Mental Health Issues Change from Culture to Culture

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The classic definition of culture usually expresses a group of people based on multiple factors such as language, religion, cuisine, and region. Mental health disorders differ from culture to culture. Depression in the United States is different than depression in Japan, or Kenya, or China. Our own personal expectations of how to experience the world change based on our own unique cultures, including the cultures of our home. Thus, mental health reactions and issues can look different from person to person, even here within the city of Portland, Oregon.

Why Does it even Matter?

It matters because when we focus on mental health, we are focusing on personal goals in navigating and experiencing this life. Goals and values can significantly change from person to person, as well as having a unique perspective about the world. A multiculturally competent counselor will not impose their worldview and values onto you, but help you figure out how to achieve your own personal goals, which may look very different from the therapist. Therapists who do not take a multicultural lens may try to impose their own biases onto you (and even multiculturally aware ones can too) and as such it will not be effective therapy because it no longer is about your personal perceptions.

Another reason it is important to understand that mental health disorders and issues change from culture to culture is being able to understand them as stress reactions and not as a disease. Cancer, no matter where it is identified in the world, looks the same, whereas mental health issues change from culture to culture. This is a huge shift to fundamentally understanding mental health disorders, stress, and personal development.

Examples of Cultural Misunderstandings

The culture we grow up in teaches us about how to interact with the world. A prime example of an American value and cultural value is eye contact. Eye contact is expected in the U.S. as a method of politeness, and a lack of eye contact can convey dishonesty, shame, or autism-spectrum disorders. Conversely, in China direct eye contact is considered rude. If a counselor meets with a client whose parents are from China, the client may not make eye contact, not because they are shy or ashamed, but because that’s appropriate. A counselor who does not understand this may misdiagnose a client or not communicate well.

Does the Health Care System Address This?

The health care system is changing and has become better over the years addressing mental health, but it is still a part of a system that treats mental health as a disease. This impacts how mental health is perceived and also impacts how people seek help.

Coping with the Stigma

Fight against the stigma that is reinforced by your environment. Don’t fear the incorrect negative labels. Get treatment for your anxiety or depression. Stigma doesn’t only come from others; you have to fight your own stigmas. It is not uncommon for you to believe that your challenges are from a personal weakness and you should be able to manage without help. These are natural healthy instincts and all the more reason to seek help. You are not alone, and you don’t have to be alone. Also, do not identify yourself with your depression or anxiety. You, in fact all of us, are much more than the issues that challenge us. We are foremost; family, friends, lovers, companions, and confidants.

 

If you live in Portland or the Portland area and want information or help with Anxiety Disorder and/or Depression,

E-MAIL US OR CALL US AT 503-878-8588 TO SCHEDULE YOUR INTAKE TODAY.

 

Fighting the Stigma of Mental Health

Mindful Healing_Fighting the Stigma of Mental Health

Stigma refers to the negative social views that are associated with a particular circumstance or quality. Within the realm of mental health, this is the feeling of, or negative perception about, a person with a mental health issue. Stigma is so pervasive that it is built into our colloquialisms; statements like “he’s crazy,” are used to describe bad behavior, which then creates an association between bad behavior and experiencing a disorder. This is unconstructive and can lead to discrimination both towards others and the self. Stigma creates many complications and misunderstandings about mental health.

Consequences of Stigma

Stigma can present a number of issues. For one, it makes people less understanding about other people’s suffering or conditions or causes people to blame others for their conditions. Let’s use another colloquialism to demonstrate this process. The phrase “she’s just anxious” can be used to dismiss the reactions of someone who experiences an anxiety. There are some major implications to that statement. It ascribes the characteristic of the disorder to define the person. We don’t describe someone diagnosed with cancer as “she is cancer” or someone who currently has the flu as “she is flu,” because we don’t blame the person for their health condition. The more proper phrasing that eliminates blame is “she experiences anxiety.”

The research shows some other jarring data about stigma. In addition to creating blame, negative views, and misunderstandings about mental health, it also causes people to ostracize those with mental health issues and isolate them. Research also shows that increased stigma makes mental health conditions worse. Sociologists and anthropologists have observed that societies that are more accepting of those with mental health issues tend to have people who have less severe symptoms and easier recoveries than societies with less acceptance.

