What We Do

Alabama Psychiatry exists to help our communities address their mental health needs. This includes a wide variety of mental health needs including, but not limited to, the diagnoses listed bellow. If you find yourself or a loved one experiencing any of these problems, please reach out to make an appointment today.

Although depression may occur only once during your life, people typically have multiple episodes. During these episodes, symptoms occur most of the day almost every day and include:

-Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness

-Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters

-Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports

-Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much

-Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort

-Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain

-Anxiety, agitation or restlessness

-Slowed thinking, malaise, speaking or body movements

-Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame

-Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things

-Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide

-Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

For many people with depression, symptoms usually are severe enough to cause noticeable problems in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities, or relationships with others. Some people may feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.

Depression symptoms in children and teens

Common signs and symptoms of depression in children and teenagers are like those of adults, but there can be some differences.

In younger children, symptoms of depression may include sadness, irritability, clinginess, worry, aches and pains, refusing to go to school, or being over or underweight.

In teens, symptoms may include sadness, irritability, feeling negative and worthless, anger, poor performance or poor attendance at school, feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive, using recreational drugs or alcohol, eating or sleeping too much, self-harm, loss of interest in normal activities, and avoidance of social interaction.

Post Partum Depression-

Having a baby is a wonderful miracle. This miraculous event can come with many challenges, including challenges and changes within the mother's body and mind. Sometimes those challenges and changes are overwhelming and paralyzing. You might feel unconnected to your baby, as if you are not the baby’s mother, or you might not love or care for the baby. These feelings can be mild to severe. If you are feeling this way you are not alone, and there is help available. Postpartum depression is a serious mental illness that involves the brain and affects your behavior and physical health. Mothers can also experience anxiety disorders during or after pregnancy. Alabama Psychiatry wants to support you and help you through this difficult time. 

Depression symptoms in older adults

Depression is not a normal part of growing older, and it should never be taken lightly. Unfortunately, depression often goes undiagnosed and untreated in older adults, and they may feel reluctant to seek help. Symptoms of depression may be different or less obvious in older adults, such as:

-Memory difficulties or personality changes

-Physical aches or pain

-Fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep problems or loss of interest in sex — not caused by a medical condition or medication

-Often wanting to stay at home, rather than going out to socialize or doing new things

-Suicidal thinking or feelings, especially in older men

Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes – panic attacks

These feelings of anxiety and panic interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, are out of proportion to the actual danger and can last a long time. You may avoid places or situations to prevent these feelings. Symptoms may start during childhood or the teen years and continue into adulthood.

Examples of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and separation anxiety disorder. You can have more than one anxiety disorder. Sometimes anxiety results from a medical condition that needs treatment.

Whatever form of anxiety you have, treatment can help.

Symptoms

Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:

-Feeling nervous, restless, tense

-Having a sense of impending danger, panic, doom

-Having an increased heart rate

-Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)

-Sweating

-Trembling

-Feeling weak or tired

-Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry

-Having trouble sleeping

-Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems

-Having difficulty controlling worry

-Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety

Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.

Anxiety Disorder Due to Medical Condition

Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition includes symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder includes persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events — even ordinary, routine issues. The worry is out of proportion to the actual circumstance, is difficult to control and affects how you feel physically. It often occurs along with other anxiety disorders or depression.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder involves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). You may have feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a rapid, fluttering or pounding heart (heart palpitations). These panic attacks may lead to worrying about them happening again or avoiding situations in which they've occurred.

Selective Mutism

Selective mutism is a consistent failure of children to speak in certain situations, such as school, even when they can speak in other situations, such as at home with close family members. This can interfere with school, work and social functioning.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation anxiety disorder is a childhood disorder characterized by anxiety that's excessive for the child's developmental level and related to separation from parents or others who have parental roles.

Specific Phobias

Specific phobias are characterized by major anxiety when you're exposed to a specific object or situation and a desire to avoid it. Phobias provoke panic attacks in some people.

Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder

Substance-induced anxiety disorder is characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are a direct result of misusing drugs, taking medications, being exposed to a toxic substance or withdrawal from drugs.

Other Specified Anxiety Disorder and Unspecified Anxiety Disorder

Other specified anxiety disorder and unspecified anxiety disorder are terms for anxiety or phobias that don't meet the exact criteria for any other anxiety disorders but are significant enough to be distressing and disruptive.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others.

Dementia is a decline in cognitive function. To be considered dementia, mental impairment must affect at least two brain functions. Dementia may affect:

-Memory

-Thinking

-Language

-Judgment

-Behavior

Dementia is not a disease. It may be caused by a variety of illnesses or injuries. Mental impairment may range from mild to severe. It may also cause personality changes.

Some dementias are progressive. This means they get worse over time. Some dementias are treatable or even reversible. Some experts restrict the term dementia to irreversible mental deterioration.

