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5 Ways to Manage Bipolar Highs and Lows

If you are a person suffering from bipolar disorder (or what used to be called manic depression) you already know that the extreme mood swings and the emotional highs and lows can completely derail your day and your life, if not handled with self-care and compassion.

If you haven’t been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but recognize some of the following symptoms in yourself, these tips can help, but it is important to seek help from a licensed professional for diagnosis and next steps.

Some common effects of bipolar mood swings include sleep deprivation or insomnia, anger and irritability, inability to think clearly, leading to detrimental impacts to work, relationships and health.

Here are 5 changes you can make starting today:

1. Learn more about your condition

Educating yourself about how bipolar disorder can manifest in your symptoms, and how your behavior can change based on the manic and depressive episodes can help you recognize and identify such behaviors in yourself. Educating yourself is the first step you can take towards helping yourself.

2. Journal your thoughts and emotions

Each person experiences their bipolar symptoms differently. Keeping a daily journal of your moods, feelings, emotions and thoughts is a great way to track your symptoms so that you can recognize patterns of behavior and the triggers that may be causing them. Doing this can help you prevent or manage your symptoms before or during an episode.

3. Create a toolkit of coping skills

Your therapist may be able to provide you some guidance on coping skills that can work specifically for your condition, and in addition, you can experiment and add to the toolkit of activities, so that you can implement them when you need them. Creating this toolkit for yourself ensures that you have a planned way to manage your symptoms as they occur.

4. Build an emergency plan

Despite all your coping skills, there are times that an episode may get out of control, and in times of crisis, it is important to have an emergency plan to fall back on. Your emergency plan may include people to contact, medication information, a list of hotline numbers, or any other alternatives that you think can help you in such a situation.

5. Create a support system

Isolation and lack of social connection can often lead to depressive or manic episodes, so it is important to create a support system of family, friends, therapists and counselors who have your best interests in mind, and have the ability to help you prevent or work through the emotions and mood swings you may encounter on a daily basis. 

If you recognize yourself in one or more of the above, take the first step of reaching out for help. Taking that first step can be a huge relief to unburden yourself of your issues and be able to receive help that you didn’t know you needed. Call us to see how we can help.

Get help Now! Text us at 949-749-3026 or Call us at 866-415-6313

The Enormous Benefits of Regulating your Emotions

If you’ve noticed that you often experience intense emotions such as anger, sadness and anxiety, but are unable to deal with them, you may have a problem with regulating your emotions. The reason why it’s important to learn to regulate your emotions is because it may be a symptom of a mental health condition or a psychiatric disorder. If you don’t address this issue, you may continue to struggle with your emotions, and continue to look for ways to avoid experiencing them, such as substance abuse, addictive behaviors, or even self harm and suicide ideation.


On the other hand, learning to regulate your emotions can create an overall feeling of well being in general, and specifically be able to address intense emotions when they do come up.


The many benefits of regulating your emotions:

  • Decreased stress
  • Decreased anxiety
  • A balanced state of mind
  • Enhanced problem solving capability
  • Improved decision making
  • Avoiding regrettable situations
  • Addressing conflicts in a healthy way
  • Having better relationships 
  • Improved performance at work
  • Alternatives to substance use/abuse
  • Improved overall health

4 Ways to Regulate Emotions

Get to know your emotions

Often, as soon as we encounter anything uncomfortable we immediately shy away from how it feels within and what it represents. If we can recognize that emotions are simply information that our bodies and minds are providing, we can look at our emotions from an objective point of view, and recognize what we are feeling and why.

Label your emotions

Once you start noticing your emotions, the next step is to recognize what those emotions are trying to say to you. You can observe how they feel and give them a name. Giving your emotions a label helps the mind feel a bit more at ease, and reduces your stress levels.

Have compassion for yourself

When we are on a negative spiral it’s easy to keep piling on all the things that are wrong with ourselves and the circumstances around ourselves. Creating a daily ritual to remind ourselves of all gifts, talents and strengths that we possess is a good way to combat the negativity, reinforcing positive thoughts and thought patterns.

Get therapy

Psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy and other therapies in individual or group settings can be a great way to recognize, understand and learn how to regulate your emotions better and develop a holistic way of life that is healthy for both the mind and the body.

