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What Does it Feel Like to Have Chronic Pain?

You banged your knee on the corner of the kitchen table, but the pain went away, eventually. That was acute pain, specific and with a known cause. But what about your lower back pain that’s haunted you for years? What caused it? These are the enduring mysteries of chronic pain.

What is Chronic Pain?

Pain is different for everyone, but there are two kinds of physical pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain signals that your body is injured. It normally doesn’t last long and should subside as your body heals. Chronic pain is continual and may last months or even years. “Chronic pain may interfere with your daily activities. And because the pain lasts so long, people who have chronic pain may also have low self-esteem, depression, and anger.”

The Symptoms of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain symptoms include moderate to severe pain that does not subside as expected following an illness or injury. It has been described as aching, burning, electrical, or shooting. You may experience soreness, tightness, or stiffness in the impacted area of your body. While chronic pain symptoms and their physical and psychological effects can be daunting, research has proven the efficacy of certain new treatments, including the regular, ongoing use of ketamine therapy.

What Causes Chronic Pain?

Occasionally chronic pain has a clear cause. You could have a long-term illness such as cancer or arthritis that can trigger ongoing pain. But diseases and injuries can also produce changes to the body that instill a higher pain sensitivity. These differences can remain in place even when you’ve healed from the original disease or injury. So, an injury like a sprain, broken bone, or a short-term infection can leave you experiencing chronic pain.

Some people also experience chronic pain unrelated to a physical illness or an injury. Healthcare providers deem this reaction psychosomatic pain or psychogenic pain.

What Does it Feel Like to Have Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is real and different for everyone it touches. Some people plow through the pain, determined to get out of bed every morning and do what needs to be done – go to work, get the kids ready for school, volunteer at the local food bank. Unfortunately, the pain is so uncomfortable and pervasive for some people that it’s eaten away at their resolve and eventually controls their lives.

If you or someone you know suffers from chronic pain, you know the emotions and reactions it stirs up too well. Chronic pain is inexplicably linked to what goes on in the brain and triggers reactions throughout your body and mind you may not be prepared to handle.

Kristen Domonell has a unique perspective on what chronic pain feels like, noting that “getting up in the morning is no joke.” She also relayed the presence of odd or bad dreams, often of little things in her life which you may be able to relate to, like seams in an article of clothing.

In a post vetted by Dr. Sarah Jarvis MBE, author Sarah Graham relayed the feelings that many people experience due to chronic pain. One person described the pain as “bolts of electricity” through their bones. Another mentioned that chronic pain resulted in insensitivity to the point where their skin felt on fire.

Managing symptoms and the feelings they cause is a matter of determination and resolve to live as normal of a life as possible.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will inquire about your medical history, and providing as much information as possible will assist in finding the right treatment. Be honest about where the pain is, its severity, and frequency. Also, describe what makes it better or worse. Your doctor will perform an exam and do tests to help find the cause. Other health problems will be discussed – as well as anxiety, mood, sleep patterns – which could influence treatment options.

Tips for Managing Chronic Pain

If you suffer from chronic pain, talk to a doctor about treatment options. There are other ways to cope with the pain on your own, however, including: 

  • Stretching exercises
  • Practicing good posture
  • Yoga
  • Staying active and maintaining a daily routine
  • Reduce stress with relaxation techniques
  • Don’t do more than you can handle
  • Take care of other mental or medical conditions
  • Stay positive
  • Stay engaged with others

Chronic pain, while serious, can be managed with novel medications like ketamine. 

Final Thoughts

Chronic pain affects all aspects of your life. The most effective treatment relieves symptoms and offers support. You may be able to manage the pain at home with store-bought pain relievers, but the pain could require therapy, prescription medication, or even surgery. One treatment worth learning about is ketamine therapy. Contact us today to learn more!

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Can PTSD Cause Memory Loss?

One of your loved ones survived a traumatic experience, and besides exhibiting symptoms of such an event, has also begun struggling in other ways. One unexpected symptom, which is possibly PTSD-related, is memory loss. Thankfully, new PTSD treatments for symptoms including memory loss are available. Ketamine infusion therapy is one such new therapy option. 

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a traumatic event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”

Most people who survive trauma could have short-term problems coping and adjusting, but with time and self-care, they often recover. If symptoms worsen, persist for months or even years, and restrict your daily life, you could have PTSD.

The Brain and Memory

The brain serves a vital role in how memories are processed and retrieved, and memory function can be impeded by physical or psychological injury because of a traumatic experience. People with PTSD can experience memory loss or intrusive memories. The temporal lobe, part of the cerebellum, is essential for short-term memory, plus “speech, musical rhythm and some degree of smell recognition.” The hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala are critical players in memory function and retrieval.

