Patient Information

GCBH manages all of the administrative responsibilities associated with your care including paperwork, communication, and billing so that you can focus on your reasons for coming in to see us. We offer services in English, Spanish, Russian, Italian, and Farsi in order to best meet your therapeutic needs. GCBH has taken the liberty to answer a series of commonly asked questions regarding the process and set up of services. Feel free to contact us with any other inquiries or requests.

FAQ

How do I know if I need therapy? What is the goal of therapy?

Therapy is a tool that helps you to be your best self. It empowers you to be independent and successful by minimizing the obstacles in your path. If certain life circumstances, relationships, or personal limitations are preventing you from reaching your potential, the right kind of therapeutic intervention can help you to get back on track.


What treatments do you offer?

GCBH offers individual, couples, family, group, and play therapy as well as neuropsychological testing and online therapy services. Please click here to read more.


What psychological issues do you treat?

Yes, GCBH does treat psychological issues. GCBH is a generalist practice, which means that we offer therapeutic supports for a wide range of needs such as depression, anxiety, relational concerns, life transitions, phobias, behavioral management, anger, and the resolution of grief and trauma, amongst other culprits of personal distress. For more detailed information about the conditions that we treat, please click here to read more.
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How long is an appointment and how often do I need to come to the office?

A typical appointment lasts about 50 minutes. It is encouraged that you meet with your therapist an average of once a week.


What is a treatment plan and how long will it last?

Treatment plans are a plan of action regarding your personal therapeutic process. Your treatment plan will serve as a roadmap to your therapist regarding how to better help you to achieve your therapeutic goals. Treatment plans can span from a few months to several years. You will make this plan together with your therapist.


Will GCBH diagnose me?

Yes. In order to create a treatment plan, you will usually receive a diagnosis. Your psychologist will perform an assessment to suggest what your diagnosis will be. GCBH also offers opportunities for psychological testing in order to assess your challenges in greater detail with reliable accuracy.


What will the first meeting be like?

In the first meeting, you will meet your therapist where he or she will conduct an initial interview (otherwise known as a diagnostic evaluation). The purpose of this meeting is to provide basic information that will help orient your therapist around the reasons why you are seeking our services. Typical information gathered in the diagnostic evaluation includes a family history, information about your current concerns, social relationships, and mood. The diagnostic evaluation provides an opportunity for your therapist to develop a treatment plan that is appropriate for your needs.


How do I make my first appointment?

Our intake coordinator will arrange your initial appointment. Please call our main number at (847) 681-9210 in order to set up your initial appointment. We will obtain your basic demographics and insurance information, and link you with an appropriate clinician for your first meeting. GCBH will check your insurance benefits in order to establish the copayment requirements or deductibles that have been assigned to your health insurance coverage.


What types of insurance does GCBH accept? How should I pay for GCBH services?

Most behavioral health services are covered by insurance. While the amount of insurance coverage may vary, there will likely be a copayment involved with each therapy session that is determined by your insurance provider. GCBH accepts most major insurances and all forms of payment. Our intake coordinator will work with you to find out exactly what your service costs will be. While most major insurance companies cover our services, some are not yet accepted at GCBH; for these patients, GCBH may be able to utilize your out of network benefits.


Will you communicate with my insurance company or do I have to manage my care them directly?

Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it. GCBH makes it easy for you so that you can focus on the reasons why you came to us in the first place. We’ll let you know when we need more information.


Do I need to bring anything to my first appointment?

Just bring yourself, your insurance card, and a photo ID. We additionally ask that you fill out some basic registration documents prior to your first meeting. Forms can be found in the patient portal section of our website or in any one of our four offices. Please arrive 20 minutes early to your first appointment and be prepared to pay your copayment if you have one.


If I can’t make it to the office, can I use online therapy?

Yes of course that’s why we created it! Just know that health insurance companies do not yet cover online therapy services, and therefore utilizing this option will cost more than your typical copayment would within the office. For this reason, we have reduced the cost of online therapy services to make them more affordable for people who need them. To find out more about our online therapy service options, please click here.


How far in advance do I need to contact GCBH in order to change or cancel my appointment?

GCBH prides itself in offering unparalleled quality of service that is reliable and consistent. We ask that our patients reschedule or cancel their appointments 24 hours in advance in order to avoid a late fee.


How can I prepare my child for receiving services at GCBH?

We recommend that parents explain briefly why they feel therapeutic services are important to their children prior to their first session. A simple description of what therapy services are like, including that therapy’s goal is to help your child to feel better and realize his or her best potential, that therapy takes more than one visit to GCBH, and involves self expression through talking and occasionally through play therapy, is often more than adequate. Let your child know that everyone will get a chance to talk in the therapy room.


Will my culture, race and religion be respected at GCBH?

No question about it. GCBH’s goal is to help you to feel comfortable and satisfied with your therapeutic experience. GCBH selects only the finest therapists to serve you and your loved ones with respect, patience, and dignity. Feel free to voice any concerns that you may have regarding this topic with your therapist or with our intake coordinator.


