Thought disorders involve a disruption in how a person’s thoughts are organized and expressed. Psychosis, which is defined as a condition that affects the mind and creates some loss of contact with reality, is one of the distinctive symptoms of a thought disorder.
The word condition is very important here because there are many illnesses and injuries that can produce psychotic symptoms. While psychosis is most associated with Schizophrenia, it can also be seen in mood disorders, substance abuse, acute intoxication, sleep deprivation, and medical conditions such as dementia, dehydration or malnourishment, or an organic brain disorder or injury. Therefore, very careful assessment is vital to determining potential causes when psychotic symptoms are present.
Delusions are the most common symptom of psychosis, which are distorted, unrealistic beliefs that are typically not responsive to logic or experience, and may include paranoid, religious, somatic, or grandiose themes. Hallucinations are another common symptom, where a person may see, hear, feel, smell, or otherwise perceive something that is not there. Other symptoms include confusing or non-sensical speech that reflects internal disorganization, unusual or bizarre behavior that does not fit with or is somehow inappropriate to the setting or context at hand, and what is referred to as negative symptoms – a flat or blunted presentation, poverty of speech, apathy, and restricted cognitive functioning.
At Anew, treatment for thought disorders is multifaceted and takes place within a safe and supportive therapeutic milieu where individuals have the opportunity to develop and strengthen skills of independent living – everything from health and medication management, to building and nurturing social relationships, to having support in pursuing education or employment goals, to how to most effectively manage symptoms and needs. The beauty of doing this very important and sometimes difficult work in a therapeutic community is that you are not alone. Instead, you are part of a supportive system where inclusion, belonging, and empowerment create the safety and opportunity to learn, practice, and solidify a plan for long-term health, recovery, and independence.
With mood disorders, fluctuations in mood exceed an expected reaction to a situation and can be severe and lasting enough to cause changes in thoughts and behavior that affect one’s ability to deal with routine activities, such as self-care, socializing, and work or school.
Depression and bipolar disorder are the most common mood disorders. Depression is marked by a low mood, sadness, a loss of energy and interest, and hopelessness. Bipolar disorder involves depression in combination with mania, an extreme elevation in mood. In addition to depression, mania symptoms can include restlessness, rapid speech, racing thoughts, feeling extremely energized, and risk-taking. Both depression and bipolar disorders often see disturbances in appetite and sleep.
Anew Treatment Center’s social support model addresses the isolation so often seen in mood disorders, particularly if the individual has been unable to work or socialize. Evidence-based treatment modalities such as CBT, ACT, and DBT all take place within the community setting where individuals are not alone, have support readily available, and have the opportunity to learn and practice new ways of managing symptoms, interacting with others, and tending to the demands of daily life. Especially with depression, progressing through your own treatment while also helping others in their respective journeys, helps improve external focus and attunement to others, which can be exceptionally difficult with the heaviness of depression.
While anxiety and worry are a normal and expected part of life, individuals with anxiety disorders experience that worry and fear at a level that frequently interferes with daily living. Excessive and persistent worry may be difficult to control, is often disproportionate to the actual risk of the event or situation, and its symptoms may cause difficulties in relationships, at work or school, and in tending to day-to-day responsibilities.
Examples of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, separation anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. And it is possible for an individual to have more than one type of anxiety disorder.
Some of the more common signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders include feeling nervous, restless, or tense, feeling a sense of impending danger or doom, and significant physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and shakiness. A person may spend much of their waking hours worrying and have trouble concentrating or thinking about anything else. Sleep quantity and quality can be affected by excessive worry, leading to feeling weak and tired during the day.
At Anew, we believe that building awareness and developing effective coping tools for managing anxiety is best done within the supportive structure of the therapeutic milieu. Because anxiety disorders often have a significant impact on relationships, the social element of the therapeutic community is central to learning new ways of engaging, practicing new skills and perspectives, and reducing the isolation often found in anxiety disorders.
Cognitive behavioral, acceptance and commitment, and dialectical behavioral therapies are important approaches to working with anxiety disorders. Working alongside others facing similar challenges is much more effective in creating and sticking to plans that include these techniques, as well as plans for physical activity, stress management, mindfulness and relaxation, and staying socially connected.
Personality is the way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that makes a person different from other people. An individual’s personality is influenced by experiences, environment, and inherited characteristics.
Personality disorders can occur when something interferes with the development of a healthy, intact personality, such as trauma, disruptions in attachment, or early exposure to long-term stress. Essentially, the individual’s personality development gets interrupted and sent off-course on a different trajectory of learning how to cope with troubling situations or unreasonable stress. Personality disorders develop over a long period of time.
There are 10 types of personality disorders grouped into three distinct categories based on the most prominent patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Cluster A involves odd or eccentric thinking or behavior and includes paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders. The hallmarks of Cluster B are dramatic, overly emotional or unpredictable thinking or behavior, and includes antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders. Lastly, Cluster C centers around anxious and fearful thinking or behavior, and includes avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders.
Personality disorders encompass the way a person thinks and feels about the self and others, and the patterns of relating and responding emotionally to others that significantly and adversely affect how an individual functions in different areas of life such as in social activities, school and work, and interpersonal relationships.
Because most personality disorders involve difficulties in interpersonal relationships and social relating, a supportive milieu is essential for lasting growth and change. Surrounded by Anew’s structured and compassionate community, there is opportunity to gain insight and knowledge, talk about thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with others facing similar challenges, and begin to understand the effects of one’s behavior on others while also learning new skills to manage symptoms and reduce actions that interfere with functioning and relationships.
Trauma-based conditions develop in response to an event, or events, that overwhelm an individual’s ability to sufficiently cope at the emotional, cognitive, and/or behavioral levels. The degree of psychological distress typically results in impairment in different areas of life functioning.
When someone experiences or witnesses a traumatic event or has gone through an extensive period of intense stress, they may be unable to resolve the emotional impact in a timely manner. If the traumatic event(s) occurred at an early age, it can disrupt the healthy development of effective coping strategies, leading to impairment in many aspects of life, including social connectedness.
Trauma-related disorders are characterized by intense fear, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, and excessive arousal of the nervous system. Recurrent anxiety, emotional distress, and other strong experiences such as anger, depression, and disruptions in sleep and concentration are common.
Treatment for trauma-related conditions is multi-dimensional and rests heavily on developing skills and strategies for managing the fears, nervous system arousal, intrusive memories. This process is enhanced and facilitated by being with others in a safe and supportive community environment where there is ample opportunity to learn, practice, and hone the necessary recovery and symptom management skills. Developing safe attachments with peers and staff fosters corrective and reparative relational opportunities inherent in the trauma-recovery process.
Co-occurring disorder, also known as dual diagnoses, is a term for when an individual experiences a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder simultaneously. Identifying a primary psychiatric illness in people who use substances can be challenging as substance use can induce psychiatric symptoms, therefore thorough assessment is critical.
Sometimes, substance use serves as a coping mechanism for mental health issues. The Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that approximately 53% of those who abuse substances meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis, which indicates a significant relationship between mental health issues and addiction. However, experiencing symptoms of a mental health issue does not mean that a person will also use substances.
For lasting health and recovery, personal transformation is important, including changing habits, developing stress and symptom management strategies, and regenerating a social network that supports recovery. Embarking on such a transformative process is aided by being with a supportive group of peers with similar experiences and learning, perhaps for the first time, how to be in life without substances.
Because co-occurring conditions can often have an extreme impact on social relationships, being able to approach the process of recovery and change within a structured and supportive milieu is critical. Integrated treatment within Anew’s approach to community-based care establishes a pathway for comprehensive and lasting change.