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Help Therapy Newsletter - April 2023

The Mental Health Connection


We may think that the sunshine, warmth and time of new beginnings. Spring offers uplifts the spirits of everyone—even those suffering from a mental health disorder. This may be true for some, but not all.


Suicide rates and manic episodes of bipolar disorder peak during Spring. This is believed to be caused by changes in our circadian rhythm. Also, consider people with SAD. Most people with SAD experience more severe symptoms starting in the Fall and continuing into Winter. These symptoms often lessen or disappear during Spring and Summer. But in some people, SAD causes depression in Spring or early Summer and resolves during Fall or Winter.


As we enjoy springtime, it's important to be aware of how this time of year affects those with mental health challenges so we can offer the help and support they need.


Annette Conway, PsyD

CEO and President

Help Therapy

 

April is Sexual Assault, Stress and Autism Awareness Month

Sexual Assault Awareness “Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity.” is this year's campaign theme. It stresses the need to build racial equity and respect. Statistics report:

  • 35% of Hispanic women experienced unwanted sexual contact

  • 29% of Black women have been raped

  • 47% of transgender people have been sexually assaulted

  • 33% of adults with intellectual disabilities have experienced sexual violence

Stress Awareness Stress Awareness month strives to bring more awareness to this far-reaching and growing concern. We often think of stress as affecting adults as they embark on a career, start a family and plan for the future. But, statistics show:

  • 80% of millennials are stressed about money.

  • 70% of students are often or always stressed about schoolwork

  • 45% of college students seek counseling due to stress

  • 20% of college students have thought about suicide

Autism Awareness Autism is a growing global health crisis. An estimated 5.4 million adults in the U.S. are on the autism spectrum. Autism Awareness Month emphasizes the need for public awareness to promote acceptance, celebrate differences, and be more inclusive toward autistic individuals.


 

In Loving Memory


Ernest L. Lotecka PhD It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we inform you of the death of our colleague and friend, Dr. Ernest "El" Lotecka, who passed away three weeks ago. Dr Lotecka had been suffering from a prolonged illness in recent years, and more recently, had a fall that created a hematoma. We will all miss him more than words can express. Our deepest sympathy and caring wishes to his partner, Carol.


 

An Integrative Approach for Healing Stored Trauma in the Body

In mental healthcare, it is widely acknowledged that trauma is a prevalent risk factor for various mental health and substance use disorders. Research shows that, as humans, we are likely to experience some type of traumatic event during our lifetime. It’s estimated that 70% of adults in the United States have had at least one traumatic experience. While traumatic events are often associated with violence, war, abuse, or near-death experiences, many other less apparent experiences can also be traumatic and significantly disrupt our lives. Trauma is not limited to one specific event and can manifest differently. Some individuals may experience a traumatic event without significant prolonged suffering. In contrast, others may become stuck in fight, flight or freeze responses even when not consciously thinking about the traumatic event. If the traumatic experience is not processed and resolved effectively, these physiological reactions can become stuck in the body's nervous system and other bodily systems. This can result in ongoing physical sensations, such as pain, tension, and discomfort, even long after the traumatic event has passed. These physical sensations may become a reminder of the trauma, triggering emotional and cognitive responses that can lead to symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. Sometimes, thoughts of the traumatic event can be so uncomfortable that they are buried as a self-preservation mechanism. It’s been suggested that therapies involving a physical stimulus can effectively complement traditional trauma treatment, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR). Some studies also suggest that complementary treatments may produce positive outcomes for patients with stored trauma. These additional treatment options include yoga, meditation, breathwork, acupuncture, and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) or “tapping.” Therefore, it may be beneficial for mental healthcare professionals to consider an integrative approach when working with patients who have experienced trauma. This approach may better help patients process and integrate the stored trauma in a way that promotes healing and recovery.


 

The Connection Between Gut Microbiome and Mental Health

Our gut is home to trillions of bacteria, collectively known as the gut microbiota.


The gut microbiota can interact with the brain through a variety of pathways. This communication occurs bi-directionally. One of the primary pathways is through the vagus nerve, which connects the gut and the brain. Various neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, can enter the bloodstream and reach the brain.


The gut microbiota can also interact with the immune system, stimulating the production of cytokines and other immune molecules that can play a role in cognitive function and mental health conditions.


Identifying Patterns


Attempts to characterize microbiota composition in psychiatric populations have yielded plentiful yet contradictory results. Nevertheless, systematic reviews of individual disorders have identified patterns that may be promising biomarker targets.


Despite evidence that probiotic formulations can improve mental health, it was only following advances in DNA/RNA sequencing technologies that the involvement of the gut microbiota in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders was recognized.


Preclinical studies have consistently demonstrated that fecal microbiota transplants from patients with various psychiatric conditions result in the development of the behavioral and physiological profile of the condition in animal subjects. This suggests that psychiatric disorders may be associated with a distinct pattern of microbial disruptions that could serve as biomarkers.



 

This Month’s Tip

7 Ways to Celebrate Springtime Visit an Arboretum or Public Garden Arboretums, public gardens, and other greenspaces are finally in bloom again, so now’s the time to visit. Catch tulips, daffodils, and flowering trees in all their springtime glory. Get gardening Now is the time to start planting flowers in the yard. Your little ones will love getting messy in the fresh soil and being on garden hose duty. Visit a butterfly conservatory Head out and explore all of the different kinds of beautiful butterfly species as these flutter around you. If there isn’t a conservatory near you, simply study the butterflies in the great outdoors and see how many you can find. Savor Spring Veggies There are few things as fresh and delicious as a newly-picked spring vegetable. Several tasty veggies are currently in season, like asparagus, arugula, and snow peas. Dream up new ways to add them to your dishes. Spend an Evening in the Backyard With stars overhead and moonlight bathing the flowering trees, go solo or make it a family affair by enjoying a springtime evening in the backyard. Set up lanterns or even have a bonfire for more ambiance. Spot Baby Animals Spring is definitely the “cutest” season around because of all those baby animals! Wee ducks, tiny bunnies, and fuzzy baby birds abound this season, so get out there with your own little ones to see how many you can spy.

Do Some Spring Cleaning

‘Tis the season for spring cleaning! Winter can leave our homes feeling dusty and cluttered. Now’s the time to clear out winter coats, dust those shelves, and clean the windows to let in all that lovely sunlight.

 

Events


RAINN Day April 18th, 2023 See RAINN for more information.

National Youth Violence Prevention Week April 24-28, 2023 See NYVPW for more information. National Infertility Awareness Week April 23-29, 2023 See NIAW for more information.

 

Partner with us!

Are you a psychologist, LCSW or LMFT? We’re always looking for exceptional mental healthcare providers. Visit helptherapy.com for more information and fill out the quick and easy application.

Do you have something to share?We’d love to hear about your successes and accomplishments! Have you:

  • Written an article?

  • Given a presentation?

  • Have a client success story?

Contact us at info@helptherapy.com.




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