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How to Stop Intrusive Thoughts

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how to stop intrusive thoughts
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By Steven Booth, Co-Founder, Elevation Behavioral Health

We have all experienced unwanted involuntary thoughts that upset us. These are not like ordinary thoughts that flow through the mind during the day. Instead, intrusive thoughts are highly distressing. When intrusive thoughts plague us it can result in the symptoms of anxiety.

Sometimes intrusive thoughts are associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In fact, for someone with OCD, the intrusive thoughts are what drive the compulsive behaviors. The thoughts are so upsetting that the individual with OCD will attempt to diminish the potency of the disturbing thoughts. This can turn into a pattern of obsessive thoughts followed by compulsive actions. Learning how to overcome OCD-related intrusive thoughts becomes an integral goal in managing this mental health disorder.

Whether the intrusive thoughts are related to anxiety or OCD, either way they are very frustrating and disrupting to your daily life. Learning techniques to stop intrusive thoughts can help bring these under control and improve functioning.

What Causes Intrusive Thoughts?

It is not yet fully understood why people have undesired thoughts that invade their consciousness. Often, these random thoughts that intrude on our otherwise peaceful day will keep tapping away demanding our attention. Other times, the thoughts, though disturbing, are fleeting and leave us as quickly as they arrived.

There are a few potential causes for the onslaught of intrusive thoughts. These include:

  • PTSD. Someone who has prolonged symptoms of stress after experiencing a trauma will be plagued by intrusive thoughts. The thoughts are usually related to the event itself, such as undesired memories.
  • OCD. OCD usually has intrusive obsessive thoughts that drive the compulsive actions. The thoughts are so upsetting that the person will engage in ritualistic compulsive behaviors as a way of mitigating the stress the thoughts cause.
  • Medical issues. Intrusive thoughts can be a symptom of a health condition, such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, or a brain injury.

Are Intrusive Thoughts the Same as Ruminations?

Intrusive thoughts may seem to be the same as ruminating thoughts, but the two actually bear distinct differences. Where an intrusive thought is usually random and fleeting, ruminations the ongoing mulling over of the upsetting thoughts. Instead of noticing the intrusive thought and then choosing to ignore it or dismiss it, ruminating involves embracing the thought and chewing on them for long periods of time. Rumination is a type of coping mechanism to help process a disturbing event by reviewing the event over and over in your mind.

OCD and Intrusive Thoughts

The most common source of intrusive thoughts occurs among those who struggle with OCD. The intrusive thought is often related to a core value, such as religious beliefs or ethical issues, and involves a disturbing scenario that goes against what the person believes in. These thoughts might involve things of a sexual nature, thoughts of harming a loved one, or blasphemous thoughts that are in opposition to their core faith beliefs.

Because these intrusive thoughts are so destabilizing, the person with OCD will begin to fear the thoughts, which only makes the thoughts more pervasive. They begin to adapt compulsive behaviors to help diffuse the stress that the obsessive intrusive thoughts cause them.

Types of Intrusive Thoughts

There are different types of OCD-related thought intrusions. These include:

  • Sexual intrusive thoughts. Disturbing thoughts that involve taboo sexual imagery, inappropriate sexual thoughts, or violent sexual acts.
  • Religious intrusive thoughts. Obsessing about possibly sinning against God, scrupulosity, doubting faith beliefs, or blasphemous thoughts.
  • Harming intrusive thoughts. Undesired thoughts of harming a loved one, such as a spouse, a parent, a child, or self.
  • Responsibility intrusive thoughts. Irrational acceptance of the blame for certain acts committed that was not the fault of the person.
  • Existential intrusive thoughts. Anxious thoughts that question the reason for existence, the purpose of life, or the reality of self.

Each of these types of intrusive thoughts will drive a corresponding compulsive action.

Exposure and Response Prevention

One of the targeted treatment methods for helping someone with OCD-related intrusive thoughts is an intervention called exposure and response prevention, or ERP. ERP is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that helps the person face the disturbing thoughts head, but in small stages. Slowly they are encouraged to disengage from the compulsive actions that would typically follow the intrusive thought. 

By stating their thoughts out loud with an ERP therapist, the power of the thoughts is greatly diminished. As Dr. Debra Kissen, a Clinical Fellow at the Anxiety Depression Association of America states, “The same intrusive thoughts that feel so real, all powerful and self-defining when swirling around in your head will disintegrate when said out loud.” The thoughts have far more power when they are held captive inside your mind, but when shared with someone they lose their impact.

In ERP the intrusive thought is exposed, and then the decision to not engage in the compulsive behaviors is the response prevention. The person makes a decision to no longer give in to the compulsions. During the first few weeks of ERP the therapist will guide the person through the steps of exposure and non-response. Eventually, the individuals will be equipped to conduct ERP themselves.