Does GCBH prescribe pharmaceutical medication?

Yes, we have a psychiatrist on staff who can prescribe medication as well as evaluate any medications you are currently taking.


Will you communicate about my care with my psychiatrist or family doctor?

Gladly. GCBH prefers to ensure that your team of providers is well informed regarding your care so that they can best meet your needs. With your permission, your therapist at GCBH will briefly touch base with your medical and psychiatric provider.


How does GCBH store my information? What information does GCBH share with others regarding my case and will I be notified about it?

Your medical records will be maintained with the highest level of confidentiality. GCBH only releases information about you when you agree to it.


Will my insurance company know that I am receiving services from GCBH?

Your insurance company will know about your services at GCBH. Your insurance company pays for a large percentage of your care and therefore will have basic information about the services that you are receiving at GCBH.

Conditions Treated

GCBH welcomes you to stay informed. Below, we have compiled a brief description of common reasons for people to seek treatment. This portion of the website is not a comprehensive listing of all conditions that patients may encounter through their course of treatment.


Depression

While everybody feels sad every once in a while, many people suffer from an actual medical condition, known as depression that affects their lives on a daily basis. Depression is characterized by constant feelings of sadness or emptiness, and may co-exist with other illnesses or be triggered by certain events.

There are several different depressive disorders, but major depressive disorder is the most common. Symptoms of major depression include:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Crying spells
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Suicidal thoughts

Like other psychological disorders, the cause of depression is not specifically known, but is believed to be a combination of genetic, biological and environmental factors. Although depression can be a serious condition, it is highly treatable.

Leaving depression untreated however can cause a variety of problems affecting the lives of those suffering, as well as their families. Some of these issues include anxiety, isolation, difficulties at work or school, alcohol or substance abuse, and in extreme cases, suicide. Treatment of depression typically includes medication and psychotherapy. Following effective treatment methods can help to reduce the dangers associated with depression and may help to make depression a more manageable condition.

Diagnosing Depression

To diagnose depression, your doctor will ask numerous questions regarding changes in mood and recent life events, such as graduating or getting a new job. To be diagnosed with depression, an individual must have at least five of the following symptoms continuously over a two-week period:

  • Depressed mood for the majority of the day; for instance, feeling empty, sad, or tearful
  • Loss of pleasure in all or nearly all daily activities
  • Inability to fall asleep or increased desire to sleep every day
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Feelings of guilt or low self-worth
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or an attempt of suicide

Preventing Depression

There is no surefire way to prevent depression; however, there are certain measures that have been proven to reduce the occurrence of depression. These include following your treatment plan, learning about your condition, sleeping enough, exercising regularly, and having a strong and supportive network of friends and/or family.


Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder is a depressive disorder that occurs in accordance with the seasons. Most people with seasonal affective disorder experience symptoms in the fall and winter seasons, while some people experience this condition in the spring and summer. It is important to seek medical attention for this condition in order to maintain a stable mood and prevent symptoms from interfering with your day-to-day activities.

Causes and Risk Factors of Seasonal Affective Disorder

While the exact cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown, it is said to be hereditary. Additional causes of seasonal affective disorder may include abnormal melatonin or serotonin levels as well as a irregular circadian rhythm. Females are more likely to be affected by seasonal affective disorder than males, as well as individuals that live far from the equator.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Depending on the time of year, the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder may vary. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder in the fall and winter may include anxiety, weight gain, depression, loss of energy, loss of interest in once pleasurable activities, oversleeping, trouble concentrating, and social withdrawal. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder occurring in the spring and summer may include loss of appetite, insomnia, anxiety, and increased sex drive.

Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Various treatment options are available for seasonal affective disorder. Psychotherapy may help individuals to recognize and correct negative thoughts before depression occurs. Light therapy shines a bright light similar to natural, outdoor lighting, compensating for the reduced daylight hours associated with the fall and winter seasons. Severe cases of seasonal affective disorder may require antidepressant medications to relieve symptoms. Your doctor will develop a customized treatment plan based on your individual condition.


Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a complex disorder that involves sudden shifts in mood from high to low. These dramatic mood swings, known as episodes, are classified as stages of mania and intense depression. Bipolar disorder affects over five million Americans; it most frequently develops in late adolescence or early adulthood, but may begin during childhood as well.

Episodes of bipolar disorder can last for days, weeks or months. Symptoms of each phase or stage may be mild or severe but can include:

Mania

  • Euphoria
  • Increased energy
  • Restlessness
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Increased sexual drive
  • Inability to concentrate

Depression

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Fatigue
  • Change in appetite
  • Loss of interest
  • suicidal thoughts

The severity and frequency of these symptoms are classified into different types of bipolar disorder. The cause of bipolar disorder is not known, but it is believed to be a combination of biological and environmental factors. Before receiving an accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder, several medical conditions such as thyroid disorders must be ruled out; see a doctor as soon as possible if you feel you or a loved one may be suffering from this condition.

