Prolific writers often have to bring to life novel ideas, which entails juggling fantasy and real-world experiences. It typically takes creative talent to captivate an intended audience from the first page to the last.
Our top-notch writer Kara McDowell gives us a sneak peek into the complex relationship between mental illness and artistic fantasies. Kara writes on various issues using her self-made characters, portraying struggle with mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. She spent most of her childhood making up the stories that she says now with a masterly craft. Her best-selling books include One Way or Another—about a young girl who is determined to stop letting anxiety stand in the way of love and Just for Clicks—about twin sisters who are turned into social media stars when their mom’s blog goes viral. Presently Kara lives in Mesa, Arizona, where she balances her time between writing and nurturing her family. Kara is married with three children.
How do you cope with days when you are mentally-drained, vexed, and anxious? How does it affect you being the author extraordinaire?
There are days when I feel too anxious or drained to write, especially this year. Between dealing with the pandemic and overseeing virtual learning for my kids, it’s been hard to find the time I feel inspired to write. If I’m not on deadline, I go easy on myself. I take breaks when I need it. When I am on deadline and have no choice but to write, I try to tune out the things making me anxious; I spend less time reading the news and scrolling through social media, and I sit down to write at the beginning of every day. The earlier I begin to work, the less chance my anxiety has of overtaking my brain.
How do you keep your creative juices flowing when dealing with mental illness? What helps you bounce back?
When I’m feeling drained, anxious or burned out, I turn to outside sources for inspiration. I binge-read a book, watch a show on Netflix, or create a music playlist that gets me into the minds of my characters. I’ve also found it helpful to use grounding techniques when my anxiety is severe. Grounding helps me bounce back and focus on the present.
Do you feel there is any relationship between art (in any form) and mental health? Does being associated with art help you stay mentally healthy?
I was on deadline this summer, which means I had to write an entire book while my boys were home from school, and while the country was grappling with a deadly pandemic, natural disasters, and protests. Focusing on my art was a fantastic escape from the stresses of the outside world. The days I spent inside my invented world were some of the happiest of my entire year. The business of publishing often exacerbates my anxiety (because so much of it is outside of my control), but the actual writing process gives me something to focus on that is entirely in my control.
Being a wife and an amazing mother to three lovely boys, how do you keep your personal life healthy? How do you manage to be a fantastic author while juggling with all that?
It’s hard! I don’t always have a great balance, but Nora Roberts has a lovely metaphor for balancing her family and career. She says that it’s important to remember that some of the balls you’re juggling are made of plastic and some are glass. If you drop a plastic ball, it will bounce back. If you drop a glass, it will shatter. You must know which balls are glass and prioritize those. When I’m on deadline, the glass ball is my writing. It’s okay if I drop the ball on dinner and my kids eat cereal or box macaroni and cheese for a few nights in a row. They’ll bounce back. If I’m not on deadline and my kid has an important school project to complete or soccer game we can’t miss, those are the glass balls. Maybe I drop my “writing” ball that day and don’t get any work done. That’s okay, too. I’ll bounce back the next day.
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On a concluding note, what is one piece of advice you have for your admirers struggling with their mental health? Feel free to share tips to feel better and write better.
My only tip is that you know yourself best—if you feel like something is off with your mental health, it probably is. Don’t be afraid to speak to a professional or trusted family member or friend. Sometimes mental health issues can be helped by medication, and sometimes you may just need a change in your routine or new skills (such as grounding techniques) in your toolbox. Either way, you won’t regret seeking help to feel better!
At EZCare Clinic, our professional therapists and healthcare providers treat mental disorders and other health issues. Contact us today to get your treatment for anxiety and start an optimal healthy life.
Anxiety is generally a normal body reaction that affects everyone. Depending on the situation, it can be beneficial or impairing. For instance, being anxious when driving in heavy traffic keeps you cautious and alert to avoid accidents. However, anxiety extends beyond the normally expected body reaction, becoming an emotional disorder in some situations.
By definition, anxiety is a feeling of tense, unease, or fear. Several situations cause anxiety, including the fear of the unknown, physical problems, poor coping skills, and unrealistic expectations. As mentioned, anxiety as a normal body reaction becomes an emotional disorder when it interferes with daily functioning. Anxiety disorders affect up to 18% of the U.S population, with approximately 31% of adults having experienced it at some stage in their life.
