Category Archives for Downtown Pittsburg

Gender Differences with Anxiety

What is Anxiety? Understanding Gender Differences with Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States, and they can affect approximately 264 million people worldwide. Women are twice as likely to develop an anxiety disorder than men, and each gender may present and describe the symptoms differently. Understanding gender differences with anxiety can potentially bring awareness to symptoms. This will hopefully contribute to more men and women seeking therapy to relieve stress in their life. Anxiety can cause excessive fear, nervousness, apprehension, and uncertainty. Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are all considered common anxiety disorders. A licensed counselor may diagnose you with an anxiety disorder when you meet any of the following criteria almost daily for more than six months:

  • excessive worry
  • fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability
  • sleep disturbances
  • muscle tension
  • rapid heart rate
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • chest pain

 

Generalized Anxiety Disorders: severe, excessive, ongoing anxiety that disrupts daily activities

Panic Disorder: episodes of intense fear followed by physical symptoms, based on a perceived threat rather than imminent danger

Social Anxiety: nervousness when interacting with other people

Phobias: excessive, persistent fear of an object or situation

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: excessive thoughts (obsessions) that lead to disruptive and repetitive behaviors (compulsions)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event

 

Women with Anxiety Understanding Gender Differences with Anxiety

Women are twice as likely to develop an anxiety disorder than men, and each gender may present and describe the symptoms differently. Scientists have some ideas as to why women have higher anxiety diagnosis rates. Dr. Charles Goodstein, a clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University Langone Medical Center, says “this may have an impact on psychological functioning.” One reason is that woman have more hormonal fluctuations caused by their menstrual cycles. Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that affect appetite, digestion, and energy levels. If these hormones are irregular, a woman’s mood can be affected. If she also experiences a difficult cycle, she may become apprehensive and worry about frequent aches and distress towards the following months.

Another reason women may experience anxiety more often than men is because women are more likely to experience sexual abuse and violence. Women who have been exposed to sexual abuse and violence may have an overwhelming sense of anxiety at all times, or they may have a sudden attack of intense fear. If a woman is in an abusive relationship, sometimes she may feel guilt and manipulation from her spouse. They may spend an excessive amount of time trying to reason why they are being abused. Women may either think about ways to get out of the relationship, or think about ways to cover up their injuries and make excuses for their partner.

Women that tend to take on a lot of responsibilities such as working a full-time job, cooking, cleaning, laundry, establishing childcare, etc., are more prone to anxiety symptoms. Sometimes women in these situations feel like they can never catch a break. This can be considered a cultural acceptance in our society – women tend to “do it all” – which can lead to overwhelming stress and exhaustion.

Studies have shown that women tend to seek help from medical professionals more often than men. For this reason alone, women are more likely to be diagnosed with a variety of health disorders, not just ones that are mental health related. Women tend to be more in tune with their health and report illnesses more frequently than men. This plays a role in one of the many reasons why women live longer! They are more likely to follow up with appointments and treatment after diagnoses as well.

 

Men with Anxiety

In an article written in Men’s Health magazine, author Mike Zimmerman explains how he had no idea what was happening to his body during his first panic attack. He stated that he was sure he was having either a stroke, a heart attack, or an aneurysm. Panic attacks are often misdiagnosed as other ailments. Men who are afraid of a panic attack being diagnosed as something more severe are less likely to seek treatment.

According to a survey conducted by Cleveland Clinic, men are less likely to participate in routine physicals. The chances of men seeking professional help when they feel they have a serious illness are even smaller. There tends to be a cultural bias that men who seek medical treatment feel that it lowers their masculinity. This heavily prevents men ever expressing symptoms, especially those who experience mental health disturbances. Men are often told to “man up” and hold their emotions inside which can be remarkably unhealthy. Men are also more likely to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs in order to avoid meeting with a mental health professional.

