By Mike Makosiej
Anxiety Couples/Marriage Depression General
alone coffee at the cornerstone depression gracelessness ketamine infusion treatment mental health Seasonal Affective Disorder stress therapy
We have this awesome coffee pot at our office, though once I describe it, your opinion of it may differ. It has this unique trait that when you pour it, for some reason, it spills out coffee unless you pour it very carefully and slowly. Today, as I prepared and made my morning coffee, it struck me that the pot pours perfectly fine if you just take the time it requires of you to pour carefully. If you pour with patience, you are rewarded with a delicious cup of coffee; but pour too quickly and a mess soon follows. What prompted this line of thought this morning was what I have often called ‘gracelessness’. Sometimes there are days when I feel clumsy: I spill things, drop things, and generally can’t get into a groove. Today, that was me. I spilled coffee, dropped my keys, lost my glasses, dropped a clock on the floor – you get the idea. I was relying too much on myself. Has that ever happened to you? You feel like all gracefulness is gone or lacking and everything you do is a struggle or in some way a difficult hindrance? This blog attempts to marry those unique ideas and provide some autumnal reflections.
I love the fall. Even though down here the leaves don’t change like they used to when I lived up North, I still like to make a hot coffee latte and reflect on changing seasons. Today, as we reflect on patience and gracefulness, it occurs to me that sometimes in the autumn of our lives, we can struggle with patience and grace in a different way than we might when we’re younger or in a different phase of our lives. It’s easy, afterall, to feel impatient when you feel as though your youth is dwindling. You’re not alone in feeling like your best days are behind you. That feeling of nostalgia can really get to you. But if you focus too much on what was, and not enough on what can be, you may find it difficult to slow down and reflect.
How do I ‘slow down’?
Think about that quirky coffee pot for a moment. If you take your time to pour yourself a cup of Joe, you end up with the perfect cup; if you rush, you spill it everywhere. Slowing down can be difficult, especially when you feel like you need to keep going to stay with-it or fresh. That’s not always the case, however. Sometimes, when our bodies seem a half-second off from our brains, what we need most is to slow down for a minute. Slowing down isn’t simply you picking up your keys in slow-motion, but rather, you taking the time to pause and reflect on the many blessings you have. During moments of gracelessness, that’s when I find I most need to reflect on how it is a miracle that I accomplish anything at all when relying solely on my own abilities. If you take the time to be thankful for what you have and the many blessings present in your life, oftentimes, that’s the key to slowing down for a moment.
What if I’m depressed or feel like I can’t break free from this ‘gracelessness’?
You might be thinking, gee Mike, sounds great but no. I get it. Depression is real. And over prolonged periods, it can effect you in deep ways. Gracelessness can add up, after all. It can become a part of your mindset; it can bring about a deep depression. You aren’t alone in this. Countless people struggle with depression and anxiety. You might have even tried a combination of therapy and anti-depressants to no avail. This is also not as uncommon as you might think. In fact, many people come to our clinic for that exact reason! We specialize in treatment resistant depression. Our therapists work with countless patients who struggle to overcome their depression. Our nurses and psychiatrists specialize in innovative treatments, such as ketamine infusion therapy and Spravato, in order to help those who suffer most from depression and suicidal ideations and ensure they are cared for with the utmost sensitivity.
Why all this coffee talk?
Aside from being one of Justin and Marc’s favorite beverages, our coffee pot really is quirky. In other news, however, we at Cornerstone are going to be releasing a podcast designed to address a lot of the common issues you face each and every day. Coffee at the Cornerstone is our attempt to continue to provide a service to you whilst also encouraging the growth of this community we are dedicated to building with you. In the new year, we’ll be releasing our new podcast, and we look forward to including you as a part of our community!
By Mike Makosiej;
Posted: October 11, 2021
Categories: Anxiety Depression Trauma / PTSD, anxiety, counseling, depression, ketamine infusion treatment, mental health.
