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Does Yoga Work as a Mental Health Treatment?

The short answer is yes, yoga works as a mental health treatment. The mix of meditation and slow-movement calisthenics create a positive impact for many people who struggle with mental illness, as well as those who are looking to build up their natural, psychological resilience. In fact, one of the most impressive things about the practice is its ability to provide at least some improvement and symptom relief for almost any mental disorder in the book.

Now, it’s not a miracle cure. All the sun salutations in the world may not help someone who refuses to talk to a therapist about the negative thoughts and behaviors that are occurring in other aspects of their life. Moreover, yoga isn’t going to make someone’s schizophrenia go away, and it’s not going to suddenly make someone smarter. On the other hand, yoga has been used effectively to reduce psychotic symptoms. It’s also an increasingly common part of treatment plans for autistic children—in large part because a calmer mind has been linked to increased learning and cognitive development.

Generally speaking, mood disorders provide the most natural fit for a treatment plan that includes yoga. The calming effects of yogic meditation often have a direct impact on one’s depressed, manic, or anxious mood. Trauma and latent anxieties also tend to respond well to this type of yogic meditation, albeit under the guidance of a mental health therapist.

 

The Potential to Help and to Harm

Few mental health treatments are without risk, and yoga is no exception. As widespread as the benefits can be, there are practices and approaches that can do more harm than good. We’re not just talking about straining a muscle or hyper-extending a joint, either.

Eating disorders provide one of the clearest examples of the ways in which yoga may help or harm one’s mental health. A restorative, mindfulness-based session can help nurture a positive body image and calm the fears that one has about gaining weight. An almost daily habit of aggressive power yoga may instead serve as a rationalization for over-exercise that exacerbates the physical toll of the eating disorder.

 

Personal and Cultural Approaches to Yoga in Utah

Yoga is not a religion. You don’t have to convert to yogism, or anything like that. And while you may have already known this, it’s important to remember, whether you suddenly find yourself doubting the integrity of your own faith or feeling the persecution of those who mistakenly believe that yoga is in some way spiritually dangerous. Moreover, it doesn’t even have to be a particularly social activity. For quite a few people, yoga’s value is entirely about reducing the symptoms of their mental illness. And it’s something they can be done in solitude or with a close friend.

There’s also something to be said for not letting physical limitations stand in your way. Now, we’re not trying to gloss over the reality. Decreased mobility may mean limited opportunities to achieve yogic poses, but there’s also been a huge increase in the development of modified poses. Many types of physical disabilities may be easily overcome.

 

More Tips & Info

If you’re struggling with a mental disorder, we strongly urge you to talk to a licensed mental health therapist to develop a personalized therapy program. That said, aside from wearing comfortable clothing that doesn’t grab at your skin, there’s no great trick or preparation that’s needed to start a yoga habit. Eat light and bring a water bottle in case you get thirsty. The studio should have the equipment you need.

With this in mind, the following information provides tips and research for yoga’s potential to specific mental disorders—

Depression and Anxiety

Bipolar Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Personal Trauma

Borderline Personality

Substance Addiction

Traumatic Brain Injury

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Sleep Disturbance

Eating Disorders

ADHD

Autism

Schizophrenia

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Find Equine Therapy Programs in Utah

In Utah, many equine therapy programs are geared toward residential drug rehab treatment, but there are some locations that serve people, especially youth, with other mental health troubles. Several facilities also offer outpatient equine therapy. And apart from dedicated equine therapy programs, some people may be to achieve similar benefits from equestrian centers, especially when used in tandem with more traditional therapy services and office settings. The National Ability Center in Park City, for example, is one of Utah’s premier equestrian centers and offers several resources that are used to improve mental health.

 

List of Equine Therapy Programs in Utah

Hoofbeats to Healing: This program has two locations, one in Saratoga Springs and one in Bountiful. Rather than feeding and grooming, this center emphasizes therapeutic horseback riding. The program favors Missouri Fox Trotters for their horses. Commonly treated mental health issues include trauma, attachment disorder, mood disorders, and developmental delays.

Courage Reins: Located in Highland, Utah, this facility offers a full range of equine therapy programs including therapeutic riding, hippotherapy, equine-assisted psychotherapy, and equine-assisted learning. Due to the extra cost, about the only thing they don’t do is take on seriously injured horses.

