April is Alcohol Awareness Month

NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and  Drug Dependence) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month since 1987. It is an opportunity to raise awareness of alcohol abuse and encourage people to make healthy, safe choices.

ncadd%20alcohol%20awareness%20month%202013-%20logoDrinking too much alcohol can lead to health problems, including alcohol poisoning, hangovers, and an increased risk of heart disease. If you are drinking too much, you can improve your health by cutting back or quitting. Keep track of how much you drink, avoid places where overdrinking occurs, and find new ways to deal with stress. If you are concerned about someone else’s drinking, offer to help.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a drinking problem, Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers treatment programs that can help.

If you or someone you know is battling addiction, contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible

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April 10 is National Alcohol Screening Day. How do you score?

ncadd%20alcohol%20awareness%20month%202013-%20logoNational Alcohol Screening Day is an outreach, education, and screening program that raises awareness about alcohol misuse and refers individuals with alcohol problems for further treatment.

Thousands of colleges, community-based organizations, and military installations provide the program to the public each year.

What are the warning signs?

If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, you may have a problem with alcohol:

  • Do you drink alone when you feel angry or sad?
  • Does your drinking ever make you late for work?
  • Does your drinking worry your family?
  • Do you ever drink after telling yourself you won’t?
  • Do you ever forget what you did while drinking?
  • Do you get headaches or have a hangover after drinking?

If you or someone you know is struggling with a drinking problem, Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers treatment programs that can help.

If you or someone you know is battling addiction, contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.

 

What does “eating well” mean to a person with an eating disorder?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognizes March 9, 2016 as Registered Dietitian Day. This event, started in 2008, was created to increase the awareness of the vital part registered dietitians provide for patients regarding food and nutrition services and to recognize RDs for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives.

The importance of the registered dietitian is extremely evident in the area of Eating Disorder treatment.

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Sandy Blaies

“Dietitians are an essential part of our program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital” says Sandy Blaies, Eating Disorders program supervisor. “Eating disorders have both psychological and physiological elements and require treatment providers with expertise in both.

“The extreme dieting behaviors, severe weight loss and symptoms of semi-starvation, binge-eating behaviors, and the patient’s distorted beliefs about nutrition and dietary requirements all support the need for the expertise provided by dietitians.”

“Dietitians have an essential role within the multidisciplinary assessment and treatment programs for all three major eating disorders.”

The main aim is to provide sound nutritional knowledge for the patient, the caregivers and other members of the treatment team. The focus of treatment should be on the establishment of a balanced dietary intake which will restore nutritional status and body weight.

Anne Sprenger

Anne Sprenger

Ann Sprenger, RD, a registered dietitian in the Aurora Psychiatric Hospital Eating Disorder Program describes how she works with patients. “I meet with every patient to provide nutrition information, describe how nutrition affects their mental and physical health, and to develop a diet plan in partnership with the patient.

“We monitor food intake every day and identify barriers to healthy eating habits. It is important for the patients to practice healthy eating habits while in the treatment program.”

Dr. Dinshah Gagrat, MD is the Medical Director of the Aurora Psychiatric Hospital Eating Disorder Program. “Professionals who treat patients with an eating disorder need to have knowledge of the nutritional effects and physiological consequences of the illness. This is rare within a predominantly mental health setting and this is the importance of including a registered dietitian in the treatment team.”

How do registered dietitians help people live well? Check out the top 10 ways from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Dr. Dinshah Gagrat

Dr. Dinshah Gagrat

If you or someone you know may be experiencing an eating disorder please contact us at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services or check out these resources:

Would you recognize the signs of an eating disorder?

Whether you’re a professional caregiver, a friend, or a family member, you could be the first person to recognize and offer assistance regarding a patient’s eating and weight concerns. Identifying the problem early is important.  Early detection and treatment improves the prognosis.

PosterFlyerSCOFF is a screening tool developed to identify patients who may be experiencing an eating disorder.

The SCOFF questionnaire is effective as a screening instrument because it is simple, memorable, easily applied and scored.

