Making the decision to get help to overcome addiction to alcohol is a positive step. But it is not an easy one to make. And you’re probably wondering what’s in store for you. Before any treatment program can begin, you may first have to undergo detoxification to clear alcohol from your body. Perhaps you think you can detox on your own to save time and money. But this can be dangerous. Just how dangerous is alcohol withdrawal? Can you die from alcohol withdrawal?
The short answer is yes, you can die from alcohol withdrawal. The effects of alcohol withdrawal symptoms range from mild to life-threatening. Symptoms begin within two hours of cessation of alcohol use. They can also persist for weeks.
Alcohol Detox Can Be Fatal
The worst outcome from alcohol detox done improperly is that you can die from alcohol withdrawal. In order to be safe, professionals need to medically monitor your alcohol detox. They will be there to assist in the event of an emergency and to ensure comfort and ease symptoms during withdrawal.
Why is alcohol withdrawal so dangerous? How can you die from alcohol withdrawal? An alcoholic relies on alcohol both physically and mentally in order to function. This is a compulsion that becomes an alcoholic’s basic need for survival.
Alcohol is physically addicting. This means that when your body doesn’t have what years of alcohol abuse have given it, you get sick. And this can kill you. For example, alcohol withdrawal can lead to heart arrhythmias (heart rhythm problems) and kidney or liver dysfunction. Sometimes, this can prove to be fatal.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
If you try to detox on your own, without medical supervision and assistance, it can be very unsafe. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include both physical and psychological symptoms. The following symptoms are common for those suffering from alcohol withdrawal syndrome:
Physical Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
High blood pressure
Tactile, auditory, and visual hallucinations
Hand tremors (also called “the shakes”)
Repeated seizures, called delirium tremens, or DTs, which can kill you in alcohol withdrawal
Risk factors for delirium tremens increase with multiple alcohol detox attempts. These risk factors include a history of seizures, older age, liver abnormalities and functioning, and acute medical illness.
Symptoms of delirium tremens usually peak at five days and include:
High blood pressure
Fever of a low grade
Psychological Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Post-Acute Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
If you have an alcohol addiction, you may experience chronic alcohol withdrawal symptoms after the initial symptoms have subsided. This is known as post-acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). These withdrawal symptoms can last a few weeks to a year. Symptoms include:
Lack of energy
Being more accident prone
Recovering From Alcohol Withdrawal the Safe Way
The important thing to keep in mind is that you want to get clean and sober. This requires eliminating alcohol from your body during detox and overcoming alcohol withdrawal symptoms. But getting sober doesn’t have to be done alone. There are inpatient and outpatient alcohol treatment facilities that can direct you to effective medically monitored detox programs.
Getting rid of the alcohol in your system is the first step in your overall goal to live clean and sober. You also need to learn coping skills, understand the disease of addiction and start incorporating healthier habits into your life. Participating in 12-step support groups or other self-help groups will also help you maintain your commitment to living in sobriety. The encouragement and support you receive in alcohol rehab and support groups is invaluable in your journey to live free of substance abuse.
Trauma has profound effects on a person’s well-being. If it isn’t treated, the effects of trauma can last a lifetime and affect every area of a person’s life.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines trauma as a response to events you perceive as “physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening.” Moreover, trauma causes “lasting adverse effects” that make it difficult to function, or impact your “mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”
Sixty-one percent of men and 51% of women report experiencing a traumatic event at some point in their lives. Sometimes trauma produces signs and symptoms that only last a few days or weeks. Other times it may last longer and turn into something called post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Events that may result in emotional and psychological trauma include:
Serious car accidents
Whether trauma is severe or mild or results in PTSD or not, it’s important to have support after experiencing it. Treatment for trauma will help you process what happened to you in a safe environment. It will then teach you healthy ways of coping with your trauma symptoms.
Symptoms of Trauma
Symptoms and signs of trauma are broken into four categories: intrusion symptoms, avoidance symptoms, negative changes in mood, and changes in arousal and reactivity. Here are examples of trauma symptoms in each of the categories.