Another challenge with stigma is that it is not just an external process towards others. We internalize stigma, which means that if we ever experience a mental health condition, we ostracize ourselves for having a health problem. Stigma is one of the primary barriers for those seeking help because not only do they have to deal with the challenges of mental health issues, they experience shame for having one in the first place.

Why Do Stigmas Persist?

There are lots of reasons. Part of it is that in a history of misunderstanding, the science of psychology is very young in Western society. The notion that mental health disorders are stress reactions is relatively new. The history of mental health has historical stigmas, misperceptions, and other prejudices that are passed down from generation to generation. The main book for diagnosis, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, used to have homosexuality as a diagnosis despite it being a very normal part of our diversity in sexuality.

Another challenge comes in with public education and awareness. Despite the fact that we, as a species, all have different capacities and challenges with our abilities to think, emote, and process, mental health is not a normative subject in any K-12 program or even in universities. Some notions of mental health disorders and what they are have only just begun to enter the public perception.

Another contributing factor to stigma comes from our model for treating mental health issues. Like the vast majority of health issues in the United States, the funding for treatment of mental health disorders comes via health insurance statistics. Health insurance companies presently operate on the “disease” model of mental health, rather than viewing it in a holistic manner. In a disease model you either (1) have a disease and are unhealthy, or (2) you don’t have a disease and are healthy. However, the science shows that mental health disorders are likely normal stress reactions to unhealthy circumstances, rather than an unhealthy process. For a great essay with more details click on why disorders are not diseases.

Another source of stigma comes from the multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical industry. Let’s unpack that loaded statement. First, there is massive stigma towards pharmaceuticals in general that prevent people from taking helpful medication. Pharmaceuticals have a role in mental health in creating adjustments to disordered neurochemistry and is not a reflection of anything right or wrong with a person. They help a lot of people and I am of the belief that people should take them if they help lead to a healthier, better life. The problem is in the campaign to medicate misery and anxiety as a whole. Uncomfortable emotions are major communicators that tell us about our world, environment, and needs. The notion that one is experiencing depression, trauma, or anxiety and, thus, is unhealthy is untrue. Learning how to understand and process our feelings and learning to adapt to our environment are important developmental milestones that lead to long-term healthier outcomes. Misery is not a sickness.

There are other major sources of stigma and this blog does not have the room to address them all. Culture, family, and knowledge are all intertwined. Just remember, fighting stigma starts at home. The more open and honest you can be about your own mental health, the more capable you are of offering courage and understanding for others to do the same.

Common Incorrect Prejudices Against Anxiety and Depression

It is important to identify misconceptions and realize why they are inaccurate. There is the notion that people suffering from depression lack willpower and need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Another misconception is that people suffering from anxiety have a weak personality, lack courage, or are just indecisive. There is no truth to either of those statements and the mentality of “just deal with it,” does nothing to actually fix legitimate psychological struggles. Anxiety and depression are not due to a lack of willpower or weakness. Nobody chooses depression or anxiety. There is strength to those who are surviving their struggle, and courage to working through it.

Coping with the Stigma

Begin with awareness. It starts with learning to differentiate between what are common misconceptions as opposed to what reflects reality. Know that whatever you’re experiencing or that others are experiencing isn’t due to some huge flaw but the result of some sort of internal reaction to environmental factors. If you are struggling with a mental health issue, you may experience fear of labels or judgment. If someone you know or love is struggling, you may struggle with your judgments towards that person’s plight. Those experiences of fear are ok and natural; how you respond to it will help determine the outcomes. Being able to work through fear and accept that what is going on is real, and not a reflection of value, is huge. Being able to lend a compassionate hand and listen to what’s going on can also make a big difference. Get treatment for anxiety or depression. Stigma doesn’t only come from others; you must fight your own stigmas. You are not alone, and you don’t have to be alone. Also, do not identify yourself with your own depression or anxiety. We are much more than the issues that challenge us.

 

If you live in Portland or the Portland area and want information or help with Anxiety Disorder and/or Depression,

E-MAIL US OR CALL US AT 503-878-8588 TO SCHEDULE YOUR INTAKE TODAY.