Tags: Seasonal Affective Disorder, therapy, vitamin infusion therapy
Coping with life’s lemons...Make lemonade?
How many times have you heard that, or has someone you know tried to make you feel better by saying such platitudes? The fact is that when you’re struggling with anxiety and depression, the last thing you need is trite platitudes. Just as you might struggle to cope with depression, you may also be struggling with anxiety. You might worry about how you’re going to pay the bills, if your children are safe, if you can truly forgive your spouse or loved one for possible indiscretions. These are common problems that face most modern-day Americans. But anxiety and depression, at their heart, can also be so much more than that. You may feel like you don’t belong or struggle with feelings of worthlessness; at the same time, you may worry that because you’re not feeling any better, that there’s something inherently wrong with you.
This could not be farther from the truth!
In previous blogs, our partner's at Cornerstone Counseling have discussed the many difficulties that you face when dealing with and coping with depression. We at Cornerstone recognize the many struggles you might be dealing with when it comes to anxiety and depression, and we want you to know that we’re here to help. At their root, anxiety and depression are many times co-occuring conditions. Evidence-guided research suggests that both can be treated together.
What strategies can I use to help deal with these struggles?
There are a number of effective strategies that can be used to help you cope with these co-occurring conditions:
Uncontrollable crying for no reason was my sign. The slap in the face I needed to finally admit I needed help. But let me back up and start from the beginning.
I used to be the happy girl. If you asked my friends, the first thing they would say was that the party didn’t start until I walked into the room. I was the vivacious smiling girl, bubbling over with enthusiastic excitement. It was always easy for me to walk into a room full of strangers and befriend them. I woke up happy, with or without a boyfriend. I loved waitressing and bartending all through school and, after graduation, I loved nursing even more. I was 33 when my husband died, but I pressed on and fell in love and suffered break-up’s more than once. I don’t say this to brag; rather, I say this to explain who I used to be before my dark depression.
I had never experienced depression before. Sure, I had had sad moments and I had experienced grief, but neither were depression. In my early 20’s I struggled with PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), when my PMS turned me into an irritable, angry person for a few days every month. Thanks to an advertisement in a magazine, I tried Sarafem (aka Prozac/fluoxetine) for a brief time, and once again my life was sunshine and rainbows ... until it wasn't.
I met my future ex-husband on Labor Day of 2017, and we were married exactly one year later. I was blissfully happy but, apparently, I had ignored the signs that he never was … less than a year later, I found myself divorcing the man of my supposed dreams. My second year of graduate school was suddenly becoming insanely difficult. I was diagnosed with ADHD that had gone unnoticed my entire life. I have since learned that depression and anxiety are closely linked to ADHD because our disability is a glaring reminder of our seeming ineptitude as compared to our 'normal' or 'neurotypical' peers. My life seemed to be unraveling before my eyes. The 4.0 honors student in me was now struggling to cope every day, lacking any sense of purpose, sad for no tangible reason, avoiding friendships, and nearly failing grad school.
My brain believed that the ‘nurse’ in me had failed. I felt beyond embarrassed and ashamed of my inability to accept and overcome my increasingly depressed mood. My psychiatrist prescribed Prozac again since it had once worked but, as is not uncommon, it let me down the second time around. (This is often referred to as the 'poop-out syndrome'). Then he prescribed Wellbutrin, then Lexapro, then Pristiq, all with sub-effective results and miserable side effects (insomnia, headaches, fatigue, sexual side effects, etc.).
But one day, I remembered how Ketamine infusions had changed a former colleague's life. Firsthand, I had witnessed her practically overnight transition from near catatonic depression to happiness. That was the day I picked up the phone and spoke to Jessica, my former colleague and current dear friend, who worked at the same Ketamine clinic my friend had visited (Cornerstone Psychiatric Care). When I expressed hesitation at the cost for Ketamine infusions, which she recommended as the gold standard for depression and PTSD, I will never forget what Jessica said to me: “Sure, you might be better on your own in a year ... but do you really want to waste a year of your life being depressed? How much is your life worth to you?”
