busy schedules, which can make us feel overwhelmed.

Contrary to what we may think, these activities which should make us feel happy can actually increase our stress levels.

Although there are various factors such as unrealistic expectations or financial strain that contribute to holiday stress, finding ways to avoid stressors or minimize their effects is very important. If stress is not managed well, it can have a significantly negative impact on our health.

Mental health professionals at Flushing Hospital Medical Center offers  five tips to help you cope with holiday stress and maintain good mental health:

  1. Set realistic goals– Unrealistic goals often equal added pressure and expectations that cannot be met. If these goals are not met, they can lead to negative feelings such as inadequacy or hopelessness.
  2. Know when to take a moment for yourself (Take a break) – We are often pulled in multiple directions during this time of the year. Know when to take a breather to decompress and clear your mind.
  3. Communicate- The added pressures of the holidays are clearly overwhelming and one of the ways that people sometimes deal with this is to isolate themselves. This is not recommended; instead, reach out to loved ones or a trained mental health professional to communicate how you feel.
  4. Do not neglect healthy habits– Taking good care of your health can help combat holiday stress. Moderating your food intake, fitting in a few minutes of exercise and getting adequate amounts of sleep can be profoundly beneficial for your health.   Additionally, maintaining a healthy daily routine can help take your mind off holiday demands.
  5. Ask for help- We live in a time where multitasking has become the norm but if you begin to feel overwhelmed, ask for help. Soliciting the help of friends or family can alleviate some of the holiday pressure. The holidays can also trigger depression; if you are experiencing symptoms of depression ask for help from loved ones or seek the assistance of a mental health professional.

The holiday season can be overwhelming; however, by applying these helpful tips you can take the steps needed to minimize stress and make this time of year more enjoyable.  If you find that you continue to experience elevated levels of stress or symptoms of depression, it is recommended that you seek the help of mental health professional immediately.

To schedule an appointment with the Mental Health Clinic at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-670-5562.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Mental Health Clinic Queens Social anxiety disorder or social phobia is a common type of anxiety disorder that affects approximately 15 million adults living in the United States.  According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, it is characterized by “an intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation.”

There is no exact known cause for social anxiety disorder; although, it is believed that genetics play a significant role.  Social phobia is also linked to having an overactive amygdala; the part of the brain that controls our response to fear.  Others factors believed to contribute to the disorder are a history of abuse or bullying.

The onset of social anxiety disorder typically begins in the early to mid –teens; however, it can also occur in young children and adults.

Those with social anxiety disorder often experience physical symptoms associated with fear or anxiety in social situations. These symptoms may include rapid heart rate, dizziness, muscle tension, sweating or nausea.

Symptoms of social anxiety disorder can profoundly affect an individual’s ability to live a normal life.  Those affected often avoid or have trouble with normal, day-to-day social situations such as making eye contact, entering rooms where there are people, using public restrooms, eating in front of people or going to work or school.

These behaviors are often indicative of a more serious problem that could be developing as a result of social anxiety disorder. If left unaddressed, social phobia can lead to low self-esteem, negative thoughts, depression, substance abuse or suicide.

The best approach to treating social anxiety disorder is to receive assistance from a mental health professional.  They will be able to assess your health to determine whether you have social anxiety disorder or other mental health conditions.  As part of your treatment, a mental health professional may recommend psychotherapy or medications.  They may also suggest implementing lifestyle changes such as exercising, learning stress reduction skills or participating in support groups.

To make an appointment or to speak with a health provider at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-670-5562.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

September Is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – Know the Warning Signs

Suicide affects millions; over 800,000 people take their lives each year, and the number of people who attempt suicide is twenty five times that amount. In addition to the lives lost, suicide also affects the many friends and family members devastated by the loss of their loved one.

Suicide is largely preventable though. Through education and awareness, we can get those people who are contemplating suicide the help they need.

One of the best tools in preventing suicide is to know the risk factors. Over 90% of people who attempt suicide live with depression or another mental disorder. Alcohol or substance abuse is often a contributing factor. Adverse factions to traumatic events or stress can also lead to someone wanting to take their own life.Other risk factors for suicide include:

 

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Self-loathing
  • Changes in sleep patterns; which can either be excessive sleep or a deprivation of sleep
  • Irritability or anger
  • Talking about harming themselves
  • Loss of interest in daily activities or things they were once passionate about
  • Reckless behavior
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • A preoccupation with death
  • Getting their affairs in order in preparation for death
  • Verbalizing thoughts such as “ Everyone will be better without me”  or “I  have nothing  to live for”
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye

These actions are a cry for help. It is important to let your loved one know that you have recognized changes in their behavior, they are not alone and you are there to support them through this difficult time.  Speak openly about what they are feeling and ensure them they will not be judged because they feel suicidal.  Seek the help of a mental health professional immediately.  Insist on accompanying this person to their consultation or treatment. Continue to demonstrate your support during treatment by reminding them to take prescribed medications, keeping up with physician appointments and encouraging a positive lifestyle.

Many organizations from around the world have joined together during the month of September, which has been designated Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Flushing Hospital’s supports their efforts and the hospital’s Department of Psychiatry offers many inpatient and outpatient services to help those in need.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or demonstrating suicidal behaviors, get help immediately. Call 911, 1-800-SUICIDE, or 1-800-273-TALK

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.