One point is assigned for every “yes”; a score greater than two (≥2) indicates a possible case of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

The SCOFF questions

  • Do you make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
  • Do you worry that you have lost Control over how much you eat?
  • Have you recently lost more than One stone (14 lb) in a 3-month period?
  • Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are too thin?
  • Would you say that Food dominates your life?

Read more information about What every Primary Care Physician should know about eating disorders.

NEDAwareness Week is February 24-March 2, 2013. This is the largest education and outreach effort on eating disorders in the United States.The aim of NEDAwareness Week is to increase awareness and education about eating disorders and body image issues for effective recognition, early intervention and direction to care.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services. Access an Eating Disorders Screening Tool, or learn about the Eating Disorder Program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.

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Do you always need to be hospitalized for mental health care?

Partial Hospitalization Program offers alternative to inpatient mental health care

For people who do not need to be hospitalized for behavioral health issues like anxiety, depression, bipolar or post traumatic stress disorder, but who have serious symptoms that are impacting their ability to cope with a daily routine, we offer Partial Hospitalization.

Partial Hospitalization is a great alternative to inpatient care, with a more flexible schedule, and is also more cost-effective. Yet, many people are still unaware that this program exists. It’s a fairly new concept in mental health care, having become available within the last 10-15 years.

mother daughters kids children family outdoors summer heroPartial Hospitalization provides clinically equivalent mental healthcare at a much lower cost than inpatient treatment. According to the Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare, direct cost savings over inpatient benefits are usually 40 to 60 percent — and more than 60 percent in some instances.

There are additional benefits because an employee involved in partial hospitalization treatment may be able to work on at least a limited basis, thus maintaining productivity.

Partial hospitalization dates back to the 1960s, when a small group of clinicians believed that individuals with acute mental illness would have a better chance of recovery and healthy functioning if they were allowed to pursue their treatment in the same communities where they worked, went to school, or maintained their family relationships.

“Our program provides the resources available to an inpatient without being completely isolated from your life” explains Marlyene Pfeiffer, LCSW, CSAC, and program psychotherapist at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital. “It’s an alternative to inpatient care, or a nice transition toward home for those ready to be discharged from the hospital.”

Partial Hospital programs help individuals develop and strengthen coping and healthy living skills – from healthy eating and regular exercise, to better sleep habits. Patients come in during the day and go home to their families in the evening. This allows them to practice the new skills they’ve learned, while also promoting their new-found confidence and independence.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers several Partial Hospitalization Programs.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs.  If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.

6 Tips to help your children cope with trauma

The media is full of stories that can cause your child to become anxious, stressed or fearful.  Shootings, school violence, and natural disasters are all events that may trigger trauma.

AUR-0545Events such as this can cause post-traumatic stress reactions, which can range from mild to severe. Reaction to trauma can overwhelm a child’s ability to cope.

Munther Barakat, PsyD is a psychologist in the Child & Adolescent Day treatment program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital. Here are his suggestions for minimizing the impact of post-traumatic stress reactions.

    • Early intervention in childhood psychic trauma is important. Families that offer support, understanding, and a sense of safety as close to the time of the traumatic event as possible can effectively limit the effects of trauma on a child.
    • Try to keep normal routines. Kids gain security from the predictability of routine.
    • It is important to limit the amount of time spent watching the news because constant exposure may actually heighten their anxiety and fears.
    • Talk about the events with your child to the level your child is developmentally able to handle. It is unlikely they have not heard about the event from peers, social media or news and television. Not talking about it can make the event even more threatening. PBS Parents offers help on how to talk with children about news events.
    • Assure children that they are safe and so are their schools.

Munther Barakat is a doctor of psychology at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital in Wauwatosa.

  • Watch for signs of stress, fear or anxiety. It may also a good idea to consult a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other mental health professional for evaluation and treatment if behaviors are severe.

If your child, or a child you know has experienced trauma, contact us at 1-877-666-7223 or visit the Aurora Psychiatric Hospital website.

For more information on trauma, visit these resources:

Want to lose holiday weight? Lose the diet first!

The Twelve Days of Christmas, or “How to have your plum pudding and eat it too!”

anne sprenger

Anne Sprenger is a registered dietician working in the eating disorders program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.