If left untreated, bipolar disorder will worsen and can eventually lead to suicide. Treatment usually includes mood stabilizing, antidepressant or anti-seizure medications as well as psychotherapy. Since the disorder is recurring, long-term treatment is usually recommended in order to maintain a more balanced life.


Grief

After the loss of a loved one or other traumatic event, people may cope with the situation in several different ways; one of these coping mechanisms is to grieve the loss. Grief is an emotional reaction to the loss of a meaningful relationship or circumstance which may alter the path of one’s lifestyle.

After a major loss, adaptation to change may involve redefining relationships and responsibilities that were once familiar to you. This may include managing painful emotions that may impact your daily life. For many people, the experience of grief involves a shift in social, behavioral, and spiritual facets of daily life.

Most people encounter grief after a significant life event but are able to tolerate the loss after the passage of time. For individuals that may require a little extra support, grief counseling is available. Through encouragement and coping strategies. GCBH can be a partner in this process, as it often helps individuals to process their loss while also moving forward towards realizing their new futures.


General Anxiety Disorder

While we all worry about important issues in our everyday lives, some people are consumed with chronic concern. If you are always feeling anxious and have trouble concentrating, you may suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD is a common anxiety disorder that affects about 4 million people in the US each year.

The cause of GAD is unknown, but it is believed to stem from both genetic and environmental factors. Symptoms appear gradually and most commonly begin during childhood or adolescence, although they can begin in adulthood as well. People with GAD may experience:

  • Excessive and constant worrying
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Constant headaches
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Hot flashes

Diagnosis

Generalized anxiety disorder is typically diagnosed through a full review of your medical history including questions about your symptoms. In order to be diagnosed with GAD, individuals must display the following criteria:

  • Extreme anxiety about various activities most days, for at least six months
  • Trouble controlling anxious feelings
  • Anxiety causing considerable distress or interfering with day-to-day activities
  • Anxiety not related to another condition
  • A minimum of three of the following criteria experienced by adults or one of the following if experienced by children: fatigue, trouble sleeping, irritability, restlessness, muscle tension, and difficulty concentrating

Treatment

Generalized anxiety disorder is typically treated through a combination of medication and psychotherapy. The types of medications typically prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder include antidepressants and benzodiazepines; it is important to be patient when taking these medications, as they may not take effect immediately.

GAD can often be effectively managed through a combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Therapy can help to identify coping strategies and regulatory behaviors in order to maximally avoid anxiety and promote functioning. Talk to your doctor today if you have experienced symptoms of GAD.

Prevention

There is no surefire way to prevent anxiety; however, there are certain measures that can be taken to reduce its effects on your daily life. These include following your treatment plan, learning about your condition, honoring a regular sleep routine, exercising consistently, and having a strong social support network of friends and family.


Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder in which patients suffer from sudden unexplained panic attacks involving extreme fear and nervousness. Unlike other anxiety disorders, panic attacks are often unprovoked and can be disabling. People may develop irrational fears of certain situations in which panic attacks have previously occurred. People having a panic attack may experience:

  • Racing or pounding heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Hot flashes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Fear of dying

These attacks usually last several minutes and are similar to the symptoms of a heart attack. If a person has repeated panic attacks with no other physical or emotional cause, they may be diagnosed with panic disorder. Panic attacks can be emotionally disabling and are often treated with a combination of appropriate medication and psychotherapy in order to reduce the frequency of future attacks.


Acute Stress Disorder

Acute stress disorder (ASD) is a psychiatric condition that occurs after an individual experiences or witnesses a traumatic event such as a death or an accident and subsequently develops severe anxiety in reaction to the event. This diagnosis is similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but involves short-term symptoms that occur within a month of the traumatic event and last anywhere between two days to four weeks.

Patients with acute stress disorder may experience:

  • Numbness
  • Detachment
  • Lack of emotional response
  • Reduced sense of surroundings
  • Reliving the traumatic event via flashbacks or dreams
  • Inability to remember parts of the trauma
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Acute anxiety

If symptoms persist for longer than a month, the patient may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Up to 80% of patients with acute stress disorder will develop PTSD if their condition is left untreated. In order to receive this diagnosis, patients must have at least three dissociative symptoms as well as other symptom clusters that are also necessary for a PTSD diagnosis.

Treatment:

Treatment for acute stress disorder usually involves cognitive behavioral therapy, which aims to change patterns of thought about the traumatic event and to alter the patient's behavior in situations that cause anxiety. Undergoing cognitive therapy can help to keep this condition from developing into PTSD. Participation in support groups and medication are also sometimes recommended in order to manage the symptoms of acute stress disorder.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that may develop after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event that may have caused physical harm to someone. These events may include witnessing or experiencing assault, unexpected death, an accident, war, or a natural disaster.

