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Monday, October 11, 2021

Is OCD an Anxiety Disorder?

obsessive-compulsive disorder

Living with a mental health condition can be challenging, but the proper treatment offers hope for those individuals to get help managing their symptoms. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affects many areas of an individual’s life. During OCD Awareness Week, it’s important to understand whether OCD is an anxiety disorder as well as the treatment options available to someone suffering from the condition.

OCD Awareness Week

October 10-16 is designated as OCD Awareness Week. The recognition started in 2009, as a way to share knowledge and to reduce the stigma around OCD and other mental health disorders. Education and awareness can make a huge difference in the lives of those with OCD and their family and friends. The focus of the week highlights the importance of living a value-driven life with OCD and works toward educating the public about what it means to live with the disorder.

Affecting Millions of People

OCD is a common mental health condition that affects millions of people. About 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children in the US are diagnosed with the disorder. They experience both obsessions and compulsions. An obsession is an intrusive thought or urge, usually unwanted, that can cause distress or anxiety. A compulsion is a behavior that an individual feels they must perform to ease their distress or anxiety. They may also develop the compulsion as a way to attempt to suppress their obsessive thoughts. Individuals with OCD can experience a range of obsessions and compulsions.

Generally, individuals with OCD recognize that their obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are not rational. However, they continue to feel a strong need to follow through on them. In fact, they may spend several hours every day focusing on these obsessions and performing compulsive rituals.

Without the proper treatment, the condition can seriously impact an individual’s normal routine, at work and at home. Treatment gives them hope that they can regain control and get relief from their symptoms.

OCD Is an Anxiety Disorder

The National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) includes OCD among the five anxiety disorders. Obsessions can cause anxiety within the individual who is dealing with their recurrent and unwanted thoughts. They then perform the compulsive rituals in an attempt to make the thoughts go away, but the compulsive behavior provides only temporary relief. If the person does not perform the rituals, the anxiety increases.

OCD Symptoms

The symptoms of OCD can cause even more anxiety, as they interfere with the individual’s ability to function normally each day. Symptoms of obsession include:

  • A fear of germs or contamination
  • The need to make sure things are symmetrical or in a perfect order
  • Unwanted thoughts seen as forbidden or taboo, involving sex, religion, or harm
  • Aggressive thoughts towards others or themselves.
Compulsive symptoms include:
  • Ordering and arranging things in a precise manner
  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
  • Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven has been turned off
  • Counting compulsively.

In addition, a person with OCD typically:

  • Spends at least one hour a day on their obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors
  • Can't control their thoughts or behaviors, even when they are recognized as excessive
  • Doesn’t get any pleasure from performing the behaviors or rituals, but may feel brief relief from the anxiety the thoughts cause
  • Experiences significant problems in their daily life as a result of these thoughts or behaviors.

The symptoms can ease over time or they could get worse. An individual with OCD may try to avoid situations that trigger their obsessions. They may also turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to calm their anxiety. This can lead to an addiction that can further damage the individual’s mental and physical health.

Hope for Your Anxiety Disorder

Help is available at Hope by the Sea, a southern California addiction treatment center. We offer personalized treatment for mood disorders and addiction, as we focus on helping you begin your journey of recovery from substance use and mental health issues. We specialize in treating you as a whole individual, so you can embrace your recovery with as much support and momentum as possible.

Our team continues to follow federal, state, and local public health guidelines regarding COVID-19 to ensure our clients' safety. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services. Hope Starts Here!


Thursday, October 7, 2021

How to Get Out of Depression

mental illness

Have you ever been told to “just snap out of it?” When you are experiencing the symptoms of depression, you know that is not good advice. Learning more about the symptoms and effects of the mental illness can help you be better prepared to manage it. A mental health screening can help you recognize the symptoms and know more about how to get out of depression.

Together for Mental Health

October 7 is National Depression Screening Day, part of National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month. The theme for this year is “Together for Mental Health.” Mental health conditions should be discussed openly throughout the year, but this month is designated to focus on improved care for all individuals with mental illness.

A screening that is free, confidential, and anonymous can help you determine whether your symptoms might point to depression. The screening is not a diagnosis. You can use it as a tool to move forward with seeking treatment and learning more about how to get out of depression.

Learn About the Symptoms

When you know more about depression, including the symptoms you are experiencing, it can help you better manage the illness. Some of the symptoms of depression include a persistent feeling of sadness or emptiness as well as a feeling of hopelessness. In addition, you may be experiencing:

  • Irritability, restlessness, or frustration
  • Feelings of helplessness or worthlessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities you once enjoyed
  • Significantly decreased energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering details
  • Difficulty sleeping, including early morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
  • Aches or pains, including headaches and stomach problems that don’t have a clear physical cause and that do not get better with treatment.