Common Types of Anxiety Disorders
1. Panic Disorders
Panic disorders are characterized by sudden terror feelings and panic attacks that can strike repeatedly without warning. If not carefully evaluated, panic attacks can be confused for heart attacks, especially with powerful physical symptoms, including heart palpitations, shortness of breath, stomach upsets, chest pain, and dizziness. Panic attacks occur as a combination of physical and psychological distress. They can also occur alongside mental disorders such as PTSD or depression.
2. Generalized Anxiety Disorders
These are generalized anxieties involving continuous worrying that interferes with activities of daily life. Such ongoing tension often presents with physical symptoms, such as the feeling of being easily fatigued, muscle tension, sleeping problems, restlessness, and difficulty in concentrating. Such worries affect daily activities, such as family health, job duties, appointments, and more.
3. Social Anxiety Disorder
Otherwise known as social phobia, it is an intense fear of social interaction driven by fear of humiliation. Those with social phobia may avoid social interactions, don’t share ideas, and become socially isolated. They can also experience panic attacks in anticipation of forced social interaction.
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These are generalized anxiety disorders directed towards things or activities that make one uncomfortable and fearful. Individuals with phobias develop powerful reactions of irrational fear towards places, events, and objects. Individuals with specific phobias have specific things that trigger such reactions. As such, to avoid panic attacks, they often try to avoid such triggers.
5. Separation Anxiety Disorder
Individuals suffering from a separation anxiety disorder often feel anxious or fear separation from those they are attached to. The feelings are beyond what is expected from a person’s of his/her age and can hinder proper functioning. Anxious people with separation anxiety disorders constantly worry about losing those close to them, may refuse to sleep, or experience nightmares following the separation. Symptoms of this disorder may develop during childhood and extend through adulthood.
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders result from several causes. However, the two main generalized causes include;
Genetic linkage – some research suggests that anxiety disorders occur with genes. This is because some families experience frequent anxiety disorders than others.
Environment – traumatic events and stressful conditions such as the death of a close person, violence, or chronic illness can lead to anxiety disorder development.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosing anxiety disorders can be challenging, as they share similar symptoms with other medical illnesses, such as hyperthyroidism and heart disease. However, thorough physical examination, interviews, and laboratory tests can rule out other medical conditions. Mental health professionals often use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to diagnose specific anxiety disorders.
As for treatment, various anxiety disorders have different treatment plans and therapies. However, common treatment modalities include anxiety medications, psychotherapy, and other complementary health approaches. Like with any other mental health condition, anxiety medications cannot cure anxiety but will only relieve symptoms.
Anxiety medications are commonly prescribed for a short period. Antidepressants, such as beta-blockers, are also used to treat heart conditions and control other physical symptoms of anxiety. Support groups and family education are also beneficial in helping patients cope with the condition.
In itself, anxiety is just a feeling. This significantly differs from emotional disorders, which are characterized by highs and lows of mood and energy. Depression and bipolar disorders describe emotional disorders perfectly. Though there might be a difference in how symptoms present, anxiety, and emotional disorders are caused by specific life events, poor coping skills, and underlying medical conditions left untreated.
As mentioned, everybody experiences anxiety due to life events, such as weddings, new job offers, or accidents. However, such anxieties are short-lived, thus not actual disorders. An anxiety disorder should meet several specific qualifications. However, several studies indicate that more than half of patients with anxiety disorders eventually develop depression if anxiety is untreated.
Anxiety disorders are a form of emotional disorder. They can also occur alongside other mental conditions and worsen the symptoms of associated conditions. That said, if you experience symptoms of anxiety, book an appointment with the EZCare Clinic for diagnosis, treatment, and subsequent follow-up.
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health disorders in the U.S., affecting 6.7% and 18.1% of American adults each year, respectively. The percentage of adolescents aged 12-18 struggling with anxiety is approximately 25.1% and 9.1% for depression. It’s not uncommon to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression at the same time. These conditions are like flip sides of the same coin. In fact, nearly 50% of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety. Although these two conditions are different, they may share similar symptoms, including exhaustion, physical symptoms (including stomach pain and headache), and feelings of despair.