Right after the holidays there is a noticeable increase in advertising for weight loss programs. This is no doubt an effort to take advantage of the fact that many people will gain an average of seven pounds over the holidays!

Current research shows the whole concept of “dieting” doesn’t really work for anyone to lose weight or even stay at a healthy weight.

According to Psychology Today, about 95% of people who lose weight by dieting will regain it in 1-5 years. The temporary nature of dieting means it won’t work in the long run. One reason is that cutting out calories changes your metabolism and brain, so your body hoards fat and your mind magnifies food cravings into an obsession.

Dieting raises levels of hormones that stimulate appetite — and lowers levels of hormones that suppress it. For more information about why diets don’t work, click here.

In the true non-diet spirit, follow these recommendations from Anne Sprenger, registered dietician at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.

Day 1 (Christmas Day): Throw out every calorie-counting book on the shelf. We know dieting doesn’t work.

Day 2: There is not one food you cannot have today. It is human nature telling ourselves we can’t have something makes us want more. If we eat a forbidden food, we feel guilty. Permission allows us to eat without guilt and to eat less in the long run.

Day 3: Don’t skip breakfast and lunch because you are going out for dinner tonight. You will just set yourself up to overeat the entire evening. If dinner is late, have a snack before you go. Once you are full at dinner, set aside the reset of the food and ask for a “doggie bag” to take home.

Day 4: Take time for yourself by taking a walk. If you don’t have an hour, then 15 minutes will do.

Day 5: Don’t eat those cookies sitting around at work for lunch. Eat a well-balanced lunch containing all the food groups and then see how many of those cookies you really want.

Day 6: While planning that special dinner menu, think of colorful low-fat choices to put with that prime rib you want to serve. Fresh steamed asparagus could replace broccoli with cheese sauce. Other festive options are cauliflower with red & green peppers or lime & raspberry sherbet in schaum torte cups.

Day 7: Pamper yourself with a bubble bath, a long shower or a nap. Often we turn to food as a stress-reliever, when what our body really needs is time to relax and unwind.

Day 8: Happy New Year! Make a resolution this year to take time to take care of yourself-enough time for exercise, enough time for relaxation, and enough time to enjoy food.

Day 9: Don’t suffer with your special once-a-year recipe made with fat-free sour cream. Use the tastier low-fat version that you will enjoy, and don’t fall into the trap of thinking “fat-free is calorie free”. This simply is not true.

Day 10: Go sledding with the kids

Day 11: Go buy some fresh watermelon, fresh berries, or any other non-winter fruit you can find. What a treat!

Day 12: You don’t have to finish all your plum pudding. It will save until tomorrow; you can eat it for breakfast if you like. Once it is gone, cherish the memories of a delightful treat. Or better yet, plan to make it again in July!

If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services

How do you perceive people with psychiatric issues?

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What if you were to ask a group of friends or colleagues “How many of you have ever broken a bone?”

I’m sure they would not have thought twice about raising their hands if that were the case. Then I would have asked “How many of you have ever been diagnosed and treated for some form of mental or emotional disturbance?” I suspect none would have raised their hands, and there would have been an awkward silence.

Perhaps the stigma which continues to linger in our modern age is because the field of psychiatry is relatively young, compared to other sciences. Or perhaps it is because there tends to be an unrealistic expectation that anyone who is “competent” should not incur such types of problems.

The truth of the matter is: man, by his very nature, is imperfect, and mental health conditions can be inherited, just like so many other illnesses. Mental health conditions can also develop easily enough based on our ever-changing sets of life circumstances. Chemical imbalances stemming from a variety of bodily changes, such as hormonal, or thyroid, or a wide variety of other factors, can also bring on a range of psychiatric symptoms. All of these can happen to any of us at any time, whether we like it or not.

Why is it we don’t hesitate to contact our doctor when we have a physical problem, but hesitate to contact them when the problem is of an emotional nature? This is where the stigma comes in; that fear of what others might think of us. And that fear is based on a sense of shame, as if for some reason we are automatically buying into the negative stereotype of whatever label our symptoms might suggest.

