Emotional Impact of Foster Care

Sadly, some children do not have loving homes to grow up in. When their parents and extended family can’t provide for their needs, these children will enter the foster care system. While foster care can have a positive impact, children in the foster system often face tremendous hardships from a very young age. As we observe National Foster Care Month, how can these traumatic experiences adversely affect children’s mental and behavioral health?

The Relationship Between Foster Care and Trauma

When abuse and neglect from their biological families make home life too dangerous, social workers or other authorities can place children into the foster care system. Often, foster children bounce from one placement to the next, unable to find a stable, caring environment. When placed into another home, many children may wonder if they did something wrong or question whether their families still love them. They can also feel confusion, anger, fear and mistrust.

Additionally, while foster programs aim to provide children with a safe place to live until they can reunite with their biological family or find permanent placement through adoption, many foster children age out of the system and end up lacking the support they need to live independently.

These traumatic events can have severe mental health effects that extend into adulthood.

Mental Health Disorders Associated With Foster Care

Adverse childhood experiences like trauma and abuse are among the strongest predictors of adult mental and behavioral health problems. Since foster care children are so vulnerable, it shouldn’t be surprising that they are at an increased risk of negative long-term outcomes like these.

  • PTSD
  • Substance use disorders
  • Reactive attachment disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Social phobia
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • ADHD
  • Self-harm
  • Separation anxiety
  • Eating disorders

Children and adolescents who have learned from an early age that the world is an uncertain, hostile or dangerous place might start abusing drugs and alcohol because they have grown up without positive role models and examples of healthy coping behavior. As a result, they can develop an addiction that makes their mental health worse, creating a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle.

Treating Adoption-Related Issues

Many children who are fortunate enough to get adopted out of the foster care system still grow up with significant emotional difficulties, such as trust issues and a lack of self-worth. These insecurities and attachment problems can make it harder for them to establish healthy, secure relationships.

At PACE Recovery, we have worked with many adoptees, and we’ve seen firsthand how many issues they struggle with. Our desire to help adoptees heal is at the heart of our specialized adoption programming, which we’ve developed in partnership with nationally recognized adoption expert Brett Furst. This program focuses on addressing the underlying causes of mental health issues and addiction while fostering healthy, secure attachment styles in a safe, supportive environment.

If you’d like to learn more about our treatment approach, how we address co-occurring disorders and the in-depth mental health services we offer for young men, please reach out to speak to one of our knowledgeable admissions counselors.

Agitated Depression

When you hear the word “depression”, you likely think about a significantly low mood, lack of motivation, or suicidal ideation. However, there are other symptoms of a depressive disorder that may be overlooked. Agitated depression is not its own diagnosis in the DSM-5-TR. Instead, it is a specifier often attached to major depressive disorder and bipolar disorders. Understanding the unique signs of an agitated depressive episode can help you better recognize the potential of an underlying mental illness. 

What is Agitated Depression?

Someone who has agitated depression will exhibit common indicators of depression, like a decrease in energy levels, hopelessness, and a general lack of interest in activities or relationships. The differentiating factor between a standard depressive disorder and agitated depression comes in the presence of persistent irritability. Those who have a form of agitated depression will likely exhibit signs such as:

  • Irritability
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Psychomotor activation
  • Insomnia
  • Racing thoughts

These features may be present in someone with another depressive disorder, but are more pronounced in someone with this specifier. 

How is Agitated Depression Diagnosed?

Any diagnosis of a mental illness requires an evaluation by a mental health professional. This can come from a medical provider, a licensed therapist, or a psychiatrist. To receive an official diagnosis, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with one of these clinicians. They will review your presenting concerns and past medical records, when applicable. They may ask questions about the duration, frequency, and severity of your symptoms to determine what patterns are present. These signs could be physical or emotional, and your provider may want to first rule out an underlying health condition. Generally, a mental health professional will identify the main diagnosis of either depression or bipolar disorder before adding the agitation specifier. 

Depression Treatment

After you receive a diagnosis of agitated depression, the next step is to seek out treatment. Depression can result in suicidal ideation and extremely negative emotions, so this is not something you should attempt to deal with alone. Trained mental health providers can work with you to develop appropriate coping skills to manage your emotions and physical symptoms. You will also work alongside your therapist to process any of the life experiences that contribute to your agitated depression. Some of the most commonly used evidence-based practices for depression include:

You’ll work closely with your therapist and treatment team to determine the best combination of therapies and medication for you. 

Help for Young Men With Agitated Depression

If you are a young adult man experiencing signs of depression and need support, PACE Recovery Center can help. We offer residential and outpatient mental health treatment for men primarily between the ages of 18 and 30 in Orange County, California. Our evidence-based treatment model allows you to participate in multiple types of therapy that support your holistic recovery. We understand that each person has different goals and life experiences, so we work with you to develop a treatment plan that accurately reflects your needs. We support your academic and career aspirations, so you can focus on healing without sacrificing your current or future career. If you’re in need of more support for a diagnosis of agitated depression, contact our Orange County treatment team today.

Signs of Drug Use

Contrary to popular belief, addiction does not signify a flawed moral compass. It’s a brain disease that can affect anyone, whether they use drugs recreationally or with a doctor’s prescription. Knowing these warning signs can help you identify whether your loved one may be abusing drugs and risking harmful consequences.