Certain reactions are natural after these types of events, but they should decrease and eventually dissipate along with the passage of time. People with PTSD however continue to experience these reactions, sometimes in increasing amounts, long after the event, in such a way that affects their daily lives. Symptoms of traumatic events can include:

  • Bad dreams
  • Flashbacks
  • Recurring scary thoughts
  • Feeling worried or guilty
  • Feeling alone
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling restless
  • Feeling angry

If these symptoms last for more than six months or get worse with time, you or your loved one may be suffering from PTSD. It is recommended to seek counseling in order to treat these symptoms. Talk to your doctor if you think that you or your loved one may have PTSD.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common anxiety disorder that involves repetitive thoughts and controlling rituals. OCD affects over 3 million Americans and is often accompanied with eating disorders, depression, or other anxiety disorders.

People with OCD are overwhelmed by constant fears and distressing thoughts, known as obsessions, which they cannot control. These obsessions can include fear of dirt or germs, harming others, making a mistake, or being embarrassed. In order to counteract these obsessions, people with OCD will perform certain rituals known as compulsions. Common compulsions may include:

  • Repeated bathing or washing hands
  • Counting while performing routine tasks
  • Arranging things in a certain way
  • Performing tasks a certain number of times
  • Touching things in a certain order

The true cause of OCD is not known, but certain biological and environmental factors play a role. Most cases develop in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood. OCD treatment focuses on cognitive-behavior therapy which teaches patients to confront their fears and reduce anxiety without the use of rituals.


Phobias

Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder that involve irrational fears of a certain object or situation that is generally regarded as harmless. Phobias result in avoiding these fears and affecting one's ability to function in daily life. More than 12 percent of Americans experience a phobia at some point in their lives.

Some of the most common phobias include a fear of:

  • Enclosed spaces (claustrophobia)
  • Open spaces (agoraphobia)
  • Heights (acrophobia)
  • Flying (pterygophobia)
  • Water (hydrophobia)
  • Animals
  • Dentists
  • Bridges
  • Social situations

The following are examples of symptoms of phobias:

  • Feelings of panic, dread and horror when exposed to the object of fear
  • Uncontrollable anxiety
  • Intense desire to avoid the object of fear
  • Knowledge that fears are irrational
  • Fear effecting normal daily functioning

If your fears are affecting your daily life, you may choose to seek treatment for your phobia. Psychotherapy is usually effective for specific phobias and is done through desensitization and exposure therapy. Medication may also be used to reduce the anxiety that is associated with having a phobia.


Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder affects over 19 million people in the US. People with social anxiety have excessive and unreasonable fears of different social situations. They may feel overly anxious and nervous in everyday situations.

Social anxiety affects people emotionally and physically. The emotional fear of being judged, watched or embarrassed can lead to:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Blushing
  • Shaking
  • Confusion
  • Nausea/upset stomach
  • Diarrhea

The causes of social anxiety disorder are believed to result from the combination of biochemistry and environment. This condition most likely begins during adolescence and early adulthood. If this form of anxiety affects your daily life it is recommended that you see a your doctor or therapist in order to learn a series of helpful skill building tools such as cognitive-behavior therapy in order to help you to manage your symptoms. Medication is also available to help treat unwanted symptoms.


Adjustment Disorder

An adjustment disorder is a stress-induced condition brought on by significant life changes, such as problems at work, getting married, or a serious illness. Patients that are experiencing an adjustment disorder may experience bouts of anxiety or depression and may even have suicidal thoughts in more severe cases.

Patients with adjustment disorders may experience a wide range of symptoms that can vary from patient to patient. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Sadness
  • Excessive crying
  • Anxiety
  • Desperation
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor performance at school or work

These symptoms may last for less than six months, which classifies the disorder as acute, or for longer than six months in chronic cases.

Causes

Adjustment disorders can affect people of all ages, and the specific cause is unknown. However, these disorders tend to occur in people experiencing stressful life events. Any type of event can cause stress, whether positive or negative. Patients with other mental health problems or those who have difficult situations to deal with are at a higher risk of developing an adjustment disorder from life changes.

Diagnosis

If you are experiencing symptoms of an adjustment disorder, your doctor will likely perform a psychological evaluation to diagnose your condition. There are several different types of adjustment disorders based on the type of symptoms that the patient is experiencing.

Treatment

Treatment for adjustment disorders involves medication and psychotherapy. Many patients find psychotherapy helpful for adjustment disorders, as it allows them to explore the cause of the condition and helps deal with other stressful events in the future. Medications can help treat specific symptoms and may be taken for a few months. Patients can reduce or prevent the symptoms of adjustment disorders by learning effective coping methods to deal with stressful events.


Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder that involves a fear of public places. People with agoraphobia may fear places that they cannot easily leave or situations in which they could be embarrassed. These individuals may also fear having a panic attack in these places or situations without being able to access the right kind of help. Elevators, sporting events, lines, and shopping malls are commonly feared places. Agoraphobia is frequently associated with panic disorder and may be triggered by panic attacks experienced in public places.

This condition can be extremely limiting, as many people fear leaving their homes and avoid facing these challenges alone. GCBH offers online therapy options to help individuals that are managing these challenges to face their limitations in an empowering and comfortable way. Face to face therapy is also an option when patients feel ready to access such a service.