PTSD Symptoms

PTSD symptoms fall into four categories: Intrusion, avoidance, changes in cognition or mood, and adjustments in arousal or reactivity. People with PTSD report experiencing such symptoms in the days after the trauma. But diagnosis depends on symptoms lasting more than a month and causing severe distress or problems with someone’s daily life. Many people get symptoms within three months of the event, but symptoms can show later and often last for months and occasionally years.

Can PTSD Cause Memory Loss?

One of the hallmarks of a person living with PTSD is the influx of harmful memories of their trauma. Because of intrusive memories, avoidance kicks in with the person trying to stay away from anything, which triggers terrible recollections of the event. Conversely, much research has answered the question: Can PTSD cause memory loss?

According to Kristi Samuelson Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Colorado and a PTSD researcher, experts are in disagreement as to how or why PTSD wreaks havoc with memory functions – either boosting it or causing the brain to bury memories, so they’re rarely recalled. But PTSD changes the brain’s ability to remember.

There are frequent disturbances to the trauma recollection process itself, she says. Some people who report PTSD symptoms can retrieve memories with stunning clarity. In contrast, others tell of wide-ranging amnesia for crucial aspects of trauma and doubt about the sequence of events. Though, the remembrance is splintered for many people, with some parts crystal clear and others missing or jumbled. “Many trauma survivors dissociate at the time of trauma,” Samuelson says. “Core areas of the brain go into survival mode, making it impossible to encode what is happening.” Disassociation can shut down the region of the brain accountable for processing experiences from before, according to a study published in Current Psychiatric Reports in 2017.

Thankfully, some symptoms of mental illness, and specific physical pain conditions, have responded favorably to different therapies, including ketamine treatment.

Brain Exercises for Better Memory

People who have PTSD may keep their memory and higher brain functions in a healthy state by using daily mental exercises. Some brain exercises to consider include:

  • Recall testing by memorizing a daily grocery list or route to work.
  • Switch up and use your opposite hand, or whichever is weaker. Switching to a non-dominant hand is difficult and requires mental focus.
  • Mental math, drawing a map from memory or reading books aloud.

PTSD Diagnosis

PTSD is most often diagnosed by licensed medical professionals who specialize in mental illness and have experience with patients experiencing trauma-related symptoms. Diagnosis typically involves a physical and mental health exam and confirmation of symptoms as spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, fifth edition).

PTSD and Ketamine

Ketamine was battle-tested on U.S. combat troops during the Vietnam war as a pre-surgical anesthetic – a demographic which later included veterans who have PTSD and related illness in the greatest numbers since 1980. But ketamine has proven helpful in soothing symptoms of PTSD and other conditions.

Final Thoughts

If you or a loved one suffers from PTSD and experiences memory loss or symptoms of the condition, reach out for help. Numerous online and other resources are available, including the National Center for PTSD, the PTSD Foundation of America, and many other local, state, and national organizations near you.

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What Is Atypical Depression

The number of Americans suffering from depression is significant – about 15 million people every year. But that number will jump in 2020 due to COVID-19 and its effects, driving millions more into its depths as they struggle with illness, death, financial hardships, and other societal changes never imagined.

WHAT IS ATYPICAL DEPRESSION?

WebMD defines atypical depression as “a subtype of major depression or dysthymic disorder that involves several specific symptoms, including increased appetite or weight gain, sleepiness or excessive sleep, marked fatigue or weakness, moods that are strongly reactive to environmental circumstances, and feeling extremely sensitive to rejection.”
Major depression or dysthymic disorder have a common “specifier” – atypical depression. People suffering from atypical depression have frequently faced depression first early in their lives, normally in their teens.

SYMPTOMS OF ATYPICAL DEPRESSION

Besides mood reactivity, someone suffering from atypical depression may experience two or more of:

  • A bigger eating habit, resulting in significant weight gain
  • Sleeping an excessive amount of hours
  • Feeling as if your arms and legs are very heavy, also known as leaden paralysis
  • You have increased sensitivity and intense reaction to rejection or criticism, resulting in considerable work and social impairment

These symptoms are different than you might experience with typical depression, which includes insomnia and loss of appetite. Unfortunately, the mood of people suffering from atypical depression usually does not get better, even when something good happens.
It is not uncommon for a person with atypical depression to experience other symptoms, such as:

  • Depressed mood or sadness for the entire day or nearly every day
  • Loss of enjoyment in activities that were once enjoyable
  • Major change in appetite or weight
  • Insomnia or too much sleep nearly every day
  • A state of being rundown or physical restlessness that is observable by others
  • Loss of energy or fatigue almost every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or excessive guilt nearly every day
  • Problems with making decisions or focusing almost every day
  • Repeated thoughts of suicide or death, suicide planning, or suicide attempts

RISK FACTORS FOR DEPRESSION

Over the years, research has begun pinpointing several factors that appear to increase the risk of triggering or developing depression:

