How You Can Promote Better Mental Health

Your mental health can affect numerous aspects of your life from how you feel emotionally and physically to your actions and behaviors. Taking care of yourself and taking steps to improve your mental health can have a very positive impact on your life. Each year, October 10 is celebrated as World Mental Health Day. A time for everyone to reflect, promote awareness, and take action. It is not too late to make a change in your life or get treatment for mental health disorders. There is hope and help available.

There are many ways that you can be proactive in your own mental health and supporting others. For instance, taking the time to recognize when someone is going through a difficult time and showing them you care. You don’t have to solve their problems for them, but providing a listening ear, positive distraction, empathy, or words of encouragement can help. Your small act of kindness and compassion can make a difference in their life and help them to keep moving forward or realize that they need professional mental health care.

Ways You Can Enhance Your Own Mental Health

There are plenty of ways that you can boost your own mental health and well-being to help manage or prevent mental health problems.

Manage Stress: Stress can play a major role in mental health. When life becomes overwhelming, it can take a toll. Learn different strategies for stress relief and figure out what works best for you. Be conscientious about taking on too much responsibility and too many tasks – learn to say no and how to delegate. You don’t have to do everything yourself; it’s okay to ask for help.

Try different things for stress relief such as a relaxing bath, reading a favorite book while sipping tea, practicing meditation or deep breathing, going for a walk, listening to music, journaling, painting, or talking with friends. The options are endless. Make time to do things you enjoy to keep your stress in check and boost your mood.

Stay Active: Exercise releases endorphins which are a natural mood booster. Physical activity is also a great way to burn off excess energy and release tension. If you’re someone who gets bored always doing the same thing, switch it up. Some days you could go to the gym or take a Zumba class. Other days you might want to go for a bike ride, go hiking or running, go swimming, or shoot some hoops. Staying active doesn’t have to mean putting in hours at the gym – there are plenty of other things you can do to mix it up.

Surround Yourself with Positive People: The company you keep can have a big impact on your mental health. If you surround yourself with people who are negative, always complaining, and never seem happy, it can wear off on you. While everyone has a bad day, make sure you’re spending time with people who have a relatively positive outlook and make you feel good. People who motivate, encourage, and inspire you. Look for opportunities where you can meet new people and make new friends who share similar interests.

Avoid Drugs and Alcohol: If your go-to solution to a bad day is having a drink or using drugs, this can quickly become problematic. Drugs and alcohol only provide a temporary solution and often make the situation worse. They can end up exacerbating the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. Focus on healthier ways of working through your problems and cheering yourself up. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, Above It All offers comprehensive treatment and addresses mental health concerns as well. Get the help you need to turn your life around for the better. Long-term recovery is possible.

Engage in Meaningful Work: This could be through your job, or through an activity such as volunteering. Commit a portion of your time to something that makes you happy and makes a difference. This can have a very positive effect on your attitude, outlook, and mental health. If you’re not happy in your job, work on finding a new one. If you’re not happy with where your life is headed, look for opportunities for change.

Look for the Positives: There are positives in every single day if you’re willing to look and change your perspective. Keep a gratitude journal and make it a point to write down two or three things each day that you are grateful for. They don’t have to be huge or life-changing– though some might be – but simply things that you are thankful for. On days when you’re feeling down, you’ll have something to look back on as a pick-me-up and to remind you that there is good in each day.

Seek Therapy or Counseling: There is no shame in seeking help for mental health issues. It is a sign of strength, not of weakness. Be proud of yourself for making your well-being a priority and getting the professional help you need for recovery. If you know someone else who has been facing rough times, encourage them to seek therapy or counseling and let them know that you’re there to support them.

Educate your Children: Mental health should not be a taboo subject – it is something that should be talked about. Help your kids to practice healthy routines and enhance their mental health. If they’re showing signs of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, addiction, or other problems, talk about it. Don’t keep quiet and hope that it will go away or fix itself. Build strong and open communication with your kids and let them know that it’s okay to ask for help.

