8 Early Signs of OCD to Take Seriously

What is OCD?

Colorful fruit pattern of fresh watermelon slices on blue background. From top viewbaibaz/Shutterstock

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is relatively easy to understand, given the name. The obsession part is characterized by intrusive, repetitive, and unwanted thoughts. Compulsion comes in with actions or behaviors you engage in to try to control your obsessive thoughts, according to Psychology Today. These actions can give sufferers momentary relief, but the anxious thoughts usually return. Typically, the condition kicks in when sufferers are around 19 years of age. However, a third of adults first show signs in childhood; 25 percent of cases are diagnosed by age 14. This condition can be difficult to pick up in kids—parents may assume that the symptoms are a normal part of growing up, or that the behavior is part of a child’s personality. Both genders are equally likely to develop OCD.

CENTERS’ PIECE: Living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Helping children with their nightmares

Centers for Children and Families logo

Centers for Children and Families logo



Posted: Monday, September 3, 2018 4:00 am

CENTERS’ PIECE: Living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Helping children with their nightmares

Christine Hall LPC, LCDC

Odessa American

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder otherwise known as OCD can affect individuals of any age.

It is considered an anxiety disorder causing unwanted excessive thoughts, ideas or sensations which are termed obsessions and repetitive behaviors called compulsions. For individuals living with OCD it negatively affects their daily life due to the obsessions/compulsions impacting day to day tasks.

A significant level of stress is caused from the obsessive thoughts and the compulsive behaviors which the individual believes must be performed in order for them to feel a sense of relief or calm. It is important to remember that children and teenagers may not be aware of the excessiveness of their compulsions and obsessions as an adult with OCD may recognize.

Although, living with this disorder is difficult for the individual, it is also extremely difficult and frustrating for the support system of the diagnosed individual.

Helpful reminders for the support system according to Helpguide.org(2018)

  1.  Avoid making personal criticisms to the individual with OCD.
  2.  Do not scold someone with OCD or tell them to stop performing rituals.
  3.  Be as kind and patient as possible.
  4.  Do not play along with your loved one’s rituals.
  5.  Keep communication positive and clear.
  6.  Find the humor.
  7.  Do not let OCD take over family life.

It can be hard to comprehend why someone cannot just stop the compulsions or stop obsessing over ideas and control their thoughts.

Individuals diagnosed with OCD are usually aware that their thoughts are irrational and unrealistic. However; at times the main struggle comes from being aware that the obsessive illogical thoughts are just that, yet being overpowered when trying to transfer their thoughts/actions causing a cycle of confusion and guilt.

Common obsessions in individuals with OCD can be related to contamination, harm, and symmetry, however; there are numerous others. The most common compulsions are cleaning, repetition, checking and arranging.

Here are a few tips when dealing with OCD according to Helpguide.org (2018):

  1. 1. Resist OCD rituals
  • Do not avoid fears
  • Anticipate OCD urges
  • Refocus your attention

2. Challenge obsessive thoughts

  • Write down obsessive thoughts or worries
  • Create an OCD worry period
  • Re-label, reattribute, refocus, revalue

3. Make lifestyle changes that may ease anxiety

  • Exercise regularly
  • Get enough sleep
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine
  • Practice relaxation techniques

4. Use a support system

  • Stay connected to family and friends
  • Join an OCD support group

5. Professional treatment

  • Individual therapy
  • Medication
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy

If you or someone you know is living with OCD and it has become unmanageable to work through on your own reach out for help and remember there are different options for treatment.

 

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Monday, September 3, 2018 4:00 am.


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Florence Pride, Lpc

Differences between obsessive-compulsive disorder and obsessive …

RHM

RHM

While individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder differ, they share the same fear of contamination and fascination with symmetry.



Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2018 12:00 am

Differences between obsessive-compulsive disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder

Chris DeWitt
Lifestyles Writer

Camp Lejeune Globe

You may have heard the phrase “I’m OCD,” as it has become a colloquial term. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) gets frequently confused with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). However, both disorders can make life very challenging for people living with them. In this week’s edition of “Raising Healthy Minds,” I want to differentiate between the two and provide clarity.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), OCD is characterized by the presence of actual obsessions and compulsions which include recurrent and unwanted thoughts and impulses that cause significant anxiety and distress. Behaviors become ritualistic. If one does not perform a specific ritual, great distress is felt and can be accompanied by an irrational fear (repeatedly touching a door knob so someone won’t break in). People living with OCD try to muzzle these unwanted thoughts by substituting them with new ones. Other classic symptoms include repetitive mannerisms such as constant checking (i.e. seeing if a door is locked), handwashing and adopting any such habits to ward off the anxiety and distress.