 

Can I Have Anxiety and Depression? What is the Difference?

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Yes, anxiety and depression are comorbid conditions. It is not uncommon to feel anxious when depressed and feel depressed when struggling with anxiety. From a symptomology and diagnostic standpoint, anxiety and depression are two distinct conditions, although the most recent version of the DSM cites a version of depression known as Depression with Anxious Distress as its own diagnosis.  The symptoms, causes, and treatments of these disorders often overlap.

WHAT IS ANXIETY?

Anxiety, in general, is a sense of doubt and vulnerability of future events. Anxiety becomes unhealthy when it interferes with daily life, relationships, sleep or your ability to relax and feel well.  Symptoms of anxiety can vary. The three common ones are (1) worry, or guilt that is difficult to let go or control; (2) feeling nervous, restless or tense; and (3) racing thoughts. Click the following link for an extended definition of anxiety.

WHAT IS DEPRESSION?

As opposed to anxiety, depression is not concerned with what might happen. Rather, it is a challenge with mood and energy. Depression is a mood disorder which causes either persisting sadness, feelings of emptiness, loss of pleasure, loss of interest, or general irritability. Common symptoms include hopelessness and feeling empty or detached. You may have outbursts of crying or lack of motivation for things you normally do. Click the following link for a broader definition of depression.

BOTH ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION HAVE SIMILAR TREATMENTS

This is sometimes why the differences between depression and anxiety are confused. A person with anxiety may be treated with Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Rogerian Therapy, Exposure Therapy, Existential Therapy or anti-depressant medications, to name just a few treatment options. It does not necessarily mean that a person with an anxiety disorder is experiencing depression, but it is not uncommon to feel depressed as a reaction to anxiety.

HOW A THERAPIST CAN HELP

It is normal to keep these concerns to yourself. It is also normal to feel doubt if you are truly struggling with anxiety or depression. Bring your doubts to a therapist and get help from a trained professional who understands your concerns.

DO I NEED INSURANCE TO SEE A THERAPIST?

No. In fact, at Mindful Healing, we accept clients on a sliding scale. We are currently accepting clients for our sliding scale rates.

 

If you live in Portland or the Portland area and want information or help with Anxiety Disorder and/or Depression,

E-MAIL US OR CALL US AT 503-878-8588 TO SCHEDULE YOUR INTAKE TODAY.

 

When to Get Help with Anxiety in Portland

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If you struggle with Anxiety, you are not alone. Although anxiety awareness is becoming more prevalent, it can still be a tough subject to bring up. It is important to know that you are not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 18% of adults struggle with anxiety. That is almost 1 in 5 people. Research has yet to determine what causes anxiety, but we know it can be treated.

Seeking help is the first step to confronting anxiety. Below are common struggles for those who suffer from anxiety issues.

FEELING OF TENSION

When struggling with anxiety, it can impact you physically as well as mentally. You may feel the most tension in your neck, but the feeling of tension can impact any muscle. Clenching, flexing, and holding are physical responses to feeling anxiety.

SENSE OF APPREHENSION

This can happen before opening a letter, before you answer the telephone, or before speaking to someone. It is a feeling of fear for whatever comes next.

IMPENDING DANGER

This is similar to apprehension but is a more constant feeling of being in danger. It does not have to preclude an action or event. A person struggling with anxiety may continuously feel in danger or impending misfortune.

WHAT CAN THERAPY DO FOR ANXIETY DISORDER?

Although there are multiple symptoms of anxiety disorder and different types of anxiety disorders, generally speaking, when your world becomes limited due to fears, it is time to seek treatment. Anxiety can impact your relationships, health, sleep, or work. It can even impact the ability to learn and pursue new things.

DO I NEED INSURANCE TO SEE A THERAPIST?

No. In fact, at Mindful Healing, we accept clients on a sliding scale. We are currently accepting clients for our sliding scale rates.

 

If you live in Portland or the Portland area and want information or help with Anxiety Disorder,

E-MAIL US OR CALL US AT 503-878-8588 TO SCHEDULE YOUR INTAKE TODAY.

