Monthly ArchiveJune 2021

Get Help and Find Treatment for Panic Attacks in Utah

Panic attacks are not themselves life-threatening, but because The symptoms frequently mimic actual medical emergencies, it’s a good idea to seek immediate medical attention. In the most severe cases, medication can usually reduce the worst symptoms of an attack. But if you think you’re in the middle of an attack and you’re determined not to seek medical care, get yourself to as safe a place as reasonably possible and then consider one of these approaches for stopping a panic attack. Afterwards, it’s wise to find follow-up treatment for panic attacks.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Panic Attacks

There’s an entire range of therapeutic methods that fall under the umbrella of cognitive-behavioral therapy. There are online manuals that explain the standard steps associated with CBT for panic disorder. This information is helpful for people who are terrified by not knowing what to expect from therapy. Just know before going in that an online manual is no substitute for having a qualified therapist guide you through the actual process. First and foremost, you’ll have an empathetic ear that can improve your mental health from the start. From there, personalizing the educational materials, cognitive therapy, and behavioral techniques that are used to treat panic disorder can make all the difference in the world, as they say. EMDR, for example, is a modified form of CBT that has become increasingly popular in Utah as a treatment for panic attacks.

DIY Strategies for Preventing Panic Attacks

An achievable goal for most people in Utah is to eventually be able to manage your panic and anxiety levels effectively on your own. And without the help of prescription medication. More often than not, this means first seeking treatment from a qualified mental health professional. There are relatively simple things you can try on your own, now and later, that may help reduce and prevent your panic attacks.

  • Avoid stimulants, including nicotine, caffeine, and a number of over-the-counter medications. We admit it ain’t always easy. There’s a lot of people out there who need their morning coffee and/or cigarette. But even choosing a head cold medication can be a tricky choice for those who struggle with stimulant-induced panic.
  • Yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. Here, too, there are a handful of variations for each of these activities. And the results can range from dramatic improvement to a mixed bag of effects that need to be explored with a therapist. Some people prefer the structure and aural stimulation of guided meditation programs. Some people prefer the physical element of a regular yoga habit. Other people prefer the minimalism of basic breathing exercises.
  • Physical exercise is also recommended, although cardio-workouts and over-exertion may create their own physical triggers—elevated heart rate, shortness of breath—that increase anxiety levels in the very short-term for some people.

Find Treatment for Panic Attacks in Utah

That said, there is no single strategy, or combination of strategies, that work for everybody. Likewise, these preventative strategies tend to take time to work. You may not be able to stop today’s panic attack, but maybe you can stop tomorrow’s. To this point, simply learning how to monitor your panic level and the effectiveness of different therapies can be a big help. Talk to a therapist or mental health provider in Utah.

What People in Utah should know about Neuroscience

Neuroscience is one of the big buzzwords in psychiatry and mental health, but if you’re not careful this buzz can turn into a bunch of noise. Given today’s media portrayals and marketing strategies, it’s all-too-easy to take on misconceptions that may hurt your understanding of mental disorders—whether it’s your own mental health at stake or someone you care about. Take a few minutes to read about the big picture surrounding the buzz and hopefully gain a better perspective of the conversation the next time you hear about the “amazing advances and wonders of brain science.”

What is Neuroscience, and how does it Relate to Mental Health?

In its simplest terms, neuroscience is the study of the nervous system. And while this human curiosity dates back to ancient times, the modern-day version arose in the 1970s with new brain-imaging technology and then solidified itself as a separate branch of scientific inquiry in the mid-1980s. It’s true that we’ve made incredible advances in describing the structures of the brain and its cellular substrate. But here’s the catch: Rarely is there a clear path from seeing which parts of the brain light up and which stay quiet to developing revolutionary cures for things like schizophrenia, depression, and other mental disorders. Put another way, what’s changed is what we’re able to study—not what we’re able to understand—about mental illness.

Popular Misconceptions about Neuroscience

With the media is today, it’s easy to think that the study of the brain and nervous system is going to lead to futuristic neural implants and newer prescription drugs that will cure serious mental illness overnight. And for certain neurological conditions, these treatments may yet become a reality. Today, however, it’s closer to the truth to say that neuroscience is providing more accurate and valid feedback on which treatments work and why. For this reason alone, neuroscience is an invaluable tool for directing future psychological research, but it’s nowhere near a cure-all for mental health.

Neuroscience is far from the only leader in mental health today. EMDR, one relatively new and promising therapy, was developed through clinical observation of eye movements and anxiety levels rather than, say, looking at an MRI or under a microscope. Moreover, the most recommended and effective treatment for a whole range of mental disorders continues to be some combination of cognitive and behavioral therapies delivered by a mental health therapist.