Effective Treatment Options for Anxiety and Depression
There are many types of drugs available for patients experiencing anxiety, depression, or both. Because these disorders overlap in many ways, they can both be treated with the same medication. Your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant that treats both conditions, such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
SSRIs are a class of medications that block the reabsorption or reuptake of serotonin, resulting in increased serotonin in the brain. Some examples include:
SNRIs are similar to SSRIs in that they too increase the level of serotonin. However, they also increase norepinephrine, which is a major component of the brain’s stress response. Some examples include:
Serotonin and norepinephrine are substances used by the brain to send messages between nerve cells. They are also called neurotransmitters or chemical messengers. Antidepressants work by preventing the neurotransmitters from being reabsorbed by the nerve cell that released it.
Your healthcare provider may also prescribe anxiety medications or mood stabilizers when antidepressants don’t work by themselves. In some cases, a combination of antidepressants from different classes may be necessary. If an antidepressant does not work, it can be combined with a different type of medication, such as atypical antipsychotics or mood stabilizers to boost the effects.
The type of drug prescribed will depend on which anxiety disorder you have or how severe your depression is. Keep in mind that side effects vary and it may take a few weeks or months for the medication to become fully effective.
Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy is an effective treatment option for anxiety and depression. It may not be enough to treat severe mental illnesses, but it can be very effective when used with medications and other treatments. Psychotherapy can help you recover from depression and anxiety by:
uncovering the underlying causes of your condition,
resolving personal issues,
learning how to relax,
addressing issues in less frightening or depressive ways,
learning ways to talk about your condition, and
learning better coping and problem-solving skills.
Psychotherapy gives you the instruments you need to overcome anxiety and depression and also teaches you how to use them, making it easier for you to stick to your treatment plan.
There are many different approaches that mental health care providers can take to provide therapy for anxiety and depression. The right treatment for you will depend on the severity of your symptoms, the suspected underlying factors contributing to the condition, your therapy goals, and your own personal preferences. The most common therapy techniques used in depression and anxiety include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and interpersonal therapy. While each of these therapy techniques may be used alone, a blended approach is often used.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy is the most widely used therapy for depression and anxiety disorders. At the thought of cognitive behavioral therapy is the idea that our emotions can be affected by our thoughts. Negative thoughts can contribute to and worsen anxiety and depression. It’s not easy to feel good when you’re stuck in a circle of negative thoughts. CBT works by helping people suffering from psychological problems to identify and change patterns and perceptions that undermine their sense of well-being.
CBT addresses learned patterns of unhelpful behavior, as well as unhelpful or faulty ways of thinking that lead to troublesome feelings. With this, you’ll learn to face your fears, calm your mind and relax your body, prepare for potentially problematic interactions with other people, and most importantly, identify patterns of negative thinking, challenge them, and turn them into more realistic ones to improve your mood.
Sometimes known as psychoanalytic therapy, psychodynamic therapy is based on the assumption that anxiety and depression are caused by unresolved internal psychological conflicts, usually rooted in childhood. The main objective of this therapy is to help patients be aware of all their emotions, including troubling and contradictory ones, and to help them bear these feelings and cope effectively.
Unlike other therapy treatment options for depression and anxiety, psychodynamic therapy tends to be less focused and long-term. It may be useful for individuals with a lifelong history and pattern of poor coping skills as well as self-injurious and negative behavior. The psychodynamic approach can be useful for identifying links to past experiences and evaluating how they might be causing feelings of anxiety and depression. As such, you’ll be able to build your self-awareness and increase emotional capacities.
Poor social support and interpersonal conflict can also contribute to anxiety and depression. Interpersonal therapy focuses on how past and present relationships with family and friends play a role in causing and exacerbating depression and anxiety. The primary goal of this therapy is to increase self-esteem and communication skills during a short period of time. Interpersonal therapy is usually brief and works well for anxiety and depression caused by relationship conflicts, mourning, social isolation, and major life events (such as becoming a caregiver or a mother). The hope is that you’ll be able to resolve conflicts and build a stronger social support system.
Take Some Steps on Your Own
In addition to a formal treatment plan from your healthcare provider, there are some steps you can take to manage your anxiety symptoms. The goal of managing anxiety and depression is to incorporate different treatment options that will work together.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
Create a daily routine
Stick to a sleep schedule
Change your diet and eat nutritious food
Exercise or take a walk around the block
Incorporate relaxation techniques
Do something that can distract your brain and bring you comfort
You don’t have to put up with unusual thoughts, feelings, and other symptoms of anxiety or depression. At EZCare Clinic, we diagnose and treat these and other mental health disorders. Contact us to schedule an appointment for comprehensive treatment to help you manage anxiety or depression and lead a fulfilling life.