Suicide attempts or thoughts of death or suicide are serious symptoms of depression. If you are thinking about suicide or about hurting yourself, call 911 immediately or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text HELLO to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Develop a Positive Support Network

When you are trying to get out of depression, a positive support network can help. When you have close family members or friends who understand your condition, it can make a huge difference in how you manage your depression. You will know that you have people you can count on, especially when you want to talk through what you are feeling.

A formal support group also gives you a network of people who understand what you are going through as you experience the symptoms of depression. If you are not comfortable meeting in person, there are a number of online groups available that give you the same support in the comfort and safety of your home.

Take Care of Your Physical Health

Though it may take some effort, improving your physical health can have positive results for your mental health as well. Focus on eating nutritious meals that give you the vitamins and nutrients you need. Try to eat more fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

Go for a walk for find another way to get some exercise. Getting outside and participating in physical activity may feel like the last thing you want to do, but physical activity has been shown to release endorphins that improve mood and can be an effective part of your effort to get out of depression. Start slowly at first if you need to but try to get moving in a constructive way every day.

Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

Many people experiencing the symptoms of depression will turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to manage their condition. However, these substances will only make your mental illness worse. Alcohol is a depressant and can make you even more fatigued with feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Substance use can also lead to an addiction, which will need to be treated at the same time as your depression.

Reach Out for Treatment

A mental health screening can guide you toward a better understanding of your symptoms. The next step is to reach out to a healthcare professional for treatment so you can get out of your depression and begin living a healthier life, physically and mentally.

Hope by the Sea is Here to Help

If you or someone you love is dealing with mental health issues, the professionals at Hope by the Sea are here to help. We are a southern California mental health and addiction treatment center, focused on helping men and women begin the journey of recovery from mood disorders and addiction. We specialize in treating you as a whole individual, so you can embrace your recovery with as much support and momentum as possible. When you need help treating your mental health or substance use disorder, we offer the dual diagnosis treatment program you need. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services. Hope Starts Here!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

What is the Most Addictive Drug? | Most Addictive Substances

 what are the most addictive drugs

In the U.S., over 19 million adults, and over 1 million people under 18, have some form of substance use disorder (drug addiction). Medical experts say that the top 5 most addictive drugs are:

  • Nicotine (there are over 34 million smokers in the United States)
  • Alcohol (around 15 million cases of addiction in the United States)
  • Cocaine (over 1 million cases of addiction in the United States)
  • Methamphetamine (1 million cases of addiction)
  • Heroin (over 400,000 cases of addiction).


Many people don’t consider smoking a “real” addiction because it doesn’t make users “high,” and it doesn’t seriously impede everyday functioning or keep people home from work with hangovers (though it can increase the severity of alcohol hangovers). It also doesn’t necessarily lead to serious illness when someone tries to quit cold turkey—but there are withdrawal symptoms nonetheless:

  • Nicotine cravings
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased appetite (side note: low-calorie snacks and regular exercise can head off post-smoking weight gain).

The worst dangers of nicotine addiction are long-term and well-known: lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and a host of other health issues. Even in the short run, most habitual smokers suffer from chronic coughing, reduced stamina, premature wrinkles, bad breath, and reduced sense of smell.


For anyone over 21, alcohol is easy to purchase legally; and most younger adolescents can find it in their households or obtain it from friends. Its ready availability—and its common association with “calming the nerves”—makes users vulnerable to crossing the line into dangerous misuse. This is especially true for those whose natural reasoning abilities are impaired by mental illness, severe stress, or simple brain immaturity. (Note: the age of full brain maturity arrives four years after the age of legal drinking.)

Alcohol is considered among the highest-risk drugs for life-threatening withdrawal effects. Detox should never be attempted without medical supervision.


Cocaine is known for inducing brief but intense euphoria and bursts of energy. The drug once wasn’t considered strictly “addictive” because physical withdrawal symptoms are rare. But the psychological symptoms are just as severe and dangerous:

  • Extreme agitation and/or depression
  • Inability to sleep
  • Vivid nightmares and, often, paranoid delusions when awake
  • Extremely intense cravings for cocaine
  • Hostility toward others
  • Suicidal impulses.

If not carefully monitored, a person undergoing cocaine withdrawal may become violent and do serious harm to themselves or someone else.


People typically begin using “meth” to experience euphoric stimulation, ward off fatigue, or lose weight through appetite reduction. Those who become addicted suffer from:

  • Insomnia and/or irregular sleep patterns
  • Irritability and/or frequent “jitters”
  • Dental issues
  • Frequent “something’s crawling on me” sensations, leading to obsessive scratching and open sores
  • Frequent heavy perspiration.

Potential long-term effects include anxiety disorders, psychosis, frequent illness, strokes, and heart or liver damage.


All opioid drugs are addictive, but heroin is the most notorious—the illegal drug stereotypically associated with “junkies,” but at least as often the opioid to which anyone can “graduate” when “a few extra” prescription painkillers no longer make them feel better. (Eighty percent of people with heroin addiction started by abusing prescription painkillers.)