How to Stop Intrusive Thoughts

There are some effective techniques for managing intrusive thoughts when they appear. Consider these tips:

  1. Do not fear the thoughts. While natural to want to avoid or ignore the thought, that can make it a reaction based in fear. Instead, try to accept the thought, realize that it is an obsessive irrational thought, and remind yourself that it will soon pass.
  2. Practice self-care. Intrusive thoughts are related to anxiety or OCD, so learning methods to help promote relaxation can be helpful when the thoughts occur. Practice mindfulness and deep breathing to calm yourself down when the thoughts occur.
  3. Seek help from a therapist. A therapist can work with you through the ERP therapy and other therapies, like CBT, which can help you make changes in how you respond to the thought triggers. They can also refer you to a psychiatrist who can prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications.

Don’t let random intrusive thoughts impact your quality of life. There are ways to manage these thought obsessions, which will improve all areas of daily functioning.

About the Author

Steven Booth is the CEO and Founder of Elevation Behavioral Health in Agoura Hills, CA. Steven earned his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara in Economics. Before helping to co-found Elevation Behavioral Health, Steven worked in both private and public accounting. Like many others, Steven has seen firsthand the destruction that addiction can inflict on family and friends. He has also witnessed the extraordinary changes that can be made when addicts receive the necessary treatment. His passion is providing outstanding mental health care through his facility, and improving the quality of life of clients.

My name is Steven Booth I have been working in the behavioral healthcare industry for over 10 years and founder of Elevation Behavioral Health, a residential treatment center fully dedicated to the most innovative information on treatment of mental health disorders.

A - Z Health Guides

Nursing Home Neglect You Should Look Out For

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Nursing Home Neglect You Should Look Out For

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Once you place your loved ones in the nursing homes, you expect that they will receive the best care with the utmost respect. But it is not the case every time because nursing home neglect can affect the physical and mental health of your loved ones. If one of your family members is in a nursing home, then you must visit them frequently to learn about their condition. It helps you know whether they are given proper facilities and care or not. 

Some of the nursing home neglect that occurs is not intentional, but some of them do happen on purpose. Understaffing is one of the major reasons for nursing home neglect and residents’ less attention due to it. Also, the hiring process of the nursing home is not ideal, which provides a chance for underqualified nurses to work. All facilities need to follow a proper screening process to ensure the hiring of qualified and competent nurses. You should know some of the common nursing neglect to stay aware and diligent in taking care of your loved ones. Let’s look at some types of nursing home neglect you should look out for. 

  1. Lack of Mobility 

One of the major nursing home neglect that you need to keep an eye on is the lack of mobility which is a sign of neglect. Most nursing home facilities have policies to ensure the mobility of the residents. If residents are left in wheelchairs or beds for a long time, then it can cause health issues like stage 4 bedsores that can cause serious infections. If you notice such signs, then you have the right to take legal action against the nursing home. 

Also, mobility issues can weaken muscles due to a lack of movement. Imagine you are just lying on a bed for the whole day doing nothing. It can also affect your mental health as well. Now think about those residents who have to face similar situations not for days but for months. If there is no blood flow in the body, how can you expect the person to remain in a good physical state? So, it affects the overall health of the residents and can make their condition worse. 

  1. Poor Hygiene 

Residents in nursing homes require assistance with daily hygiene tasks. It includes taking a bath and brushing their teeth, so it is important to provide them with necessary assistance. You need to keep track of the hygiene of your loved ones in nursing homes. Keep track of their dental health and personal hygiene to ensure their hygiene needs are taken care of. 

Poor hygiene can occur due to a lack of bathing that can increase. It can cause serious health issues, and it becomes worse, especially in hot weather conditions. Imagine if you are not taking a bath in summer for more than one day. What will be your condition? Similarly, if your loved ones have poor hygiene, it can cause affect their physical and mental health also, causing issues like stress and mental anxiety. Also, ensure that the clothes of your family member are regularly changed and washed. If residents continue wearing soiled or dirty clothes for days, then it can also cause health issues like skin infections. 

  1. Emotional Abuse 

Emotional abuse is one of the common issues that residents have to go through while staying in nursing homes. It includes verbal insults or threats that are used to control residents. According to a report, around 30% of the nursing home staff have accepted of emotionally abusing the residents. 

Some examples of emotional abuse in nursing homes are controlling activities of the residents against their will, insulting their appearance, and making threats. Residents who suffer from such emotional abuse can develop mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and PTSD. One of the common signs that a resident has been abused is the sudden change in their mood or behavior. 

  1. Physical Abuse 

Physical abuse that occurs in the form of injuries is another common neglect in nursing homes. Around 9% of nurses have accepted physically abusing the residents. Some of the common examples of physical abuse in nursing homes are pushing, punching, and kicking residents. 