Above It All incorporates strategies and activities to promote positive mental health for all clients. There is also a specialized program for clients with a dual diagnosis – substance use disorder and mental health disorder – to ensure that their mental health needs are addressed and managed along with their substance use. If you or someone you love is battling addiction or a dual diagnosis, turn to Above It All for comprehensive care.

[cta] Don’t ignore signs of mental health or substance use disorders. Speak up and contact Above It All to learn more about how we can help. [/cta]

The Importance of Treating Co-Occurring Disorders Together

Drugs and alcohol can have a powerful mind-altering affect. Addiction is not just about physical dependence on a substance, but also the changes that occur in the brain. It is not uncommon for individuals struggling with a substance use disorder to also have a mental health disorder, which is recognized as having co-occurring disorders. Some people turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety. However, substance use can actually make symptoms worse.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “About a third of all people experiencing mental illness … also experience substance abuse.” And, “about a third of all alcohol abusers and more than half of all drug abusers report experiencing a mental illness.” It occurs more often than people may think.

Treating these two conditions simultaneously is essential for more effective recovery. Mental health plays an important role in relapse prevention and living a higher quality life. Through dual diagnosis treatment at Above It All, clients build an understanding of how substance use and mental health disorders are intertwined. They can see the impact that it has on their own life and develop targeted strategies to support recovery.

When one condition is treated but not the other, it can increase risk of relapse. A portion of the underlying issues regarding addiction or mental illness is being overlooked. A program that emphasizes positive mental health for all clients is beneficial, but especially those that can equip clients with tailored strategies for coping with the mental health issues they face.

Above It All provides comprehensive treatment that encompasses both substance use and mental health to create a plan for more sustainable recovery. Clients feel more prepared to return to their community and overcome challenges they may face while making healthy decisions. Get the personalized treatment you need to manage co-occurring disorders at Above It All and see what a positive difference it can make in your life.

[cta] Are you struggling with mental illness in addition to addiction? Contact Above It All today and find out how we can help. [/cta]

Would You Recognize the Signs of Depression?

When many people think of depression, the first thing that comes to mind is being sad. However, depression is much more than that. Everyone feels sad from time to time, but those with depression experience other symptoms too. Depression affects how they think, feel, and act, and interferes with daily activities. October 6, 2016 is National Depression Screening Day and an important reminder to understand the signs of depression and how to get help. Depression is a very treatable condition.

Common Signs of Depression

Everyone experiences depression differently and may exhibit a range of symptoms to varying degrees. Just because someone has a symptom does not necessarily mean they are depressed, but it can be a warning sign to keep an eye on:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, or worthlessness
  • Lack of energy/motivation
  • Changes in appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Irritability

You may also notice that the person seems to find the negatives in any situation, has difficulty concentrating, or tries to be perfect to please everyone. Depression is not something that should be ignored as it can contribute to suicidal thoughts or actions and take a negative toll on a person’s quality of life.

Fortunately, depression is treatable. Above It All supports clients in improving and managing mental health to overcome symptoms of depression and turn their lives around. Depression may also co-exist with a substance use disorder, and dual diagnosis treatment ensures that both conditions are treated concurrently.

Recognizing the signs of depression is the first step in getting individuals the help they need. If you are worried that a loved one is depressed, encourage them to get screened and talk to a professional. Express your concern and let them know that they are not alone. One way to break down stigmas that surround depression is to talk about it and seek treatment. Above It All can help you or a loved one navigate the path to recovery and take back control of your well-being.

[cta] If you’re struggling with depression and alcohol or drug use, Above It All can provide the treatment you need for recovery. [/cta]

Addiction and Anxiety: A Vicious Cycle

Addiction and anxiety may seem, at first, like two separate conditions—and to be sure, there are many people who experience them independently from one another. Just because you have a substance use disorder, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have an anxiety disorder, and vice versa.

In other cases, though, one of these conditions may contribute directly to the other; in fact, anxiety and addiction can feed off of each other, and end up becoming a vicious cycle.