Intrusion symptoms refer to how you might remember or re-experience the traumatic event. These symptoms cause the traumatic memory to “intrude” upon you during regular life. That’s why they are called intrusion symptoms. Some possible ways include:
Recurrent, involuntary and intrusive memories that are particularly distressing Nightmares or upsetting dreams that relate to the traumatic event Dissociative reactions, such as flashbacks. This involves disconnecting from what’s around you and feeling like the event is happening all over again. Intense or prolonged distress when exposed to reminders of the trauma, such as a specific date Distinct physical reactions (rapid heart rate, sweaty palms, etc.) when exposed to reminders of the trauma
Avoidance symptoms include any effort you make to avoid re-experiencing or remembering the traumatic event such as:
Avoiding activities, places or physical reminders
Avoiding people, conversations or other interpersonal situations
Negative Changes in Mood
A negative shift in thoughts and mood that began—or worsened—after the traumatic event include the following:
Low emotional state, such as fear, guilt, shame or sadness
Decreased interest in activities that once brought joy
Withdrawal from social interactions
Persistent inability to express positive emotion, such as happiness, love or joy
Alterations in Arousal and Reactivity
The traumatic event can cause changes in your emotional reactions. Many trauma symptoms may also resemble symptoms of anxiety and depression. These may look like:
Irritability and/or angry outbursts
Hypervigilance, or feeling as if danger is always lurking
An exaggerated startle response
Disturbances in sleep
There is also a type of trauma called complex trauma. Complex trauma results when people experience severe traumatic events over a prolonged period of time. It often results from childhood traumas. Examples include childhood sexual abuse or severe neglect. In the case of complex trauma, symptoms may include:
DissociationAmnesia, or difficulty remembering the time around the traumatic events
Extreme difficulty controlling emotions like anger or anxiety
Decreased ability to empathize with others. In children this may cause conduct disorder. If the trauma isn’t treated, it may progress to antisocial personality disorder in adulthood.
Short-Term Trauma Symptoms vs. PTSD Symptoms
It’s possible for someone to experience something traumatizing and not develop PTSD. They might still have intense symptoms that resemble PTSD. However, in normal reactions to stress, these symptoms will stop after a few weeks. This could be diagnosed as acute stress reaction (or acute stress disorder). Full-blown PTSD will last longer than a month and seriously affect your daily life.
Symptoms of acute stress reaction and PTSD overlap. The only difference lies in how long they last. However, short-term trauma is more associated with dissociative symptoms. These include:
Difficulty feeling pleasure
Extreme emotional disconnection
Depersonalization (feeling you are watching yourself from outside your body)
Derealization (feeling the world around you is unreal)
Aside from this key difference, any of the symptoms listed above in the four categories may present in either short-term trauma or PTSD.
Dual Diagnosis of Addiction & PTSD
Dealing with untreated trauma is hard. Your loved ones may be fed up with your mood swings, and you may find life spiraling out of control. Unfortunately, one common coping strategy is drinking or substance abuse. If you find yourself falling into this dangerous pattern (or if you see a loved one increase their drinking habits or suspect them of using drugs, including prescription drugs, after a traumatic event), get immediate help.
If you have developed an addiction in addition to PTSD, you have what is called a dual diagnosis. This means you have two conditions that need simultaneous treatment. Addictions and PTSD can spiral and feed off each other in dangerous ways, but there are healthier and safer coping strategies that a trained professional can teach you. You can recover from both addiction and PTSD at the right treatment facility.
What Is the First Step to Treating Trauma?
There are many types of treatment available for trauma. They include forms of therapy, medications and activities like yoga and meditation. To decide which is best for you, you may first want to meet with a behavioral health therapist or doctor. They’ll assess your symptoms and determine whether you suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Making a PTSD diagnosis involves looking at how many trauma symptoms from each category you experience. Health professionals will look at how long they have lasted. They’ll also assess the degree to which they affect functioning in your day-to-day life.
A PTSD diagnosis will help in determining the level of care you need for treatment. Even if you don’t meet criteria, you should still seek help in processing your trauma and alleviating your trauma symptoms.
What Does Treatment for Trauma Look Like?