  • Personality traits, such as being too dependent and having low self-esteem, being pessimistic or self-critical
  • Stressful or traumatic events, including instances of sexual or physical abuse, the
  • loss or death of a loved one, a bad relationship, or money problems
  • Blood relatives with a history of bipolar disorder, depression, alcoholism, or suicide
  • History of an anxiety disorder, eating disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other mental health ailments
  • Abuse of recreational drugs or alcohol
  • Serious or chronic illness, including stroke, chronic pain, cancer, or heart disease
  • Taking certain medications, like some high blood pressure drugs or sleeping pills – always talk to a doctor before using any medication

CAUSES OF DEPRESSION

While the roots of depression are unknown, there are factors which boost the risk, including:

  • Family history
  • A substantial loss — from divorce, death, or separation — that could trigger an underlying susceptibility to depression as opposed to normal grief
  • Interpersonal disputes and related emotions like guilt
  • Any type of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • Any kind of major life experience such as changing or ending a job, moving, retiring, graduating, or social isolation in people with a biological predisposition to depression
  • Any type of major illness such as COVID-19, heart disease, cancer, stroke, or HIV
  • Drug or alcohol misuse

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT

Diagnosis of atypical depression or any other normally involves:

  • A physical exam to rule out or link depression to an underlying physical health problem.
  • Lab or blood tests to ensure your thyroid or other organs work as expected.
  • A psychiatric evaluation and questionnaire to review your symptoms, thoughts, feelings, behaviors.
  • Consulting with criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Following a medical and psychological evaluation, a positive diagnosis will likely result in your health provider recommending treatment. Options like psychotherapy, self-help, hospitalization, and the use of a newer form of treatment like ketamine infusion therapy to treat mood changes may be discussed. Ketamine and esketamine are administered via infusion therapy or as a nasal spray and are known to help manage your depression symptoms.

CONCLUSION

Depression and other mental illnesses are treatable with psychotherapy and drugs like ketamine, but the key to managing symptoms is recognizing them and seeking immediate care. If you think you suffer from atypical depression, contact us to get help today.

when-is-depression-crippling

When Is Depression Crippling?

Everyone gets depressed occasionally. It is a normal part of life. Looking forward to something that does not return desired results can lead to mood changes, weight fluctuation, loss of sleep. In most cases, the symptoms are temporary. But if they drag on for weeks, they can be crippling.

WHAT IS MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER?

A person suffering from clinical depression, sometimes also called major depressive disorder, must either experience a lack of interest or joy in daily activities or depressed mood regularly for two weeks. Such depression when observed usually denotes a substantial difference from what would be considered the person’s usual daily mood. Mood shifts can harm how a person functions at school, work, or at home, but the symptoms can often be treated with medications like ketamine.

WHAT IS THE CRITERIA FOR MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER?

Mental health professionals use the same criteria when diagnosing mental illness. That criteria is spelled out in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.

A person suffering from a mental illness may be diagnosed when five or more of the following, including depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, are present for two weeks:

  • Depressed most of the day, nearly every day as indicated by subjective report (e.g., feels sad, empty, hopeless) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful)
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by subjective account or observation)
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down)
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick)
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others)
  • Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide”

WHEN IS DEPRESSION CRIPPLING?

According to most mental healthcare professionals, depression becomes crippling for different people at different times, based on many factors. But the one thing most agree on is this: Depression is crippling when it begins restricting basic functioning, such as going to work and living normally. Some people with depression have episodes that persist for a few weeks or months. For others, depression is a crippling ailment when it resists treatment and becomes a lifelong struggle.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE DEPRESSED?

The number of people suffering from depression is unknown, mostly because it is a mental health condition that goes unreported and untreated for many reasons – embarrassment, lack of healthcare, the belief that it will “just go away.” The number of U.S. adults affected by depression could be 15 million annually.

HOW DO YOU DIAGNOSE DEPRESSION?

Diagnosis of crippling depression follows a standard pattern. First, a medical doctor will perform a physical, ask about your medical history, and run tests that may rule out a condition that causes the depression. Second, or instead of a physical, a mental health provider will perform a psychological exam that focuses on emotions, moods, and behavior. Finally, the results of one or both exams will be compared to criteria in the DSM-5 for final diagnosis.

HOW DO YOU TREAT DEPRESSION?

There are many ways to treat depression, which you and your doctor or therapist will talk about and decide on. Options include psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy, self-help, medication, and in some cases hospitalization. In-patient therapy will occur regularly, often spanning the course of several months or longer to help manage symptoms.

DOES MEDICINE WORK?

In many cases, a doctor or mental healthcare provider will prescribe anti-depressants to be used in conjunction with some form of therapy. Over the last several years, government and private research has looked into the efficacy of drugs like ketamine, which improve neurotransmitter function in the brain, to ease symptoms of depression. Ketamine, or esketamine, is dispensed via infusion therapy or a nasal spray. It was originally used as an anesthetic during the Vietnam war.