Often times, someone who has an anxiety disorder may turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of self-medicating, which can quickly spiral into a problem with addiction. At the same time, high levels of alcohol consumption or drug use can actually cause anxiety to worsen or deepen. (The common conception of alcohol as a way to sooth anxiety is only true when alcohol is consumed in moderation.) Thus, the two conditions can exacerbate each other and grow increasingly intertwined over time.

More specifically, there is evidence to suggest that alcohol and drugs can actually cause panic attacks—and if you already have an anxiety disorder, your risk rate for this is heightened. Meanwhile, anxiety is a key symptom of PTSD, and addiction is incredibly common among PTSD patients because it is seen as a way to calm that anxiety—but in reality, it makes the symptoms of PTSD far more pronounced.

All of this points to the need for dual diagnosis care: If you are struggling with both addiction and anxiety, it is important to have both conditions diagnosed and treated, not just one of them. Seeking a treatment plan that encompasses the full breadth of your mental health concerns is a key factor in finding lifelong recovery. Don’t hesitate to reach out for the dual diagnosis care you require.

[cta] Contact us today to learn about dual diagnosis care. [/cta]

PTSD & Addiction: A Different Kind of War

When many people think of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they envision military personnel returning from war or veterans. These are the stories commonly shared across the media. While war is a common cause of PTSD, it is not the only cause. Men, women, and children who have nothing to do with the military can be affected by this debilitating condition. There are many types of trauma that can lead to PTSD.

Since 2010, June 27 has been designated PTSD Awareness Day, and since 2014, the month of June as a whole has been recognized as PTSD Awareness Month. This is in an effort to increase awareness and understanding about PTSD and let people know that effective treatment is available. While there is no cure for PTSD, various types of therapy and treatment can help to alleviate the symptoms and allow individuals to live a more normal life.

What Causes PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder can affect anyone, young and old alike. It develops as the result of experiencing or witnessing a traumatic incident. This could include things such as:

  • War
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Natural disasters (hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, etc.)
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Unexpected death of a loved one
  • Serious accidents

While most people would be shaken up by these events, they are typically able to process them and move on within a few days, weeks, or months. They may think about them from time to time, but these incidents do not disrupt their overall life. For those with PTSD, they continue to have strong reactions, hypervigilance, or flashbacks even when there is no present danger. Around 10 percent of men and 20 percent of women who experience or witness trauma develop PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD

Everyone may experience this condition slightly differently, but there are several common symptoms that occur. They may range in severity from person to person.

Flashbacks. Following the traumatic event, some people keep seeing it happening in their mind over and over again. They may have nightmares that keep them up at night. However, the incidents seem very real and dangerous to the person, even though they’re not. Sights, sounds, and smells around them can trigger flashbacks.

Avoidance. People often go out of their way to avoid anything that reminds them of the event. They may take the bus to work instead of driving if they’re fearful of being in an accident.

Hypervigilance. The body goes into a “fight or flight” mode when it is in danger. Those with PTSD may always feel like they’re in this state. They may be acutely aware of everything going on around them and be easily startled. This can make it harder to eat, sleep, socialize, or focus.

Mood changes. After a traumatic event, the person may have a more dismal attitude. They may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed and feel detached from the world around them. In addition, they could feel a sense of guilt or shame about what happened, even if it wasn’t their fault.

These symptoms can interfere with a person’s normal life and ability to carry out daily activities. They may have a lot of trouble functioning in different situations and it can detract from their quality of life. Some people have trouble holding down a job, forming relationships, or being in public situations. If left untreated, symptoms of PTSD may continue to worsen and have an even greater impact on a person’s life. It is not too late to get help or to return to treatment for more support.

PTSD and Addiction

As a way of coping with the symptoms of PTSD, some people turn to drugs or alcohol. They may use these substances to try to relax and calm themselves, or a way to try to forget about their problems. This can quickly spiral into addiction which can make things worse and exacerbate symptoms as well as adding new problems. Some people don’t know how else to cope with what they’re feeling.