Shadow Mountain Equine Psychotherapy: Located at the Keystone Equestrian Horse Park in Bluffdale. Offers adolescent, adult, and family therapy with a focus on trauma and eating disorders. Grooming and exercising the horse are standard with each therapy session. Mounting and saddlery may be included as the situation warrants.

Discovery Ranch: This is a residential and academic treatment program in Mapleton, Utah for teenage boys who are experiencing any number of mental health troubles. Comprehensive treatment is offered, but the equine therapy is highlighted. Each student completes 3-4 months of working with a horse, while some students also work on advanced horsemanship that includes basic instruction in western riding, trail riding, and colt training.

Falcon Ridge Ranch: A residential and academic program for teenage girls with any number of mental health troubles. Equine assisted psychotherapy is at the heart of the Falcon Ridge treatment plan, along with the natural beauty of its Virgin, Utah location. Each young woman learns to earn the trust of and bond with one of the ranch’s horses.

Lion’s Gate Recovery: This is a comprehensive drug addiction program for adults. Based in St. George, this facility offers immediate intervention and detox, comprehensive rehab, and continuing care services. More than just basic grooming, many residents participate in an in-depth equine program that may include raising a young colt from infancy to adulthood.

Life Skills Recovery Ranch: This ranch takes the 12-step approach to drug rehab and incorporates the routine and skills of a working ranch. Along with rehab, the ranch also offers people the opportunity to develop a number of occupational skills. Located in Holden, Utah, Double Dollar Livestock hosts the ranch location.

Silver Spur Therapeutic Riding Center: In lieu of equine-assisted mental health therapy, Silver Spur focuses on therapeutic riding for autism, developmental delays, and physical disabilities. Located in New Harmony, the center offers therapeutic riding for 6-8 week blocks between April and November.

Ascend Recovery: Located in American Fork, this recovery center offers drug rehab with a specialization in dual diagnosis in which drug addiction co-exists with trauma or other mental health troubles. Equine therapy is only one of several therapy opportunities that includes art, music, pottery, and a ropes course.

Bridge Recovery Center: Located at the Coral Springs Resort on the outskirts of Hurricane Utah, this center is focused on treating chronic pain, both physical and psychological pain. Compared to other equine therapy programs, the Bridge Recovery Center is known for the unique experience of bonding with a wild mustang.

Utah Addiction Centers: Located in Eagle Mountain, this center offers treatment for drug addiction, sex addiction, and eating disorders, along with dual-diagnosis treatment for people whose addiction is associated with another mental illness. Equine therapy emphasizes learning how to play with and exercise the horse.

Sorenson’s Ranch: Offers a therapeutic equine program as part of a larger boarding school and residential therapy program for adolescent boys and girls. It’s also a working ranch located in Koosharem that includes a comprehensive treatment plan for a wide range of troubled teens.

Mt. Pleasant Academy: This is a small academic and residential treatment center for adolescent boys. This facility focuses exclusively on sexual misconduct and other sex-related issues, as well as porn and digital addictions. Along with education and conventional therapy services, equine therapy is the main treatment program offered at Mt. Pleasant Academy.

Cold Creek Behavioral Health: This treatment provider specializes in drug addiction and offers a wide range of individualized therapies, including both 12-step and non-12-step programs. Equine therapy is frequently included as part of the treatment and is offered to both residents and outpatient clients. Multiple locations include Kaysville, Brighton, and Salt Lake City.

Cirque Lodge: A comprehensive alcohol and drug rehab program. There is a studio location in Orem, but the companion Lodge facility in Sundance offers equine therapy and other experiential therapies built around some of the best landscape that Provo Canyon has to offer.

Diamond Ranch Academy: This is an academic and residential treatment center in Hurricane for teenage boys and girls. The facilities are separated into six distinct centers—two for girls and four for boys—ranging from 12-18+ years old. Diamond Ranch offers equine therapy as part of a larger treatment plan that also includes Character Curriculum, the academy’s own collection of workbooks.

Angel’s Recovery: Alcohol and drug rehab center that also caters to specific populations that include college students, LGBTQIA individuals, and executives and other professionals who continue to work during treatment. Along with equine therapy, this treatment center offers golf, music, and art therapy.