Dementia Symptoms

In its early stages, dementia can cause symptoms, such as:

Not coping well with change. You may have a hard time accepting changes in schedules or environment.

Subtle changes in short-term memory-making. You or a loved one can remember the events of 15 years ago like it was yesterday, but you cannot remember what you had for lunch.

Reaching for the right words. Word recollection or association may be more difficult.

Being repetitive. You may ask the same question, complete the same task, or tell the same story multiple times.

Confused sense of direction. Places you once knew well may now feel foreign. You may also struggle with driving routes you’ve taken for years because it no longer looks familiar.

Struggling to follow storylines. You may find following a person’s story or description difficult.

Changes in mood. Depression, frustration, and anger are not uncommon for people with dementia.

Loss of interest. Apathy may occur in people with dementia. This includes losing interest in hobbies or activities that you once enjoyed.

Confusion. People, places, and events may no longer feel familiar. You might not remember people who know you.

Difficulty completing everyday tasks. You may struggle to recall how to do tasks you’ve done for many years.

Memory problems are not always a sign of dementia. These 10 early signs may indicate you are experiencing a decline in memory and mental ability.

Stages of Dementia

In most cases, dementia is progressive, getting worse over time. Dementia progresses differently in everyone. However, most people experience symptoms of the following stages of dementia:

Mild Cognitive Impairment

Older individuals may develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI) but may never progress to dementia or any other mental impairment. People with MCI commonly experience forgetfulness, trouble recalling words, and short-term memory problems.

Mild Dementia

At this stage, people with mild dementia may be able to function independently. Symptoms includes:

-Short-term memory lapses

-Personality changes, including anger or depression

-Misplacing things or forgetfulness

-Difficulty with complex tasks or problem solving

-Struggling to express emotions or ideas

Moderate dementia

At this stage of dementia, people impacted may need assistance from a loved one or care provider. That is because dementia may now interfere with daily tasks and activities. Symptoms include:

-Poor judgment

-Increasing confusion and frustration

-Memory loss that reaches further into the past

-Needing help with tasks like dressing and bathing

-Significant personality changes

Severe Dementia

At this late stage of dementia, the mental and physical symptoms of the condition continue to decline. Symptoms include:

-inability to maintain bodily functions, including walking and eventually swallowing and controlling bladder

-inability to communicate

-requiring full-time assistance

-increased risk for infections

People with dementia will progress through the stages of dementia at different rates. Understanding the stages of dementia can help you prepare for the future.

Grief

Grief is an emotion that overcomes us when there is a sudden loss of a loved one in the family. In fact, grief is our emotional response to the loss of a loved one. Different people react differently to the loss or death of a loved one and grieve in a different manner. Grief is felt not only with the death of someone close or dear to us; we grieve whenever we feel a loss when something dear to us is taken away from us. This is the case with miscarriages, stillbirth, even divorce and loss of employment for some people. Grief is considered normal and healthy response to a major loss in life. A lot of anguish and sorrow is felt by a person, but this leads to his emotional healing. So even if grief feels like a painful experience, it is for emotional betterment of an individual.

One can understand the concept of grief by comparing it with a physical wound. Loss of a loved one causes a mental wound that requires healing. The emotional response of grief helps us in achieving this healing of the wound and even though the deceased remains in our memories forever, the pain and hurt of having lost him is gone after a period of grieving. There is no right or wrong way to grieve and different people grieve differently to cope with the loss.

Bereavement

Bereavement is the state of being in grief and often described as the period after a loss during which a person feels grief. The length of bereavement is dependent upon how close the deceased was to the person mourning and how much time the mourner spent anticipating the loss of the person before actual loss. This is important as prolonged illness of a dear one before death leaves a lot of grief in the mind of a person. Bereavement requires acceptance of the fact that your loss is real, and the person who has passed will not come back. Bereavement also requires suffering on the part of an individual as he has to bear the pain of grief for a time period. He must learn to adjust to life without the deceased. Bereavement also requires learning to put less emotional energy in mourning and utilizing it in other works.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.

PTSD has been known by many names in the past, such as “shell shock” during the years of World War I and “combat fatigue” after World War II. But PTSD does not just happen to combat veterans. PTSD can occur in all people, in people of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and any age. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults, and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD.

People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.

A diagnosis of PTSD requires exposure to an upsetting traumatic event. However, exposure could be indirect rather than firsthand. For example, PTSD could occur in an individual learning about the violent death of a close family. It can also occur because of repeated exposure to horrible details of trauma such as police officers exposed to details of child abuse cases.

Bipolar disorder is a condition of extremes. A person with bipolar disorder may be unaware they're in the manic phase.

After the episode is over, they may be shocked at their behavior. But at the time, they may believe other people are being negative or unhelpful.

Some people with bipolar disorder have more frequent and severe episodes than others. 