It’s also important to remember that dramatic results are themselves a mixed bag. For decades, some form of electro-convulsive therapy has been used to treat depression, schizophrenia, and other mental disorders, often with dramatic effects. Unfortunately, significant memory loss is a common side effect, and the benefits tend to wear off after some number of months.

Psychoeducation as Part of Getting Help

The everyday depiction of neuroscience is frequently distorted to destigmatize mental health conditions. A growing number of mental health organizations, for example, are branding mental disorders as “brain disorders” and “real medical conditions”—not because we suddenly have a comprehensive understanding of these conditions—but because many people are reluctant to seek therapy for something that’s “all in their head.”  And Utah is certainly no exception when it comes to this reluctance to ask for help.

Recognizing the factors that have led to a mental disorder can be a powerful resource in reducing the shame and anxiety that may keep someone from seeking help. Yet, when taken to the opposite extreme, a person may start to think that all they have to do is show up for therapy to be effective. In other words, just because it’s not your fault that you have a mental disorder doesn’t mean you’re powerless to change. Often times, the only way to get better is through months of behavioral changes and cognitive therapy. This is also why psychoeducation—learning about the nature of your mental disorder—is such a common part of mental health therapy.

Thus, what people in Utah need to know is that neuroscience can be a great ally when it comes to improving your mental health, but it’s no substitute for talking to a therapist and setting aside the time to work on your mental health. Whether it’s reducing psychological distress or overcoming a behavioral impairment, don’t hesitate to search for a qualified mental health professional in Utah.

Higher Rates of Major Depressive Disorder in Utah a Myth

A lot of people think that Utah is one of the most depressed states in the country, but in fact, it’s right at the national average. According to the Utah Department of Health, the prevalence rate for major depressive disorder is 4.2 percent in Utah and nationally. This means that, at any given time, about 4 percent of the state’s residents are depressed. (About one out of every ten Utah residents will go through a major depressive episode each year, and one out of every five residents will do so at some point in their lifetime.)

Popular Misconceptions about Major Depressive Disorder in Utah

Utah shows up near the top of a lot of lists for most depressed states. It’s an issue of data selection and methodology. Due to the inherent difficulties in researching the prevalence of major depressive disorder, there a lot of studies that look at antidepressant use, mental health treatment, suicide rates, and other general information. The thing is these correlating factors serve as a poor substitute for rates of depression that are rigorously calculated through randomly selected populations and statistical analysis.

What’s more, there are many reasons why these correlating factors may be an especially poor method for Utah:

Antidepressant Use and Standards of Care: According to one Ogden psychiatrist quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune, northern Utah’s especially high rate of antidepressant use can be linked, in part, to Intermountain Healthcare’s effort to integrate mental health services with its primary care model. In other words, rising rates of antidepressant use reflect the fact that we’re doing a better job of providing help to the people who need it.

Religion and Self-Medication: There is a solid amount of evidence to suggest that religion and antidepressant use are correlated, but there is no shortage of plausible theories about why this is the case. The one that seems most convincing to us is that lower rates of alcohol use are also correlated with these groups. Thus, religious groups tend to use antidepressants more because they’re less likely to self-medicate. You can see a fuller treatment of this discussion here.

Mental Health Stigmas: Meanwhile, rates of talk therapy are often downplayed overall in calculating rates of major depressive disorder. As laudable as it is, Utah’s culture of self-reliance and industriousness doesn’t do us any favors when it’s time to ask for help from a qualified mental health therapist. Utah residents may be especially likely to seek help from a medical doctor instead.

Cost and Insurance Coverage: On a similar note, the health insurance statistics for Utah suggest that, in addition to a slightly higher rate of coverage overall, Utah has an especially high rate of coverage for employer-sponsored plans. These plans frequently include stronger benefits. Compare this with the coverage and out-of-pocket costs for seeing a therapist on a weekly basis.

Dual-Diagnosis and other Mental Illness: Utah also shows higher rates of diagnosis and mental health services for other types of mental illness. Not only are antidepressants sometimes prescribed for anxiety, OCD, pain, PTSD, and off-label uses, but the 2010 report on Antidepressant Use in Utah showed that the highest rates of antidepressant use were for people with two significant, chronic diseases.

Get Help for Major Depressive Disorder in Utah

State-wide statistics may seem especially important to someone struggling with their own course of major depressive disorder, but these prevalence rates, treatment patterns, and cultural influences can be instructive as individuals seek help for their depression and decide whether to see a therapist or a doctor. We also encourage you to look for local resources in your neighborhood.