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Find Yoga Classes in Utah

Maybe you’ve heard how yoga can reduce the symptoms associated with a wide range of mental disorders. Or maybe you’ve plateaued in your current exercise routine, and you’re looking to mix it up. Maybe a friend or neighbor just recently told you about a great experience they had. Or maybe you’ve long thought about trying your hand at yoga, but have only recently decided to give it a whirl. Whatever the reason, we can help connect you with yoga classes that provide the best fit for you and your personal health goals.

 

4 Tips for Finding Better Yoga Classes in Utah

Different Types of Yoga Experience: We offer information about specific yoga disciplines—from hatha to ashtanga to hot yoga—but where we can really make a difference is the general way that different yoga experiences can dovetail—or interfere—with your personal mental health goals. From skill level to social interaction to yogi culture, finding the right fit for you can make a huge difference in the positive results you get from a yoga habit.

Time and Scheduling: Finding the perfect yoga experience may not matter if the class is held at the same time as your child’s soccer practice. But more than just finding time in the schedule for individual classes, consider the entire studio schedule. Pay close attention to the times and dates for those classes you may be interested in taking. Some people have established and prefer a stable weekly routine, but others look to mix and match their yoga times and the types of classes they take. Increased schedule flexibility can also help maintain a regular yoga habit even when life inevitably gets in the way.

Location and Travel: Yoga classes are supposed to have a calming influence on your life, but sandwiching a perfect yogic hour between two stressful, 30-minute drives may hamper the mental health benefits that you carry into the rest of your life. Again, the type of yoga experience makes a big difference, so we don’t want to say that an extra five or ten minutes on the road to reach a preferred studio, instructor, or class isn’t worth it. But the more convenient a yoga habit is the more likely it is to stick.

Moreover, location and time scheduling may go hand-in-hand, especially in the Salt Lake Valley where the time of day can make a huge difference in travel times. Finding a yoga center near your workplace, for example, may give you a great excuse to hang back and avoid the worst of Salt Lake’s afternoon rush hour.

The Cost of Yoga Classes in Utah: Nobody likes to pay more than they have to. But especially for those looking to maintain a regular habit on a limited budget, the cost of yoga classes in Utah can be a major factor in choosing a studio. We can help you establish a baseline average (about $12) to do some comparison-shopping, but we also offer specific strategies to reduce the cost of yoga for people in Utah.

 

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What Utahns Should Know about Finding Narrative Therapy

Narrative therapy is an approach to psychotherapy that emphasizes the harm that occurs when the story of our lives is dominated by a particularly destructive narrative. The primary method of therapy then becomes the therapist and client investigating past events together looking for places where the current narrative doesn’t fit and where a more positive, competing narrative can take hold.

For this reason, it’s crucial to find a therapist you can connect with. Someone you can trust is letting new narratives unfold organically, rather than projecting their own biases. The good news is it shouldn’t be hard. Therapists are trained to offer a clinical setting and style of dialogue that specifically promotes this type of honest collaboration.

 

Choosing a Therapist

Know that if you go looking for a narrative therapist in Utah, your options are going to seem limited. That’s because this therapy is primarily viewed as a therapeutic method, rather than a comprehensive approach to psychotherapy. In other words, most therapists think of narrative therapy as one more tool in the toolbox to helping their clients achieve their mental health goals. Thus, if you’re interested in narrative therapy, look for therapists who describe themselves as eclectic, client-centered, or holistic.

 

Common Narratives in Utah

Competing narratives can occur on both a personal and cultural level with no set rules about which narratives may be harming and which may be able to help your mental health goals. Likewise, different narratives may intersect in complex ways that are best explored with the support of a therapist—

  • Many families in Utah have serious disagreements about their spiritual beliefs and attitudes. Many families have serious disagreements about the social, political, and economic influences that impact their daily lives and those of their friends and neighbors. Narrative therapy can help family members learn to disarm the tension within this larger cultural narrative by continually refocusing on the personal narrative that has made the family so strong in the past.
  • At the same time, there’s no denying that some people get the short end of the stick from their family and life history. With comparatively little to hang their hat on from the standpoint of personal narrative, finding positive meaning in a larger cultural narrative becomes increasingly important. This typically includes connecting with relevant social groups and support systems. Old and new, family can come from many places.
  • Other types of narrative therapy have less to do with competing narratives and more to do with reclaiming the ability to tell one’s personal story at all. Traumatic stress, for example, can disrupt our brain’s episodic memory and language center so that it becomes difficult to describe even basic details about our past events. Yoga, meditation, and acupuncture may all be used to help someone reach a place that is safe and secure enough to reclaim a narrative meaning to their lives.

