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Mental Health in the News: September 29, 2022

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Mental Health in the News

Welcome to Madison Avenue TMS & Psychiatry’s Mental Health in the News weekly update. Below are some current news events relating to mental health and mental health treatments.

How to Cope with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, often referred to as OCD, is a chronic mental health condition characterized by obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors. When severe, OCD can lead to significant struggles in a person’s relationships, work, and day-to-day life. Estimates say that 1.2% of American adults experience OCD each year

Fortunately, there are treatments and skills that can help people with OCD live and cope with OCD symptoms.

What Does OCD Look Like?

Some examples of obsessions or obsessive thoughts include:

  • Mysophobia (extreme fear of germs)
  • Confusing, deranged thoughts
  • Irrational anxiety around performing tasks

Some examples of compulsions or urges might look like:

  • Repetitive cleaning or hand washing
  • Excessive organizing, counting, and checking things
  • Trying to think “good” thoughts to combat unwanted “bad” thoughts

How Does OCD Affect a Person’s Life?

Sometimes, individuals dealing with OCD will experience tics—sudden but repetitive movements or sounds–, such as:

  • Blinking
  • Shrugging
  • Facial expressions
  • Twitching of the head or shoulders
  • Throat-clearing
  • Sniffing

It’s common for someone living with OCD to feel anxiety about how their behaviors negatively affect others or to feel uneasy about seeking help. OCD can make it difficult to navigate personal relationships, both for people with OCD and their loved ones. 

Having OCD also makes tasks, like focusing at school or work, extra difficult.

Available Treatments for OCD

Standard treatments for OCD typically include medication and psychotherapy. A newly FDA-approved therapy, called transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS, is now available to OCD patients.

Medications for OCD

Medications are used to regulate levels of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers that allow neurons–brain cells–to communicate) to try and relieve symptoms of OCD. Some common medications used to treat OCD are:

  • Prozac
  • Paxil
  • Luvox
  • Zoloft
  • Celexa
  • Lexapro

Psychotherapy for OCD

Using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a person with OCD can grow aware of their own thoughts and behaviors that can become problematic and work with a licensed mental health care professional to replace these thoughts and behaviors with more positive ones.

OCD is sometimes treated with exposure and response prevention (ERP). ERP is a type of therapy that involves exposing patients, little by little, to stimuli that trigger anxiety, but patients do not perform the compulsive responses. For example, patients may be asked to touch a door handle and then not wash their hands. This exposure, over time, allows patients to build up a tolerance for the stimuli and, hopefully, reduce compulsive behavior. 

Self-Care and Lifestyle Recommendations for OCD

Self-care can help people managing a diagnosis of OCD manage stress, lower feelings of anxiety, and reduce the risk of their condition worsening. Some examples of self-care include:

  • Eating a well-rounded diet rich in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Exercising regularly exercise
  • Getting enough good quality sleep
  • Practicing mindfulness, like meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises
  • Proactively seeking social support

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for OCD

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a medication-free, non-invasive treatment that was FDA approved for depression in 2008. In 2018, a certain type of TMS, called Deep TMS, was recently FDA-approved for OCD.

Studies show that standard treatments for OCD, such as medication and talk therapy, don’t provide enough symptom relief for as many as 60% of patients

Deep TMS, often referred to as dTMS, may be an effective treatment option for OCD when traditional therapy options have failed. One study shows that TMS is effective in relieving OCD symptoms in patients who have tried at least three different medications for OCD. 

Learn more about TMS for OCD, here.

To read the original news article, click here.

Are you a candidate for TMS?

Finances Top COVID-19 as America’s Largest Stressor

The June 2022 Healthy Minds Monthly Poll from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) surveyed over 2,000 Americans and reported that almost 90% experience anxiety around inflation—which is currently at a 40-year high—and that 50% are anxious about income loss.

It also reported that, since May, COVID-related anxiety dropped 2% among all Americans (from 49% to 47%) and 16% among Black Americans (from 63% to 47%).

The poll found that loss of income disproportionately affects certain demographic groups, including:

  • Hispanic adults (66%)
  • Mothers (65%)
  • Millennials and Gen Zers (more than 60%)

How Does Financial Stress Affect Health?

Carmen Nicole Katsarov, Executive Director of the Behavioral Health Integration at CalOptima, a health plan for low-income people, says the APA also recently reported that 72% of Americans felt financial stress in the previous month, and that despair associated with this kind of chronic stress is a large risk factor for mental health conditions. Katsarov says CalOptima sees this anxiety play out first-hand in its members.

Dr. Timothy B. Sullivan, Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Staten Island University Hospital, told reporters that financial stress and the associated feeling of loss of control are large predictors of adverse health risks.

Sullivan says these social determinants of health need more emphasis in the field of psychology and encourages people to seek professional help for dealing with these stressors.

How Can You Manage Stress and Anxiety associated with Finances?

Some healthy ways to deal with financial stress and anxiety are to:

  • Talk about it with loved ones and seek support
  • Talk to a licensed mental health professional
  • Hire a financial planner, if you can afford to do so
  • Utilize community-based organizations for financial aid programs for help with things like rent, utility, and food assistance.

Another way to protect one’s mental health is to limit exposure to stressful media. It’s important to find a balance between staying informed and limiting news regarding the economy (especially in times of inflation). Being constantly surrounded by bad news can cause:

  • Headaches
  • Increased anxiety
  • Depressed mood
  • Difficulty sleeping and fatigue

To read the original news article, click here.

Are you ready to try TMS?

LeAnn Rimes Discusses the Toll the Music Industry Took on Her Mental Health

LeAnn Rimes, an American country music star, recently opened up about her struggles with mental health that arose from dealing with the stress of becoming a celebrity at a young age.

Rimes has been in the public eye since she was a teenager. At age 13, she released her first hit song, Blue. Rimes says the success she experienced and achievements she obtained, which sometimes led to severe stresses like performing while sick and throwing up immediately before shows, resulted in depression.

Maintaining herself as a public icon, explains Rimes, meant she had to deny herself her own humanity, and doing so was a catalyst for symptoms of depression and anxiety.

By age 30, it had become evident to the pop star that she needed to get help. Rimes placed herself in a 30-day program at a treatment center that she says changed her life. There, she was able to find compassion and understanding from others who were going through similar struggles.

Since then, Rimes has taken a different approach to how she takes care of herself amidst the pressures of being a celebrity performer. Now, she shapes her career around her personal needs instead of letting her professional needs take all her focus.

“I am trying to slow down and put my sanity first,” Rimes told reporters.

With this new hierarchy of priorities, Rimes has spent the last three years working on a new album, titled God’s Work, that she plans to release in September 2022.

To read the original news article, click here.

Dr. Woo has been seeing patients in private practice since 2002, always with the goals of combining evidence-based medicine with psychodynamic psychotherapy and collaborating with other mental health professionals to ensure the best possible outcomes for his patients. He has been certified to administer TMS at his practice since 2017. His greatest clinical interests include helping patients suffering from depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder.

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