As individuals we are far more than one or two labels might suggest. If we suffer from symptoms of anxiety or depression or a myriad of other potential psychiatric symptoms, does that make up the whole of who we are? Does that mean we are to automatically assume feelings of shame, inadequacy, or worse yet, label ourselves as a victim? If we break a leg do we not place our focus on the steps we need to take to heal, as opposed to just laying there as if nothing can be done?

Some progress has been made regarding the unfortunate stigma which has been placed on mental health or emotional problems, but we still have a long way to go. Every day we see the kinds of shortcomings each of us too often display, whether they can be labeled as a legitimate psychiatric condition or not.

The fact is, we have all exhibited unhealthy behaviors toward each other, and the challenge to improve our condition is always by degrees. We live in a world with a million shades of gray, and it does none of us any good to think strictly in polarized terms, as if everything should be black or white, all or nothing. We would all be wise to daily practice a greater degree of compassion to those in the world around us.

For more about mental health treatment, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs.  If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.

How can art therapy be used to treat eating disorder?

Art therapy is part of the holistic treatment approach applied to treat eating disorders at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital. Patients can develop self-awareness, adopt better coping mechanisms, improve cognitive functions, and find pleasure in art making.

The purpose of art therapy is fundamentally on healing.  Art therapy helps patients creatively express emotions they may be having difficulty expressing verbally.

It is vital that patients express their emotions. Many times abusive or deadly behaviors are used to numb the pain of not speaking up and out. Obsessions with food and weight are often attempts to cope with unresolved emotional issues such as depression, rage, powerlessness, and loss.

Art therapy is a special tool that can help provide access to those hidden feelings in a safe and non-threatening way. Patients in the Eating Disorder Program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital participate in both guided art and open art studios in an effort to strengthen and apply their inner resources towards recovery. Art therapy techniques are used to explore the issues that have led to compulsive eating, binging, purging, starving, over-exercising, laxative abuse, etc. Art Therapy is offered as a creative source and an outlet for patients to overcome blocked feelings. Emphasis is on discovering new ways to nurture oneself.

Art therapy is often intimidating to people. Many patients think they’re not artists or they can’t draw or they’re not creative. But art therapy is about the creative process, not the creative product. Patients connect with their inner experiences and find a way to express something that they may not be able to do easily with words. That’s one reason art therapy is a natural fit for eating disorders. It takes away the shame and helps people feel empowered.

A range of materials and mediums can be used, including pencils, watercolors, clay, collages and more. If someone is feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or out of control they might prefer markers or pencils, which help foster a sense of control. Someone who is feeling “stuck” or needing to break out might try a more fluid media, like watercolor paint. And someone who doesn’t want to draw at all can use collage, for example.

Looking at the visual representation of a particular issue provides helpful understanding of the emotions involved. So a person can examine how they feel and behave currently vs. how they want to feel or behave and explore what’s keeping them from functioning the way they want to in a situation or relationship. It’s a skill that can continue to be used at home after treatment as well. Art can be used as a positive coping skill to incorporate into a long term recovery plan.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder contact Aurora Psychiatric Hospital Eating Disorders Program

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs.  If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.

Support all those effected by suicide on International Survivors of Suicide Day

Every 40 seconds someone in the world dies by suicide. Every 41 seconds someone is left to make sense of it.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention sponsors International Survivors of Suicide Day, an annual event for fellow survivors to come together for support, healing, information and empowerment. On November 17 this year, survivor conferences will be held in cities throughout the U.S. and abroad, offering speakers, workshops, and sharing sessions.

In addition to their local programming, all of the conference sites watch a 90-minute AFSP broadcast that includes “experienced” survivors and mental health professionals addressing the questions that so many survivors face: Why did this happen? How do I cope? Where can I find support? Since many survivors also find it helpful to understand something about the science of suicide prevention and bereavement, the program also includes a brief presentation of what scientific research has revealed about the psychiatric illnesses associated with suicide.

Survivors of Suicide Day- Milwaukee Event: A local event, sponsored by Mental Health American and Aurora Behavioral Health Services, will be held at Aurora St Luke’s Medical Center. Click here for details.

If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, or thoughts of suicide visit the web site for Aurora Psychiatric Hospital

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs.  If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.