The DSM-5 defines OCPD as “a pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness and efficiency.” This is the disorder people are actually referring to when they say “I have OCD.” People suffering from OCPD are perpetual perfectionists and have an unquenchable desire for control and order. They may display conduct such as excessive devotion to work with little to no regard to recreation or social activity. This is often accompanied by an inability to part with items that are no longer useful or practical, leading to hoarding and similar tendencies. Individuals with OCPD are highly unlikely to acknowledge there is any issue with their behavior and will often focus blame onto others when obstacles come.

One of the key differences between the two disorders is the ability to delay gratification. Those with OCPD can delay the need for immediate reward in their rigid pursuit of some future objective for an almost indefinite period, while those with OCD are continually in search of instant gratification. While very different in nature, the two disorders do share a few traits: a fear of contamination, a fascination with symmetry and a badgering sense of doubt.

Treatment for OCD and OCPD can be difficult. Different forms of therapy can be utilized in addition to anti-anxiety and antidepressants to relieve the symptoms. If you are concerned you or a loved one might be living with OCD or OCPD, seek professional diagnosis and treatment with an established local mental health provider. Both the professional and personal lives of those with OCD and OCPD can become significantly disrupted by the extreme behaviors they can exhibit. As always with your mental health, be your own biggest advocate.

For more information on local resources, visit www.mccslejeune-newriver.com/counseling.

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How Anxiety Can Fuel a Panic Attack — and What to Do Next

What is anxiety?

It’s defined as excessive, persisting worry over an imminent event such as death or illness or even minor events such as being late for an appointment or other uncertain outcomes.

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Feeling anxious is common and can affect anyone, at any age. Episodes can range in seriousness and frequency.

But consistent worrying and fear can be problematic to healthy function.

That’s why knowing the type of anxiety you have can be helpful to finding a solution, says Elizabeth Duval, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry with Michigan Medicine.

Types of anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are broken down into five major types:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder: Chronic anxiety characterized by exaggerated worry and tension, usually focused on future events and outcomes.

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Behaviors are often performed with the hope of preventing or shaking off obsessive thoughts. But that provides only temporary relief; not performing them markedly increases anxiety symptoms.

  • Panic disorder: Unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder: Develops after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.

  • Social anxiety disorder: Overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations.

Anxiety and panic attacks

Although anxiety may fuel a panic attack, it’s a separate condition that can be gradual and chronic. (That’s why there’s no such thing as an “anxiety attack.”)

Panic attacks, by contrast, are marked by an intense and overwhelming sense of fear or dread in response to an imminent threat. Panic attacks, often brief, are brought on by the body’s “fight or flight” response a natural and adaptive process that helps fight off danger or run from it.

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This process can be triggered any time we perceive ourselves to be in harm’s way and it can happen within the context of any anxiety or stress disorder.

“If someone has a fear of dogs, encountering an unfamiliar dog could trigger a panic attack,” Duval says. “Someone who has social anxiety or worries about being judged negatively by others might have a panic attack when giving a speech or introducing themselves to new people.”

Symptoms of a panic attack

For some people, panic attacks seem to come out of the blue or are triggered by uncomfortable sensations in the body, Duval says.

Signs of a panic attack include:

  • Racing heart

  • Shortness of breath

  • Trembling or shaking

  • Chest discomfort

  • Feeling of choking

  • Nausea or stomach distress

  • Tingling in extremities

  • Lightheadedness

  • Changes in sensory experiences (e.g. tunnel vision)

  • Feeling cold or hot

  • Sweating

  • Feeling like things are unreal or unfamiliar

  • Fear of dying or fear of losing control

A panic attack would include at least four of these symptoms, Duval says.

She notes that panic attacks can come on quickly and peak, or be at their worst, within 10 minutes. Most attacks resolve relatively quickly, within 30 minutes for most people.

Nor are they dangerous: “Panic attacks do not last forever; panic will subside on its own, even if you don’t do anything,” Duval says.

How to stop a panic attack

If a panic attack occurs, what do you do?