Sleep Disorders

There are many sleeping disorders (dyssomnia) which can have debilitating effects on an individual’s overall health and quality of life. These can range from simple trouble with procuring/maintaining sleep to severe detriment to social, physical and emotional functioning.

Polysomnogram tests measure eye movement, muscle activity, heart rhythm, respiratory airflow, and brain activity in order to diagnose or rule out specific sleep disorders. These tests can help to rule out parasomnias, narcolepsy, muscle-related sleep disorders (RLS), sleep apnea, and disorders encompassing REM abnormalities.

The treatment for different types of sleep disorders vary greatly. Classifications of treatments include:

  • Rehabilitation/management of sleep time
  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Other somatic treatment

Behavioral therapy is considered one of the most distinct and dynamic methods of sleep disorder treatment available, owing to both its simplicity and its inherent ability to positively complement other medical treatments.


Anorexia Nervosa / Bulimia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are serious emotional disorders that involve an obsession with food, weight and body image. People with anorexia have a skewed vision of their bodies and often think that they are overweight when they may in fact be skeletally thin.

People with anorexia go to extreme measures to starve themselves or exercise excessively in efforts to prevent weight gain or to continue losing weight. While these disorders are based on body image and food consumption, they also rely heavily upon matters of control and perfectionism.

Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by extended episodes of fasting followed by eating large amounts of food quickly (otherwise known as binging) and subsequently purging this food soon after by vomiting or utilizing medically unnecessary pharmaceutical interventions such as a laxatives, stimulants, or diuretics in efforts to purge the consumed meal. Bulimia is more common than anorexia.

The causes of anorexia and bulimia are usually tied in with a combination of biological, psychological and sociocultural factors. Media and peer pressure often influence an extreme desire to be thin, especially in young girls.

It is critical to seek treatment before these conditions worsen, as untreated anorexia and bulimia can lead to anemia, bone loss, infertility, tooth decay, lung problems and even death. These psychological conditions are one of the more fatal mental illnesses because of the extreme damage that they may cause to bodily health.

Treatments of anorexia and bulimia depend on each case but often include close medical monitoring, psychotherapy, nutritional counseling, medication, and sometimes hospitalization. Impulse management is as important as screening for mood and anxiety when it comes to treatment for patients with bulimia, as lack of impulse control throughout this disease can also lead to addictions and relationship dysfunction. Both of these conditions often require long-term treatment to prevent relapse.


Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are a group of common mental health conditions characterized by self-destructive thoughts and behaviors. These disorders tend to develop during childhood and are believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Symptoms of a personality disorder can vary greatly depending on the type of disorder and the affected person, but general symptoms can include:

  • Mood swings
  • Angry outbursts
  • Social isolation
  • Troubled relationships
  • Lack of impulse control
  • Alcohol or substance abuse

Personality disorders are usually grouped into three different clusters based on the similar effects they may have.

  • Cluster A - Odd, eccentric thinking and behaviors as in paranoid and schizoid disorders
  • Cluster B - Dramatic and emotional thinking and behaviors such as antisocial, narcissistic and borderline disorders
  • Cluster C - Anxious and fearful thinking and behaviors as in avoidant, dependent and obsessive-compulsive disorders

If you or someone you know seems to be experiencing signs of a personality disorder, it is important to seek professional help. Personality disorders can lead to depression, abuse, violence, and even suicide.

Treatment for these disorders usually includes psychotherapy, medications, hospitalization or a combination of all the above. Working with a team of experienced doctors to provide full physical and emotional support is often most effective. It is important for you to work with your doctor to decide which treatment is best for you in order to receive the best possible care.

One kind of personality disorder is called borderline personality disorder. It is an emotional disorder which causes mood instability. People with borderline personality disorder typically act impulsively and relate poorly to others. The exact cause of borderline personality disorder is unknown, although it is more likely to occur in people that do not get along well with their families, have been abandoned during childhood, or have been sexually abused.

Symptoms of borderline personality disorder usually include unstable relationships with other people, constant fear of abandonment, and self-image uncertainties. Additional symptoms of borderline personality disorder may include frequent acts of self-harm, inability to be alone, feelings of boredom and emptiness, impulsive behavior, and constant, unwarranted anger.

Borderline personality disorder is diagnosed through a psychological evaluation. A combination of psychotherapy and medications are typically used for treating borderline personality disorder. Unfortunately, many individuals with borderline personality disorder typically don't keep up with their course of treatment, making this condition difficult to treat.


Cutting / Self-Injury

For some people, coping with negative emotions becomes so overwhelming that they must find a physical release for their feelings. Self-injury, usually in the form of cutting or burning, can help a person to forget about their feelings and focus instead on their physical pain. While people who self-injure may not be suicidal, they may cause permanent damage to their bodies or even accidental suicide.