However, there is help available and hope for recovery. Addiction treatment centers like Above It All offer services tailored to those with a dual diagnosis. A dual diagnosis means that the client is struggling with both addiction and a mental health disorder such as PTSD. It is important that both conditions are addressed simultaneously for more effective recovery.

If only the addiction is treated, or only the PTSD, it is easy to overlook the interrelated nature of these conditions. Clients are therefore at a greater risk for relapse because underlying issues have not been properly addressed. With a dual diagnosis program, clients gain a better understanding of how their PTSD and addiction are related and how they affect one another. This allows them to develop more effective coping strategies to reduce risk of relapse and keep symptoms managed.

Above It All uses a mind, body, and spirit approach to recovery. Treatment plans incorporate individual and group therapy and counseling, 12-step methodologies, yoga, meditation, nutrition education, support groups, and other recreational and holistic activities. Each client’s plan is tailored to their individual needs and goals to optimize their recovery and support long-term success. Clients are equipped with the tools and resources they need to overcome trauma and addiction and create a healthier lifestyle in recovery.

Dual diagnosis programs can give clients the support and confidence they need to keep moving forward in their life. They can work through both their mental health and substance use issues and develop routines that are more conducive to a substance-free lifestyle and reduce triggers for relapse. If you or someone you love is struggling with PTSD and addiction, contact Above It All today to learn more about how our dual diagnosis program can provide a safe place for more effective recovery. We will work with you along each step of the way and help you to overcome the challenges that you face. Take back control of your life with help from Above It All. Recovery is possible.

[cta] You don’t have to let PTSD and addiction control your life. Reach out Above It All to find the support and care you need for recovery. [/cta]

Anxiety and Addiction: A Vicious Cycle

May 2-7 marks Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week. These are serious issues that people face every day. They can also be linked to substance use creating more complex challenges. Sometimes people self-medicate using drugs or alcohol as a way of trying to calm their anxiety and relax. While this may provide temporary relief in the short term, it can actually end up making symptoms worse in the long run. When the drugs wear off, anxiety may return with a vengeance. This can lead to increased substance use which may develop into addiction.

At the same time, substance use can also trigger feelings of anxiety. It can exacerbate underlying conditions that may not have been as problematic before. Anxiety and addiction can become a vicious cycle as both of these conditions feed off of one another. It can become a difficult cycle to break.

Coping with Addiction and Anxiety

Understanding the interrelated nature of these two conditions is important for recovery. They should be treated simultaneously through a dual diagnosis program. Treating only one at a time may increase risk of relapse because the cycle can still continue.  When you recognize how your anxiety and addiction impact one another, you can be more proactive in addressing issues as they arise and minimizing triggers.

Typically a combination of therapy, counseling, medication, and holistic activities are used to support recovery. You develop healthier routines and coping mechanisms that do not involve substance abuse and help to keep your anxiety better controlled. Recovery can be more challenging for those with a dual diagnosis, but change is possible.

With comprehensive care from Above It All, you can improve your physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health.  You can also take steps to prevent relapse and establish a healthier lifestyle that aligns with your personal goals and needs.

[cta] Join the conversation on Facebook and tell us your tips for keeping calm in recovery! [/cta]

May Your Troubled Soul Rest in Peace, Robin Williams

Robin Williams touched our lives. Through generations of entertainment, he earned our admiration and our respect. He earned our devotion and our affection. He brought us laughter, and he induced our tears. He brought wisdom, and he brought hope.

On August 11, 2014, he brought us despair, and he left us with questions, so very many questions. They are questions without answers.

Family, friends, and worldwide admirers never will know the last thoughts, the last feelings, that drove him to commit his final fatal act. This is the agonizing truth of any suicide. We are left wounded and distraught. We so fiercely want answers.

Instead of answers, we have a legacy. We have a timeless treasure trove of comedy and drama performed over decades by one of the greatest talents in the entertainment industry. As soon as news broke that Williams had hanged himself, social media and newscasts exploded not only with reactions to his death, but also with clips of sentimental favorite performances. No doubt, those clips will be in the forefront in days and weeks to come. They give us a way to keep him close, to hold his memory dear. They keep his spirit alive as we deal with our shock and grief.