 

The Role of Choice

In the mental health community, the primary criticisms of narrative therapy are often centered on the notion that competing narratives lead to a relativistic worldview that may be harmful to long-term mental health goals. This explanation is overly simplistic, but it does point to a critical element of success for people who are interested in this particular approach to therapy: Choosing a more positive narrative for one’s life.

This isn’t to say choosing a narrative for one’s life is easy. If it were, you probably wouldn’t be thinking about therapy at all. But even when the choice feels like an impossible one, even when it doesn’t feel like a choice at all, there is a different tale that can be told. And that’s because the choice is nowhere near as difficult as it seems right now. By talking to a therapist who can help you investigate and then recast life events, the richness of alternative narratives should become more evident—as does the viability of choosing a different story that gives meaning to your past, present, and future.

One final note on this subject: Because of the huge role that choice plays, some people also think of narrative therapy as a particular type of existential therapy.

 

Find Narrative Therapy in Utah

Like almost any approach to therapy, expect to put in some time working to improve your mental health. But know that reclaiming the power of narrative and channeling it toward your personal goals can be a life-saving, life-changing process. We encourage you to find a therapist who can help you explore the potential of this therapy for your life.

 

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Art Therapy in Utah: A Collage of Mental Health Resources

The fundamentals of art therapy are much the same as other types of expressive therapies—an artistic medium is used to facilitate the expression of a psychological reality. This may be externalizing negative emotions and past events, or it may be depicting beauty, resilience, or other values that tend to serve as a buffer against psychological stress.

Now, this doesn’t mean that every pretty picture is a perfect reflection of some deep personal truth. Explaining a picture of a rose may be explained as easily as the fact that, in Utah, they grow like crazy, and people tend to draw what they see. Plus, not everything has to have a deeper meaning to be a positive. The simple act of making a meaningful picture has tremendous potential to lift and/or stabilize one’s mood. That said, for those who are struggling with psychological stress, troubling realities have a tendency to bubble up to the surface. For all these reasons, the art therapist, the prompt, and the person’s willingness to respond to that prompt earnestly can all be crucial elements for getting desirable results.

 

Art Therapy Settings in Utah

One of the surest ways to parse out the different types of art therapy in Utah is to look at the settings in which the art is created. As well as some of specific therapeutic goals that are trying to be achieved—

  • Most of us were asked as school kids to draw a picture of our family. This school activity can be both therapy and an informal assessment tool. Childhood trauma comes in many different forms, but even generally supportive families may be made stronger by exploring the content of these depictions.
  • Group therapy is the most common mode for art therapy. Creating art with others helps provide affordable access to direct feedback from an art therapist. This includes residential treatment centers as well as intensive outpatient treatment programs, especially drug rehab. But it also includes mental health therapists in Utah who offer weekly or monthly art-inspired group therapy. Some of these classes are designed for specific types of mental health troubles. Others are geared more toward particular mediums and themes.
  • Art therapy can also be a homework assignment from a mental health professional in the context of individual therapy. Direct feedback doesn’t have to be immediate feedback. By responding to an artistic prompt and then bringing the artwork to your next appointment, you get that much more from your mental health therapy.

 

Art as an Evidence-Based Therapy

As it’s depicted today, neuroscience is as media narrative as methodology. Still, the study of the brain provides plenty of corroborating evidence for the therapeutic value of artistic expression. Art may be subjective, but expressive therapies stand up well to scientific scrutiny. Especially when it comes to specific mental health troubles.

Take post-traumatic stress, for example. The toll of past traumas can disrupt our neurological function to the point where the language center of our brain shuts down when remembering traumatic events or when triggered by specific sensory inputs. Much of the power that trauma holds over us is its namelessness. Moreover, left unchecked, post-traumatic stress robs us of our everyday joys. A rose, by any other name, is just as sweet. But if we can’t give it a name at all, we truly do miss out on much of the flower’s sweetness.

More than just PTSD, anyone who has repeatedly struggled to communicate their psychological stress is likely to benefit from art therapy in one form or another. We encourage you to explore which resource in Utah makes the most sense for you.