Get the help you need

If you are ready to address the deeper roots of your addiction and mental health conditions, start today. It is possible to change the direction of your life by taking this first step.

Reach out to learn more! Text us at 949-749-3026 or Call us at 866-415-6313

Trauma Therapy and its Benefits

Traumatic events and past trauma can impact a person at deeply psychological and emotional levels, which may intermittently or permanently interfere with functioning in their daily life. Traumatic events may be experienced due to being present in dangerous or life-threatening situations, or due to being a recipient of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Due to the highly charged nature of these events, they can lead to mental health conditions such as PTSD, and/or prompt individuals to seek coping mechanisms such as addictive substances or addictive behaviors.

Trauma therapy (also called trauma-focused therapy, trauma-informed therapy) is a type of psychotherapy and related modalities that are effective in helping people process traumatic events and overcome the effects of trauma on their daily life. 

Have you experienced Trauma?

Take a look at some of the traumatic events people experience and see if you can relate:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse /assault
  • Domestic violence
  • Childhood abandonment
  • Bullying
  • Severe medical conditions
  • Traumatic accidents
  • Witnessing traumatic accidents
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
  • TBI during Combat
  • Environmental disasters

If you have experienced any of the above or a similar event, you may be impacted by trauma. Some ways in which you may experience trauma include having troubling nightmares, sleeplessness, extreme fear and isolation, unconscious reactions to certain triggers, and other areas which may be interfering with your regular functioning. If you have experienced trauma, trauma therapy is very effective in helping to process and overcome its impacts.

Types of Trauma Therapy we Use:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is an approach to identify negative thinking patterns that are self-destructive and can create challenges in an individual’s life; and then to evaluate them from a realistic perspective. CBT is effective in treating depression, anxiety, panic attacks, trauma and a variety of other mental health issues.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is another kind of talk therapy, especially aimed at individuals who experience intense emotions by helping them to understand their thoughts and thereby helping them to change their unhelpful behaviors. It is used in patients who experience trauma, suicidal ideation, and borderline personality, among other disorders

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

While it’s still a controversy whether EMDR is the same as CBT with the addition of eye movement, what is true is that EMDR has been shown to be an effective treatment technique for PTSD, panic disorder and other trauma induced disorders.

Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

MBCT combines mindfulness practices of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MSBR) therapy with principles of cognitive therapy to create an effective way to reframe an individual’s thought patterns and replace using drugs and alcohol with healthier coping strategies.

Benefits of Trauma Therapy

Trauma therapy has been shown to be extremely beneficial in replacing substance use to cope with trauma. Some of the benefits of trauma therapy are:

  • Learning to recognize negative thought patterns
  • Processing and reframing traumatic events
  • Learning to control responsive reactions and behaviors
  • Improving social and relationship skills
  • Learning to reduce environmental triggers
  • Finding alternative coping skills

If you are ready to address the deeper roots of your addiction and mental health conditions, start today. It is possible to change the direction of your life by taking this first step.

Reach out to learn more! Text us at 949-749-3026 or Call us at 866-415-6313

Talk To Your Teen About Mental Health

Every year, the World Teen Mental Health Day is observed on the 2nd of March, in order to bring awareness to the range of mental health issues that teens today are facing everywhere. As teenagers, they have a long transition going from being a child to a young adult, and during this time they are not sufficiently equipped with mechanisms to handle the pressures of society, their peers, parental expectations, bullying at school, and many others, including physical, mental, sexual and psychological abuse that some teens may be recipients of. The result of this is the dramatically high levels of anxiety, depression and suicides that we see in teens.

A harmful side effect to mental health issues is that your teen may turn to substances in order to cope with the pressures and challenges at their school and in their social life. Recognizing and addressing them as early as possible is a preventative measure that cannot be overestimated.

How To Support Your Teen

Learn more about teen mental health challenges

Educating yourself about mental health challenges in teens is the first step to becoming aware of the enormity of the problem they are facing. Educating yourself about substance abuse and mental health issues can help you understand what to look for and what you observe in your teen. Learn more about symptoms, causes, and treatment options available. 