You see, dear reader, at this point and for the first time in my life, I suddenly understood the meaning of the word ‘depression’. Despite what you may think, mine was no ‘situational’ depression; it had persisted for over one year before it became impossible for me to pretend anymore. My passive suicidal ideation was growing by the day and, while my pride refused to share the extent of my seemingly shameful secret with even my bestest of friends, I was suddenly overcome by the seriousness of it all. And so, as a last-ditch effort, I decided to try Ketamine infusions.
To this day there do not exist adequate words to express my gratitude at Jessica and Dr. Ettensohn's compassion during what I perceived to be my flawed state of depression. Realize that I was the nurse who encouraged patients to seek help; yet that same nurse in me so arrogantly lacked the courage to take my own advice until it was almost too late. Their kind-hearted empathy made all the difference in my sad heart.
During his amazing TED talk, "Depression, The Secret We Share," Andrew Solomon so presciently stated, "... but the brain lies". To this day, when I listen to his incredibly perceptive talk, I still shed tears at the realization of how close I came to giving up … but my tears turn to sobs when I ponder the mental struggles endured by so many others; by patients whose faces I can’t forget who have cried in front of me. And then I weep for people I will never know for whom the struggles were unendurable, and for the loved ones I have lost including my beloved nephew, and my niece's husband.
In the very near future, the USA will witness the FDA's approval of Ketamine, as it has already approved its stepsister, intranasal Esketamine. When this happens, and I promise you that it will as evidence-based research concurs, I hope against hope that other depressed individuals, as I once was, will be educated regarding this fast-working life-saving treatment option. That their psychiatrists or psych NP's, or their family and friends, will suggest and encourage them to try Ketamine. That people will learn how Ketamine infusions are currently being used in select Emergency Departments nationwide for patients presenting with suicidality. How on earth do we expect depressed and often suicidal patients to wait 4-6 weeks for an antidepressant to work?
I am writing this in an effort to stop the shame associated with depression and mental illness. There is a reason that you are still reading my experience and so I implore you to grab onto this life preserver called Ketamine ... because it will undoubtedly save your life as it once did mine.
-- [Cornerstone Psychiatric Care removed the patient’s name and contact for compliance purposes.]
If you or your loved one suffers from mental illness, give us a call at (561) 531-7818 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how ketamine can help.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a diagnosis that has been subject to frequent indiscriminate use outside the mental health field; however, The National Comorbidity Survey Replication estimates lifetime prevalence of OCD to be 2.3 percent in a 2010 study by Ruscio AM et al.
OCD is defined by the presence of obsessions, compulsions or both. Obsessions are defined as recurrent, persistent thoughts that are intrusive and unwanted. They can include things like fear of dirt and/or contamination by germs, fear of causing harm to another, fear of thinking evil thoughts, and the need (obsession) for order, symmetry, or exactness. Those suffering from OCD often attempt to ignore or suppress such thoughts but find it difficult to do so. Compulsions are defined as behaviors or mental acts (like counting or repeating words) that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession. These compulsions can be attempts at reducing anxiety/distress but are excessive. Often times, patients diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder have obsessions or compulsions that last on average at least one or more hours per day.
Patients with OCD frequently take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluvoxamine, fluoxetine, sertraline, or citalopram. Such SSRIs have been a boon to OCD patients, however response can take up to several months and dosages often have to be quite high, leading to increased risk of unpleasant side effects.
In 2013, Rodriguez et al. examined ketamine treatment for OCD patients who were not taking standard treatment with serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Although the study only involved 15 patients the design was randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, and utilized patients with "near constant obsessions". Results from this study showed that 50% of the patients receiving ketamine met criteria for treatment response, while 0% of those who did not receive ketamine met this same criteria. In this case, “treatment response” meant a 35% reduction in OCD symptoms, including things like: distress from obsessive thoughts, time occupied by obsessive thoughts, amount of control over obsessive thoughts and effort put forth to resist obsessions amongst other OCD symptoms.