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How Does Equine Therapy Work?

There is no single answer to this question because there is no single kind of equine therapy. Equine, or horse, therapy is used to treat numerous physical and mental health issues. In nearly every case, a therapeutic bond forms between the horse and person, but what that bond entails really depends on the situation. Feeding, grooming, and any specialized care the horse may need is one common method for this therapy. So, too, is learning how to give various commands and putting the horse through his or her daily exercise. Finally, even when the horse can’t be ridden, the practice of saddling the horse may still be part of the program.

 

Why Horses?

Well, it doesn’t have to be horses. From dogs to dolphins to sheep, there are a number of different animal-assisted therapies. Fortunately, there’s really no need to throw a horse and, say, an alpaca into a double-blind study. Considerable effort is made to match different types of animals—as well as the specific horse—to the individual who is seeking therapy.

That said, there are specific advantages to using horses. First, horses are among the smartest animals out there. Their memory, in particular, make them imminently trainable, including the ability to obey complex commands. Their natural beauty, mannerisms, and unique care needs make the everyday experience incredibly rewarding.

Moreover, many of the horses need you just as much as you need them. There are more than 9 million horses in the U.S. for racing, showing, ranch and farm work, personal recreation, and a number of other activities. Inevitably, some of these horses are injured or fall ill and can no longer perform their previous work duties. Thus, many equine therapy centers, and the people who provide the horses’ care, are directly responsible for saving the lives of horses that might otherwise be euthanized.

 

What Type of Horse is Best for Equine Therapy?

From the Norwegian Fjord riding horse to miniature horses that people sometimes keep as pets, some breeds do tend to be better than others for therapy. That said, the most important factors tend to be size, temperament, and ride-ability. Even the horse’s personal history is taken into account, especially if there’s some type of common past between the horse and person. But just as often, a bond is forged by finding the differences that empower the horse and person to work together.

  • An injured horse that can’t be ridden at all and requires special care may be paired with someone who is struggling to recover from drug addiction, childhood abuse, or other mental health troubles where providing a nurturing environment to others can be invaluable in building resilience.
  • In contrast, someone with a physical disability may benefit from riding a horse with a stocky build, peaceful temperament, and clean gait. Feeding, grooming, and other aspects of the horse’s care may or may not be part of the therapy.
  • Other types of equine therapy are based almost solely on companionship and lifting people’s moods. And, on this point, a small pony galloping around the room and running up to people asking to be pet tends to be pretty effective.

 

Starting Equine Therapy in Utah

Some people go directly to one of Utah’s equine centers, but people with a serious mental illness frequently talk to a therapist or psychologist about their troubles and which types of therapy might work best in your case. That said, don’t hesitate to tell the mental health professional about your interest in horses, as these personal preferences may be a factor in making a referral. Likewise, know that equine therapy may be an adjunct therapy that is done in coordination with a larger treatment plan.

 

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Popular Types of Yoga for Mental Health

It’s nice to have at least a basic understanding of the types of yoga that you might come across. The right yoga experience can deliver invaluable mental health benefits for a range of disorders, while a person who’s unprepared for an advanced-level hot yoga class may actually hinder their efforts toward better physical and mental health. In addition to classes in various yoga disciplines, most studios in Utah advertise beginner, intermediate, and advanced level classes.

Again, be sure you know what you’re signing up for. Any instructor worth their salt is going to clearly communicate the general skill level of the class, as well as ways to modify individual poses for those who are being pushed outside their comfort zone. Still, it can be frustrating to show up and then have to pass on a yoga class because it wasn’t what you were expecting. Likewise, for those who already strength, flexibility, and/or some yoga experience, a more challenging class may be necessary to see a positive change to their mental health and overall fitness level.

 

Popular Types of Yoga

Know that not every yoga class can be pigeon-holed into a single discipline. Customized, hybrid classes have become increasingly common in recent years. But by learning which types of yoga are most appealing to you in general, there’s a better chance that you can make a substantial, or even dramatic change, to your mental health. You can find a more comprehensive list here, but the following categories capture most of the classes you’ll find at the yoga studios in Utah.

