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Friday, October 10, 2014

Getting Started

by Dr. Tony Calabrese and Patricia Calabrese, PMH-NP

A Pine Grove Psychiatrist once said, “A health problem left untreated usually gets worse.” We all know this intuitively, which is why we typically seek help. In some cases we may choose to ignore a set of symptoms for a while, but when our lives become so negatively impacted we typically seek help. And when we do seek help, more often than not, we find some relief. So why ignore the problem? Why choose to do nothing?

One reason is shame. More often than not this occurs when there is a mental health problem. Some believe that mental health is a matter of will power that if the person would only think right, get their act together, or try harder the situation would improve. Frequently mental illness has no noticeable wound or bandage. We can see behaviors, the interpersonal interactions with others and the corresponding social impact. But these are things that most people feel they can control, so why can’t everyone?

Waking up and getting dressed in the morning is a chore for someone who is depressed, navigating a social gathering is difficult for people with anxiety, and getting through a school day is hard for students when they are distracted. A lack of will power has nothing to do with it.

Apply the same rationale to a “medical” problem. We would never tell someone with a medical issue to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, why then do we do this with an emotional illness? You wouldn’t tell someone with a broken leg, cancer, or arthritis that it can be controlled with will power. You would encourage them to seek immediate treatment. The same encouragement should be given to someone with depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness because as we all know that any health problem left untreated typically gets worse.

Dr. Tony Calabrese is the Director of Psychology and Outpatient Services at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services. He also serves as the Chief Psychologist for the pre-doctoral Psychology internship training program. Patricia Calabrese is a licensed Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and she currently treats children and adolescents at Pine Grove Outpatient Services. She has a professional interest in ADHD and parenting education.

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

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Peace Within Peace Without

by Dr. Tony Calabrese and Patricia Calabrese, PMH-NP

Mental Health is intricately linked to physical health, it is vital and we all strive to achieve it. However, for some people attaining positive mental health is a daily struggle. Take a level, for example, like the ones used by carpenters and notice its sensitivity to movement. The little bubble in the center of the instrument moves to the right and left with just the slightest touch.

We want to attain mental health that feels like a nice warm bath, or the sounds of classical music being played on a piano. It’s a peaceful state of mind, making us feel confident and happy.

When there is a disturbance in the level and the bubble moves off center, the equilibrium is gone, much like our inner tranquility. The disturbance may be represented by a snide comment, stormy weather, or upsetting news. When this happens, the goal is to recapture that peaceful state despite the circumstances.

Carpenters often say a steady hand produces a level shelf. Everyone should continually develop a steady hand, so the journey we call life doesn't disturb our inner bubble.

Dr. Tony Calabrese is the Director of Psychology and Outpatient Services at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services. He also serves as the Chief Psychologist for the pre-doctoral Psychology internship training program. Patricia Calabrese is a licensed Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and she currently treats children and adolescents at Pine Grove Outpatient Services. She has a professional interest in ADHD and parenting education.

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

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Ted Crawford, M.S., LMFT

June is National PTSD Awareness month. Everyone has some amount of trauma in their past that hasn’t been fully processed (“digested”). Even though the actual events are over, numerous people still have instances when the high-charged emotions connected to those experiences seem to “revisit” them. If you’re one of these, 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 (PTSD). 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”/numbness 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 going through same/similar events? First, know that there’s a multitude of factors influencing how an individual experiences a certain crisis. These factors determine how easy/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.

Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services in Hattiesburg, Mississippi is known as one of the nation's most comprehensive treatment campuses. Since 1984 Pine Grove has offered a continuum of addiction services ranging from outpatient to inpatient and residential treatment for adults, children, and senior adults suffering from psychiatric and addictive diseases. Specialized services include the treatment of addictions, co-occurring eating disorders, sexual addiction, and professionals struggling with interpersonal difficulties. The Pine Grove Mission is to be a leader in healing and changing lives by providing the highest quality behavioral health services.

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

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Step Four: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves

By Carver Brown, Pine Grove Alumni Services

Step 4 is where we hunt down the green dragon. If we are to believe as it says in the Big Book “that “our liquor was but a symptom” (page 64) then battling addiction is facing the wrong monster. No wonder my best efforts to control or eradicate addiction were fruitless. I was facing the wrong problem.

