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Exploring Your Overall Psychological Health In Recovery

When you're healing from addiction, there is often much that comes to light about who you are. As you become more and more aware of your behaviors, thought patterns, and emotions, you might realize ways you have been participating in your own unhappiness. Furthermore, you might realize you've actually been depressed for a long time or that you have been struggling with post traumatic stress disorder without knowing it. Exploring your overall psychological health often becomes a natural part of recovery.

Of course, psychological health is the absence of mental illness. Yet, mental illness is incredibly common for men and women around the world and particularly common among those who struggle with addiction. The following is a list of a few common forms of mental illness:

Major Depressive Disorder – This disorder is considered to be a medical illness that includes symptoms of persistent sadness, loss of interest in daily activities, occupational and educational impairment, along with eventual emotional and physical problems. Major Depressive Disorder usually requires long-term treatment, including psychotherapy and medication.

Bipolar Disorder – This disorder is classified in two ways. Those with Bipolar Disorder will either have Type 1 or Type 2. This first type of Bipolar, also known as Bipolar I, includes one or more distinct periods of mania, and could also include a mixed (depression and mania) period. Bipolar Type 2 is characterized by at least one episode of hypomania and at least one episode of depression. Hypomania is an episode of that is less severe than a full episode of mania. Treatment for Bipolar Disorder might include medication and psychotherapy, life skills training, psycho-education, and hospitalization, if necessary.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder - Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a diagnosis given to those who experience excessive and irrational worry for at least six months. It might be natural to experience anxiety right before a work deadline or if you're about to go on a date. But excessive anxiety is often persistent and seems to come on without an associated trigger. Its symptoms include a racing heart, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, shaking,  and sweating palms.

Social Anxiety Disorder - This is an illness in which the fear of social situations, specifically fearing judgment and embarrassment in those situations, is excessive. A person might be excessively worried about how he or she looks or will behave and might even avoid those situations to escape the anxiety, rather than enjoying that experience. Social phobia tends to also come within an extreme feeling of self-consciousness and a fear of humiliating oneself.

These are common psychological illness and they are often seen as an underlying accompaniment to addiction. Fortunately, recovery gives you the opportunity to heal as well as improve your overall psychological health. Primary ways to do this include the following:

Psychoeducation - Certainly, one of the best ways to facilitate your experience during recovery is to learn more and more about addiction and its causes. Not to bury your head in blame or worry or fear, but rather to become educated on the inner experiences that led to addiction in the first place. In the mental health field, this sort of learning is called psychoeducation.

Exercise/Eating Well - Exercise can address all the aspects of one's health: physical, physiological, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. Physical activity can release endorphins, which alone help to boost positive feelings. Exercise can also help with the health of the brain, including making new neural connections, which alone can facilitate enduring change. Furthermore, to experience these benefits from exercise, you don’t have to run three miles a day; simply taking a walk regularly can boost mental health. Also, eating healthy foods can support your overall physical health.

Community - Having a group of people around you who are also striving for health and well being can support your own. Also, in a community, you can share and hear the stories of success, failure, and how those failures were overcome. Community is often an essential component to feeling connected and psychologically well.

Addressing your overall psychological health is often a natural part of recovery. The above three points as well as many others can facilitate your physical and psychological well being.


Chris Massman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Chris' training includes Family Systems Theory along with numerous other theories. She believes therapy is an art and chooses the theory she feels will most benefit the individual sitting in front of her. Her specialty lies is in the field of Chemical Dependency and Addictions. Chris is currently seeing individuals, couples and families. Chris is a Clinical member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists as well as the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Chris has two locations including Tarzana and Agoura Hills, CA.