Many people who injure themselves try to keep these activities secret and will often not seek treatment. It is important for loved ones to be aware of any signs of self-injury. These signs may include:

  • Scars
  • Fresh cuts or scratches
  • Spending a lot of time alone
  • Wearing long sleeves or pants even in hot weather
  • Claiming to have frequent accidents

The act of self-injury is often impulsive and can result in guilt and shame after the initial feelings of relief during the act. Treatment for this condition is essential, but takes time and devotion. Treatment usually includes psychotherapy to help improve the patient’s self-image and improve emotional regulation. Please talk to your doctor right away if you or a loved one are engaging in self-injury.


Addiction

An addiction is an uncontrollable dependence on a certain substance or activity. People become addicted to different things for different reasons, but can all be affected both physically and psychologically.

Physical addictions are usually a result of a particular substance. After excessive use, people build up a tolerance so that they need a larger and larger dose to feel the same effects of the substance. If they do not use the substance they may suffer from symptoms of withdrawal. Psychological addictions occur when there is an uncontrollable urge to attain exposure to the addicting activity. Some of the most common addictions include:

  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine/Smoking
  • Shopping
  • Sex
  • Internet
  • Dieting

Addiction is a disease that affects multiple circuits within the brain, including those involved in reward, motivation, learning, memory, and control over behavior. Chemical dependence is a form of addiction in which a person uses a chemical substance (drugs or alcohol) compulsively and cannot stop using them despite the problems caused by their use.

Quitting an addiction is an extremely difficult task. While recognizing your problem is the first major step, quitting takes hard work and commitment. It is often helpful to use psychotherapy to quit an addiction. Emotional support from friends and family are also crucial to your success. Continued determination will help you to reach abstinence and manage any potential relapses.

Scientific research since the mid-1970s shows that treatment can help patients that are addicted to drugs to stop using, avoid relapse, and successfully recover their lives. Medication and behavioral therapy, especially when combined, are important elements of an overall therapeutic process that often begins with detoxification, followed by treatment and relapse prevention. Easing withdrawal symptoms can be important in the initiation of treatment; preventing relapse is necessary for maintaining the effects of treatment.

As with other chronic conditions, episodes of relapse may require a return to prior treatment components. A continuum of care that includes a customized treatment regimen-addressing all aspects of an individual's life, including medical and mental health services, follow-up options such as community supports and family-based recovery support systems can be crucial to a person's success in achieving and maintaining a drug-free life.

Long-term follow-up is an essential component of successful addiction treatment. This can include ongoing medical supervision, formal group meetings, and appropriately matched psychotherapeutic support. Our trained professionals may recommend individual or family psychotherapy to help uncover and resolve the issues that have contributed to or resulted from the addiction.

Based on this research, key principles have emerged that form the basis of effective treatment programs:

  • Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior
  • No single treatment is appropriate for everyone
  • Treatment needs to be readily available
  • Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse
  • Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical
  • Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies
  • An individual's treatment and service plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets his or her changing needs.
  • Many drug-addicted individuals also have other mental health disorders and treating these may help to manage addiction recovery
  • Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug abuse.
  • Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously, as lapses during treatment do occur.

Substance abuse is a serious and dangerous condition that affects millions of people in the US each year. People turn to substances like alcohol, drugs and tobacco for various reasons including pleasure, relaxation and relief of depression. Traumatic events, stress, or chaotic home lives may trigger a dependence on these substances. Even though these substances may serve as a relief in the short term, they can lead to stroke, heart disease, brain damage, cancer, strain on relationships, job loss, home loss, isolation, and even death. Treating a substance abuse issue can be difficult, but admitting you have a problem is the most important step. If you or someone you love has a substance dependence, please contact your doctor right away.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common condition among children in preschool and early school years that involves trouble paying attention and controlling behavior. ADHD affects approximately two million children in the US.

ADHD is classified by symptoms of inattention and of hyperactivity / impulsiveness. A child with six or more symptoms from each category lasting for at least six months at home and at school may be diagnosed with ADHD. These symptoms include:

Inattention

  • Easily distracted
  • Makes careless mistakes
  • Seems to not listen when spoken to
  • Doesn't follow instructions properly
  • Forgetful and frequently misplaces things
  • Doesn't finish tasks

Hyperactivity / Impulsiveness

  • Constantly fidgeting and squirming
  • Feeling restless
  • Runs or climbs in inappropriate situations
  • Constantly talking
  • Has difficulty playing quietly
  • Interrupts others

ADHD occurs as a result of altered brain function and anatomy. Scientists believe that neurotransmitters in the brains of people with ADHD may be imbalanced. Heredity and environmental factors may also play a role. Treatment for ADHD usually includes therapy and medication. The best treatment method is still under debate, however, most people benefit from a combination of therapy and medication.

Symptoms of ADHD may subside as children get older, but many people also experience similar challenges during adulthood. It is important for children with ADHD to see a therapist on a consistent basis in order to continue effective treatment methods and to master skills that will help them to self-regulate and understand their own strengths and weaknesses.