In the fourth step we begin a new journey to discover the truth about ourselves. This is done by putting pen to paper and keeping the mantra flowing of nothing mattering except thoroughness and honesty. If you begin like me it starts with a blank page and a nervous twitch.

We write about our resentments, our fears and our harms done to others. Every stroke of the pen moves us further down the path to come to the great green dragon of our very own character defects. We stand before him fully revealed without the fog of addiction obscuring the truth. Our inventory becomes the sword we use to strike in the Fifth Step.

Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services in Hattiesburg, Mississippi is known as one of the nation's most comprehensive treatment campuses. Since 1984 Pine Grove has offered a continuum of addiction services ranging from outpatient to inpatient and residential treatment for adults, children, and senior adults suffering from psychiatric and addictive diseases. Specialized services include the treatment of addictions, co-occurring eating disorders, sexual addiction, and professionals struggling with interpersonal difficulties. The Pine Grove Mission is to be a leader in healing and changing lives by providing the highest quality behavioral health services.

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

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Keeping New Year Resolutions

How’s that New Year’s Resolution working out for you?

You’re not alone or maybe you are.

Ok by now you’ve had about a month to institute the changes you pledged for the New Year. Often, these are rooted in punishments for misbehaving (i.e., overindulging) during the month of December or unrealistic expectations of yourself. Typically what follows the mystical January 1st restrictive phase (e.g., giving up… or do more …) are feelings of deep resentment and deprivation. Simultaneously, you may find yourself making comparisons to others which can lead to distorted thinking about your efforts, motivation, barriers, etc. Eventually, your self-appraisal or ‘goal discrepancy’ (i.e., the difference between your present and ideal level of accomplishment) will determine your sense of success or failure. This could lead to abandonment or continued pursuit of your pledge.

Unfortunately, this is usually the approach and path most individuals take in attempting to create change in their lives. Make no mistake; goal setting will generally improve your performance. However, the type of goal you set is a key determinant in the extent to which your goal translates into performance gains. Not surprisingly, the more difficult and specific your goals are, the greater the effort required and reward experienced through achievement. Consider these guidelines when reviewing your most recent set of goals:

1. How convinced were you that the goal was important?

2. How convinced were you that the goal was attainable?

3. Was the difficulty level of the goal chosen or accepted?

4. What was your level of commitment to your goals?

5. What plan did you have for negative feedback or failure?

6. Did you have a feedback process for showing progress?

7. Did you have a plan for managing your goals when disruptions occur?

Lastly, your best chance of achieving goals requires a commitment rooted in Self-Determination and the ability to satisfy your basic psychological needs as you pursue and attain your valued outcomes. The need for autonomy in your world, a sense of competence or mastery, and the ability to relate provide the structure for internally driven desires. This contradicts the belief that we are externally driven. I’m reminded of a wonderful example of self-determination in a recent movie I saw, All Is Loss, starring Robert Redford. Although his goal setting is based on survival and can parallel recovery, his determination to persevere in the face of grave adversity warrants reflection.

Philip Hemphill, PhD

Dr. Hemphill is the Director of the Professional Enhancement Program at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services. The Professional Enhancement Program (PEP) is a comprehensive continuum of integrated behavioral health treatment services for professionals offered through Pine Grove, one of the nation’s leading treatment facilities. PEP is designed to help professionals with addictions and addictive illnesses, disruptive behavior, boundary violations, personality disorders, interpersonal difficulties, and vocational issues.

Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services in Hattiesburg, Mississippi is known as one of the nation's most comprehensive treatment campuses. Since 1984 Pine Grove has offered a continuum of addiction services ranging from outpatient to inpatient and residential treatment for adults, children, and senior adults suffering from psychiatric and addictive diseases. Specialized services include the treatment of addictions, co-occurring eating disorders, sexual addiction, and professionals struggling with interpersonal difficulties. The Pine Grove Mission is to be a leader in healing and changing lives by providing the highest quality behavioral health services.

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

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