Tag Archives: anxiety

Mental Illness Sick Days

mental illness

If you get the flu, you would probably do what anyone would do, call in sick. After all, you wouldn’t want to risk passing a bug on to your coworkers or work at less than 100 percent. Every day, millions of people call in sick to work for various illnesses, it is commonplace. But, there are some illnesses that people shy away from calling in, for fear of professional consequences. Mental illness.

Millions of Americans, and hundreds of millions around the globe are living with what are, at times, debilitating mental health disorders. Yet, waking up amid a depressive episode or an anxiety attack might not prompt someone to contact their workplace asking for a day off. There are a number of reasons for this, some people experiencing such problems may not think it warrants a sick-day. Others may think that they can muscle through the workday without a loss of productivity. Perhaps more common, and even more saddening, is the fact that many employers do not understand mental health disorders. Or employers believe that they are just cause for a day away from the office. They might say something like: “we all struggle with angst at times, we all get a little sad from time to time.”

Just pick your head up, and put your best foot forward, right? Wrong! People who manage their mental illness day-in-day-out can’t always stay ahead of the symptoms. There are going to be days when functioning is just not a reality. In such cases, most people will try to hide it at work rather than let on that they have a condition. And it should go without saying that doing that can be a slippery slope. People living with behavioral health conditions, who do not put their well-being first, are at risk of exacerbating their symptoms.

Mental Illness Is Real

In the 21st Century the verdict on mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, bipolar, et al. is no longer out. Mental illness is real, in every family there is at least one person who has been touched by such disorders. People living with mental health issues should not be discriminated against or stigmatized. But, they are. Even in more enlightened environs, the afflicted feel as though they need to hide what is going on underneath the surface. The result of years of conditioning, perhaps.

With each year that passes, more and more people living with mental health disorders are saying, ‘enough!’ They will no longer be shamed into putting their needs last. It is a brave move, and can be costly to one’s career, because most employers are not so enlightened. However, there are some workplaces who encourage those with mental illness to take time for themselves when it is needed. Perhaps a sign that the ‘times they are a-changin.’ Not too long ago, few could’ve imagined calling in sick for mental health reasons, and returning to work on Monday with their job intact.

A recent email exchange between an employee and an employer regarding this subject went ‘viral’ (no pun intended) this month. A truly remarkable story of a CEO who understands the negative impact of mental health stigma. Madalyn Parker—an executive at Olark Live Chat—sent an email to her team at work explaining that she would be away from the office to focus on her mental health, PEOPLE reports. The response received from the company’s CEO was, well it was…up worthy!

Hey team, I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health,” Parker wrote. “Hopefully I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.”

I just wanted to personally thank you for sending e-mails like this,” Olark CEO Ben Congleton wrote back. “Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health – I can’t believe this is not standard practice at all organizations. You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can bring our whole selves to work.”

There Is No Place for Stigma

Parker posted the exchange on social media, and the Internet celebrated and commended Congleton and Parker’s exchange. And for good reason. This kind of thing is infinitesimally rare. Which is why we need more of this type of exchange in the workplace. Normalizing mental health disorders is of the utmost importance. It will not only increase productivity, it will save lives.

Even in the safest environment it is still uncommon to be direct with your coworkers about mental health issues,” Congleton wrote on Medium, a few days later. “I wanted to call this out and express gratitude for Madalyn’s bravery in helping us normalize mental health as a normal health issue.”

Parker added:

After repeatedly being told to keep my problems to myself for fear of discrimination, it’s good to know that it actually is possible to be open about mental health (even at work!)…You should never feel like you can’t address your emotional well-being because ‘it’s just not something you talk about at work.’”

Co-Occurring Recovery

Many of us working programs of addiction recovery are living with a dual diagnosis, as well. A co-occurring mental illness that, like the addiction, must be managed every day of the week. If one’s symptoms of depression or anxiety are ignored, it could lead to a relapse—or something worse. If you are in recovery for a co-occurring disorder, it is vital that you do not put your employment before your personal wellbeing. Fearing the consequences of being upfront about what you are going through is normal. But ignoring your condition for the sake of a day’s work can be deadly.

If you are still in the grips of addiction, battling another form of mental health disorder as well—please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin the lifesaving journey of addiction recovery.

Young Adults: Depression On The Rise

depressionDepression is one the most common forms of mental health disorder that affects American adults. In fact, depression is one the leading causes of disability for patients between the ages 15 and 44, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Every year, more than 15 million American adults over the age of 18 are affected by symptoms of depression. While the disorder is more common among women than men, major depressive disorder can affect people regardless of their age, gender or race.

The median age of people with onset of major depressive disorder is 32.5-years old, yet nearly one in 11 teenagers and young adults experiences a major depressive episode in any given year, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. The findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.

National Survey on Drug Use and Health

The findings of the study, led by Dr. Ramin Mojtabail, come from an analysis of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2005 and 2014, LiveScience reports. The data indicates that depression among adolescents and young adults has risen dramatically, especially among young women. Major depressive episodes affected 11.3 percent of adolescents in 2014, compared to 8.7 percent in 2005. A major depressive episode is characterized by persisting for two weeks or more.