  • Hatha Yoga
  • Ashtanga/Power Yoga
  • Bikram/Hot Yoga
  • Restorative Yoga
  • Integral Yoga
  • Iyengar Yoga
  • Yin Yoga

 

Types of Yoga for Mental Health

There are specific yoga disciplines, but there are also various types of yoga experience that will speak to different people and different mental health goals.

Personalized Classes and Instructors: This is one of the most popular and straightforward ways to find a yoga class. First, identify those things that are most important to you. Finding the right skill level applies to just about everybody. Otherwise, it’s a hodge-podge of personal priorities. For some people, finding affordable classes is most important. Part of this priority, too, can be looking for a local option that doesn’t take any additional travel time or gas money. A lot of people are looking for an individual instructor they can connect with. For others, choosing a larger studio with several instructors and classes provides the flexibility to maintain regular attendance even with a floating work schedule.

Social/Recreational Yoga: Whether you’re looking to meet new people or find a class with almost zero pressure to perform, a social yoga experience can be just the thing to introduce you to the value of yoga therapy. One great example is Glow Yoga offered by City Centered Yoga at the intersection of 9th and 9th between Sugarhouse and downtown Salt Lake.

Now, a class that offers a more continuous focus and flow on yogic transitions make show more long-term benefit in terms of physical fitness. On the other hand, this is two hours of fun-filled yoga and can be a great way to improve your mental health or simply kick off a relaxing, rejuvenating weekend.

Private Yoga: Private yoga includes both individual and small group instruction. Whether it’s physical limitations or specific mental health goals, individual sessions can help you overcome barriers and maximize yoga’s mental health benefits. Many businesses and organizations also look to private yoga as a way to improve the culture and team morale, both inside and outside the workplace. The obvious downside for individuals is the cost of one-on-one yoga instruction. On the other hand, one-on-one sessions that empower the individual to partake in regular yoga classes may be well worth the price tag.

DIY Yoga: Likewise, many people can benefit from collaborating with a private yoga instructor on building a personalized yoga program that you can do on your own. Many types of yoga, including Yin and Iyengur Yoga, recommend poses that are held longer and sessions that can last longer than normal. Alternately, many people can only find limited time windows in their schedule that are best filled with short DIY yoga programming.

Becoming a Yogi: Yoga is not a religion, but there are plenty of devoted enthusiasts, most commonly known as yogis. At times, it can feel very cliquey, but we can assure you there are no secret handshakes or initiation rituals required to be in the club. Put another way, there are plenty of advanced skills, hybrid styles, and personal goals that can help people take that next step toward greater resilience and mental health. Don’t let an uneasiness about the idea of joining yogi culture hold back your individual passion for, and exploration of, yoga.

 

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What Causes a Panic Attack?

We’re not really sure what causes a panic attack, but we do know several things about the physical processes, personal histories, and even lifestyle factors that contribute to an elevated risk of experiencing an attack. Even our definition of what a panic attack is has evolved over time. Our latest understanding from leading mental health researchers is “an abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes” and in which at least four of these symptoms are present.

With the goal of helping people more quickly recognize and take action to reduce their panic levels, here’s a shorthand guide to understanding what we do and do not know about what causes a panic attack.

 

What’s Going on in the Brain?

It will come as little surprise to those who know the amygdala as the fear center of the brain that, in the midst of an attack, this area of the brain lights up like Temple Square at Christmas. But what’s also interesting about the physiology of a panic attack is the involvement of a brain structure known as the periaqueductal gray, or PAG. Like the amygdala, the PAG does a lot of things. First and foremost, it plays a central role in taking defensive action against a threat detected by the amygdala. It’s also crucial for pain modulation. Specifically, when you’re able to lessen the pain from a needle or broken bone by distracting yourself by paying attention to something else, it’s your PAG that allows this to happen.

Also of interest, the PAG is activated during sex and by one’s maternal instincts. Fulfilling, intimate relations is, indeed, known to reduce levels of anxiety and panic. In contrast, the connection to one’s maternal instinct is an instructive example of why it can be so difficult to turn neurological research into effective treatment. Pregnancy helps some women substantially reduce their panic, while making the problem even worse for other women.

 

Long-, Medium-, and Short-Term Risk Factors

Even without a comprehensive understanding of the causes, recognizing the personal risk factors that may be contributing to your panic attacks is often crucial for identifying the most effective treatment(s).

