People can learn to function without being overwhelmed by emotions

DOVER – Intense emotions can be overwhelming when difficult situations arise.

Add thoughts about past traumas and bad things that might happen in the future, and the results can be tragic or even lead to suicidal thoughts.

In 2020, the suicide rate in Tuscarawas County rose to 16.6 per 100,000 people, above the state rate of 13.8 per 100,000 people, according to the US Department of Health. Ohio.

According to the Behavioral Health Center at the Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital in Dover, one in five people suffer from mental health problems, experience difficulty coping with daily demands, and trouble thinking and behaving.

People may be depressed, anxious, or isolated, or have altered thinking, mood, or behavior, relationship distress, or difficulty performing daily tasks.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

After:Tuscarawas County suicide rate higher than state average

Learn to manage strong emotions

According to Behavioral Health director Dawn Abrams and social worker Patricia Miller, people can learn to deal with their strong feelings by practicing being truly present in the moment, without simultaneously enduring additional stressors from the past or future. .

Behavioral Health offers intensive outpatient treatment with dialectical behavior therapy three hours a day, three days a week.

The frequency and intensity of treatment sets it apart from other outpatient counseling, which may offer patients weekly hour-long sessions.

“By the time suicidal thoughts set in or surface, individual outpatient counseling will not be intense enough to meet the patient’s needs,” Miller said. “That’s where we come in.”

Behavioral Health receives patients who are referred by counselors, primary care physicians, as well as those who inquire about the program themselves. Patients may return to see other counselors during or after receiving intensive outpatient therapy.

“Dialectic” refers to the concept of having opposing ideas at the same time, such as “I struggle with anxiety” and “I learn to cope to improve myself”.

The agency offers qualifying training in groups that function more like classes than confessionals.

Manage intense emotions

After an initial private assessment, clients focus on training skills to help them manage their intense emotions.

“We don’t focus on the problem that long,” said Miller, who is both a therapist and a social worker. “From the first week, they come away with real skills. The main key to all these skills is that a patient can remain functional and emotionally well, no matter what is happening around him. Thus, he is able to separate between what’s going on around them and what’s inside of them.”

Each patient has an individual treatment plan, said Abrams, a nurse.

Clients can stay with Behavioral Health for four to six weeks, during which time they are expected to practice their new skills in their daily lives – at work, at home and in the community.

Miller said the foundation of the skills is mindfulness, a state of being in the moment, rather than ruminating on the past or worrying about the future.

Dialectical thinking helps steer people away from all-or-nothing thinking, which encourages big mood swings that can be emotionally draining, according to Miller. She said dialectical behavior therapy tries to get people to think in a balanced way and stay grounded.

Most of the work is done in groups, Miller said.

Behavioral Health has 10 employees. Two psychiatrists, a physical assistant and a nurse practitioner, work for the Cleveland Clinic Akron General.

Miller said dialectical behavior therapy is effective in treating and managing a range of mental health issues, such as borderline personality disorder, panic attacks and depression.

Behavioral health typically scores high in post-discharge patient surveys, four and five on a scale with a maximum score of five, according to Miller. She said they rarely score below four; most are fives. Clinical measures of patients’ symptoms show progress after they participate in the program, she said.

She said the therapy takes advantage of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to form new neural pathways. Clients are expected to learn new coping skills and practice healthy thinking patterns before crises occur.

An example of the professional training offered by Behavioral Health is this five-part grounding exercise based on the senses:

• Look at your surroundings. Observe five things you can see, noting their color, shape, and reflection.

• Touch four things you can feel. Take note of the different textures.

• Listen for three things you can hear in your environment, such as birdsong, running water, or traffic.

• Feel two things.

• Taste something.

Miller said exercise should be done for five to 10 minutes each day in a quiet place without interruptions for thought patterns to change.

In times of stress, you can do the exercise to get in touch with the moment and avoid getting carried away with thoughts that can lead to uncontrollable emotions and behavior. The purpose of the exercise is to keep the user in a calm mental and emotional state.

“Connecting with your five senses, in the environment, in the moment you are in the moment, is what teaches the brain to be in the moment.” said Miller. “That’s mindfulness.

“You start by teaching patients to be in the moment and to be aware of their outside environment. Then, once they become really proficient in this area…you start helping them to be aware of what’s going on. inside them.

“If you’re aware of what’s on the outside and what’s on the inside,” Miller said, “you’re going to be able to catch yourself if you’re having an unhealthy thought because you’re aware.”

Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital Behavioral Health can be reached at 330-308-3700.

Contact Nancy at 330-364-8402 or [email protected]

On Twitter: @nmolnarTR

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