You don’t have to live in this state of stress forever. Trauma recovery is possible. The most well-researched and common treatments for trauma are described below. Again, your doctor or therapist will help you determine which evidence-based treatment may be best for you.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Most forms of talk therapy for trauma are types of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. In CBT you’ll learn how your thoughts influence your feelings, which in turn influence your actions. Through therapy you’ll learn to take control of thoughts and reactions you have to your trauma. This results in healthier actions and behaviors. You’ll also learn to re-conceptualize the trauma, reducing feelings of guilt and shame.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is a treatment that helps you face traumatic memories and target the feelings and cognitions associated with them. Unlike some other forms of therapy, you don’t necessarily have to talk about your trauma. Your therapist will ask you to concentrate on the trauma you experienced. Meanwhile, they do something repetitive like flashing a light or moving their hand. This process allows you to remember traumas without the intense feelings of distress. When the feelings of distress are gone, you’re better able to use positive coping skills.
Medications can be helpful for managing the effects of trauma. They usually aren’t enough on their own and should be used in conjunction with therapy. Antidepressants like fluoxetine or sertraline help decrease feelings of anxiety and stress. Prazosin is a medication that can help with insomnia and nightmares.
Trauma Treatment at Lucida
Lucida treatment center offers the above treatments in a welcoming and trauma-informed setting. We also offer alternative treatments like yoga, fitness and psychodrama. Our clinicians and medical staff is trained in the effects and symptoms of trauma. Our admissions process begins with a biopsychosocial assessment. This determines what you will work on while attending our inpatient mental health treatment program.
Give us a call today at 844-874-8503 for a free assessment.
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder affecting both women and men. It is characterized by alternating periods of depression and mania. However, bipolar disorder in women often looks different than in men—both in terms of symptoms and when it often shows up. For example, women are particularly vulnerable to bipolar episodes certain times of the month and after giving birth.
Likewise, there are different forms of bipolar disorder, and some forms show up in women more than men. Bipolar I disorder is roughly equally present in men as women. However, multiple studies show that women are more likely to develop bipolar II disorder.
Differences in bipolar symptoms in women and men call for modified approaches. It’s also important to be aware of these differences so that you can notice the signs of bipolar disorder in yourself or in a loved one. If you have only ever seen the disorder in a man, you might not recognize it in a woman.
But first, let’s take a look at the different types of bipolar disorder.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar I disorder: In bipolar I disorder, you experience one or more manic episodes or mixed episodes (symptoms of both mania and depression). One episode lasts at least seven days. Typically, you will also experience periods of depression with symptoms lasting at least two weeks. It is common for episodes to be so severe that a mental health professional will recommend inpatient bipolar treatment. That may mean you stay in a hospital for a time, allowing you to receive round-the-clock care.
Bipolar II disorder: This is characterized by a pattern of one or more major depressive episodes and at least one hypomanic episode. A hypomanic episode is less severe than full-blown mania. Mental health professionals sometimes misdiagnose this condition as major depression. This is especially a risk if they do not witness a hypomanic episode and you do not report hypomanic symptoms.
Cyclothymic disorder: This is a milder type of bipolar disorder, defined by chronic periods of hypomanic or depressive symptoms. If you’re an adult, then the episodes generally last least two years. For children and adolescents, however, they will last for one year. The severity of cyclothymic disorder may change over time.
Bipolar Signs & Symptoms in Women
As a woman, you may experience bipolar disorder differently from men in a number of ways. In general, women experience:
Later onset than men. This means that you are more likely to develop bipolar disorder at a later age than men.
Higher incidence of depressive episodes.
Higher likelihood of experiencing simultaneous symptoms of mania and depression (mixed episodes or mixed mania).
Greater comorbidity of physical conditions. This means you are more likely to experience a health condition alongside your bipolar disorder. For instance, as a woman with bipolar disorder, you are more likely to also suffer from thyroid disease.
Greater comorbidity of other mental illnesses, including eating disorders and anxiety.
More likely to experience rapid cycling. This is characterized by four or more episodes of depression or mania in a year. In fact, you could experience such fast mood swings between mania and depression that you sometimes experience both states in a single day. Rapid cycling bipolar disorder also appears to be more resistant to treatment.
