How to Successfully Treat Co-Occurring Disorders
The most common co-occurring disorders are substance abuse and mental health issues, but there are many other types of co-occurring disorders. The goal in treating these disorders is to identify the underlying cause.
Those who struggle with a co-occurring psychiatric condition and substance abuse disorder will often find that the treatment plan designed for their mental health issue is not enough to address the addictive tendencies.
It is important to note that those who have a co-occurring disorder should not stop taking their prescription medication or treatment plan without talking to their doctor first.
What Are Co-occurring Disorders?
Co-occurring disorders are two or more mental health conditions that occur at the same time. These can include mood, anxiety, eating, and substance use disorders among others. The most common type of co-occurring disorder is depression and anxiety.
An individual with both disorders might have trouble deciding what to do or which course of action to take, feel down more often than before, and struggle with sleep.
There are many types of treatment that may be useful for a co-occurring disorder, such as medication and counseling. The most important thing is that the individual struggling with the disorder gets help.
Types of Co-occurring Disorders
Co-occurring mental and substance abuse disorders often referred to as Dual Diagnosis, is a popular term in the treatment field. The term co-occurring implies that there are two problems occurring at the same time, but it is used to describe a situation where one of the problems causes or exacerbates another.
This term has become popular in recent years because there are many people who abuse substances and have mental health problems at the same time.
A study looked into co-occurring disorders in people who are homeless, by looking at their psychiatric diagnoses before they became homeless, and then following them for one year after they became homeless.
Mental health professionals have been trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses, but not substance abuse disorders. Substance abuse counselors are generally trained to diagnose and treat substance abuse disorders, but not mental illnesses.
Mood disorders are characterized by an abnormal mood that persists for a significant period of time. There are two major types of mood disorders: depressive mood disorder and bipolar affective disorder (formerly called manic-depressive illness).
A depressive mood disorder is characterized by a persistent and pervasive low level of emotion or lack of interest in activities. A bipolar affective disorder (previously called manic-depressive illness) is characterized by a period of at least one week during which the individual has had one or more manic episodes, accompanied by an elevated mood and periods of depression.
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental illnesses that fall into three categories: generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, and panic attacks. Anxiety disorders can affect people at any age. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults aged 18 and older.”
Though there are many types of anxiety disorders, the three most common are generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, and phobias. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is diagnosed when a person has excessive worry about everyday things for at least six months.
Panic attacks are characterized by extreme fear that strikes suddenly without warning. People who suffer from panic attacks often feel as though they can not breathe and have a variety of other physical symptoms such as racing heart, choking sensation, and chest pain.
Phobias are intense fears of specific objects or situations that could cause them harm. Many people with phobias have more than one type of anxiety disorder. Treatment for phobias depends on the type of fear. For example, if a person has an extreme fear of dogs, treatment may involve being gradually exposed to pictures or videos of dogs.
A psychotic disorder is a mental illness that causes hallucinations, delusions, or other breaks from reality. The most common type of psychosis is schizophrenia which affects about 1% of the population and typically starts in the late teens or early 20s.
Psychotic disorders are often not diagnosed until the individual has experienced a prolonged period of illness with psychotic symptoms, which could be months to years. Psychosis is just one symptom, it is important to distinguish psychosis from other psychiatric disorders.
Eating disorders are a type of co-occurring disorder in which an individual has abnormal eating habits. The most common types of eating disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge-Eating Disorder.
Anorexia Nervosa is a psychiatric disorder in which the affected individual has an intense fear of being obese or gaining weight, despite being underweight. The individual typically has an abnormally low body weight and a distorted perception of their physical appearance.
Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by binge-eating followed by purging with the use of self-induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives and diuretics, excessive exercising, or fasting.
Binge-Eating Disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating continuously until feeling uncomfortably full.
Signs and Symptoms of a Co-occurring Disorder
Frequent use of drugs or alcohol to relieve anxiety and distress, which can lead to addiction which is a sign of the presence of a co-occurring disorder.
One may experience a co-occurring disorder if they have an impulse control or obsessive-compulsive disorder, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Co-occurring disorder treatment is the planned, coordinated, and integrated program for people with co-occurring disorders that address physical health issues, mental health care needs, family concerns, and vocational rehabilitation.
Patients with Co-Occurring Disorders may experience physical symptoms including frequent headaches, ulcers, or stomach problems. They also often have mental health issues that include anxiety, depression, and attention deficit disorder.
Patients with Co-Occurring Disorders require a coordinated and integrated program to address their many needs, including medical care for physical symptoms such as frequent headaches or ulcers; mental health care needs, for instance, anxiety or depression; family concerns such as the need to address parenting skills with both parents present.
In order for a diagnosis to be made, the following criteria must be present:
1) Substance use disorder AND another psychiatric illness (e.g., major depressive episode, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, recurrent brief depression)
2) Substance use disorder OR another psychiatric illness
3) Persistent substance abuse in the face of negative consequences (e.g., loss of a job; marital conflict)
Medical symptoms such as frequent headaches or ulcers; mental health care needs, for instance, anxiety or depression; family concerns such as the need to address parenting skills with both parents present.
Co-Occurring Disorders symptoms may include the following: trouble sleeping or concentrating; irritability or anger; decreased appetite and low self-esteem
Co-occurring Disorder Diagnosis
The diagnosis is often made after symptoms of one or more additional disorders are present for a significant period of time; the symptoms may be worse than those that would typically accompany either disorder alone. The diagnoses can include substance abuse; mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety; and others.
Treatments for co-occurring disorders are typically more complex than those offered for either disorder alone. Medications may be prescribed to stabilize mood or reduce anxiety, and therapy can help address any underlying trauma or mental health issues.
The first step is to assess the individual’s needs and identify any co-occurring disorders, such as substance abuse; mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety; and others. The diagnosis may be worse than someone with one of them alone but the treatment is typically more complex for both disorders.
There are many types of drugs that can be used to treat co-occurring disorders. Mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety medications, and antidepressants are common treatments for these mental illnesses.
Co-occurring Disorders Treatment
A co-occurring disorder specialized treatment centre, such as ours, can provide both the physical and psychological therapies needed to help you get on track. Since co-occurring disorders are more difficult to treat than one disorder alone, it’s important to seek the care and treatment you need.
Our treatment center offers the physical and psychological therapy you need. Therapy can help address any underlying trauma or mental health issues. The first step is to assess the individual’s needs and identify any co-occurring disorders. If you or a loved one is suffering and needs help, call our professional staff at PROMIS to discuss treatment options.
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