 

How to Help Both Genders

Early recognition of psychological stressors are important when treating anxiety. Regardless of gender, lifestyle changes are a critical part of reducing anxiety symptoms. Diet and exercise are one of many ways to eliminate stress in your life. Reducing technology use can be beneficial and make you feel more calm and alert. Instead of focusing on work, deadlines, and social media, try spending a few moments away from the computer or cell phone. Try to reduce your obligations and prioritize what is most important versus what can be done at another time. Make sure to make time for yourself as well. Learn your stressors and develop strategies for distraction. Many people find peace in going for a walk, reading a book, or journaling. You can even try different meditation and breathing techniques to alleviate anxiety.

 

How Can We Help?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to get help. With the proper mental health advice, the overwhelming feelings of anxiety can be treated and we can help you get your health on track. We can provide mental health counseling for anxiety right here in our office. Please contact our office at (412)-532-1249 to schedule according to your availability and preferred location. 

 

 

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assisted treatment and relationship counseling.

The Importance of Sleep For Mental Health

Why Do We Need Sleep?

We generally think of sleep as a time where our body begins to refuel and recharge energy in order to function. While this is true, sleep is also important in processing information, restoring thoughts, and strengthening our minds. Our brains are continually taking in new information. When we are asleep, you could say that our brains are “safekeeping” all that it has learned. Just like eating, drinking, and breathing, sleep is critically important for our optimal health.

 

Different Sleep Stages

There are four stages that we experience when we sleep. The first three stages are characterized as Non-REM (NREM) sleep, and the last stage is REM sleep. The lightest sleep stage is known as Stage 1. During this stage, brain wave activity slows. Sleep in this stage is known as a “drowsy” sleep, and it because it is so light, we can be easily awakened and aroused. Slow eye movements occur and some people may experience a “falling” sensation when drifting in and out of this stage. During Stage 2, there are no more eye movements and you may no longer be as easily awakened. Heart rate begins to slow and body temperature begins to decrease. Deep NREM sleep occurs during Stage 3. Since it is one of the stages where sleep is at its deepest, it is most difficult to awaken someone during this stage. A person experiencing sleep deprivation will spend a lengthy amount of time in this stage. When REM sleep begins, breathing becomes more rapid, heart rate increases and blood pressure rises.

 

Mental Health and Sleep

There is an extensive overlap between sleep disturbances and mental health disorders. Chronic sleep disturbances can affect 50-80% of U.S. adults in a psychiatric practice, compared with 10-18% of adults in a general population. Many clients seeking treatment for a mental health disorder will list insomnia as a symptom. Sleep disturbances can exacerbate your mental health disorders, or vice versa. It is important to note that a common side effect of any medication you are prescribed can cause excessive sleepiness or the inability to fall asleep as well. Becoming aware of your sleeping patterns and seeking treatment for a mental health disorder may increase your mood throughout the day and overall leave a positive impact on your health.

 

Sleep and Anxiety: Having an increased state of anxiety can keep your nervous system alert, which disrupts relaxation and makes it difficult to fall asleep. Just like cortisol is responsible for stress, melatonin is responsible for sleep. When we are stressed, our brain finds it difficult to produce melatonin.

Sleep and Depression: Research has shown that having insomnia can increase the risk of developing depression. A person with depression may spend a longer amount of time falling asleep and spend less time asleep overall. If they have trouble falling and staying asleep, they may not be experiencing much time in the deep sleep experienced in Stage 3, and they are not feeling well-rested.

Sleep and ADHD: Individuals diagnosed with ADHD tend to experience difficulty falling asleep, shorter sleep durations, and restlessness. Symptoms of ADHD also tend to mimic sleep disturbances which can make it difficult to tell the two apart.

Sleep and Schizophrenia: Those diagnosed with schizophrenia are more likely to have random periods of sleep throughout the day/night rather than sleeping for a continuous amount of time at night. Scientists believe these irregular sleeping habits are caused by the lack of melatonin being released and altered circadian rhythm.

Sleep and Personality Disorders: A common sleep disturbance seen in personality disorders is shortened REM latency. REM sleep correlates with cognition, memory, and mood stabilization. When REM sleep is disrupted, the severity of a pre-existing personality disorder may increase.

Sleep and Eating Disorders: Weight loss, malnutrition, and starvation are all important factors that can affect sleep quality. Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that can be associated with weight, body-mass index, and eating habits. The interruption of breathing during sleep can cause an individual to experience sleep in smaller increments.