Duval suggests “grounding” yourself or becoming aware of your surroundings and sensory experiences. This can be achieved by deep breathing, for example.

SEE ALSO: 3 Easy Anxiety Relief Exercises You Can Use Anywhere

“A big part of stopping a panic attack is to ride out the initial intensity and let it come down,” she says. “Sometimes being present in the moment can be helpful. Orient yourself to your surroundings.”

While panic attacks aren’t uncommon, you shouldn’t have to live in fear. Frequent attacks become a problem when they are causing distress and causing you to withdraw from activities or responsibilities.

“Sometimes people will become afraid they might have another panic attack and will begin avoiding doing activities that might bring one on,” Duval says. “This can cause significant impairment.

“If panic attacks or anxiety are making it difficult to live life the way you want, or if they’re causing distress, it might be time to seek out professional help.”

Panic attack treatment and prevention

Cognitive behavioral therapy and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the first-line, evidence-based treatments for anxiety. These treatments can be used separately or in combination.

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on identifying and addressing anxiety-related thoughts and behaviors. It often involves meeting with a therapist weekly and practicing hands-on strategies each day to manage anxious thoughts and behaviors.

SSRIs are taken daily and can help adjust levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, which can affect mood and anxiety. There are many types of SSRIs. A medication provider will determine which one is best for you and will meet with you regularly to monitor benefits and side effects.

SEE ALSO: Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Treat Teen OCD

Duval doesn’t recommend avoidance strategies or using substances such as drugs or alcohol to cope with or abstain from anxious feelings or panic attacks. Incorrect use of substances, including prescriptions, can interfere with relationships and work.

“It is a way to mask or avoid the anxiety; we’re not giving ourselves ways to manage it that are going to decrease it long term,” Duval says.

Instead, she suggests finding strategies to manage the attacks or reduce the anxiety around having a panic attack.

“The challenge is that oftentimes the more we try to prevent something, the more it will happen,” Duval says. “A big part of managing anxiety and panic is finding ways to face it.”

This is often the focus of treatment: “If people are having a lot of panic attacks, we’re going to want to be working with them to help identify their specific anxiety triggers and find ways to manage those triggers.

“We can’t prevent the triggers from occurring, but we can change the way we respond.”

For more information, visit the Anxiety and Depression Association of America or the University of Michigan Anxiety Disorders Program.

6 Great Books to Read If You Have Anxiety

If you’re here, you’re probably prone to anxiety, and hunting online for people who’ve lived through experiences like yours. Those with generalized anxiety disorder (or other forms of anxiety disorder) know how exhausting it can be, and even physically painful. Anxiety can also cloud your judgment, making it hard to trust people close to you — even yourself. And for the people close to you who don’t have anxiety, understanding those anxious feelings and reactions can be frustrating.

Anxiety is also frequently dismissed as “just stress,” something everyone experiences from time to time. Conversely, some medical professionals can be quick to attribute too much to anxiety when a patient admits to having it. There’s no doubt that having anxiety can be a challenging, painful, and isolating experience, but if there’s any good news to be taken from the decades-long increase in reported anxiety and depression, it’s that there is more and more good writing being published on the subject. Here are six books that you (or an anxious person you know) might find illuminating, insightful, and even life-changing.

For a well-told history: My Age of Anxiety, by Scott Stossel

In a tone both educational and deeply personal, Stossel takes readers back through decades of anxiety research and the numerous scientific and medical interventions considered “treatments” over time. Though he’s compassionate toward anxiety sufferers (especially being one himself), he also manages to make anxiety (or at least some of the popular thinking around it) funny. Though reviewers say the book’s historical research is “exhaustive,” they’re also nearly unanimous in their praise of its humanity and relatability. If you want a better understanding of your anxiety disorder, or are curious to learn more about how our culture understands and treats it, this is a must-read.