1. Tolerance

A growing tolerance is one of the earliest warning signs of drug use. This condition occurs when someone becomes accustomed to having drugs in their system, and their brain’s reward circuits have rewired themselves to expect a baseline level of intoxication. At that point, the user will need to take more drugs to achieve their desired results. That’s why even prescription drugs can be addictive, especially when people start taking higher-than-intended doses or using them in off-label ways, like injecting or snorting them.

2. Withdrawal

When someone abuses drugs, they’ll gradually become physically and psychologically dependent on their substance of use. Then, they’ll eventually experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit, which are some of the most telltale signs of drug use. Your loved one’s withdrawal symptoms can be severe, and might include mood swings, body aches, nausea, insomnia and seizures.

3. Financial Issues

Maintaining a drug habit can be expensive. As his addiction worsens, your loved one might spend more than he can afford on drugs, going into debt or neglecting to pay bills, taxes or child support. He might also have problems keeping his job if he chronically shows up late or has multiple unexplained absences from work, further contributing to his financial difficulties.

4. Relationship Problems

The secrecy, deception and isolation required to maintain a worsening substance use disorder can all drive a wedge between a drug user and the people who care about him. Ultimately, someone with the disease of addiction will lose all interest in other hobbies, instead preferring to prioritize their substance of use. His friend group may dwindle until the only close relationships he has left are with his drug buddies, or he might prefer to use drugs alone and in private because he’s trying to hide how severe his habit has become.

5. Worsening Mental Health

People with addiction are more likely to develop mental health problems, and vice versa. If your loved one struggles with illnesses such as anxiety, depression, OCD or PTSD, using drugs could seem like a temporary escape from his symptoms. Sadly, this misguided coping mechanism will eventually make his mental health worse.

Help Is Here for You

If your loved one is showing any of these signs of drug use and you are seeking a solution, PACE Recovery Center can help. We designed our Orange County residential rehab program specifically to help men overcome a dual diagnosis of addiction and mental illness and live healthy, drug-free lives.

We offer a complete continuum of care for substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders, treating the whole client and setting your loved one up for a lifetime of success. Our accredited team is waiting to help someone you care about experience the freedom that comes with lifelong, purpose-focused sobriety. Take the next step by contacting us today.

Borderline Personality Disorder Causes

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition that affects how a person interacts with others, as well as their ability to regulate emotions. BPD can be difficult to diagnose since its symptoms may be attributed to other mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or psychosis. In today’s blog, we’ll explore the symptoms of borderline personality disorder in men. We’ll also discuss the treatment options available for men struggling with this disorder.

Recognizing BPD

There is no definitive test to diagnose borderline personality disorder. Because of this, medical and mental health professionals rely on comprehensive interviews and observations to confirm the presence of BPD. After interviewing the client, the clinician will reach out to his previous providers, family, or friends for stories that provide more insight. They will also review medical records to observe patterns in behavior and symptoms. 

As this medical professional gathers information related to the client’s thoughts and behaviors, they look for key indicators¹ of borderline personality disorder, including:

  • Fear of abandonment by friends and family
  • Drastic changes in perception regarding relationships
  • Distorted self-concept that affects mood, goals, relationships, values, and opinions
  • Lack of impulse control
  • Suicidal ideation or past attempts
  • Intense emotions lasting for a few hours to a few days
  • Uncontrollable anger
  • Feelings of dissociation (disconnection from reality)
  • Paranoia

Causes of Borderline Personality Disorder

Like most mental health diagnoses, it’s difficult to attribute BPD to a singular cause. Instead, there are a few contributing factors that lead to this condition. These catalysts fall into three main categories: genetic, environmental, and cerebral.

Genetic Components

Men who have a family history of mental illness, specifically borderline personality disorder, have a higher likelihood of developing BPD themselves. Studies² have shown that there is an increased risk a child will develop a personality disorder if a close relative also has this diagnosis. 

Environment

A common question about mental illness is whether this is something you are born with or a product of your environment. The truth is, it’s often a combination of both factors. Trauma, instability in the home, and abuse all contribute to a person developing mental health issues like BPD. It’s nearly impossible to point to one event that caused a personality disorder. Instead, mental health professionals look at the broader scope of a person’s life when issuing a diagnosis. 

Brain Function and Structure

Research³ has shown that people with BPD may exhibit physical changes in their brains. These structural and functional differences are especially prominent in the areas that regulate emotion and help control impulses. This research suggests there is a neurological component to borderline personality disorder. However, researchers are unsure if the disorder causes brain changes or vice versa. 

BPD Treatment for Men at PACE Recovery Center

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder or a similar mental health condition, there is help available to you at PACE Recovery Center. Our mental health treatment facility offers outpatient and residential care in Orange County, California. We specialize in the treatment of men, helping them achieve academic and vocational goals while in our programs.

If you’re interested in learning more about our mental health treatment options, contact our admissions staff today.

References:

  1. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Borderline-Personality-Disorder
  2. Czajkowski N, Aggen, et al. A Twin Study of Normative Personality and DSM-IV Personality Disorder Criterion Counts: Evidence for Separate Genetic Influences. Am J Psychiatry. 2018 Jul 1;175(7):649-656.
  3. Katherine S. Pier, MD, Lea K. Marin, MD, MPH, Jaime Wilsnack, MA, Marianne Goodman, MD. The Neurobiology of Borderline Personality Disorder. Psychiatric Times, Vol 33 No 3, Volume 33, Issue 3

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