Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Holidays are Here!

by Patricia Calabrese, PMHNP
Pine Grove’s Outpatient Services

The fact that holidays are at the end of our calendar year is very apropos. It marks a time to review the year, gather with those close to us and be thankful. And as traditional and predictable as it can be, it is different for everyone.

Much of what we do to celebrate the holidays depends on our stage of life. Holidays with young children are very different than holidays with older, chronically ill family members. The holidays with young children often become a time for the adults to become consumed with surprises, lights, music, bells and whistles! Many of the plans, starting months before, involve lists of gifts, class parties, visiting relatives and decorating. Each event has a special ritual. Young children are difficult to attend to, when trying to give them every holiday experience while not rocking their usual nap schedule. Thanksgiving without the usual nap, can be disastrous. Years ago I started “The Christmas Binder.” This is the holiday essential to every OCD planner. A dear friend, invited me over when our kids were about three to take a small binder, cover it in Christmas fabric (mine is red Santas!) and use perfect paper dividers to create files for gifts, Christmas meal, Christmas cards and Christmas parties. And because our only daughter decided to be born early on December 27th, there were files for her special occasion. (Oh, the joys of being an only child!). To this day, the holidays aren’t official till the binder comes out, my binder is 19 years old this year!

Homes with teenagers and older children are often less hectic, but still complex. Teenagers seem to have less respect or understanding of the traditional rituals of their parents and grandparents. High schoolers get the first taste of trying to please their boyfriend or girlfriend, by attending the other’s family church service or main celebratory meal and also balancing their own mother’s wishes. College age children are often so busy that the Christmas season doesn’t even exist till after finals or that last paper is submitted. Many families don’t start the “real” celebrations till every flight has arrived and every guest bed is filled!

The Holidays with older adults has a different flavor totally. Many families travel to be with elders. This often poses a conflict, when all need to agree upon, who will travel to whom, where the main meal will be held and what grudges are held after all is said and done. In our crazy family, we celebrated “Mississippi Christmas” when our daughter was young. We celebrated every bit of Christmas on the weekend before we left for family in New York. (You can lie easily to little children!) In general, most families try to accommodate the older adults. Older, infirmed family members want to still be useful, they appreciate when their Thanksgiving recipes are being used, or their china is the focal point of the table. And most importantly, that their medical needs be viewed as a privilege not a burden.

When all is said and done, and January arrives, we will not remember the delayed flight, the lost sleep, the forgotten gifts or waiting on late relatives. But we will remember the laughs, the smiles, the lights and music. We’ll be glad we reflected on loss and take time for a tear. We will remember the memories shared and no matter how big or small a celebration, we will remember all the blessings we have this Holiday 2017.

Visit www.pinegrovetreatment.com or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.

Pine Grove Treatment

Friday, October 6, 2017

Explaining Addiction in the Wake of the Opioid Crisis

Ted Crawford, Clinical Therapist

“Addiction” is a topic forever on the list of issues associated with pain, death and the general destruction of society’s fabric. This, especially with recent reports that we are experiencing an opioid crisis with approximately 2 million people addicted to painkillers derived from opium or formulated to replicate the pain-reducing properties of opium. However, most of the population would have difficulty accurately defining addiction or discussing how it operates. So, for clarity’s sake, know that we have special chemicals that naturally flow in our brain as we feel pleasure. Theoretically, anything that gets these “feel good juices” flowing can be abused or develop into an addiction, especially those that tend to give us the more powerful boosts: alcohol and drugs, sex, eating, gambling, shopping, the internet, chasing power and money, etc.

Physiologically, addiction is a brain disorder. A pebble-sized structure in the midbrain called the amygdala controls our survival response. Think of it as your “Emergency Management Director.” When a crisis activates it, it nudges logic and reasoning over a bit and takes the wheel, which is preferable when you need to act quickly and don’t have time to think about whether or not insurance covers the toe you just removed with the mower. It has its flaws, however. After a period of over-indulging in a chosen chemical or activity, the amygdala becomes accustomed to the pleasure associated with it. It begins to see it as a normal part of basic functioning, and, in turn, the absence of it as an emergency. The rational brain knows there’s no real emergency, but remember it doesn’t have much say-so when we’re craving. So the compulsion to “survive” takes priority and the person does whatever’s necessary in order to use, often at a great cost. So, who becomes an addict? Best indications are: anyone with the genetics for it that over-indulges over a period of time … just like diabetes is likely to onset in a genetically predisposed person with a sedentary lifestyle and a junk-food diet.

Let’s define some terms: Abuse is any use that results in negative consequences such as (difficulties with relationships, work, health, the law, etc.). Addiction is a progressive illness that inhibits a person’s ability to moderate or quit even in the face of ongoing negative consequences (without special intervention and support that is). Addicts haven’t cornered the market on creating chaos, however. Abusers can also make bad decisions, but without those nasty genes, abusers generally have the ability to moderate or quit altogether when they’ve had a snoot-full of their own behavior.