EEG correlates of induced anxiety in obsessive–compulsive patients: comparison of autobiographical and general …

Dana Kamaradova,1 Martin Brunovsky,2 Jan Prasko,1 Jiri Horacek,2 Miroslav Hajda,1 Ales Grambal,1 Klara Latalova1

1Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital Olomouc, Olomouc, Czech Republic; 2National Institute of Mental Health, Klecany, Czech Republic

Background: The underlying symptomatology of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) can be viewed as an impairment in both cognitive and behavioral inhibition, regarding difficult inhibition of obsessions and behavioral compulsions. Converging results from neuroimaging and electroencephalographic (EEG) studies have identified changes in activities throughout the medial frontal and orbital cortex and subcortical structures supporting the cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical circuit model of OCD. This study aimed to elucidate the electrophysiological changes induced by autobiographical and general anxiety scenarios in patients with OCD.
Methods: Resting-state eyes-closed EEG data were recorded in 19 OCD patients and 15 healthy controls. Cortical EEG sources were estimated by standardized low-resolution electromagnetic tomography (sLORETA). The changes in the emotional state were induced by two different scenarios: the autobiographical script related to patient’s OCD symptoms and the script triggering general anxiety.
Results: During the resting state, we proved increased delta activity in the frontal, limbic and temporal lobe and the sub-lobar area in OCD patients. In a comparison of neural activities during general anxiety in OCD patients and the control group, we proved an increase in delta (parietal, temporal, occipital, frontal and limbic lobes, and sub-lobal area), theta (temporal, parietal and occipital lobes) and alpha-1 activities (parietal lobe). Finally, we explored the neural activity of OCD patients during exposure to the autobiographic scenario. We proved an increase in beta-3 activity (left frontal lobe).
Conclusion: Our study proved differences in neural activation in OCD patients and healthy controls during imagination of general anxiety. Exposure to the autobiographic OCD scenario leads to activation of left frontal brain areas. The results show the possibility of using specific scenarios in OCD therapy.

Keywords: anxiety, obsessive–compulsive disorder, autobiographical script, electroencephalography, cognitive-behavior therapy

I was diagnosed with OCD and, let me tell you, it’s much darker than a simple cleaning disorder

Every time I hear someone say they are “so OCD” because they frantically cleaned their kitchen that morning, I feel a surge of disappointment in my stomach.

Over the years, we have become conditioned to believe that obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is nothing more than liking your shoes lined up, having to count to a certain number or organising your cupboards with labels.

Not only has this become a misconception due to people using the condition as a description for their personality quirks, but even TV shows have added to the stigma – such as Channel 4’s Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners, which added to the belief that having OCD is all about getting down on your hands and knees to scrub a toilet over and over again.

While people often use the term lightheartedly, they don’t realise the damage they’re doing. But this isn’t exactly their fault. It’s a frequent misunderstanding. It’s a misunderstanding that has gone on for too long, and is demoralising to those seriously suffering with the disorder.

As part of OCD, an obsession is an unwanted or unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters your mind, causing feelings of anxiety. These can be severe, intrusive thoughts – the fear that if you don’t wash your hands a certain number of times, you will contaminate yourself or someone else. The fear that if you don’t repeatedly check your oven, the house might set on fire. Or the fear that not properly turning the taps off – and doing so over and over again – will cause a flood.

Checking the oven, washing your hands and things like that are the compulsion. And the compulsion is done to ease the anxiety the obsessions cause.

Of course, this isn’t just a standard check. It’s non-stop. Going back to the taps and the oven to check you really did turn it off – because a voice in your head tells you that you didn’t, and that something bad is going to happen, is not a one-off.

These are rituals that can take hours out of your day-to-day life – for some, making it impossible to even leave the house.

There are so many subtypes of the disorder that people aren’t aware of – and they can cause a sufferer such extreme anxiety and feelings of guilt and shame that they do not talk about them.

Harm OCD, for instance, will cause a sufferer to have intrusive thoughts about harming people. They may hide knives away, fearing that they will actually carry out the thoughts. Or maybe they’ll refuse to drive, convincing themselves that they’ll steer the car into someone. Of course, a person with OCD will not act on these feelings. According to cognitive behavioural therapist Helen Tyrer, a person with OCD is actually less likely to harm anyone else due to how overwhelming the fears are. But the thoughts make you think otherwise.

There are also even darker subtypes, including paedophillia OCD (POCD), which causes a person to have awful thoughts about children. They may worry that they are a danger around children. That they might harm a child. Again, these people are not actually in any way harmful – but they will go on to avoid being around children, be that by cancelling on a nephew’s birthday party, or avoiding going near schools or parks.

The intrusive thoughts about harming children are the obsession, while avoiding certain scenarios to prevent danger is the compulsion.