 

Childhood Abuse, Socialization, and Genetics: These are some of the big culprits for long-standing risk factors that can turn into panic disorder much later in life. For some people, panic attacks are the unpredictable expressions of long-buried abuse or trauma. Gender differences in the frequency and types of childhood abuse may partially explain why about twice as many women as men suffer from the disorder. That said, like so many mental health problems, it’s impossible to account for panic through culture and environment alone. Panic is also known to run in families, and even those who have a nurturing and supportive childhood experience, may struggle with panic disorder.

 

Trauma and Anxiety: Childhood abuse is not the only kind of trauma that can lead to a panic attack. In fact, overwhelming panic is one of the potential symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Moreover, because the PTSD may not surface for many months or even years after the trauma, it’s often overlooked until serious consequences occur.

Traumatic brain injury is another under-appreciated risk factor. These injuries are frequently described solely by their immediate danger and physical symptoms. But all too often, a brain injury also strips us of our psychological buffers and hard-earned coping mechanisms. Thus, someone who is already vulnerable to anxiety and panic may begin to experience attacks in the aftermath of a blow to the head.

Moreover, when exposed, latent anxiety may turn into a full-blown panic attack. People with OCD who are unable to perform their behavioral compulsions, for example. Also, people who are recovering from eating disorders may experience panic as part of the behavioral change needed to obtain a healthy weight. Many types of anxiety disorder, in fact, involve an increased risk of panic disorder.

 

Lifestyle Factors: Sudden and unpredictable, a panic attack may occur from either an anxious state or a calm state. That said, one’s overall stress and anxiety levels are a short-term risk factor for having an attack. Generally speaking, there are no quick fixes, but removing any unnecessary stress from your life is often a positive step. Likewise, a twice weekly yoga habit and/or 20-minute daily meditation session may help keep panic at bay without totally upending your schedule.

We’d also be remiss if we gave the impression that every risk factor for a panic attack was a psychological one. Stimulants, for example, are one of the most underrated culprits. As scary as it sounds, weening yourself off of your morning coffee or energy drink can make a big difference in the long run.

There’s also a seasonal connection. Plenty of people already have a tendency to suffer from autumn anxiety. Plus, many cold and allergy medicines include powerful stimulants and other drugs that may increase one’s anxiety level and panic, a problem during the spring and fall. Sedating antihistamines may be one option, but even with these over-the-counter drugs, we recommend talking to a doctor or pharmacist about the potential for anxiety-increasing side effects. Know, too, that there may not be a perfect answer. After all, not being able to breathe because of clogged nasal passageways isn’t exactly a recipe for relaxation.

 

Get Help for a Panic Attack in Utah

If you’re in the midst of an attack, we also offer this guide on how to cope with the immediate symptoms. Otherwise, we strongly recommend you talk to a qualified mental health professional about what you’ve been going through and which treatment steps are most likely to reduce your panic. Know that most people learn to more effectively cope with their panic, both during and after therapy has been completed.

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Mental Depression in Utah: The Culture of Industriousness

Too often, mental depression is misconstrued as some type of “personality flaw,” a laziness and moodiness that requires willpower to overcome. This attitude may be especially common and problematic in Utah where there is a culture of industriousness borne from the state’s pioneering history. This attitude is problematic because depression can befall individuals of virtually any personality type. In fact, some of the most industrious people are among those who are most at risk. People who are under near constant pressure from important decision-making tasks, as well as those who perform jobs with low career satisfaction, may be more likely to suffer from depression.

 

Agency and Motivation

Overcoming mental depression usually takes more than simply willing oneself to get off the couch or to “just get over it.” Yet, this doesn’t mean the individual suddenly lacks all agency and has become powerless to get better. Part of the answer may be to face the depression itself as the problem: A person who lacks the daily motivation to go to work, to go for a walk, to eat and exercise as they once did may nevertheless find motivation to take the necessary steps to alleviate the symptoms of a depressive episode. Put another way: An individual may be able to adopt an industrious attitude about doing the things that will stabilize their mood, even when they are no longer capable of being industrious toward everyday activities.

 

Sex Differences and Mental Depression in Utah

Utah’s attitudes about gender roles also likely plays a role in how an industrious culture can lead to mental depression, especially for women. A provocative new study suggests that management positions involving decisions about hiring, firing, and pay lead to higher rates of depression in women, but lower rates of depression in men. Moreover, the study found that women who demonstrated common leadership traits were often criticized for being unfeminine.