The extreme nature of the condition means staying in a job may be difficult and relationships may become strained. There's also an increased risk of suicide.

During episodes of mania and depression, someone with bipolar disorder may experience strange sensations, such as seeing, hearing, or smelling things that are not there (hallucinations). They may also believe things that seem irrational to other people (delusions). These types of symptoms are known as psychosis or a psychotic episode.

For bipolar disorder to be diagnosed, a person needs to have experienced at least one manic (or in bipolar II, hypomanic) episode, and one depressive episode during their lifetime.

A manic episode (bipolar I disorder) is characterized by extreme happiness, extreme irritability, hyperactivity, little need for sleep and/or racing thoughts, which may lead to rapid speech. People in a manic episode feel like they can do anything, make plans to try and do all those things, and believe that nothing can stop them. For bipolar I to be diagnosed, this episode must have last at least a week and represents a noticeable change from a person’s usual behavior.

A hypomanic episode (bipolar II disorder) is characterized by the same symptoms as a manic episode, except the symptoms need to only have been present for at least four (4) days.

A depressive episode is characterized by extreme sadness, a lack of energy or interest in things, an inability to enjoy normally pleasurable activities and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. On average, someone with this condition may have up to three years of normal mood between episodes of mania or depression.

When left untreated, the severity of episodes can vary. People with this condition can often predict when a new cycle is starting, as the severity of their symptoms increase.

Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. These brain changes can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a "relapsing" disease—people in recovery from drug use disorders are at increased risk for returning to drug use even after years of not taking the drug.

It's common for a person to relapse, but relapse doesn't mean that treatment doesn’t work. As with other chronic health conditions, treatment should be ongoing and should be adjusted based on how the patient responds. Treatment plans need to be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.

Possible indications that your family member is using drugs include:

Problems at school or work — frequently missing school or work, a sudden disinterest in school activities or work, or a drop in grades or work performance

Physical health issues — lack of energy and motivation, weight loss or gain, or red eyes

Neglected appearance — lack of interest in clothing, grooming or looks

Changes in behavior — exaggerated efforts to bar family members from entering his or her room or being secretive about where he or she goes with friends, or drastic changes in behavior and in relationships with family and friends

Money issues — sudden requests for money without a reasonable explanation; or your discovery that money is missing or has been stolen or that items have disappeared from your home, indicating maybe they're being sold to support drug use

Having a baby is a wonderful miracle. This miraculous event can come with many challenges, including challenges and changes within the mother's body and mind. Some times those challenges and changes are overwhelming and paralyzing. You might feel unconnected to your baby, as if you are not the baby’s mother, or you might not love or care for the baby. These feelings can be mild to severe. If you are feeling this way you are not alone, and there is help available. Postpartum depression is a serious mental illness that involves the brain and affects your behavior and physical health. Mothers can also experience anxiety disorders during or after pregnancy. Alabama Psychiatry wants to support you and help you through this difficult time. 

Adjustment disorder is a group of symptoms, such as stress, feeling sad or hopeless, anxiety and physical symptoms that can occur after you go through a stressful life event. The symptoms occur because you are having a hard time coping. Your reaction is stronger than expected for the type of event that occurred. You might find yourself needing some extra support as you navigate the difficult emotions during this stressful time, and that's okay! Life is hard some times, and at Alabama Psychiatry, we believe that our support can help you manage these difficult situations in an emotionally healthy way.  

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder occurs when a person experiences difficulty with maintaining attention or controlling physical energy and movement.

In the United States, approximately 8.4% of children have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder ADHD Around 2.5 % of adults have ADHD.

In some children, ADHD symptoms begin as early as 3yo, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

However, many different life events, psychological disorders, and medical conditions can lead to certain characteristics of ADHD. Even if the individual receives a diagnosis, ADHD is manageable, and treatment can be highly effective.

While the actual cause of ADHD remains elusive, a person with ADHD experiences a variety of impairments, including difficulty maintaining attention or focusing on a task.

Some people with ADHD might have difficulty sitting still, and others may display a combination of different symptoms.

While all people may struggle with paying attention to things, they find disinteresting from time to time, those with ADHD may face consistent challenges with maintaining attention and could be quick to follow through on impulses or become easily distracted.

A person with ADHD experiences impulsivity and distraction beyond a level that would be typical for a person’s age.

There are three different specifiers a doctor will add to an ADHD diagnosis to identify its characteristics, including predominantly inattentive ADHD, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive ADHD, and combined ADHD.

Doctors divide the presentation of ADHD into three categories: inattentive, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive, and combined presentation. Each is described in more detail below.

These do not qualify as different diagnoses. They simply provide additional information on a particular presentation of ADHD to assist the practitioner in managing its effects.