The fact that some people can safely partake in certain pleasures and others can’t seems unfair, but it’s also unfair that a diabetic has to watch others enjoy the brownies. Seeing addiction for what it is allows people to drop their ideas that it’s about weakness or immorality. It’s a disease resulting in self-destructive behaviors that can often be labeled immoral, but a disease nonetheless. Of course, anyone with any illness ultimately has the Responsibility for an addict’s recovery is no different. The initial choice to get help must be theirs …for themselves as well as the people around them.

About Pine Grove:

Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services is the behavioral health care extension of Forrest General Hospital. Pine Grove’s world renowned programs treat gender specific chemical addiction including a specialized track for co-occurring eating disorders. Additionally, Pine Grove offers a substance abuse healing program for adults age 40 plus. Other Pine Grove specialty programs include a dedicated professional’s treatment curriculum and a comprehensive evaluation center. Pine Grove also features a program for patients with sexual addiction. Inpatient Services including an Adult Psychiatric Unit, along with a Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit, and Outpatient Services are other components. Pine Grove was established in 1984 and has provided nationally and internationally recognized health care for over 30 years.

About Ted Crawford:

Ted Crawford, LMFT provides psychotherapy for clients through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) of Forrest General Hospital and at the Gratitude and Pine Grove Outpatient Services (PGOS) programs of Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services. He earned his undergraduate degree in Education in 1987 and his master’s degree in marriage and family therapy in 1995 from the University of Southern Mississippi. Ted has also completed training in the use of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) to address trauma issues. His background includes work as an educator prior to coming to Pine Grove. In addition to working at the EAP, Gratitude and PGOS currently, Pine Grove has also benefitted from Crawford’s work at the Child & Adolescent Day Treatment and Professional Enhancement Programs and on the inpatient adult psychiatric unit. He enjoys writing and has written numerous informative (and entertaining) articles on clinical topics in a format that is easily understood by both professionals and patients. Ted has been employed with Pine Grove since 1998 and working with the EAP since 2001.

Visit www.pinegrovetreatment.com or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Pine Grove's Evaluation Center now offers Adult ADHD and Neuropsychological Evaluations

Since 1984, Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services has partnered with individuals and organizations throughout the country to provide specialized and comprehensive evaluations for behavioral health and addictive disorders. Now, Pine Grove's Evaluation Center is proud to offer Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Neuropsychological Evaluations.

The Adult ADHD Evaluation aims to rule-out other potential causes of educational, vocational, or personal impairments resulting from concentration or focus difficulties, impulsivity, emotional liability, as well as deficits in executive functioning and memory.

The Neuropsychological Evaluation is a comprehensive assessment of brain-mediated cognitive functions. The data from a neuropsychological evaluation is used to assess an individual's current level of cognitive functioning to determine the presence, nature, and degree of persisting cognitive and emotional deficits, establish the probable relationship between the patient's current neurobehavioral status and medical history, and evaluate the functional significance of such deficits.

Pine Grove's Evaluation Center also offers an Addiction Evaluation, Comprehensive Evaluation, and Psychosexual Evaluation.

About Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services:

Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services is an extension of Forrest General Hospital, located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Pine Grove’s world renowned programs focus on treating gender specific chemical addiction including a specialized track for co-occurring eating disorders. Additionally, Pine Grove offers a focused substance abuse healing program for adults age 55 and over. Other Pine Grove specialty programs include a dedicated professional’s treatment curriculum and a comprehensive evaluation center. Pine Grove also features a program for patients with sexual and intimacy disorder issues. Pine Grove was established in 1984 and has provided nationally and internationally recognized health care for over 30 years.

Visit www.pinegrovetreatment.com or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.

Friday, June 24, 2016

National PTSD Awareness Day

Ted Crawford, M.S., LMFT
Clinical Therapist, Pine Grove’s Outpatient Services

June 27th is National PTSD Awareness Day. There has been no shortage of traumatic events so far in 2016, and over the last couple of weeks in particular. Of course, the numbers of our combat veterans suffering from PTSD continues to grow as well. It's a condition that reaches far past the sufferer, affecting the loved ones closest to them. Everyone has some amount of trauma in their past that hasn't been fully processed. Even though the actual events are over, numerous people still have instances when the high-charged emotions connected to those experiences seem to "re-visit" them. If you're one of these people, know that after any overwhelming incident, there can be some emotional energy that continues to hang around. If it's bad enough and goes on for a while, it's called Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Either way, it's part of a normal reaction to an abnormal amount of stress. In other words, you're not going crazy.

PTSD is a condition in which the trauma sufferer is triggered to "re-experience" the event in some way (intrusive thoughts, feelings, body sensations, images, nightmares, etc.). The fear of being triggered naturally causes the person to avoid people, places, or situations that they would rather not have to avoid. They may also experience emotional shut-down mixed with intervals of heightened senses, feeling "on edge," being increasingly irritable and having difficulty sleeping and concentrating.