Sleep and OCD: Many diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder may feel an overwhelming sense of danger which can impact falling asleep and the quality of sleep they receive. The time that they fall asleep may be later than anticipated because they can be caught up in routines or they are fixating on their own thoughts.

Sleep and Substance Use Disorders: There is a link between sleep apnea and alcohol consumption as well. Alcohol has the ability to relax the muscles in the throat which obstructs breathing. Withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction can be linked to restless leg syndrome and insomnia, making it incredibly difficult to function during the day after a sleepless night.

Sleep and Bipolar Disorders: Individuals will experience a lower quality of sleep between high (mania) and low (depression) points of a bipolar disorder. One of the earliest signs of mania seen in bipolar disorder is lack of sleep. They will feel energized and have a decreased need for sleep. Once the person begins the depression stage of bipolar, they may start to sleep excessively.

 

 

How to Increase Quality of Sleep

Lifestyle Changes: Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can be considered one of the biggest contributors to sleep disturbances. While many will find giving up these substances to be nearly impossible, avoiding them closer to your bedtime can still have an affect.

Would you have guessed that the time in which you sleep could potentially have an impact on your health? Studies have shown that people who work the “graveyard” shift are more likely to be depressed! One reason is related to the possible risk of vitamin D deficiency — since you are asleep when the sun is out, you aren’t receiving the proper sunlight needed in order for your skin to make vitamin D from cholesterol. Another reason, according to David Ballard, a program director at the American Psychological Association, is that “you’re fighting against your body’s natural circadian rhythms.” Working the night shift may cause restrictions from socializing with friends and family and potentially an unhealthy diet.

CBD Oil: Cannabidiol (CBD) communicates with our body’s endocannabinoid system, in helping us sustain a sense of balance or stability known as homeostasis. In a study involving 72 participants (47 with anxiety and 25 with poor sleep), each were given a capsule of 25 milligrams of CBD. This was distributed to them once a day for one month. At the end of the study, 79.2 percent reported lower anxiety levels and 66.7 percent reported an increase in sleep quality. Chronic pain is another common reason many people experience sleep disturbances, and CBD has been beneficial in this area as well. In a 2018 article it is reported that by reducing pain, CBD can improve sleep.

Physical Activity: While exercise is essential for our physical heath, it has a strong impact on our mental health, too. Aerobic exercise can guide in helping people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer without disturbances.

Sleep Hygiene: Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is referred to as sleep hygiene. Establishing a routine for your mind and body can potentially program it to sleep better. Staying awake longer than you are used to, but avoiding sleep deprivation, may induce restful sleep. Keeping the room free of distractions can also increase how fast you fall asleep.

Relaxation Techniques: Most of the difficulties people have regarding sleep issues are anxieties and racing thoughts. In order to alleviate these feelings, relaxation techniques are highly recommended and useful. These include meditation, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and listening to binaural beats. A study from the JAMA Internal Medicine consisted of 49 middle-aged and older individuals who reported sleep disturbances. Half of them participated in a mindfulness awareness program that taught them meditation and exercises created to guide them with focusing on their experiences, thoughts, and emotions. The other half participated in a sleep education class that informed them of ways to improve sleeping habits. Each group met for two hours, once a week for six weeks. The group that participated in the mindfulness awareness program reported that they experienced less insomnia, fatigue, and depression at the end of the study. Former Harvard professor Dr. Herbert Benson coined the term “relaxation response” in the 1970s. He describes this as a deep physiological shift in the body that’s the opposite of the stress response. This method is known to ease symptoms of depression, pain, and high blood pressure. As a result, many will experience restful sleep.

Binaural beats are another type of relaxation technique that promotes better sleep quality. It is a creation of two slightly different sound frequencies that creates a perception of a new frequency tone. It is believed to be effective by using headphones, listening to one frequency in one ear, and the other frequency in the other ear. When your brain hears the combination of both frequencies, it is able to tune to the new frequency. These frequencies are relatively low, which can trigger slower brainwave activity, resulting in feeling relaxed and a decrease in anxiety. As it has been previously mentioned, the less stressed you are, the more likely you are to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and feel more rested when you awaken.