As a result of physical abuse, residents can face suffering from different injuries like bruises, bleeding, and broken bones. Residents who already have some type of medical condition can face serious health issues in case of any injuries. 

You should frequently visit your loved ones to look for any signs of injuries. It will compel nurses and other medical staff to stay careful while dealing with their loved ones. If you notice any sign of injury, you should immediately provide necessary medical attention to your loved one. On the other hand, you can also file a case against the nursing home if any such incident happens. It will help you receive financial compensation. In some cases, unexplained injuries can also occur as a result of the accident. 

  1. Poor Living Conditions

Unsatisfactory living conditions are another issue in nursing homes. Firstly, you have to ensure that while admitting your loved one to the nursing home, it has all the essential facilities. If you see dirt and pests everywhere, that place is probably not suitable for your family member to stay in. 

Also, inadequate nutrition is another sign of neglect in nursing homes. If you notice that a resident is getting weaker day by day, then it is possible that they are not getting sufficient nutrition. It can cause weakness and serious health issues, so you need to keep track of such things. 

You may think that you have done your part after admitting your loved one to the nursing facility. But it is not the truth, as you need to regularly check how a resident is doing in the nursing home and what is their mental and physical state. You should notice the signs of physical and emotional abuse, so you can take legal action right away against the culprits. You may have to find the right attorney to get legal assistance in such situations. First, you have to be able to notice that something is wrong with your loved one in a nursing home. 

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Why Cleaning Can Help Reduce Stress

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Reduce Stress

Coming home and cleaning the house may be the last thing on your mind after a full day’s work. For obvious reasons, many people equate cleaning with wasting time rather than having fun. Cleaning, on the other hand, can be a great relief from stress for a variety of reasons.

Some of these causes stem from the cleansing process, and some from the final results of your efforts. In either case, the following facts may encourage you to ‘clear up the next time you worry’.

What Is Psychology After This?

With the growing reputation of renovating each room, demolition, and other home styles aimed at creating fresh air and a calm mind, it is time to explore the connection between a clean home and mental health.

Hypertension has been linked to stress and anxiety in recent psychological research, and home maintenance has been found to have a positive impact on mental health. Take a rag and mop and start removing all that dirt and discomfort with a complete house cleaning if you need to remove the pressure.

Not only this, but the level of indoor air quality also plays an important role in your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Reduce Stress
Reduce Stress

Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-in-gray-shirt-cleaning-clear-glass-wall-near-sofa-713297/

The connection between a clean home and mental health is something your whole family should worry about. We all want a clean, orderly home, and a mess that can make us feel at peace. It is easy to see how keeping the room clean can keep the mind calm and the relationship strong when you consider the many benefits — better physical health, improved mental health, and a clean, healthy atmosphere.

1.  Cleaning As A Way To De-Clutter.

Let’s face it: overcrowding is a source of stress. It is not like entering a model house where there are piles of paper everywhere, mountains of material that need to be rolled up, and mixed items thrown down. It is a change you can truly feel.

Although most of us wish to have a clean and tidy home, many of us live in busy, demanding neighborhoods. According to a survey, less than 10% of participants live in an uninhabited environment, and more than a third of them live in such an environment that they do not know where to start cleaning. But you can begin by decluttering extra things from the important part of the house. Clean the custom home safes of your home and remove what is no longer required.

2.  Cleaning As A Cost-Consumer

If you have trouble paying off debts as you do not get them, change the products you already have as you do not know where they are, or eat more food than you need to do because your kitchen is very full and dirty. Regular cooking, a little cleaning can save you money. You may not know how much an organized house can save you until you live in it. .

3.  Cleansing As A Thanksgiving Work

Make cleaning a thoughtful experience thanks to everything you experience. For example, as you put that plate on the dishwasher, enjoy your plates, appreciate the food you remove because other people don’t have it, and respect the beauty of modern technology. The holiday season might lead you to want to decorate.

Pick led strip lights wholesale for the entire home and decorate as you clean.

By focusing on what you clean, you can gain a new appreciation for something you did not realize you already had. Revealing a good place to hide your head after a mess and chaos can bring a new level of appreciation for everything you have because inner calm comes more from wishing what you have than getting what you want.

4.  Cleansing As A Way Of Meditation

While the result of a thorough cleaning session – a nice, clean home – can be a stress reliever, cleaning your house can be a way to manage stress yourself. Cleansing can be a form of meditation if you add awareness to the process, leaving you more relaxed after you are done. Moms can find more peace when they are done cleaning baby products like a baby pram which has been in constant use.