Alongside POCD, other serious subtypes include post-partum OCD – where a mother becomes obsessively scared of harming her child, and sexuality OCD – where a person becomes convinced that they are gay, even when they are not. This can be incredibly confusing for a person with this condition, who is unable to define their sexuality due to their thoughts.

I was officially diagnosed with OCD last year. I had been suffering with a number of symptoms. I was washing my hands up to 60 times, scared that if I didn’t, I’d contaminate myself or someone else and make them sick. It sounds silly, but I worried that if I or someone else became sick because of my own hands they would die.

Other symptoms included taking an hour to get into bed, from frantically checking plugs and light switches, worried that there would be an electrical fire in the night. Leaving the house would be a nightmare for the fear of the doors being unlocked and someone breaking in, and I found myself obsessed with the thought that I’d killed someone while driving and being unable to remember it. At its worst, my OCD was a terrible, debilitating condition that reduced me to tears and even made me question my own life. I felt like I wasn’t living, merely existing, consumed by terrible thoughts and tiresome rituals.

Dr Fiona Challacombe, clinical psychologist at the Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma, Maudsley Hospital and King’s College Hospital, explains that OCD is often thought of as a cleaning disorder or, worse, she says, a “behavioural quirk”.

She adds that though OCD is distressing to live with, it can be treated – most commonly with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or with Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), both of which are recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as first line treatments.

With all of this in mind, we need to start recognising OCD for the life-destroying illness it really is. We need to educate ourselves, and others, too.

Not just to battle the old-fashioned misconceptions surrounding a very misunderstood condition, but to allow those suffering to feel like just that sufferers and not as though their illness is some form of ongoing joke between people who just don’t get it.

We need to do better. We can do better. And understanding OCD for what it really is and what it’s most definitely not can only take us a step forward in reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness that we sadly still face today.


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BrainsWay’s Brain Stimulation Device Receives FDA Approval to Treat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Photo: BrainsWay

In 2013, Jerusalem-based BrainsWay began marketing a new type of brain stimulation device that uses magnetic pulses to treat major depressive disorder.

Now, thanks to positive results in a study of 100 patients, the company has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market the device for a second psychiatric condition—obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

5 Ways Communities Are Coping With Climate Anxiety

Katie Hayes, Blake Poland and Mark Hathaway

This summer, wildfires erupted in California, torrential rains flooded parts of Japan, and record-breaking temperatures led to a number of heat-related deaths around the globe. Disasters like these are augmented by climate change, and scientists say extreme weather like this will increase and worsen as climate change accelerates.


And it’s impacting our mental health.

Given the scale of climate change, it makes sense that people are worried about its impacts. And worry can lead to depression, anxiety, and persistent fear. While worry can be a motivator for action, it can also have the opposite effect, leaving us feeling powerless, overwhelmed and apathetic.

As research scientists who study the interaction between ecology and human health, we’re interested in the ways that climate change impacts our mental health.People can experience everything from altruism, a sense of personal growth, and strong sense of community to post-traumatic stress disorder, panic, and anxiety after a climate-related extreme weather event. While less is known about the positive mental health effects from climate change, the impacts of climate-related extreme weather on mental illness is better established. For example, one year after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, researchers found an increased prevalence of PTSD, mental illness, and suicidal thoughts and plans. Research also suggests that climate change affects pre-existing mental health conditions. One study found that climate change exacerbated obsessive-compulsive disorder, with participants expressing obsessive-compulsive tendencies over wasting water, gas, and electricity; and obsessive fears about flooding and drought.

Like the other impacts of climate change, mental health impacts disproportionately affect different groups. Researchers, like epidemiologist Anthony McMichael, have noted that climate change amplifies existing social inequities. Indigenous people, the poor, seniors, children, and people of color bear the greatest burden of a changing climate.

So what is being done to address the mental health consequences of climate change? Recent scholarship—by us and others—shows that in many places, community-based responses are facilitating recovery, hope, and action.

Here are five community-based programs that are helping people confront—and cope with—the mental health consequences of climate change.

1. REACH NOLA breaks down barriers to provide mental health care after Hurricane Katrina

REACH NOLA is a New Orleans nonprofit collaborative of community-based faith groups, academics, health practitioners, and social service providers to address the mental health recovery of those impacted by Hurricane Katrina. In 2006, REACH NOLA established the Mental Health Infrastructure and Training Project to respond to the mental health effects of the hurricane. MHIT is a mental health care capacity-building project that provides guidance on mental health care training and implementation in at-risk communities.