 

Feel free to visit our store if you are interested in trying our selection of high quality CBD oilIf you feel that you may have a mental illness that is impairing your ability to get restful sleep, please contact our office at (412)-532-1249 to see how we can help.

 

 

 

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assisted treatment and relationship counseling.

Pittsburgh mental health counseling Makin Wellness

Anxiety: Common Symptoms & Treatment

Many individuals use the term anxiety to refer to a great deal of worry. However, what does anxiety really mean? And what does anxiety disorder look like? anxiety disorder

 

Anxiety disorder means an excessive worry or anxiousness that lasts more than six months. The fear and worry manifest themselves in various extreme forms. These forms could look like physical ailments, emotional, and or psychological unrest. The toll that anxiety takes on an individual is very severe. For many individuals, it may not seem clear or evident that he or she is experiencing an anxiety disorder due to the lack of knowledge and information about its manifestation (anxiety.org). anxiety disorder

 

Research suggests that women are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder in their lifetime than men (McLean, 2011, pp. 1). Gender differences and anxiety has shown that the manifestation of anxiety in both women and men could be presented in a similar fashion. However, research suggests that the main difference is “the observed differences between men and women are somewhat influenced by gender-related differences in the conceptualization and reporting of symptoms” (McLean, 2011, pp. 11).

 

So, what are the common symptoms of anxiety?

Anxiety’s most common psychological symptoms are: excessive worry, nervousness, irritation, racing thoughts, and a sense of panic. On the other hand, anxiety could take a much more physiological form in certain individuals, the common symptoms are: increased heartbeat, difficulty sleeping or remaining asleep, loss of appetite, tense muscles, and sweating. “These shared physiological states suggest a shared underlying biology and that anxiety maybe a whole-body condition” (Jovanovic, et al., 2018).

 

Treatment for anxiety could include various options. When combined, evidence-based therapy (EBT), cotemporary and alternative therapies have been shown effective in the treatment of anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an example of one type of EBT. “It teaches people different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to anxiety-producing and fearful objects and situations. CBT can also help people learn and practice social skills, which is vital for treating social anxiety disorder” Typically, some therapies are combined to increase their effectiveness in treating anxiety. CBT and exposure therapy have been utilized quite a bit together to treat social anxiety disorder (SAD) (NIMH, 2018).

 

Another form of treatment for anxiety disorder that has been researched intensively is the use of medical marijuana. The research that has been complied thus far suggests that medical marijuana is capable of reducing anxiety, relaxing muscle tension, and stimulating appetite (Lava, 2018). Pennsylvania is one of the 33 states that has legalized the medical use of marijuana, “short-term use of medical marijuana with low THC and high CBD content has been shown to be most effective in treatment of anxiety disorders” (Sasko, 2019). anxiety disorder

 

 

 

References:

Jovanovic, T., Lott, A. P., Michopoulos, V., Stevens, J., Rooij, S. van, Keller, J. M., … Sierra Carter. (2018). What Is Anxiety & How to Treat It – Anxiety Definition. Retrieved from https://www.anxiety.org/what-is-anxiety#anxiety-and-physical-health

 

Lava, N. (2018). Medical Marijuana FAQ. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/medical-marijuana-faq

 

McLean, C. P., Asnaani, A., Litz, B. T., & Hofmann, S. G. (2011). Gender differences in anxiety disorders: prevalence, course of illness, comorbidity and burden of illness. Journal of psychiatric research45(8), 1027–1035. Doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2011.03.006

 

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). (2018). Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml#part_145353

 

Sasko, C. (2019). People with Anxiety Disorders Can Soon Get Pa. Medical Marijuana Cards. Retrieved from https://www.phillymag.com/news/2019/07/12/anxiety-medical-marijuana-pennsylvania/

About Makin Wellness

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy & coaching centers located in Downtown Pittsburgh and Downtown New Kensington. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, medical marijuana assisted treatment and relationship counseling.

Rahmah Albugani Makin Wellness