At the same time, other differences in the sexes may be harmful to men and the ways in which depression is viewed and understood. Some research has suggested that there is a neglected subtype of depression that is common to men and characterized by “aggression, substance abuse, and risk taking.” And while there is not yet a consensus that these male-dominated symptoms constitute gender parity for rates of depression, there is little doubt that, in general, women are more pathologized than men. Thus, women may face a greater a mental health stigma, while men may find it more difficult to access services for their mental health issues.

 

Perspective: Clinical Symptoms and Services for Mental Depression

As always, it’s important not to inflate the significance of correlating factors: Just because you have a high-stress job doesn’t mean every moment of despair will lead to a depressive episode. Just because you have a laid-back personality doesn’t mean you’re in the free-and-clear. You can learn more about the clinical symptoms of depression, but if it seems plausible that you or someone you know is going through a depressive episode, your best bet is to seek out clinical services from a mental health professional.

Either way, don’t let any mental health stigma stand in the way of getting help. The sooner an individual seeks out treatment for clinical depression the better the outcomes tend to be. Moreover, even those who don’t fit the clinical definition of depression may still be going through a major adjustment period that would go more smoothly with counseling services.

 

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Understand and Get Help for Bipolar Symptoms

Bipolar symptoms include signs of both clinical depression and mania. These features present as distinct episodes, although there is a form of the disorder in which an individual may experience some of each symptoms at the same time. A lot of people call bipolar disorder manic depression, and while these are the two poles of this mood disorder, it’s not simply a manic form of depression. In fact, there is a subtype of depression—mood-incongruent depression—in which an individual may express their depressed symptoms in a jarringly happy mood. What’s more, high-energy mania may sometimes have a negative emotional presentation, known as dysphoric mania.

The presentation of bipolar symptoms is potentially influenced by a number of factors specific to Utah, but it’s also important for local residents to understand the clinical symptoms of this disorder and to seek out qualified mental health services when behavioral issues do arise.

 

Bipolar Symptoms for Depression

To qualify as a depressive episode of clinical significance, the individual must experience either a pronounced lack of interest and pleasure in favored activities or sustained feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and/or sadness. In addition to this generally depressed mood, however, the individual must also experience at least four additional symptoms for a period of at least two weeks: change in appetite, sleep disturbances, sluggish behavior or speech, fatigue, intense feelings of guilt or worthlessness, trouble concentrating or making decisions, and suicidal ideation. You can read more about the clinical symptoms of depression here.

 

Bipolar Symptoms for Mania

Diagnostically similar, mania is first defined by an elevated mood and high-energy mental state. This mood must be sustained on a daily basis for at least several days, often a few weeks, and sometimes several months at a time. In addition to a generally expansive mood, the individual must this time experience at least three additional symptoms. Or, if the mania is defined by irritability instead of exhilaration, at least four of these additional symptoms must be present:

  • Grandiose attitudes or an inflated sense of self importance
  • Reduced sleep requirements
  • Excessive talkativeness, emotional need to keep talking
  • Racing thoughts to the point where it’s hard to say them quickly enough
  • Easily distracted by superfluous events or details
  • Increased activity level whether directed toward productive goals or purposeless behavior
  • Reckless behavior and decision-making

 

Manic vs. Hypomanic Episodes

The general symptoms of mania are the same in both types of episodes, but it’s the duration and, more importantly, the severity of the symptoms that distinguish between a manic and hypomanic episode. This difference also reveals whether the individual has bipolar type-1 or bipolar type-2. Here are some of the most common ways to tell the difference:

  • An individual who becomes delusional or has a “break from reality” is going through a manic episode.
  • If the manic episode lasts less than a week, it’s probably hypomania.
  • If the elevated mood causes an uncharacteristic change in behavior—but does not completely impair day-to-day functioning—it’s probably hypomania.

 

See a Utah Mental Health Professional

Looking through the clinical list of bipolar symptoms can be useful for understanding the difference between general moodiness and a serious mood disorder, but it’s not a license to make a psychological evaluation. Qualified clinicians go through many years of training and practice to consistently recognize the various presentations of bipolar, mood, and other mental disorders.

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