Observe your teen’s behavioral changes

Noticing your child’s behavioral changes is probably your first clue towards recognizing that there may be something more going on with them. If you notice sudden changes in their attitude, social interactions, sleeping and eating habits, they may be going through some challenges that they are not sharing with you. Also observe your teen for signs of substance use.

Talk to your teen about mental health

Talking to your child everyday to check in about their day and life in general is a great routine to start when they are young. However, the only way this can be successful is if you are able to listen without judgment. Fear of judgment often stifles what they share. If you notice that they may indeed be struggling with something deeper, gently prompt them by asking questions, and start talking about mental health, so that they recognize that it is normal and that they can confide in you.

Seek an experienced therapist

Simply talking to your teen about what they are going through is a great first step, however, finding a knowledgeable but caring therapist who can help them navigate through their experiences and ways to cope with their stress, anxiety or depression is imperative for their long term health and success.

Some Resources for Teen Mental Health

Don’t wait to reach out for help as early as you can. It may be the one thing that can save a life.

Text us at 949-749-3026 or Call us at 866-415-6313

Mindfulness for Mental Health - 3 Easy Techniques

In recent years there have been several studies focusing on mindfulness techniques to treat addiction and mental health issues because of its long term effectiveness in recovery. Mindfulness techniques have also been found useful for chronic physical illnesses as well as those related to physical pain.

What is Mindfulness?

Simply stated, mindfulness is a practice that helps focus our awareness on the present moment. Most mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and several others arise from the mind’s focus on negative thoughts and emotions either related to past events, or projected into future fears. Mindfulness techniques can help consistently redirect the mind’s awareness to the present moment, thereby reducing stress and increasing focus. 

Mindfulness techniques are used in treating:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Addiction
  • Sleep disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • And several others

3 Simple Techniques You Can Try

#1 Watch your Breath

There are hundreds of breathing techniques, but one of the simplest is to simply count your breaths, say to 10. If you’re doing a breathing technique as part of your mindfulness meditation, each inhale and exhale cycle counts as 1 rep. Count the number of breaths until you reach 10, and then start over. Do this practice for about 10 minutes each day, or before your meditation. Or this can be your meditation practice for 20 – 30 minutes.

You can also use a breathing technique in moments of stress, such as taking 3 deep breaths when you feel anxious or stressful.

#2 Do a Body Scan

This is a simple technique where you close your eyes and put your awareness on each area of your body, starting from your toes, and ending at the top of your head. You can also choose to start from your head and work your way downwards. When you put your awareness on an area of your body, say your knees, or your heart, you will notice a slight surge of presence or energy in that area. 

You can do this practice at any time of day, such as the first thing when you wake up, or the last thing you do before you go to sleep. It is also effective when you are waiting in a line somewhere, and starting to get frustrated.

#3 Take a Walk Mindfully

This is a powerful mindfulness technique when you realize how often we walk or perform other actions mindlessly. In this practice, you bring your attention to your feet and notice how it feels when each foot contacts the ground with each step you take.

You can practice this not only with walking, but when you do yoga, or when you go for a run, or even when you do a workout at the gym.

Learn more

Mindfulness is so effective when practiced regularly that it has been shown to alter the brain’s functioning in extraordinarily positive ways. Try out any (or all) of the techniques above and start incorporating them into your daily routine. They offer excellent alternative coping mechanisms to addictive substances and behaviors. 

We use mindfulness-based techniques and other holistic practices as part of our therapy for both addiction and mental health issues.

Reach out to learn more! Text us at 949-749-3026 or Call us at 866-415-6313

Anxiety and Addiction Go Together. 10 Tips to Help

Anxiety and addiction are co-occurring conditions that many people suffer from. Anxiety, in and of itself, may not be a bad thing. It is the body’s response to real or imagined situations that could cause physical or emotional threats. That means it is normal for everyone to feel anxiety almost regularly, which can help navigate and respond to daily occurring events that may be stressful. 

However, anxiety can pose an issue if it interferes with functioning properly at work, in relationships and in your everyday life. Whereas normal anxiety may create nervousness and potential loss of sleep, anxiety disorders can be more severe, leading to panic, excessive sweating, tremors, and severe sleep problems. Chronic anxiety may even lead to persistent health conditions such as gastrointestinal problems, sleep disorders, panic disorders, and a host of other issues. 

Anxiety or Addiction - which comes first?