More likely to seek help for treatment of bipolar disorder.
More likely to receive an incorrect diagnosis of depression.
Bipolar Signs & Symptoms in Men
In contrast, men with bipolar disorder are more likely to experience:
Earlier onset than women
More severe symptoms than women
Higher incidence of manic episodes and mixed episodes
More prone to aggressive behavior during manic episodes
In a study published in PLOS One, researchers found differences in suicide risk in men and women with bipolar disorder. For instance, a strong predictor of suicide risk in men was substance abuse. The predictors of suicide risk in women, in contrast, were different. They included:
Women with bipolar disorder attempt suicide more often than their male counterparts. They also attempt to take their own lives two to three times more often than men in the general population.
Post-Partum Bipolar Disorder
Childbirth can trigger bipolar symptoms in women. When this occurs, it is known as postpartum bipolar disorder. For example, a study published in the journal JAMA found that childbirth increased the risk of a severe bipolar episode. Researchers from the same study noted that fathers did not experience the same risk.
Experts aren’t exactly sure why pregnancy increases the risk of postpartum episodes in women. Possible causes may include hormonal changes, problems with sleep and other life changes that happen as a result of pregnancy. At an intuitive level, there’s no question that there’s hardly a more demanding life change in a woman’s life than becoming a mother.
As a new mother, you might wonder what’s going on with your thoughts. What’s normal to new motherhood? And what is a sign of a postpartum mental health disorder? Moreover, most of the advocacy and awareness efforts have focused on postpartum depression or, to a lesser degree, postpartum anxiety. Postpartum bipolar disorder might not be on your radar.
Symptoms of Postpartum
Postpartum depression and bipolar disorder can look very similar. During a depressive episode of bipolar disorder, you may wonder if you’re experiencing postpartum depression. But postpartum bipolar disorder is different from other postpartum disorders, such as postpartum depression or anxiety. With postpartum bipolar disorder, a new mother will experience extreme up-swings. This mania or hypomania, as discussed earlier, includes symptoms not present in depression, such as:
Decreased need to sleep
Impulsive and destructive behavior
Postpartum bipolar disorder is also distinct from postpartum anxiety. The latter is an anxiety disorder, which means fear, panic and anxiety are the center of the problem. If you have postpartum bipolar disorder, you may not experience the following symptoms of postpartum anxiety:
Constant worrying that your baby is in danger
Imagining your baby coming to harm
Concerns about your baby’s safety affecting your daily life
Experiencing panic attacks
Needing to go to the toilet more often
Avoidance of situations that make you anxious
It’s important to remember that symptoms of postpartum bipolar disorder do not always start straight after birth. Sometimes the symptoms of postpartum bipolar disorder develop in the weeks and months after delivery. This can make a diagnosis for you difficult. You may not immediately make the connection between these later symptoms and your birth.
Treatment for Postpartum
Many women with postpartum mood disorders do not seek treatment. It’s hard to prioritize yourself after having a baby, and it can feel selfish. You may not want others to know that you’re struggling as a new mother, or you may feel guilty for some of the darker feelings you have during depressed episodes. However, having a postpartum mood disorder doesn’t make you a bad mom—even if your mind has started thinking about ways of hurting your child.
If you feel that your moods are alternating between extreme highs and lows after childbirth, get help. If you’re considering hurting yourself or your child, you can’t wait. There’s no shame. Your body, your hormones and your life have all changed drastically. Choosing to get help is what makes you a good mom.
A diagnosis of bipolar disorder (or any other postpartum mental health disorder) may be the first step to taking the best care of both you and your baby.
The Role of the Menstrual Cycle in Bipolar Symptoms
Living with bipolar disorder should be enough, but women with bipolar disorder often face the additional challenge of increased struggles with their moods as part of their premenstrual symptoms (PMS). Researchers believe estrogen plays a role in bipolar disorder in women. This is because the menstrual cycle, which results in a drop in estrogen, often leads to a worsening of bipolar symptoms in the premenstrual period. However, the link between menstruation and bipolar disorder is much weaker than it is for childbirth.