 

Where to Start When Feeling Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety and Stress Group

We are wired for anxiety. All of us. When you feel like you are struggling with anxiety and stress, it is important to remind yourself that you are not alone, and many people struggle with anxiety and stress every day. For some, the anxiety can become a disorder and it begins to impact relationships, work, and even health. By reading this article, you have already taken your first step to get help with anxiety. Anxiety can be treatable with counseling and therapy.

What is the Difference Between Regular Anxiety and an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety is a normal part of life. Anxiety is an activating emotion which helps us deal with a challenge, or fear in our future. Having a healthy concern about a situation can help you anticipate possible problems and discover better ways of handling them in advance. However, people with anxiety disorders experience frequent worry or fear that interferes with everyday life, relationships, work, or it causes an inordinate amount of distress compared to normative anxiety.

3 Tips That Help with Panic Attacks

When anxiety strikes, panic attacks can follow. Here are a few reminders you can use to reduce the severity of your attacks.

  1. Breathe: There are many techniques and numbers to count—but for the most part, if you focus on taking long, deep breaths, your body and mind will slow down with your breathing.
  2. No Time Traveling: Anxiety can take you out of the present. It can make you worry about consequences in the future and blame yourself for actions in the past. Ask yourself: What’s happening right now? Am I safe? Is there anything that needs to be done right now? If not, give yourself permission to check in later.
  3. Take Any Action: Sometimes just standing up, taking a walk across the room or throwing something in the trash can pull you out of an anxiety loop.

Consider Joining a Social Meetup for Anxiety

In Portland, there are meetups, large and small, that provide an opportunity to socialize with others that have your same challenges. The largest meetup is the Portland Anxiety & Depression Group. As of the date of this blog post, they are 4,800 members strong and describe themselves as, “A Meetup for folks ready (with a little encouragement and support) to challenge the sadness and worry, hopelessness and fear, that keep us isolated from one another and at the mercy of painful thoughts, feelings, and events that seem beyond our control.”

What Can Therapy Do for Anxiety Disorder?

Although there are multiple symptoms of anxiety disorder and different types of anxiety disorder, when your world becomes limited due to fears, it is time to seek treatment. Anxiety can impact your relationships, health, sleep, or work. It can even impact the ability to learn and pursue new things.

Do I Need Insurance to See A Therapist?

No. In fact, at Mindful Healing we accept clients on a sliding scale. We are currently accepting clients for our sliding scale rates.

 

If you live in Portland or the Portland area and want information or help with Anxiety Disorder,

E-MAIL US OR CALL US AT 503-878-8588 TO SCHEDULE YOUR INTAKE TODAY.

 

Seeking Help with PTSD in Portland

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How Many People Experience PTSD in Portland?

Currently there is no data for the prevalence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for Portland, Oregon, so the best things we have to look at are the national data, estimates, and other relevant information. Some of the research shows that between 55-70% of the U.S. population will experience a trauma during their lifetimes; and that about 8% of the American population will develop PTSD in their lifetimes, with about 5% of the population experiencing PTSD right now. Current data suggests that cis-women develop PTSD at higher rates than cis-men, though some argue that this is a result of the fact that cis-men are more reluctant to report symptoms compared to cis-women. There is a lack of comprehensive data about non-binary and trans-folk with regards to gender statistics. Additionally, most researchers believe that due to stigma, mental health symptoms are under-reported. If we were to use the national estimates as conservative guidelines, it would suggest that over 32,000 people in Portland experienced PTSD in the last year.

What is the Difference Between Trauma and PTSD?

Trauma is simply an event that is beyond a person’s capacity to cope. Common traumatic events include: violence, abuse, sexual violence, acts of war, and natural disasters. There are many reactions that people may have to traumatic events, and not all result in PTSD. Common mental health issues that arise as a reaction to trauma include: anxiety disorders, depression, adjustment disorders, panic attacks, and agoraphobia, as well as PTSD.

PTSD is a condition that develops in response to a trauma, which includes 4 major types of symptoms: intrusive thoughts, avoidance behaviors, distortions in mood and cognition, and arousal symptoms. Sometimes PTSD has other symptoms as well, which are referred to as dissociative symptoms. The vast majority of people who experience a trauma do not develop PTSD, though some estimate that up to 20% of traumatic events lead to developing PTSD.