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you or a loved one is depressed, seek care immediately and do not wait until the symptoms become crippling. A medical doctor or mental health provider will work with you to design a treatment program, possibly including psychotherapy or drugs like ketamine.
If you or a loved one have questions about the clinical use of ketamine we can help. Ketamine has been shown to provide rapid relief from the symptoms of depression where other medications have failed. Contact us today.

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What is Complex PTSD?

You’ve likely already heard of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – an anxiety disorder that some people develop after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event.

You may not, however, be familiar with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). CPTSD comes about as a result of repeated trauma over a longer period of time, rather than one single traumatic event.

CPTSD Symptoms

The symptoms are mostly like those of PTSD, but with additional symptoms not found in the regular condition.

Standard PTSD Symptoms

  • Reliving the traumatic experience (through nightmares, thoughts, or flashbacks)
  • Avoiding certain activities or thoughts that remind you of the event
  • Changes in thoughts and actions, such as feeling distrustful or losing hope about the future
  • Hyperarousal, which means being on high alert or jittery. This also results in difficulty sleeping or focusing.

CPTSD Symptoms

  • Being unable to regulate your emotions or control your feeling, resulting in things like explosive anger
  • Changes in thinking and consciousness. For example, dissociative feelings or getting about the traumatic event
  • Negative thoughts about yourself, such as intense guilt or shame
  • Conflicts in your personal or professional relationships
  • Developing a distorted perception of your abuser, for instance developing a preoccupation with getting “revenge”
  • Loss faith in beliefs or values you once held

Causes of CPTSD

Some research suggests that trauma may have a lasting effect on the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex. These are parts of the brain that have a major role in the function of memory and the way a person responds to stress.

This leads to speculation that long-term trauma, inflicted over months or even years, may wear a person down and lead to CPTSD.
Examples of long-term trauma include, but are not limited to:

  • Ongoing physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • Living in an area affected by war
  • Ongoing childhood abuse or neglect

Risk factors for developing CPTSD include some of the following:

  • Personal or family history of other mental health conditions
  • Inherited personality traits (your temperament)
  • The way your brain regulates hormones in response to stress

CPTSD Treatment

CPTSD will deeply affect a person’s life. It can be unforgiving, but no matter what there is hope for relief from the symptoms. Hope can come in many forms: treatments both old and new like antidepressant medications, psychotherapy sessions, ketamine infusions, or general lifestyle changes like social support or supporting your physical health.

Ketamine for CPTSD Treatment

Ketamine has been used for decades as an anesthetic and pain reliever, but in recent years is being used as a powerful and rapid-acting treatment for mental health conditions such as CPTSD. Research seems to indicate that ketamine plays a role in the treatment of mood disorders through its interaction with the neurotransmitter known as glutamate. Glutamate is a powerful neurotransmitter that mediates the body’s response to stress and traumatic memories.

To learn more about ketamine and its use for CPTSD treatment, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Ketamine for OCD

Everyone, it seems, will toss out a joke occasionally about OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder): “I have OCD when it comes to folding my t-shirts” or “I have OCD about cleaning my glasses.” But the condition, characterized by the need to repeat an action or behavior continuously, is very real. It’s pop culture relevant, discussed often by Lena Dunham, Howie Mandel, and others. Ketamine-derived nasal spray and infusion therapy are now considered viable OCD treatment options.

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Ketamine for Anxiety

Anxiety is undue concern or worry. It prepares your body for action to battle danger. But what if there’s no danger? Then, anxiety obliges the sufferer to keep fleeing from an unseen beast to an alien destination. If you’ve run this race before and feel like a champion, then you know the effects of anxiety – trouble at work, school, home, and with relationships. But help is available, through clinical therapy, hospitalization, and medication like ketamine.

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Ketamine for PTSD

PTSD, or posttraumatic stress disorder, is most popularly associated with distressed American combat veterans, but it’s a serious mental health disorder affecting millions of men, women, and children – most of whom have never experienced war or front-line combat situations. Normal symptoms include trouble sleeping, reliving distressing memories, and negative thoughts, but all can be treated with therapy or medication, including ketamine and ketamine-derived drugs. In most cases, treatment is customized for each patient’s unique situation.

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Ketamine for Depression

Depression is a significant but treatable medical condition affecting how a person thinks, feels, and acts. More than 17 million U.S. adults suffer from it, while nearly two million children under 17 also experience its symptoms. It’s usually characterized by sadness, but symptoms can appear as apathy or irritability. Occasionally other medications or ailments can trigger or simulate the symptoms, so it’s crucial to seek care, which may involve therapy including the use of ketamine.

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