Emotional support animals follow their owners to areas that are off-limits to other pets. This is because they’re recommended as a treatment for mental afflictions like anxiety, depression, even PTSD. Not to be mistaken for service animals. The main distinction is its functions.
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While ESAs are companions, service animals help their disabled handlers with duties such as answering the door, carrying medicine, and guiding their movement. ESAs don’t need extra conditioning like their service counterparts whose training ranges from heeling, proofing, and performing specific tasks. Another difference is their certification. Your disability should match the ADA description for your service animal to be recognized. Conversely, an ESA letter is provided by your therapist.
How ESAs Improve Your Travel Experience
By lifting your mood, support animals eliminate the need for anxiety medication on your journey. Pills may be effective, but you’ll still have side effects like fatigue and nausea. Furthermore, they act as distractions during long trips. Instead of worrying, your mind is occupied by the animal.
The fact that you have another creature to care for besides yourself gives you purpose. They thought of bonding with your pet may make an otherwise reserved person crave for adventure. ESAs also spark conversations between strangers. This is especially true for moments packed with tension like turbulence.
Travel Necessities for Your ESA
Traveling with their handlers gives ESAs an edge over ordinary pets. If you think moving with an animal is stressful, try it with a mental condition. Here are some trip essentials regardless of your mode of transport.
Things to pack while travelling
5 Things to Pack While Travelling
1. ESA Letter
An ESA letter is mandatory for any support animal in a plane cabin. For the document to be valid, however, it must fulfill the following specifications.
The letter is on your issuing therapist’s letterhead.
You’re currently under a licensed professional’s care.
The letter contains the license date, type, and issuing state.
Your illness is found in the DSM.
You need the ESA for the trip or destination.
The document requires an annual update.
Ensure you alert the airline beforehand. Initially, you could show up with your pet without an announcement. The rules have since changed with most carriers requiring a 48-hour notice. Again, check your destination’s guidelines regarding support animals. Not all countries allow ESAs from foreign lands.
2. Travel Crate
Apart from transportation, a travel crate protects your furry companion from harsh conditions like snow and rain. You’ll have to train your ESA if they’ve never experienced a carrier. In the initial stages, don’t lock the crate with the animal inside. The idea is viewing it as a safe space instead of a punishment. Likewise, put the case in the room your pet spends most of their time. Putting treats in the cage or feeding them next to it will keep your ESA interested.
You can add blankets and toys to give the container a homely feel when on the move. Similarly, secure the cage to the seat or hold it to prevent the ESA from shifting. While at it, ensure your support creature gets sufficient air to prevent suffocation. You can do this by ditching the layovers during summer and getting a container with better ventilation. Although they come in different sizes, some animals are too big for a carrier. That’s where leashes come in.
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The crowds in airports and train stations are bound to stress your ESA. That’s why you need a leash to guide their movement and protect other travelers together with their belongings and animals from attack. But your pet isn’t the only cause of danger. For starters, your unrestrained dog might get run over if it wanders away in a bus station.
It could also contract diseases after sniffing another animal’s droppings. Chains also make it easier to locate you in case your ESA gets lost. Most leashes include a tag for writing your identification details. Moreover, the restraint also makes your pet harder to steal. From resale and breeding to ransoms and fighting rings, animal theft is motivated by several reasons. Most importantly, the law demands you leash your animal.
Games to play with dog
How to Keep Your Dog Entertained on a Road Trip?
Repay your animal’s emotional support by keeping them comfortable. Though the airline can organize a special seat on request, your pup will be more settled in familiar bedding. If your pet doesn’t have a bed already, prioritize the quality of materials when shopping. Substandard fabrics are not only uncomfortable but also less durable.
The size is also crucial. While a small bed will tire your ESA, a larger one is difficult to move. Even so, some models have straps and clips for portability. Surfaces that absorb moisture will develop an odor from the animal’s urine. This calls for a mild water-repelling spray.
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At EZCare Clinic, we recognize the role of ESAs in your psychological wellbeing. We specialize in numerous areas, for example, addiction treatment, nutrition, cosmetic services, pain management, mental, and sexual health. You deserve to live free, reach us for an appointment today.