I Thought Only Soldiers Got PTSD

There is a long and extensive history of reactions to combat stress. Some of the earliest mentions of flashback-like dreams were documented in Ancient Greece, and there have been notations about this phenomenon throughout history. Psychology as a science developed in the 19th century, and in the aftermath of WWI the symptoms of PTSD were listed as shell shock.

As awareness throughout the 20th century grew and began including studies of holocaust survivors, victims of domestic violence, survivors of rape, and veterans of other wars, the scientific understanding has learned that severe reactions to trauma are not specific to combat, and can happen with any severe trauma.

Treatment for PTSD

With a supportive, trauma-informed therapist you can get great results with treatments. No two individuals are alike. This means that you should receive the care that is specific to you. Whether you have experienced trauma or are dealing with PTSD, therapeutic support can be life changing.

Do I Need Insurance to See a Therapist?

No. In fact, at Mindful Healing Portland LLC., we accept clients on a sliding scale. We are currently accepting clients for our sliding scale rates.

If you live in Portland or the Portland area and want information or help with PTSD and Trauma,

E-MAIL US OR CALL US AT 503-878-8588 TO SCHEDULE YOUR INTAKE TODAY.

 

What Are Anxiety Disorders?

Stress Worry Woman with Text on White

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental health issue in the United States. Anxiety disorders include a variety of conditions where excessive anxiety or fear cause significant distress or impairment in functioning at social, work, family, school or other domains of life. Anxiety disorders include: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attacks or Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety, Agoraphobia (fear of leaving the home), Phobias, Separation Anxiety, and Selective Mutism.  Some research suggests that here in Portland, Oregon people experience Anxiety Disorders and other mental health issues at the highest rates in the nation.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly 1/3rd of the population (32%) will experience an anxiety disorder within their lifetime.  19 percent of U.S. adults will experience an anxiety in any given year. A larger percentage of young adults (ages 18-44) 22% will experience an anxiety disorder in any given year. A smaller percentage of the population, 8%, will experience an anxiety disorder which severely impair quality of life. Female identified persons tend to experience anxiety disorders at a higher rate than male-identified folk.

What is the Difference Between Regular Anxiety and an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety is a normal part of life. Anxiety is an activating emotion which helps us deal with a challenge, or fear in our future. Having a healthy concern about a situation can help you anticipate possible problems and discover better ways of handling them in advance.  However, people with anxiety disorders experience frequent worry or fear that interferes with everyday life, relationships, work, or it causes an inordinate amount of distress compared to normative anxiety.

What Causes Anxiety Disorders?

There is no one specific reason or cause of anxiety disorders, usually it involves a combination of things; chemical changes in your brain, traumatic events, environmental stress, coping skills which no longer work, or even your genes. These disorders can run in families, research estimates that about 1/3rd of the risk of developing an anxiety disorder is genetic. This is why it is important to identify a disorder in order to help understand behavior family dynamics and help the next generation. Given the fact that nearly 1/3rd of the population will experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime, this also indicates that an anxiety disorder may be a normal human reaction to unhealthy or overwhelming circumstances.

What Can Therapy Do for Anxiety Disorder?

Generally speaking, when your world becomes limited due to fear or anxiety it is time to seek treatment. Anxiety can impact your relationships, health, sleep, or work. It can even impact the ability to learn, pursue new things, or feel comfortable in your own skin. Therapy can help in learning tools to promote relaxation, reduce emotional vulnerability, increase resiliency, as well as changing unhelpful thinking, emotional, and behavioral patterns to more helpful ones that empower you to control anxiety and lead the life you want to live.

Do I Need Insurance to See a Therapist?

No. In fact, at Mindful Healing we accept clients on a sliding scale. We are currently accepting clients for our sliding scale rates.

 

If you live in Portland or the Portland area and want information or help with Anxiety Disorder,

E-MAIL US OR CALL US AT 503-878-8588 TO SCHEDULE YOUR INTAKE TODAY.