Many people self medicate when they suffer from anxiety, and sometimes they resort to addictive substances in order to calm themselves down. This could eventually lead to dependence on substances, and even substance use disorders. 

On the flipside, anxiety may occur as a result of an individual becoming dependent on a substance, and experience anxiety as a withdrawal symptom when they try to quit. Substances such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and other inhalants and hallucinogens may induce anxiety. Prescription medications such as corticosteroids, thyroid medications, and many antidepressants and mood stabilizers are known to induce anxiety.

Each individual responds differently to different substances, but being aware of the risk factors is helpful in recognizing and avoiding them.

Managing Anxiety Without Drugs

Drugs do not have to be the first thing to reach for in times of anxiety. There are many helpful holistic ways to overcome anxiety and feel calm. This is a short list of tips and techniques to try.

  1. Deep diaphragmatic breathing of 5 – 10 breaths
  2. Replace caffeinated drinks with water
  3. Add calming foods to your diet, such as whole grains, blueberries and almonds
  4. Avoid alcohol and other addictive substances
  5. Do something physical, like going for a run, or jumping jacks
  6. Write down all your anxious thoughts and put them away
  7. Monitor and track your triggers and stressors in a journal
  8. Call a friend, do something (non-substance-related) together
  9. Get plenty of sleep
  10. Seek a therapist if anxiety is excessive

Treating Anxiety and Addiction

If you are suffering from severe anxiety and also addiction, seek a therapist who can provide dual diagnosis for co-occurring disorders. There are several kinds of anxiety disorders, and many types of substances that induce anxiety, so treating them together can help address the root causes for both. An experienced therapist can come up with an individualized treatment plan so that triggers can be identified, patterns can be monitored, goals can be tracked, with the end result that an individual can learn healthy coping mechanisms to deal with both anxiety and addiction.

We specialize in dual diagnosis, addiction treatment and mental health treatment, so that we can help our clients recover for the long term, and be able to live a healthy life. We offer the latest evidence based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Motivational Enhancement and Interviewing and several others, as necessary. We also offer alternative treatment approaches such as adventure therapy and holistic practices. This range of treatment techniques allows people to take part in their own recovery and gives them a chance to process their physical and emotional changes in ways that can help them live a self-directed, confident life.

Get help Now! Text us at 949-749-3026 or Call us at 866-415-6313

Do I need Therapy? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

You may be feeling ok, or not. But you’re uncertain if you’re feeling well enough, or if you need help. Friends may have mentioned that therapy would help. But you think you’re fine. If you do think therapy could help, you don’t know what to ask help for. If this is the sort of talk that goes on in your head, read on.

Therapy can be enormously beneficial for those who are suffering from anxiety, depression, trauma, and other mental health issues. But what if you don’t know if you have any of those issues? Here are 5 questions you can ask yourself to check whether you could use the help of a therapist.

1. Am I sleeping enough? Or am I sleeping too much?

Irregular sleeping patterns are usually the first signs of a mental health issue. Anxiety and ADHD tend to lead to sleeplessness, insomnia or other irregular sleep patterns. Depression and related disorders could lead to too much sleep and drowsiness during the day. Approaching a therapist or a sleep doctor can help you figure out your next steps.

2. Am I feeling stressed and overwhelmed?

Stress and overwhelm, whether created by challenges at your workplace, or in your relationships may be addressed by short term therapy. However, if stress and overwhelm are leading to emotional and mental upheaval that is impairing your basic decision making and daily functioning, then it may be a symptom of a more serious mental health issue. A therapist can diagnose and come up with a treatment plan to help you.

3. Am I eating too much? Am I losing weight?

Your eating habits can help you gauge when there may be something going on with your health. Many people use food (emotional eating) to cope with other issues such as anxiety, depression, etc. Others may deny themselves food (bulimia, anorexia) due to social anxieties, or self confidence issues. A change in eating habits is usually a sign of mental health issues, and is best addressed by a therapist.

4. Am I using/abusing substances to cope?

Many people who don’t think they have a problem, or don’t want to seek a therapist, try to solve their inner issues on their own by using escape mechanisms such as substance abuse, or addictive behaviors. What may start as a simple habit may soon lead to addiction. Most addiction patients also have an underlying mental health issue. Substance use, rather than helping to cope, in fact creates an additional chronic issue to deal with. The sooner you recognize this pattern, the better it is to seek therapy.