Actor Brought Social Issues to Forefront

In some of his more notable roles, Robin Williams brought attention to serious societal issues – homelessness in “The Fisher King,” war and censorship in “Good Morning, Vietnam,” gender identity in “The Birdcage,” domestic violence in “Good Will Hunting.” In real life, Williams, without fanfare and without a desire for publicity, supported his own personal passions – the San Diego-based Challenged Athletes Foundation and the National Coalition for the Homeless. In many photos of his acting roles and of his charitable work, his eyes make no secret of his vulnerability and compassion. It may be this very sensitivity — the extreme sensitivity of those dealing with depression and addiction — that turned into one of his demons.

Suicide Opens Door To Discussions Of Depression and Substance Abuse

If good can come from this tragedy, it is open discussions that have arisen about the diseases of depression, bipolar disorder and addiction. Despite medical advances and social awareness, these diseases still bear a stigma. Sufferers and their loved ones often go to any lengths to hide their guilt and shame. People in the substance abuse recovery community understand those feelings. We understand the torment of a mind that tells lies of unworthiness; we understand the depths of despair. While we will never know the innermost self of Robin Williams, we get him. We get him, and we can share our experience, strength and hope with others as a way to honor our brother whose diseases drove him to his tragic end.


Drug Abuse And Mental Illness

Mental illness among drug addicts is a common and escalating issue. When someone suffers from a mental illness alongside a drug or alcohol addiction, it is categorized as dual-diagnosis. Those struggling with mental illness are 2x as likely to abuse drugs and alcohol when compared to the general populous. A variety of scenarios can be included in the complex cause-and-effect relationship between these two areas.

Relationship Between Drug Abuse And Mental Illness

The possible relationships between drug abuse and mental illness as defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • A common origin may be apparent for both disorders
  • Drug and alcohol abuse may exacerbate or cause mental illness
  • Mental illness may lead to substance abuse when subjects self-medicate with drugs and alcohol in an effort to ease the side effects of medication or alleviate symptoms of the disorder at hand

Common Origins Of Mental Diagnosis And Substance Abuse

When a single cause is apparent for both disorders, it is often one of the following:

  • Areas of the brain have been linked to both drug abuse and mental illness
  • Some patients are more susceptible to drug abuse and mental illness as a result of environmental factors, including childhood stressors and family issues
  • A genetic predisposition to both substance abuse and mental illness disorders

Consequences Of Substance Abuse With Mental Illness

Mental illness and Co-morbid substance abuse can result in a variety of consequences, including failure to respond to treatment, medication noncompliance, damaged relationships with loved ones and episodes of psychosis.

Problems Of Addiction With The Mentally Ill

Addiction increases the risk of jail and homelessness while contributing to social stigmas regarding the mentally ill. Though individuals with psychiatric issues are generally non-violent, the few who are aggressive in nature are typically struggling with addiction while ignoring their medication.

Treatment For Dual Diagnosis

Diagnosis can prove difficult due to the time required to unravel the interactive effects of mental illness and addiction. This delay may also inhibit treatment. One may require mental illness treatment over substance abuse treatment, or vice versa. Ultimately, both issues must be addressed in order to achieve a state of optimum mental and physical health.

An integrated recovery approach must be sought when addiction and dual diagnosis is present. Treatment will include counseling, intensive case management, social support and motivational interventions. Recovery should be comprehensive, catering to each and every aspect of the patient’s life, including socialization, activities, housing and stress management.

The road to recovery is never an easy journey. If you or a loved one is struggling with dual diagnosis, Above it All Treatment Center is the place to turn. With a team of seasoned addiction, mental health and recovery specialists available to assess and address your individual needs and condition, you can count on Above it All to have you smiling and on the fast track to fabulous in no time. Call today!