ADHD in Adults

Although attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is first diagnosed in young children, many people continue to experience symptoms from this condition as adults. Adult ADHD is typically more subtle and harder to diagnose, but affects between 30 and 70 percent of people that were diagnosed as children.

Many adults that seek treatment for depression or anxiety may actually suffer from adult ADHD. Symptoms of adult ADHD are basically the same as in children, only more subtle. They can include:

  • Easily distracted
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble relaxing
  • Trouble organizing
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Mood swings
  • Impulsivity

Managing this condition through the use of medication and psychotherapy is common. Making life adjustments to accommodate for your condition can also help to make ADHD more manageable. Talk to your doctor today about how to treat this disorder.


Anger Management

Like any other emotion, anger is a natural reaction to frustration in life. It can be triggered, felt, and expressed in many different ways, however, anger sometimes can become a problem when it is uncontrollable, frequently overwhelming, destructive, and causing harm to yourself and others. People who suffer from anger management problems often cannot control their reactions and are seemingly at the mercy of this powerful emotion.

Anger can be controlled, however, through anger management therapy. This treatment aims to reduce both the initial feelings within an individual, as well as the troublesome aggressive reactions that often surface within the individual’s self-expression. This can be done through:

  • Relaxation techniques - slow breathing, repeating phrases, and using imagery to calm yourself down when something angers you
  • Cognitive restructuring - changing the way you think about what’s angering you, and replacing exaggerated thoughts with more appropriate responses
  • Problem solving - make your best effort to solve your problems with reasonable solutions and calm approaches

There are many other treatment options for dealing with anger. You may benefit from seeing a doctor that can help you to implement these techniques and others like it. Weekly sessions with your therapist may help you to overcome anger management problems and pave the way for a happy and healthy life.


Pervasive Development Disorder

Pervasive development disorder (PDD) refers to a group of conditions that affect a person's ability to effectively communicate and interact with others. Usually, some forms of these conditions are already apparent before the age of three years. While the specific cause of PDD is unknown, it is believed to be the result of problems within the nervous system. There are several different disorders classified as PDD, each with their own set of indicating factors. Some of these disorders include: autism, Asperger’s syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Rett's syndrome.

Symptoms of PDD tend to develop during early childhood where developmental progress may be impacted by the following:

  • Difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Repetitive body movements (hand flapping, spinning)
  • Difficulty adjusting to change
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Temper tantrums
  • Aggressive behavior

These symptoms can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. While these general symptoms are present in many PDD patients, the effect on intelligence and individual abilities may be different for each patient.

To diagnose PDD, your child's doctor will evaluate his or her speech, behavior, and ability to interact with other people. Discussions with parents, teachers and other adults can provide an overall view of symptoms as well. Medical exams such as X-rays or blood tests may also be performed to see if symptoms are caused by an underlying physical disorder.

Once diagnosed, a customized treatment plan will be developed for each individual patient with PDD. Treatment may include special education, behavior modification techniques, speech therapy, physical and occupational therapy, and medication management in order to reduce levels of anxiety and hyperactivity. These treatments are coordinated between home and school and often involve several therapists and teachers in order to effect measured improvement everyday functioning and learning.

There is no cure for PDD, so most patients will continue to have communication problems throughout their lives. Research is ongoing to determine the cause of these disorders and to develop effective treatment options that can improve the quality of life for those affected.


Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Autism is a common developmental disorder that involves problems with social interaction, communication and unusual activities and interests such as atypical sensory responses, fascination with patterns, and unusual ticks. Symptoms of autism spectrum disorders usually appear before the age of three.

The symptoms of autism are classified as problems with social interaction, language and behavior.

Social interaction symptoms usually present themselves first. These symptoms can be detected as early as infancy and can include:

  • Poor eye contact
  • Not responding to one’s name being called
  • Focusing on one item and blocking out everything else
  • Being largely unaware of the feelings of others
  • Preferring to play alone
  • Displaying awkward bodily gestures and clumsy movements

Language and behavior symptoms can include:

  • Developing speech later than other children
  • Speaking in a singsong voice or other abnormal rhythms
  • Trouble starting a conversation and inability to maintain a two-sided conversation
  • Talking only about a select few topics
    • Performing repetitive movements like rocking, spinning or hand-flapping
    • Resisting change or transition
    • Inability to sit or stand still
    • Heightened sensitivity to touch or sound and yet oblivious to pain

What is autism?

Autism is a complex developmental disability that affects social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically have trouble with verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. They also often exhibit self-stimulatory or repetitive behaviors such as clenching muscles, jumping up and down, or making the same sounds repetitively. Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that it affects each person in different ways and with varying severity.

How common is autism?

Data suggests that 1 in 150 children in the U.S. have some form of autism. It is four times more prevalent in boys than in girls. Statistics also suggest that the rate of autism is rising 10-17% annually. It is the most common developmental disorder.

What are the characteristics of autism?

Because every person displays their own unique characteristics of autism, and symptoms range from mild to severe, it can be difficult to outline the precise characteristics of autism. Nevertheless, there are some commonalities.