Some scientists speculate that the hormonal changes that take place during menstruation may lessen the effects of lithium. Lithium is a common medication that patients take to reduce the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
The drop in estrogen during menopause also means that middle-aged women are more likely to experience depressive episodes as part of bipolar disorder.
Treatment for Women with Bipolar Disorder
Differences in bipolar symptoms between women and men mean that one size doesn’t fit all. Treatment plans will need to match the unique experiences and symptoms of women. For example, close attention needs to be paid to pregnant women. This is due to the fact that some medication for bipolar disorder present risks to the unborn child. Also, if you’re a woman who has recently given birth, especially if you have a history of bipolar disorder, your doctor should monitor your moods carefully.
Most importantly, understand that a mental disorder is a health disorder. Getting help is for mental health is no more shameful than getting help for a physical health disorder. If you are swinging between manic or depressed episodes, get help now. Today, therapy and medication are very successful at treating bipolar disorder.
Some people who survive trauma develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research into PTSD and relationships shows that mental health problems, such as trauma, can create problems in intimate relationships and family life. The person with PTSD, or complex PTSD, may have overwhelming symptoms, and friends and family may be frightened and worried. They also may feel shut out of their loved one’s life.
If you are in a relationship with someone suffering from PTSD, you are likely suffering too. Relationships can be greatly affected by an anxiety disorder like post-traumatic stress disorder. There may be issues with communication, trust and intimacy. The things needed to keep a marriage healthy may be hard to achieve if PTSD goes untreated. This is why it is important to treat PTSD and relationships before negative consequences pile up.
How PTSD Strains Relationships
Some of the anxiety symptoms that can make PTSD and relationships a challenge include:
Constantly on edge
Trouble in the bedroom
Irritability and anxiety
These challenges are explained below with tips on how to cope with these struggles.
Flashbacks. The person with PTSD may be plagued by flashbacks that can be triggered by day and appear in nightmares. Flashbacks can be set off any time by certain images, smells, sounds or feelings. When having a flashback, the emotions related to the trauma flood back. Family and friends of people with PTSD may be alarmed if they witness the results of these flashbacks.
How to cope with flashbacks: It can be frightening if your partner awakes in the middle of the night in a state of terror or has a flashback in a public place. The best thing you can do is try to learn the things that trigger these episodes and help your loved one avoid those people, places and events. It is important not to try and touch them to calm them when they first awake from a night terror. You don’t know what they were experiencing in their dream, and they may try to defend themselves from you. Be patient, and reassure them they are safe. Wait until they appear awake and aware of their present situation before rushing to comfort them physically.
Constantly on edge. A loved one with PTSD may constantly relive the psychological trauma as if it were happening now. Even in a safe environment they can feel like they are right back in the traumatic experience. Their nervous system is in a perpetual state of fight, flight or freeze and it is hard for them to relax. Ordinary occurrences such as a car door slamming can cause high anxiety reactions. They startle easily and can be distrustful. All of this can be difficult for people with PTSD and their partners.
How to cope with being on edge: It is difficult to live as if you are walking on egg shells, worried about triggering your partner. But empathy will go a long way in understanding some of their reactions to the environment around them. Try to talk to your loved one when you see this behavior coming on and reassure them they are safe.
Social isolation. To avoid triggers and flashbacks, people with PTSD often avoid social events. They may prefer to stay home rather than socialize. This limited ability to be out in the world can make it difficult to sustain relationships. It may bring added pressure from people who don’t understand that the person suffering from PTSD cannot cope with social activities.
How to cope with social isolation: It is important that you do not cut yourself off from family and the rest of the world just because your partner is not ready to socialize. Your social and family ties are an important part of your survival and they will help sustain you. At the same time, do your best to schedule alone time with your partner where you enjoy activities together that do not cause stress.
Trouble in the bedroom. Difficulty sleeping, restlessness and nightmares are often part of post-traumatic stress disorder. The person who is suffering from PTSD symptoms may have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep, often because they fear the memories that come to them at night. This can cause a great deal of stress in the bedroom, when one person is awake, restless or waking with night terrors and the other partner is trying to sleep. In addition, people with PTSD may lose interest in sexual activities or struggle with intimacy. A partner may feel rejected and lonely as a result.