Research documents how MHIT emerged after the hurricane in the lower 9th ward. The neighborhood was one of the hardest hit in New Orleans and predominantly made up of low-income African Americans with little access to mental health care. Noting the mental health needs of the neighborhood and gaps in care, the president of the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association in the lower 9th ward teamed up with other organizations and mental health clinicians to found REACH NOLA and, subsequently, the MHIT project. Because the HCNA was already a trusted resource to neighborhood residents, it was able to help mental health clinicians reach community members in need.

Here’s how they did it: Before health practitioners entered the community, HCNA community leads provided residents with information and education about depression and the potential for other mental health effects related to disastrous events like the hurricane. The aim was to dispel pervasive stigmas about mental health that would keep people from accessing help. Mental health practitioners then provided treatment to residents. They also trained lower 9th ward residents to offer mental health aid, who were then employed as community health workers in their neighborhood. This opportunity provided mental health services, employment, new career opportunities, and opportunities for residents to be stewards in their neighborhood’s recovery.

2. “Safe Spot” trains businesses and organizations in psychological first aid after a super flood

Bridging community institutions with mental health care providers is a common approach to providing care after a climate-related disaster. The community of High River, Alberta, was left with mental health concerns long after government money and disaster response assistance dried up. In 2013, the town experienced a super flood that displaced the entire town of 13,000 people and resulted in four deaths. According to public health surveillance research, as well as stories from residents, many townspeople reported anxiety, trouble sleeping, and post-traumatic stress disorder following the flood.

In response, the town is currently implementing a mental health initiative called Safe Spot, which trains employees of business and agencies in psychological first aid to support community well-being. An orange dot in the windows of businesses lets community members know that they have a safe space to talk about, and seek support for, their mental health from trained community members. If someone is experiencing a crisis and they need support before they are able to access formal counseling or professional services, they can seek support from a local business or agency who has been trained in psychological community care. The idea is that every door is the right door to support community mental health and well-being.

3. The Transition Town Movement provides a space for connection and environmental activism

Transition Town initiatives throughout the United States, Canada, and around the world are part of a community-driven grassroots movement to help people cope with climate change, peak oil, and ecological degradation. At the heart of the movement is inner transition work, which is based on the idea that the relationship that we have with the natural world is a direct reflection of the relationship we have with our inner landscape.

Individual community members are supported through their inner transitions by community groups. These groups provide a space for residents to talk about fears and concerns about climate change, support each other in building community resilience, and provide opportunities to explore plans to transition to a low-carbon future. According to a study on the adoption of the transition model in 10 towns in Australia, researchers found it helped individuals develop lifestyle changes to reduce carbon emissions. They also found that developing an eco-spiritual connection helped individuals—especially women—incite action on climate change.

In the U.S., Transition U.S. is building a nationwide campaign to support community resilience and emergency preparedness. Called Ready Together, the campaign aims to prepare communities for environmental disasters—like climate-augmented extreme weather—through educational materials and action-oriented toolkits. The initiative is currently being launched with plans to include podcasts, webinars, workshops, and a Ready Together handbook to prepare communities for disasters. The campaign targets physical preparedness as well as mental health needs after a disaster.

4. Transformative processes to reconnect people with themselves and their environment

In some cases, communities are supporting individuals’ spiritual growth to help them cope with climate change. The Work That Reconnects is a group process for cultivating spiritual growth first developed by Joanna Macy in the U.S. and now facilitated by trained educators around the globe. It’s rooted in the belief that addressing climate change and other ecological crises starts with cultivating appreciation and gratitude for the Earth. At the same time, the facilitated groups provide safe places where people can share feelings of fear, doubt, guilt, and even despair. Recognizing that we experience pain about climate change because we are connected to all life and future generations—and understanding that we are not alone in experiencing this—can empower action.

The process employs a wide variety of meditative and interactive practices, many involving the use of the imagination to stimulate creativity and cultivate empathy. In a Work That Reconnects workshop led by Mark Hathaway for undergraduate environmental studies students at the University of Toronto, one student wrote in their reflection that the approach “highlights the interconnectedness of the participants with one another, as well as with the greater world, which once again leads to an emotional connection.” Another student wrote that the process built a sense of empowerment and helped them experience “the capacity to instigate change.”