Common behaviors include:

  • Resistance to change
  • Tantrums
  • Hand flapping, over or under stimulation/ sensitivity
  • Desire to be alone
  • Inability to communicate needs
  • Lack of safety skills
  • Aggression
  • Self-abusive behavior such head-banging, scratching, or eye-poking

The specific cause of autism is not known, but is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Signs of delayed development usually present themselves by 18 months. It is important to speak to your doctor if you think your child is showing signs of autism. Early treatment is often most effective.

Treatment methods include communication and social skill training, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication or any combination of the three. There is no cure, but effective treatment can help your child to adapt and function with less frequent or severe interruptions.

Will my child be able to attend school?

Whether your child will be able to attend school depends on where he or she falls on the autism spectrum. Most children with autism are able to attend public or private school in a combination of mainstream and special education classrooms. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1990 which specifically mentions children with autism, your child has the right to a free and appropriate education funded by the government. GCBH offers Autism assessments when needed for individual education plan configurations or for securing appropriate academic and even workplace accommodations.


Mental Retardation

Mental retardation is a condition that involves an intelligence level that is lower than average and a lack of skills needed for daily living. Mental retardation affects about 1 to 3 percent of the population and is diagnosed before the age of 18. A person diagnosed with mental retardation has an IQ level of less than 70.

Mental retardation usually presents itself as a limited learning potential and delayed achievement of developmental milestones. The cause of mental retardation is not known in most cases, although some conditions develop as a result of trauma, infection, or gene abnormalities.

Early detection of mental retardation is important in order to establish necessary resources regarding special education and family adaptation. Social, educational, and therapeutic supports both within the home and in the community have been found to be helpful in order to support the individual with mental retardation along with his or her family members. Individuals that are facing the effects of mental retardation should be encouraged to develop to their fullest potential in order to function to the best of their abilities.

Most children with mental retardation are able to attend public or private school in a combination of mainstream and special education classrooms. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1990, your child has the right to a free and appropriate education funded by the government. GCBH offers neuropsychological and psycheducational assessments when needed in order to supplement an individual education plan or to secure appropriate accommodations and resources.


Dementia

Dementia is a cognitive disorder that can manifest as a deficiency in problem solving, attention, language or memory. Many different conditions can cause dementia, ranging from traumatic brain injury and progressive disease to the normal aging process. The symptoms of this syndrome are generally treatable with minor to moderate success, however the underlying causes are usually irreversible and therefore incurable.

Diagnosing Dementia

Symptoms of dementia must have persisted for a period greater than six months in order to be diagnosed as such; shorter duration episodes (usually in a period of weeks) are better known as delirium. Dementia is generally diagnosed by a specialist doctor such as a neurologist, but some faster tests such as the Mini-Mental State Examination and the Abbreviated Mental Test Score can be utilized with a certain degree of reliability in a general practitioner's office. If the results are positive, a referral for more specialized neuropsychological testing is usually given. The patient may also have blood work in order to determine if the symptoms of dementia are due to a simple nutrition or hormonal imbalance rather than the chronic condition that dementia has been found to be; nutrition or hormone imbalances are easy to treat and manage while true dementia is incurable.

Treatment of Dementia

Although dementia cannot be cured, its effects on the body and progression of symptoms can be reduced significantly in many patients. High blood pressure has been linked to dementia, and blood pressure reduction medications have been shown to reduce dementia by 13%. A sustained Mediterranean diet as well as moderated consumption of alcohol have also shown to reduce risk of developing dementia. For most dementia treatments, targeting the cause of the disease produces the most effective results; a combination of medication and therapeutic intervention are usually the most helpful tools to maximize functionality for patients dealing with this condition.


Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a disorder of the brain that involves hearing voices, paranoia and terrifying thoughts. Schizophrenia affects about one percent of Americans and is a disabling disease that often severely effects the functioning of the individual that is afflicted by this illness.

Signs of schizophrenia usually begin earlier in men than in women and typically occur in a person’s 20’s or early 30’s. The specific cause of schizophrenia is still unknown, although it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Schizophrenia tends to run in families, where the occurrence of the disease increases to a 10 percent prevalence rate.

Symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three different categories: positive, negative, and cognitive. The cognitive category is subtle and usually only detected through neuropsychological testing. Some of the symptoms for these categories include:

  • Positive - categorized by abnormal behavior, hallucinations, delusions, unusual thoughts, clumsy and uncoordinated movement
  • Negative - seen as a decrease in normal emotion and behavior, loss of interest in everyday life, inability to partake in planned activities, decreased speech, and neglect of basic hygiene
  • Cognitive - trouble paying attention, problems with working memory, trouble absorbing information.

There is no cure for schizophrenia, but the disorder can usually be managed through effective treatment of symptoms. Treatment usually includes a combination of antipsychotic medications and psychosocial therapies. A stable support system is crucial for individuals with schizophrenia. If you or someone you love is suffering from these symptoms, please speak to a doctor right away.