Major depressive episode symptoms include:

  • Feelings of Emptiness
  • Hopelessness
  • Irritability

The uptick of depression among young people was limited to 12 to 20-year olds, skirting the 21 to 25 age group, the article reports. However, the biggest takeaway from the study isn’t that there has been a rise in major depression among young people, but rather that the research team did not see alterations with mental illness treatment for young people. The researchers did not observe a rise in young people seeking treatment for mental illness, either. For treatments to be effective, they need to be adapted to target the population being affected. The authors write:

“The growing number of depressed adolescents and young adults who do not receive any mental health treatment for their [major depressive episode] calls for renewed outreach efforts.”

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

Young adults struggling with any form of mental health disorder are far more likely to develop unhealthy relationships with drugs and alcohol. This is because people will often drink alcohol and or use drugs to cope with their symptoms. Choosing to self-medicate one’s mental illness, can be a slippery slope leading to a host of problems that can complicate the severity of mental illness symptoms, such as addiction.

People with depression, or other forms of mental illness, often think that drugs and alcohol will mitigate the problems that accompany living with such disorders. However, self-medication is a far cry from meeting with mental health professionals and starting a regimen of antidepressants in conjunction with therapy. All too often, the people seeking help for addiction will also have a co-occurring disorder, such as anxiety and/or depression. It is not uncommon for people with depression to develop a substance use disorder, because they attempted to treat their symptoms on their own.

Those who are struggling with addiction and a co-occurring disorder need to be treated for both conditions simultaneously, if recovery is to be achieved. At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in treating young adult males with co-occurring disorders, otherwise referred to as having a “dual diagnosis.” Our experienced team of addiction counselors and professionals is fully equipped to provide a specialized plan of care when treating the patients’ co-occurring disorders. Successful outcomes are contingent on doing so. Please contact us today, to start the process of healing and addiction recovery.

Many Attorneys Drink Alcohol At Unhealthy Levels

attorneys drink alcohol unhealthy levelsMillions of Americans, upon finishing their workday, will often times cap off their night with an alcoholic beverage or two. This is why drinking alcohol is commonly equated with unwinding or decompressing. The behavior of drinking alcohol after a stressful day is usually considered to be relatively benign; however, sometimes end of the day drinking can get out of hand which can become problematic – especially for those whose line of work is stressful.

New research suggests that more than one-fifth of licensed, actively working American attorneys drink alcohol at unhealthy levels, The Chicago Tribune reports. The study showed that many of those same attorneys suffer from depression and anxiety as well. The findings will be published this month in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. What’s more, the research showed that younger attorneys were affected by the aforementioned problems the most. The researchers hope that the new data will result in action.

“Any way you look at it, this data is very alarming, and paints the picture of an unsustainable professional culture that’s harming too many people. Attorney impairment poses risks to the struggling individuals themselves and to our communities, government, economy and society. The stakes are too high for inaction,” said study lead author Patrick Krill, in a news release.

The data comes from a sample of 12,825 attorneys in the United States who filled out surveys designed to assess both substance use and other mental health problems, according to the article. The findings showed that 28 percent of lawyers struggled with varying degrees of depression and 19 percent exhibited symptoms of anxiety.

“This is a mainstream problem in the legal profession,” said Krill, the Director of the Legal Professionals Program at a well respected treatment facility. “There needs to be a systemic response.”

This is the first major study on the prevalence of addiction among attorneys in 25 years, the article reports. The research was co-funded by the American Bar Association and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. This research is especially important because many attorneys are unwilling to seek help for mental health problems for fear they will be disbarred or lose their position.

PACE Recovery Center specializes in working with young adult males struggling with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues. During this important transitional phase our clinical team focuses on helping young adults put into practice skills gained while in addiction treatment and balance their lives as they begin to integrate back into real world settings. Our treatment program is designed to focus on and develop our clients’ life skills, including understanding when stress and anxiety can impact one’s program of recovery.

Back Pain, Anxiety, and Depression – Opioid Abuse

A large percentage of people who seek treatment for substance or alcohol use disorder also have other mental health disorders on board, such as depression or anxiety. When this is the case, it is referred to as having a co-occurring disorder, and successful recovery hinges on treating both. What’s more, people’s depression or anxiety may play a part in people forming an addiction.

In fact, new research suggests that people living with high levels of depression or anxiety, and experience chronic lower back pain, are significantly more prone to developing a problem with prescription opioids, Medical News Today reports. People with chronic lower back pain and high levels of depression or anxiety were 75 percent more likely to abuse opioids than people with low levels, and their back pain was less likely to improve.

The researchers involved in the study examined 55 patients with chronic lower back, as well as major or minor levels of anxiety or depression, according to the article. Over the course of 6-months, the patients were given oral forms of morphine, oxycodone or a placebo. The patient’s pain levels and the amount of drugs taken were recorded daily.

There was 50 percent less improvement and 75 percent more opioid abuse among patients who had high levels of depression or anxiety, compared with patients with low levels. The findings suggest that doctors treating patients with lower back pain, who show symptoms of mental illness, should make sure that the mental illness is being treated rather than “refusing to prescribe opioids,” according to lead researcher Prof. Ajay Wasan, at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. This may reduce the likelihood of opioid abuse and reduce pain.

“High levels of depression and anxiety are common in patients with chronic lower back pain,” Wasan said in a news release. “Learning that we are able to better predict treatment success or failure by identifying patients with these conditions is significant. This is particularly important for controlled substances such as opioids, where if not prescribed judiciously, patients are exposed to unnecessary risks and a real chance of harm, including addiction or serious side effects.”

The study is published in Anesthesiology.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction and depression or anxiety, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

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