Heroin withdrawal is the epitome of the quip, “It won’t kill you, but it can make you want to die”: it induces severe nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, chills, muscle spasms, and all-over physical and emotional misery. Occasionally, it does kill someone—usually from vomiting-induced dehydration or desperation-induced suicide—so anyone seeking to give up heroin should seek medically supervised detox.

Endnote: The Importance of Medical Advice

Self-treatment for any substance addiction is extremely difficult, and potentially dangerous. If you see symptoms of dependence developing—even with a substance not generally considered addictive—don’t wait to see what happens, and don’t just stop taking the drug. Make an immediate appointment to discuss the situation with a doctor. As with any illness, the odds for addiction recovery are best with early diagnosis and treatment.

Effective Addiction Recovery Starts With Treatment

Whatever the exact nature of an addiction or the drug(s) involved, addiction is an illness that needs professional treatment. Hope by the Sea offers detox and follow-up care tailored to your demographic and individual needs. Contact us to learn more: Hope Starts Here!

Friday, September 24, 2021

Trauma and Addiction

trauma and addiction

When someone experiences a traumatic event, they may struggle with overcoming its emotional or physical effects. They may turn to drugs or alcohol to try to manage their symptoms. Likewise, someone with an addiction is generally more vulnerable to traumatic experiences. The link between trauma and addiction can be a vicious cycle for some individuals.

Link Between Trauma and Addiction

Substance use problems and exposure to traumatic events are strongly linked . Trauma can result from an event or an experience such as abuse, a criminal attack, an act of violence, an accident, or going into battle. Many people who undergo these types of trauma will turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to manage their symptoms.

In a vicious cycle, the increased substance use will often lead to additional trauma experiences, leading to further use of drugs or alcohol. Those individuals who are addicted to these substances may also be more susceptible to traumatic events such as violence or crime. Trauma-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, are seen in people with substance use disorders as well.

Trauma and addiction create serious problems for the individual’s physical and mental health. These linked disorders can also affect the lives of those around them, including impacting relationships with friends and family members.


PTSD is often thought of as something that happens to members of the military and first responders. In fact, PTSD can develop in anyone who has experienced a traumatic incident. The symptoms can begin with three months of the incident but can emerge months or even years later. When a person experiences PTSD, their symptoms will interfere with their daily life, including their work and their relationships with others.

PTSD symptoms can include flashbacks of the event or experience, avoiding places or people that are reminders of the incident, being easily startled, having difficulty concentrating and difficulty sleep, having angry or aggressive outbursts, and engaging in risky or destructive behavior, including abusing drugs or alcohol.

Alcohol Abuse and PTSD

When an individual is stressed and anxious as a result of experiencing a trauma in their life, they may be more tempted to use drugs or alcohol as a temporary relief or distraction. However, this can create more problems for the individual, both for their physical and their mental health.

Substance abuse can reduce a person’s ability to concentrate, to sleep restfully, to be productive, and to cope in a positive way with their traumatic memories and stressors. It can increase the sense of being numb emotionally, as well as their social isolation, depression, anger, and irritability. People who abuse alcohol and have PTSD often feel they need to constantly be on their guard, which can be wearing on them.

Trauma and addiction to alcohol are often seen together, as traumatized individuals are more likely to abuse alcohol both before and after they are diagnosed with PTSD. Research has found that:

  • One-fourth to three-fourths of those individuals who have survived abusive or violent traumatic experiences report problematic alcohol use.
  • One-tenth to one-third of those individuals who survive trauma related to an illness, accident, or disaster report problematic alcohol use, especially if they are troubled by persistent health problems or pain.
  • Up to 80% of Vietnam veterans seeking PTSD treatment have alcohol use disorders.
  • Veterans over the age of 65 with PTSD are at increased risk for attempted suicide when they abuse alcohol and experience the complications of depression.
  • Women exposed to trauma in their life show an increased risk for an alcohol use disorder.
  • Men and women reporting sexual abuse have higher rates of alcohol and drug use disorders than those who have not experienced such trauma.

Other Psychological or Physical Issues

Issues with mental health and physical health can also be a concern for someone experiencing trauma and addiction. About half of those adults with both alcohol use disorders and PTSD have one or more physical or psychological issues. Anxiety disorders, including phobias and panic attacks, mood disorders such as depression, attention deficit disorder, and abuse of prescription drugs, illegal drugs, and alcohol are often seen in people who have experienced trauma.

Those individuals are also more likely to experience chronic physical illnesses, such as heart disease or diabetes. They will also suffer from chronic physical pains as well, sometimes as a result of a traumatic injury or illness but sometimes with no clear physical cause.

Trauma and Addiction Treatment at Hope by the Sea

If you have experienced trauma in your life and are struggling to deal with the symptoms, we are here to help with your anxiety, mood disorder, and addiction. At Hope by the Sea, we work with you to create a personalized treatment regimen that will be effective for you and your situation. Please contact Hope by the Sea immediately for assistance. Hope Starts Here!

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