5. Am I being consumed by my thoughts and emotions?

Mental health issues are created by disturbing negative thoughts, intense emotions, and the inability to regulate your behaviors caused by those thoughts and emotions. Sometimes they can be short term, for example, if you are grieving the loss of a relationship or a loved one. Long term issues such as mood disorders, behavioral disorders, conduct disorders, anxiety disorders, and a host of other mental health issues are also underpinned by intrusive thoughts and disruptive emotions. A therapist can help you get to the root of your issues and help overcome them.

If you recognize yourself in one or more of the above, take the first step of reaching out for help. Taking that first step can be a huge relief to unburden yourself of your issues and be able to receive help that you didn’t know you needed. Call us to see how we can help.

Get help Now! Text us at 949-749-3026 or Call us at 866-415-6313

4 Easy Ways To Manage Depression Without Drugs

Whether you are diagnosed with a depressive disorder, or experience depression in intense moments of sadness, it can feel overwhelming, and as if you’re trapped in a rain cloud and can’t get out. In reality, you’re not as helpless as you may believe. Rather than reaching for a substance to numb and sedate your pain, or another to cheer yourself up, there are many other holistic ways that can naturally enhance your mood and make you feel better.

1. Are you getting enough Sleep?

When you consider that most people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with a sleep disorder, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, you can recognize the importance of sleep for keeping the body recharged and energized.

If you are suffering from depression, take a look at your sleep routine. Are you going to bed at a decent time, and at a regular time each night? Do you feel refreshed and full of energy when you wake up, or drowsy and sleepy during the day? Are you getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night? If you’re struggling to sleep through the night, maybe your first visit should be to a sleep specialist. Once you get your sleep patterns in line, you may notice a change in your mood as well.

2. Are you getting enough Water?

Hydration is the most important element for your body, after sleep. Most Americans reach for soda, alcohol or other substances when they feel thirst, rather than water. In fact, dehydration is the culprit for many health issues including depression, headaches, lack of focus, and low energy. Chronic dehydration can lead to poor kidney functioning, digestive problems, heart problems, joint pains, high blood sugar, and a host of other issues.

If you are suffering from depression, check on your water intake. Consider starting your day with a glass of water before anything else. Drink a glass of water before each meal. Make sure you’re getting about 2 liters of water each day, or whatever is right for your body. Once you start increasing your water intake, you’ll start noticing an improvement in your body’s energy and mood levels.

3. Are you getting enough Exercise?

When you’re depressed, exercise may be the last thing you want to get out of bed for. It is even harder in the winter months. However, those are the times it is most important to move your body. Studies have shown that exercise improves recovery from depression by 22%! When your body doesn’t get enough exercise, you don’t eat well, sleep well, your metabolism slows down, you get depressed and irritable, and you feel stressed easily.

If you are suffering from depression, you really should check whether you’re getting enough exercise. Start with simple activities, like yoga, or a brisk walk. When you’re ready, you can add more intensity with jumping jacks, or a longer run. Getting your heart pumping is a great way to elevate your mood and overcome depression.

4. Are you getting enough Nature?

Spending time out in nature is an instant energy booster. Exposure to sunshine is an important way to receive the vitamin D your body needs. Lack of vitamin D can lead to depressive moods, a debilitated immune system, weaker bones and a range of other issues. 

If you are suffering from depression, ensure you’re stepping outside and getting some fresh air and sunshine, yes, even in winter months. You may even consider combining exercise and nature with activities such as hiking, kayaking, riding a bike, or whatever activity appeals to you.

Make sure to get the help you need

There are many other ways to improve your depressive moods, but these 4 are great to start with. One way to ensure you are getting enough sleep, water, exercise and nature is to keep a simple mood tracking journal that includes the activities you want to add to your day and how your mood feels afterwards. And don’t neglect seeing a therapist! There may be other undiagnosed reasons why you are depressed, and a therapist can help you get better. California Prime Recovery has an excellent staff who is licensed and certified in mental health treatment, and our facilities are conducive for long term recovery. Text us at 949-749-3026 or Call us at 866-415-6313

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