Perhaps more striking, however, is that Rodriguez et al. published some patient reactions to the remarkable effects of ketamine:
Psychotherapy, and in particular a type of cognitive behavioral therapy called exposure therapy, has always been considered a major and necessary treatment for OCD patients. After receiving ketamine treatments, exposure therapy may help OCD patients maximize their therapeutic gain. Given ketamine may help facilitate neuroplasticity, or the brain's ability to form new connections, patients often times find ketamine and therapy to be synergistic when used in conjunction.
As of now, a ketamine protocol similar to that used with major depressive disorder is used when treating OCD. This protocol has provided relief to many patients suffering with OCD. Further studies will be helpful in elucidating a standard protocol that may be more specific to obsessive-type and compulsive-type OCD. This may be sooner rather than later as multiple OCD related ketamine trials are currently underway.
If you or your loved one suffers from continued symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder following interventions from your psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health provider, give us a call at (561) 531-7818 or email us at email@example.com to learn more about how ketamine can help with OCD.
Major Depression (Major Depressive Disorder) is one of the most common mental health disorders, but how often are we working up sleep as a cause or contributing factor? A large epidemiologic study by Ford DE et al in 1989 found that at least 40% of patients with either insomnia or hypersomnia had a concurrent psychiatric disorder, such as depression. Along the same lines, more complicated sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome are more likely to be found in the population of depressed patients compared to the general population.
Evidence suggests a bidirectional relationship between common sleep disorders and depression, meaning that one may elevate the risk for the other. Although we do not understand the exact mechanisms, sleep seems to ‘clean the brain’ at night (Xie et al. 2013); depression can lead to worsening cognitive function. It is hard to deny that improving sleep is important for brain health and for alleviating depressive symptoms! In fact sleep studies demonstrated that after patients were treated for depression, there were positive brain changes on polysomnography and electroencephalogy. In such studies, slow wave sleep (what we will term "good" sleep) is increased and REM sleep (what we will term "not-as-good" sleep) is decreased.
Interestingly, antidepressants have been linked to decreased total REM sleep. Although some antidepressants play a positive role in sleep disorders, it is important to talk to your psychiatrist about the positive and negative effects of your antidepressant on any given sleep disorder. Some antidepressants may be more useful for certain types of sleep disorders but vary largely based on the type of sleep disorder. For example, extended release bupropion may worsen insomnia disorder but help regimented patients overcome hypersomnia (sleeping too much) that accompanies circadian rhythm dysregulation. Bupropion may be more neutral and even beneficial for restless legs syndrome, whereas other antidepressants can worsen restless legs syndrome.
As more evidence becomes available regarding the importance of sleep, it is becoming more important for patients and physicians to become educated on sleep disorders. Because sleep disorders and depressive disorders both produce similar symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, poor concentration, weight gain and irritability, among many others, we must not overlook sleep disorders before coming to the conclusion that depression is the only cause of such common symptoms.
An important note on obstructive sleep apnea: Although there many different types of sleep disorders, obstructive sleep apnea has a high prevalence in the general population and especially in depressed patients. It is worth noting that this sleep apnea frequently goes untreated and can be harmful to the brain over a long period of time. This disorder causes hypoxic episodes, meaning that your body and brain do not get enough oxygen for short periods of time. This is why patients with sleep apnea frequently have headaches in the morning. If you have depressive symptoms such as those mentioned in the paragraph above in addition to snoring, along with certain risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, you should consider talking with your doctor about a referral to a sleep physician or sleep study. In fact, you can find a number of sleep apnea screeners online such as http://www.stopbang.ca/osa/screening.php, but please remember that it is not diagnostic and only your physician can rule sleep apnea in or out.
If you suffer from continued depression despite following interventions from your sleep and/or other physician(s), give us a call at (561) 531-7818 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about how ketamine can help with depression. Of note, ketamine is not a treatment for primary sleep disorders.