How to cope sleep issues: The first tool of survival for a spouse is not to take this personally, as difficult as that may be. The disturbances in your intimate life are part of a larger syndrome. Addressing the larger problem together, in therapy and with support, will help you both deal with, and hopefully heal, the symptoms.
Irritability and anxiety. The person with PTSD is often tense and uncomfortable in their skin. Relationships are meant to be give and take. But when it comes to PTSD and relationships, they can become one-sided, with both people living in survival mode rather than sharing life together.
How to cope with irritability and anxiety: When you have a partner who is riddled with anxiety, it can begin to erode your self-esteem. You may think it’s your fault they are unhappy. Make sure you strengthen your own emotional and spiritual core. This is will help you develop strength to deal with your loved one’s thoughts and behaviors in a healthier way. At the same time, your loved one needs professional help and you should encourage them toward it.
Addiction. Research shows that people with PTSD often turn to alcohol and drugs to try to quell their anxiety symptoms. Alcohol and drug addiction adds new problems to an already compromised relationship. A dual diagnosis like PTSD and substance abuse makes recovery doubly difficult.
How to cope with addiction: When your loved one has an addiction, it’s important that you push them toward recovery. While no one can help someone who does not choose to help themselves, a person dealing with addiction may be influenced to get the the right help.
A key to dealing with your partner’s PTSD, as well as maintaining your own peace of mind, is to find the best way to communicate with them. This should always be handled at a peaceful moment, not when they are in a flashback or a moment of crisis. Remember, you share a love that brought you into a relationship. Speak to your partner from the heart, and express your sincere concerns. Also research the best places to get help for your loved one so that you can make some practical suggestions.
PTSD can be disruptive to relationships, both old and new. Some people have been together for a long time, and they know their partners well and can see how deeply they are impacted by PTSD. Those who have been in a relationship for a shorter time may not recognize all the ways they are affected. In those cases, you may need help, perhaps from their mom or best friend, to help your partner recognize the problems.
Healing PTSD and Relationships
According to the VA, women are more likely to experience PTSD due to sexual assault or sexual abuse. Men have more exposure through accidents, physical assault and combat. They also may be impacted by disaster or being witness to someone else’s death or injury.
Psychological trauma is a mental health issue that can also begin early in life. It can have a deep impact, especially when a child is assaulted, sexually abused, neglected or witnesses violence in the home. A childhood trauma survivor may be retriggered when confronted by traumatic experiences as an adult. Stress disorders from childhood and adulthood must be treated in order to have a healthy relationship.
When it comes to PTSD and relationships, the person suffering from PTSD may be afraid to reach out for help. They may feel ashamed of what they are experiencing and may not even know what is causing their symptoms. This is why it is so important to get the right diagnosis and treatment.
The PTSD sufferer needs compassionate support. They need to explore and come to terms with the trauma they’ve experienced. And they need PTSD treatment and therapeutic approaches that will help them cope with trauma and develop communication skills. This will help them heal both PTSD and relationships.
Alcoholism can destroy relationships. But spouses of high-functioning alcoholics have a particular challenge because their mates often function enough to make it seem like they don’t have a problem. They may deny your concerns about their drinking habits by defending what they are doing right: “Well, I pay the bills” or “I work hard, I deserve to unwind.”
Many people love spring and summer because basking in the sunshine lifts their spirits and makes them happy. But come fall, when the lightness of the day departs earlier and the night lasts longer, depression seeps in for some people, seriously impacting their daily lives.
Multiple studies conducted since the 1990s indicate women experience up to twice the rate of depression as men. Some experts have theorized women have higher depression rates because they are more likely to report subclinical symptoms, and assessments and depression scores do not differentiate between clinical and subclinical depression.
To understand the genetics behind alcoholism, it helps to have a basic understanding of the difference between the terms used in research. The terms genetic and hereditary are often used interchangeably; however, this is technically incorrect.
America’s reliance and addiction to painkillers is not slowing down, despite ongoing federal, state and local efforts. OxyContin (extended release oxycodone) is partially to blame for the opioid epidemic that has gripped the nation the last decade or so – a crisis that has escalated dramatically over the last few years.