5.  Cleaning As An Official Event

If you are not the type to clean in a zen way, make a party instead. Music has a lot to do with relieving stress, and listening to music while cleaning can make work more enjoyable. If you clean while listening to music, you may find that you work faster and finish faster.

6.  Cleaning As An Exercise

Cleaning, if done properly, can also give you a sense of accomplishment, which can be beneficial in reducing stress. Running up and downstairs, carrying things from one room to another, and cleaning windows and floors are all great ways to burn calories, produce endorphins, and relieve stress. Spring cleaning is a very rewarding exercise routine.

Conclusion

While reading or listening to music is an excellent antidote to depression, it seems that the adage, “A clean house, a clean mind” is also effective. Cleaning your home not only makes you feel more comfortable and proud of your belongings but living in a clean environment often calms you down. So, have a great day of cleaning!

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The MTHFR Gene Mutation—What You Need to Know

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The MTHFR Gene Mutation—What You Need to Know

The MTHFR gene has been in the news a lot recently. It’s been theorized to cause everything from ADHD to schizophrenia, although much of that is unproven hype. What actually is this gene? What does it do? How do you know if you have the mutation? Here’s your guide to everything you need to know about the MTHFR gene.

What A MTHFR Mutation Does

A mutation to the MTHFR gene means that your body will no longer process the amino acid homocysteine or the nutrient folic acid. Homocysteine isn’t a necessary nutrient, so the biggest problem it poses is that it will build up, unprocessed, in the body. It can damage the lining of veins and arteries, leading to heart conditions. It can also cause weakness, fatigue, and several other problems, some more serious than others.

Folic acid, on the other hand, helps to regulate mental health. Put as simply as it can be, it works like this: the MTHFR gene is responsible for creating an enzyme that helps the body digest folic acid into its usable form, L-methylfolate. The mutation prevents this process, meaning that people who are eating foods rich in folic acid, or even taking a folic acid supplement, will still not see any of the benefits from their folic acid intake.

Supplement Options

People with the mutation can try taking supplements to improve their mental health. Two options are folic acid supplements and L-methylfolate supplements. L-methylfolate is the compound that the MTHFR enzyme turns folic acid into, which means it’s the compound that is actually used in someone’s body. Many doctors doubt the effectiveness of taking folic acid as a supplement, since people with a mutation of their MTHFR gene may not be able to digest and use the supplement.

This journal states that Vitamin B12 may also be helpful to mitigate the problems associated with homocysteine. However, the MTHFR mutation is not well studied yet, so this may or may not be extremely reliable information.

Before taking either of these supplements, or any other treatment, people should talk to their doctors. They might also decide to take a test for the MTHFR mutation, so they know whether that’s actually the cause of their problem, or whether it may have a different cause.

Genetics Information

If, like most people, you slept through your high school biology class, you might be confused about genes, enzymes, and amino acids. Here’s a quick refresher on genetics.

Everyone has two copies of their DNA—one that they inherited from their mother, one from their father. Each copy has the MTHFR gene, along with hundreds of thousands of other genes. There are two mutations that can happen to the MTHFR gene: C677T and A1298C. Either or both of a person’s parents could have had either or both of these mutations.

If someone’s father has one copy of a mutation, and their mother has one copy, they would have a chance to inherit both. That means they won’t have any normal, non-mutated genes, so they won’t be able to make the enzyme that digests folic acid and homocysteine. It’s also possible to have one of each mutation, which still damages the body’s ability to process homocysteine and folic acid.

The two different mutations arise in different populations. About twenty-five percent of Hispanic people and ten percent of Caucasian people in America have two copies of the C677T mutation. Seven to fourteen percent of Caucasian people have two copies of the less common A1298C mutation, which is rarely found in any minorities and has been studied significantly less.

Mutation
Mutation

Enzymes and You

So what are enzymes anyway? They’re the reason why cows can eat grass and humans can’t. They’re behind lactose intolerance. Simply, enzymes are machines the body uses to digest nutrients. For more information, check out https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/21532-enzymes

People eat a lot of different food, but most of it is not in the forms our body uses. Look at sugars, for example. There are dozens of types of sugars, from glucose, fructose, and sucrose to larger complex carbohydrates, but the human body can only process the simplest, glucose. Every more complex sugar is composed of glucose linked together, like a daisy chain. Enzymes unlink the chain, so people’s bodies can use the glucose to create energy.

The MTHFR enzyme is similar. It refines folic acid into L-methylfolate, a smaller molecule that human bodies can actually use. That’s why it’s so important: without it, folic acid is useless to the body.

So, what’s the name of this crucial enzyme, and the gene named for producing it? What would require such an awkward acronym? What name would be so long and unpronounceable that every person who ever talks about the gene would use the abbreviation? It’s this: methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. Now aren’t you glad you learned that?

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