Inattentive: A person with inattentive ADHD is more likely to demonstrate the following characteristics in a way that disrupt:

-An apparent inability to pay close attention to a task or a tendency to make careless mistakes

-difficulties with holding focus on activities or tasks

-giving the appearance of not listening while other people are talking

-experiencing difficulty with time management and task organization

-frequently losing items or accessories necessary for daily function

-becoming distracted easily

-forgetting to complete tasks and fulfill obligations

-an avoidance or intense dislike of tasks that require prolonged focus and thought

-difficulties with following instructions to complete tasks

Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive: This specifier means that an individual shows more signs of hyperactivity than inattention, including:

-seeming to be constantly “on-the-go”

-an inability to remain seated

-bouts of inappropriate running or climbing

-difficulties waiting for their turn in a conversation, often finishing other people’s sentences or answering before the end of a question

-frequently intruding on others, including conversations, activities, or games

-persistent fidgeting, tapping of the hands and feet, or squirming

-excessive talking

-finding it difficult to play or engage in activities without creating excessive noise

-reluctance to wait for their turn, such as in a line or a turn-based game

Combined: A person with a combined ADHD shows characteristics from both specifiers.

These characteristics interfere with daily life, relationships with others, and success in school or work.

Even if a doctor adds a specifier to a presentation of ADHD, this can change over time. Women are more likely to experience difficulty with inattentive characteristics, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

This could be why females do not often receive a diagnosis. Educators would not describe their symptoms in class as disruptive, as hyperactive characteristics often do not have as much of a presence in female presentations of ADHD.

Psychotic disorders are a group of serious illnesses that affect the mind. They make it hard for someone to think clearly, make good judgments, respond emotionally, communicate effectively, understand reality, and behave appropriately. When symptoms are severe, people with psychotic disorders have trouble staying in touch with reality and often are unable to handle daily life. But even severe psychotic disorders usually can be treated.  

Psychotic disorders are severe mental disorders that cause abnormal thinking and perceptions. People with psychoses lose touch with reality. Two of the main symptoms are delusions and hallucinations. Delusions are false beliefs, such as thinking that someone is plotting against you or that the TV is sending you secret messages. Hallucinations are false perceptions, such as hearing, seeing, or feeling something that is not there.

Schizophrenia is one type of psychotic disorder. People with bipolar disorder may also have psychotic symptoms. Other problems that can cause psychosis include alcohol and some drugs, brain tumors, brain infections, and stroke.

Treatment depends on the cause of the psychosis. It might involve drugs to control symptoms and talk therapy. Hospitalization is an option for serious cases where a person might be dangerous to himself or others.

Personality disorders are deeply ingrained, rigid ways of thinking and behaving that result in impaired relationships with others and often cause distress for the individual who experiences them. Mental health professionals formally recognize 10 disorders that fall into three clusters, although there is known to be much overlap between the disorders, each of which exists on a spectrum:

Cluster A — Odd or eccentric disorders, including paranoid personality disorder, as well as schizoid and schizotypal personalities.

Cluster B — Dramatic or erratic disorders, including narcissistic personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder.

Cluster C — Anxious or fearful disorders, including avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

Research suggests that genetics, abuse and other factors contribute to the development of obsessive-compulsive, narcissistic or other personality disorders. In the past, some believed that people with personality disorders were just lazy or even evil. But new research has begun to explore such potential causes as genetics, parenting and peer influences:

Genetics

Researchers are beginning to identify some possible genetic factors behind personality disorders.
a. One team, for instance, has identified a a. malfunctioning gene that may be a factor in obsessive-compulsive disorder.
b. Other researchers are exploring genetic links to aggression, anxiety, and fear — traits that can play a role in personality disorders.

Childhood Trauma

 

Findings from one of the largest studies of personality disorders, the Collaborative Longitudinal Personality Disorders Study, offer clues about the role of childhood experiences.
a. One study found a link between the number and type of childhood traumas and the development of personality disorders. People with borderline personality disorder, for example, had especially high rates of childhood sexual trauma.

Verbal Abuse

Even verbal abuse can have an impact. In a study of 793 mothers and children, researchers asked mothers if they had screamed at their children, told them they didn’t love them or threatened to send them away. Children who had experienced such ⦁ verbal abuse were three times as likely as other children to have borderline, narcissistic, obsessive-compulsive or paranoid personality disorders in adulthood.

High Reactivity

 

Sensitivity to light, noise, texture, and other stimuli may also play a role.
a. Overly sensitive children, who have what researchers call “high reactivity,” are more likely to develop shy, timid or anxious personalities.
b. However, high reactivity’s role is still far from clear-cut. Twenty percent of infants are highly reactive, but less than 10 percent go on to develop social phobias.

Peers

 

Certain factors can help prevent children from developing personality disorders.
a. Even a single strong relationship with a relative, teacher or friend can offset negative influences, say psychologists


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