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Patient Education

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There are many websites available for you to search; some are listed below.

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Specific to the State of CT

A Reference for Women’s Behavioral Health

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Information about Imago therapy-

The reasons for seeking mental health assistance are often quite clear -- uncontrolled anger, crisis, loss, abuse, or addiction; but others may be more difficult to recognize. A few of the major disorders are further described below, just click on the link. Again, remember that everyone is unique. If in doubt, speak with a licensed therapist. Together you are likely to more clearly identify what needs attention.

What is Depression?

Depression is a serious medical illness that involves the brain. It's more than just a feeling of being "down in the dumps" or "blue" for a few days. If you are one of the more than 20 million people in the United States who have depression, the feelings do not go away. They persist and interfere with your everyday life. Symptoms can include:

  • Sadness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Change in weight
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Energy loss
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Depression can run in families, and usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30. It is much more common in women. Women can also get postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. Some people get seasonal affective disorder in the winter. Depression is one part of bipolar disorder.

There are effective treatments for depression, including antidepressants and psychotherapy. Most people do best by using both.

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What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder — sometimes called manic-depressive disorder — causes mood swings that range from of the lows of depression to the highs of mania. When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts in the other direction, you may feel euphoric and full of energy. Mood shifts may occur only a few times a year, or as often as several times a day. In some cases bipolar disorder causes symptoms of depression and mania at the same time.

Bipolar disorder is divided into several subtypes. Each has a different pattern of symptoms. Types of bipolar disorder include:

  • Bipolar I disorder. Mood swings with bipolar I cause significant difficulty in your job, school or relationships. Manic episodes can be severe and dangerous.
  • Bipolar II disorder. Bipolar II is less severe than bipolar I. You may have an elevated mood, irritability and some changes in your functioning, but generally you can carry on with your normal daily routine. Instead of full-blown mania, you have hypomania — a less severe form of mania. In Bipolar II, periods of depression typically last longer than periods of hypomania.
  • Cyclothymia. Cyclothymia is a mild form of bipolar disorder. With cyclothymia, hypomania and depression can be disruptive, but the highs and lows are not as severe as they are with other types of bipolar disorder.

Although bipolar disorder is a disruptive, long-term condition, you can keep your moods in check by following a treatment plan. Bipolar disorder can be controlled with medications and psychotherapy.

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What is Anxiety Disorder?

It's normal to feel anxious from time to time, especially if your life is stressful. However, if you have ongoing anxiety that interferes with day-to-day activities and relationships and makes it hard to enjoy life, you may have generalized anxiety disorder.

It's possible to develop generalized anxiety disorder as a child or as an adult. Generalized anxiety disorder has similar symptoms as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other types of anxiety, but they're all different conditions.

Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms can vary in combination and severity.
They can include:

  • Constant worrying or obsessions about small or large concerns
  • Restlessness and feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating or your mind "going blank"
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension or muscle aches
  • Trembling, feeling twitchy or being easily startled
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sweating, nausea or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath or rapid heartbeat

Living with generalized anxiety disorder can be a long-term challenge. In many cases, it occurs along with other anxiety or mood disorders. In most cases, generalized anxiety disorder improves with medications or psychotherapy. Making lifestyle changes, learning coping skills and using relaxation techniques also can help.

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What is Social Anxiety Disorder (social phobia)?

It's normal to feel nervous in some social situations. Going on a date or giving a presentation may give you that feeling of having butterflies in your stomach, for instance. This isn't social anxiety disorder.

In social anxiety disorder, everyday interactions cause extreme fear and self-consciousness. It may become impossible for you to eat with acquaintances or write a check in public, let alone go to a party with lots of strangers. If your life is disrupted by this kind of fear, you may have social anxiety disorder.

Social anxiety disorder is a chronic mental health condition that causes an irrational anxiety or fear of activities or situations in which you believe that others are watching you or judging you. You also fear that you'll embarrass or humiliate yourself. Social anxiety disorder can have emotional, behavioral and physical signs and symptoms.

Emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder include:

  • Intense fear of being in situations in which you don't know people
  • Fear of situations in which you may be judged
  • Worrying about embarrassing or humiliating yourself
  • Fear that others will notice that you look anxious
  • Anxiety that disrupts your daily routine, work, school or other activities
  • Avoiding doing things or speaking to people out of fear of embarrassment
  • Avoiding situations where you might be the center of attention

Physical signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder include:

  • Blushing
  • Profuse sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Nausea
  • Stomach upset
  • Difficulty talking
  • Shaky voice
  • Muscle tension
  • Confusion
  • Palpitations
  • Diarrhea
  • Cold, clammy hands
  • Difficulty making eye contact

If you or a loved one has social anxiety disorder, take heart. Effective treatment — often with cognitive behavioral therapy, medication and positive coping skills — can improve the symptoms of social anxiety disorder and open up new opportunities.

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What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder. If you have OCD, you have repeated, upsetting thoughts called obsessions. You do the same thing over and over again to try to make the thoughts go away. Those repeated actions are called compulsions.

Examples of obsessions are a fear of germs or a fear of being hurt. Compulsions include washing your hands, counting, checking on things, or cleaning. Untreated, OCD can take over your life.

Researchers think brain circuits may not work properly in people who have OCD. It tends to run in families. The symptoms often begin in children or teens. Treatments that combine medicines and therapy are often effective.

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What is Panic Disorder?

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder. It causes panic attacks, which are sudden feelings of terror for no reason. You may also feel physical symptoms, such as:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Dizziness

Panic attacks can happen anytime, anywhere and without warning. You may live in fear of another attack and may avoid places where you have had an attack. For some people, fear takes over their lives and they cannot leave their homes.

It usually starts when people are young adults. Most people get better with treatment. Panic Attacks are effectively treated by medication and therapy. Therapy can show you how to recognize and change your thinking patterns before they lead to panic.

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What is Personality Disorder?

Personality refers to a distinctive set of traits, behavior styles, and patterns that make up your character or individuality. How you perceive the world, your attitudes, thoughts, and feelings are all part of your personality. People with healthy personalities are able to cope with normal stresses and have no trouble forming relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.

A personality disorder is a type of mental illness in which you have trouble perceiving and relating to situations and to people — including yourself. In general, having a personality disorder means you have an unhealthy pattern of thinking and behaving that leads to significant problems and limitations in relationships, social encounters, work, and school.

You may not even realize that you have a personality disorder because your way of thinking and behaving seems natural to you, and you may blame others for the challenges you face.

The causes of personality disorders are unknown. However, many genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role. These patterns usually begin in adolescence and may lead to problems in social and work situations. The severity of the condition ranges from mild to severe.

Personality disorder symptoms include:

  • Frequent mood swings
  • Stormy relationships
  • Social isolation
  • Angry outbursts
  • Suspicion and mistrust of others
  • Difficulty making friends
  • A need for instant gratification
  • Poor impulse control
  • Alcohol or substance abuse

Recent studies show that talk therapy combined with medications can be effective in managing a personality disorder and that long term psychotherapy can result in long lasting change in an individual.

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What is an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders are serious illnesses that cause serious disturbances to your everyday diet, such as eating extremely small amounts of food or severely overeating. They are also extremely complex illnesses, arising from a variety of biological, psychological, and social factions. They can be life-threatening. They frequently coexist with other illnesses such as depression, substance abuse, or anxiety disorders.

A person with an eating disorder may have started out just eating smaller or larger amounts of food, but at some point, the urge to eat less or more spiraled out of control. Severe distress or concern about body weight or shape may also characterize an eating disorder. Eating disorders frequently appear during the teen years or young adulthood, but may develop at any time; they affect both men and women.

The common eating disorders include:

  • anorexia nervosa: extreme thinness, relentless pursuit of thinness, fear of gaining weight;
  • bulimia nervosa: recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food, followed by compensating behavior such as forced vomiting, excessive exercise, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, or fasting;
  • binge-eating disorder: often overweight or obese accompanied by guilt, shame, and distress about eating – leading to even more eating.

Eating disorders are real, treatable medical illnesses. Adequate nutrition, reducing excessive exercise, and stopping purging behaviors are the foundations of treatment. The most effective and longest-lasting treatment for an eating disorder is some form of psychotherapy often accompanied by medication and definitely combined with nutritional counseling and medical monitoring.

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