So why do some suffer these symptoms more than others, even after they go through similar events? First, know that there’s a multitude of factors influencing how an individual experiences a certain crisis. These factors determine how easy or difficult it is to make sense of that event in the moment. The more we understand about what’s happening and why, the quicker we can put our “fight and flight” energy to use to get safe (and have a gripping story to tell later). Any leftover energy is processed and released as we talk about it and allow ourselves to feel the associated emotions. If we do this enough, the story is de-stimulated to the point where it actually begins to bore the story-teller, and when it comes to getting over trauma, “boring” is what you want. This would be an example of processing a traumatic event according to the ideal pre-wired neurological plan. Other crisis situations, however, leave us with a story that’s so over-stimulating that it feels too difficult to talk (or even think) about. This is because, for numerous possible reasons, the experience overwhelmed our ability to comprehend it in that moment, therefore leaving us feeling helpless or “frozen” to some degree. An immobilized mind and body leaves the survival energy with no “discharge instructions.” Trapped inside, this energy prompts the survival portion of the brain to continue sensing a danger that no longer exists, particularly when triggered by something we associate with the event. You can imagine how all of this could interfere with a person’s ability to come to terms with something!

Now you know that post-traumatic symptoms aren’t really caused by the traumatic event itself, rather, they’re the result of not allowing ourselves to feel and express the emotions associated with the event. Emotions are meant to be released after they’ve run their course, and although they can be disturbing, they can’t hurt you unless you keep them bottled up. When an alarming emotion is sparked, it’s an opportunity to discharge the energy it carries. When enough of this energy is liberated, the information is stored in our long-term memory, where it rests (instead of banging around in our bodies, wreaking havoc). This is a requirement for us to fully heal. So talk about the event and how you experienced it. Cry, shout, shake (yes, when you can do it safely, let yourself fall apart a little)! Although our symptoms generally fade over time when we do this, it’s often wise to use professional help to move things along when needed. Many counselors are trained to work with this particular issue, and can help you through the process toward a full recovery.

At Pine Grove Outpatient Services, we understand the changes that life can bring for both adults and children. Pine Grove Outpatient Services is designed to help meet mental health needs by offering outpatient assessment/evaluation, medication management, and individual, family, and specialized therapy services. Highly skilled and experienced psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists are available to help you cope with life's changes.

Visit www.pinegrovetreatment.com or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Eating Disorders: What’s the big deal?

Caroline Smith, MA, LPC, CSAT-S, CMAT, CIP, EMDR
Director of Pine Grove's Intensive Workshops

Eating disorders are a serious but treatable illnesses with both medical and psychological aspects. Reflected in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published in 2013; anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder are three clearly diagnosable disorders. An individual with anorexia severely restricts his/her food intake; bulimia is self-induced vomiting, over-exercise or misuse of laxatives or diuretics, and binge-eating is consuming a large amount of food and feeling a loss of self control.

Eating disorders often interact with other disorders such as anxiety, depression, and various types of addiction. This could be why eating disorders have the highest death rate of any psychiatric illness. Up to 20 percent of individuals with chronic anorexia will die if the illness is left untreated. Additional community health studies show that bulimia and other specified feeding and eating disorders have comparably high mortality risks.

Individuals with eating disorders usually have an unhealthy focus on food and weight but their problems extend far beyond the obvious. Genetic researchers have found a link between eating disorders, perfectionism, and obsessive traits. Additionally, the malnutrition caused by eating disorder behaviors increases depression and anxiety which in turn negatively impacting all areas of life. It’s important to note that eating disorders are not always simply defined as anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating disorder. In some instances, the diagnosis of other specified feeding or eating disorder may be used.

Eating disorders do not discriminate; males and females of all ages may develop an eating disorder. According to recent eating disorder research, the most common presentation of an eating disorder is a Caucasian, Latina or African-American woman in her 30s or 40s with binge eating disorder. Individuals who struggle with an eating disorder often feel alone in their distress as the quality of their life diminishes. Although eating disorders are believed to be more prevalent in females, researchers and clinicians are seeing a growing number of males seeking help for eating disorders. There are subtle gender differences in eating disorder thoughts and behaviors. Males are more likely to be obsessed with building muscle than with weight loss. They are also more likely to purge using exercise and to misuse steroids than females. Gay, bisexual and transgender males are more likely to develop an eating disorder than are straight males. Men with eating disorders have long been misunderstood and under diagnosed, as well as having to deal with the stigma of having a “woman’s” disease.

The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) has partnered with Screening for Mental Health, Inc. to launch www.MyBodyScreening.org, a website where individuals can take a free, anonymous self-assessment to gauge their risk of an eating disorder. Information is a powerful tool in the battle against eating disorders. Honor Eating Disorder Awareness Week by empowering yourself and others with a free screening.

Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services is an extension of Forrest General Hospital, located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Pine Grove’s world renowned programs focus on treating gender specific chemical addiction including a specialized track for co-occurring eating disorders. Additionally, Pine Grove offers a focused substance abuse healing program for adults age 55 and over. Other Pine Grove specialty programs include a dedicated professional’s treatment curriculum and a comprehensive evaluation center. Pine Grove also features a program for patients with sexual and intimacy disorder issues. Pine Grove was established in 1984 and has provided nationally and internationally recognized health care for over 30 years.

Visit www.pinegrovetreatment.com or call 1-888-574-HOPE (4673) for more information.

Pine Grove Treatment