Understanding Addiction & Bipolar Disorder

Characterized by severe mood swings, bipolar disorder can oftentimes require specialized medication and care for treatment. Unfortunately, some patients believe that the medications are not suited to their needs or simply choose not to take them. These individuals sometimes rely on self-medication through drug and alcohol use, which can result in addiction. Understanding the reasoning behind substance abuse, the moods and the treatments offered can provide insight into both the addiction and disorder as a whole.

Depression and Mania

In order to understand the correlation between bipolar and addiction, we must first educate ourselves in regard to the moods. Depression is the mood where patients show an extreme disinterest in life, a discontinuation of typically exciting and fun activities and a heightened interested in suicide. In some cases the depression can be triggered once a patient is informed of their actions during a manic episode. The same patients can also suffer from mania, which includes heightened energy levels alongside the desire to participate in high-energy activities – exercise, frivolous spending and hyper-sexuality to name a few. Manic individuals will also immerse themselves within a variety of projects with the intent of completing each one, despite a lack of dedication and unrealistic deadlines.

Substance Abuse

When a bipolar patient dabbles in substance abuse, it is considered dual diagnosis. Substance abuse in bipolar individuals may occur during both the depression and manic phases. Some suffering from the disorder refuse to take prescription medication due to a fear of side effects and instead choose to self-medicate through alcohol or drug use. Others cater to the belief that the medications simply aren’t doing enough to alter their state of mind. For depressed patients, stimulants are often the drug of choice due to the energy and positive emotional effects. Patients in a manic state often resort to alcohol due to its depressive qualities. Unfortunately, self-medication will ultimately lead to addiction, providing patients with yet another condition to combat.


Addiction treatment is the first step in addressing dual diagnosis. Many patients often require a mood stabilizer in order to keep the depression and mania at bay. However, most of the mood stabilizers used in mental health recovery do not interact well with illicit drugs or alcohol. Once the addiction can be managed through detox and counseling, doctors can begin administering treatment for bipolar disorder.

Researching dual diagnosis treatment centers? Contact Above It All Treatment Center today! With a team of seasoned addiction and mental health experts available to address each patient’s individual needs, you can count on Above It All for the personalized care and attention you’ve been searching for. Call today for more information and find out what Above It All can do for you!

There Is No Room For Blame In Treating Dual Diagnosis Clients

Dual diagnosis clients are hit with a double whammy when it comes to needing help. On the one hand, they are living with a mental health issue, and on the other, they need treatment for substance abuse issues. It can be difficult to determine whether a person started using drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate and cope with an underlying mental illness or whether drug abuse may have triggered changes in brain chemistry that led to a mental health issue. No matter how the situation developed, trying to lay blame on a loved one who has two serious issues does nothing to deal with the problem and may discourage him or her from getting the specialized dual diagnosis treatment he or she needs.

Both Conditions Require Treatment

Friends and family members may have lost patience with a loved one who has a complicated health situation like a dual diagnosis. More than likely, they have been through many situations involving anger, frustration, shame, embarrassment, guilt, and other strong emotions over months or years. By educating themselves about mental health and addiction, they will understand the situation more clearly and realize the addiction and the mental health issue must be evaluated and treated separately if their loved one is going to get well.

Find the Right Kind of Help for a Dual Diagnosis Client

The best place to get help for a person who is living with a mental illness and an addiction is at a mental health residential treatment facility. Once he or she arrives, the first step will be to undergo detoxification (detox). The staff will need to get the effects of any chemicals of out the way to determine the true nature of the mental health issues that the client is experiencing. Having a proper diagnosis is a crucial part of the process when helping clients who have been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder and who are struggling with addiction.

Once the staff understands the nature of the client’s mental health concern, they will be able to devise an individual treatment plan. The addiction is treated concurrently to the mental health issues using a combination of strategies, which may include individual and group counseling, attending 12-step program meetings, and engaging in various recreational activities to encourage healthy, sober living. Dual diagnosis treatment facilities do an excellent job of offering a holistic approach to meeting the needs of their clients to ensure that both aspects of their health concerns are dealt with appropriately.