5. One Earth Sanga: the online community that supports spiritual growth and ecological awareness

Some community-based mental health programs also help people reckon with the inequality that’s exacerbated by climate change. One Earth Sanga is an online platform that helps people respond to the climate crisis through Buddhist teachings and its EcoSattva training program. This platform was co-founded by two Buddhist environmentalists, Kristin Barker and Lou Lenard, and was created in partnership with the Insight Meditation Community in Washington state. The online platform provides a digital space to learn, reflect, and take action on climate change.

One of the teachings on this platform—and highlighted in its training program—is about confronting Whiteness and addressing privilege as a necessary part of confronting climate change. The equity training that One Earth Sanga provides can be an important reckoning for many who sympathize with people on the front lines of climate change but may not recognize the role privilege and Whiteness plays in shielding them from many of the social, emotional, physical, and mental health consequences of climate change.

Reposted with permission from our media associate YES! Magazine.

Examining Whether Adjunctive Glutamatergic Medication Further Eases OCD Symptoms

Researchers examined whether adjunctive gabapentin or memantine and standard treatment with a selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) might lead to further improvements in patients with OCD.

Supplementing standard obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) medication with glutamatergic medication such as gabapentin and memantine has no additional positive effect in patients with OCD, according to research published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

To determine whether adjunctive gabapentin or memantine and standard treatment with a selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) might lead to further improvements in patients with OCD researchers conducted a double-blind placebo-controlled trial in which 99 outpatients with OCD (average age 29.59) were randomly assigned to receive one of three treatments for 8 weeks: fluoxetine plus gabapentin, fluoxetine plus memantine, or fluoxetine plus placebo.

Researchers used the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale to rate patients’ OCD symptoms at baseline, 4 weeks, and trial completion. To be included in the study, participants were required to have a baseline score of ≥15 points. Mean scores at baseline differed significantly between groups: 18.70 for gabapentin, 16.36 for placebo, and 16.39 for memantine.

Neither the gabapentin nor the memantine group demonstrated significant score change over time. The placebo group was actually found to have a superior Time X Group interaction, with an overall average reduction of 4.24 points. In comparison, gabapentin dropped 4.03 points and memantine dropped 3.15 points (P =.042).

There were no significant differences between the groups in response rates from baseline to 4 and 8 weeks. Adverse events in the memantine group tended toward rash; in the placebo group toward anxiety; and in the gabapentin group toward drowsiness, anxiety, and drowsiness plus anxiety.

The researchers reported several study limitations, including the risk for unknown confounding factors inherent in outpatient treatment such as family issues and job strains.

“The key finding of the present study was that neither adjuvant gabapentin nor adjuvant memantine had better effects on symptoms of OCD than a placebo,” said the researchers. “The present pattern of results therefore adds to the current literature on the treatment of this disorder in that adjuvant memantine and adjuvant gabapentin does not appear to be justified.”

Reference

Farnia V, Gharehbaghi H, Alikhani M, et al. Efficacy and tolerability of adjunctive gabapentin and memantine in obsessive compulsive disorder: double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial [published online July 21, 2018]. J Psychiatr Res. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2018.07.008

The FDA Says This Brain-Stimulating Device May Help People With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

OCD is often treated with psychotherapy and antidepressant medication, but TMS has been explored as an option.

About 2.3% of adults in the US have OCD at some point in their lifetime, and the condition is more common in women than men.

The most common side effect in the clinical trial was headache, which occurred in 37.5% of the treatment group and 35.3% of the sham treatment group. Other possible side effects were mild, and included temporary jaw or face pain, muscle spasms or twitching, and neck pain.

The device shouldn’t be used if you have any other implants or metallic devices in or near your head, such as cochlear implants, stents, aneurysm clips or coils, and vagus nerve stimulators, among others. And jewelry and hair barrettes are a problem too.

“During treatment with the device, the patient must use earplugs to reduce exposure to the loud sounds produced by the device,” according to the FDA, and anyone who has had a seizure should discuss it with their doctor before undergoing the treatment.

The marketing approval was through a program for low- to moderate-risk devices that are new, and there’s no equivalent device already available to patients.

“Transcranial magnetic stimulation has shown its potential to help patients suffering from depression and headaches,” Carlos Peña, director of the Division of Neurological and Physical Medicine Devices in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement. “With today’s marketing authorization, patients with OCD who have not responded to traditional treatments now have another option.”

Living with anxiety

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