Opioid Addiction Is Beginning To Decline

One of the United States’ top insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield, reported that new opioid addiction diagnoses had dropped. Blue Cross Blue Shield insures 1 in 3 Americans, which mean this data might signal a turning point in the opioid epidemic.


There are an estimated 2 million people in the US alone with an opioid use disorder, either by prescription painkillers or illicit drugs like heroin or fentanyl. Many opioid addictions begin after being legitimately prescribed painkillers by a doctor. Opioids are highly addictive though, and once their prescriptions run out people turn to other means to satisfy their addiction. The US shut down most of their Pill Mills a few years ago, leading to a surge of heroin and fentanyl usage, which has a high overdose rate.


The good news is that the Blue Cross report found there was around a 5% decline in opioid addiction diagnoses in 2017. This is the first recorded decline in years. Although Blue Cross is optimistic, they still encourage the medical community to remain vigilant. The report also showed the highest rates of opioid addiction was in New England, Appalachian, and the South.


One reason opioid addictions might be dropping is that there has been a decline in the number of opioid prescriptions, which has fallen 29% since 2013. This drop is due to tighter new CDC guidelines, which encourage doctors against prescribing opioid painkillers. A recent study showed that around 7 out of 10 doctors have cut back on opioid prescriptions in the past two years. Mississippi, Ohio, and New England have seen the biggest decline in prescriptions.


Although this decline is good, it’s still modest. There are still millions in America struggling with opioid addiction. Death certificate data from the CDC suggests around 48,000 people died of opioid overdoses in 2017, which was an 8% increase from the year before.


This study brings hope that this epidemic will end. Citizens still need to remain vigilant though. We encourage anyone struggling with opioid addiction to seek treatment as soon as possible. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact us.

What is Kratom and How Does it Work?


Kratom is relatively unheard of to the general public, but there is a fiery debate raging in the US about it. Kratom is an herb that offers relief from pain, depression, and anxiety. And more importantly, it’s being touted as a tool to combat opioid addiction and quell the opioid epidemic the US is going through currently. But not everyone is convinced its as good as it says it is.


So what is Kratom?

Kratom is a tree found in Southeast Asia whose leaves have been used for hundreds of years to relieve pain. The leaves can be eaten raw, and are often chewed by local farmers, but it’s more commonly crushed, brewed into tea, or turned into capsules, tablets, and liquids. In low doses, Kratom acts like a stimulant giving the user increased energy. In larger amounts, it acts like a sedative relieving pain and depression.


How does Kratom work?

Kratom targets the same parts of the brain that opioids do, such as drugs like heroin, morphine, codeine, and fentanyl. Unlike opioids though, kratom doesn’t have the same harmful side effects like slowed breathing and physical dependency.


Why do opioid addicts use it?

Most deaths from opioid overdoses are from slowed breathing, called respiratory depression. Since kratom does not have this deadly side effect, it’s a safe alternative. Opioid addicts looking to stop using drugs such as heroin also turn to kratom as a form of relief from the physical and mental pains of withdrawal. Kratom is also supposedly less addictive than other withdrawal medications like methadone and suboxone.


Is Kratom safe?

The thing is, we don’t know. The DEA and FDA are currently looking into banning and regulating the substance. They also want to do further studies to see just how safe and or how addictive the drug is. While it does offer many benefits, there is much that is unknown about the drug still. Because kratom is sold as an herbal supplement and is unregulated, there have been cases where it is contaminated with salmonella and other bacteria. Due to all of the unknowns, and the way it binds to the brain similarly to dangerous opioids, many doctors are still hesitant to recommend it.



There is a lot that is still unknown about kratom. While it does offer many benefits, in its current state it’s not safe to take. People risk swapping one addiction for another. Feel free to contact us to learn more; Dr. Rodriguez is one of the state’s leading experts on Kratom so we are more than qualified to discuss it with you.

Common Causes of Depression


Feeling sad, alone, or depressed is natural. But anyone who has experienced major depressive disorder knows that it feels anything but normal. Major depressive disorder can be difficult to live with, and it causes many people to wonder what causes it. The exact cause of depression is still unknown, but scientists have theories and ideas about what can cause it, including a combination of nature and nurture. These are the most common causes and risk factors for depression.



On the nature side of the causes debate, genetics is thought to play a major role in whether someone will develop depression. Because doctors still aren’t sure what causes depression, it’s hard to determine which genes play a factor. What scientists do know though is that depression runs in families. People whose immediate family members have depression have an increased risk of also developing it.


Substance Abuse

People who suffer from alcohol and drug addiction often also have depression and anxiety. Nearly 30% of people with substance abuse problems have major or clinical depression too. The depression could come either before the addiction, in which case many people try to self-medicate through drugs and alcohol. The depression can also come afterward, due to changes in brain chemistry or from negative life events from the addiction.


Major Illness

Depression sometimes co-exists with major illnesses or is triggered by another medical condition. People with chronic or major illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS, asthma, or Parkinson’s may have what is called “secondary depression”. The change in the quality of life that comes with these disorders is thought to be the cause of secondary depression.



Some medications carry the risk and side effects of depression. Doctors warn patients about this ahead of time, and urge them to report any depression or suicidal thoughts. Patients that take drugs that carry the risk of depression are closely monitored.



Abuse, either physical, sexual, or emotional, can increase one’s vulnerability to depression. Past abuse, especially childhood abuse has an even higher risk. Depression may not develop until years after the event.


Major Life Events

Major life events, even happy ones, can bring stress into people’s lives. Events such as starting a new job, moving, graduating, getting married, or having kids are positive, but can still lead to depression. Negative events can also cause depression such as losing a job, getting divorced, retiring, or losing a loved one.



If you or someone you love is struggling with depression do not hesitate to contact us. Depression makes you feel as if there is no hope or end to the struggle, but that is not true. With the right treatment, you can feel like yourself again.


Here Are a Few Warning Signs of Suicide


Suicide is never fun to discuss, but it needs to be. In the recent days, a few famous people have taken their own lives like fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. Since then people have been encouraging those around them to seek help if they’re struggling.


A suicidal person often does not ask for help- but that doesn’t mean help isn’t wanted or needed. Reaching out when someone is in this state isn’t always possible. Suicide prevention starts with those around them recognizing warning signs and taking them seriously. If you think a loved one may be considering suicide, these are the warning signs you should look for.


Talking About Suicide

People who are thinking about suicide will often talk about it. It might not be said in a heavy way, instead, it could be them repeating phrases like “I wish I hadn’t been born” or “I’m better off dead”. If someone is talking about suicide, dying, or self-harm, try talking to them about that.


Seeking Out Lethal Means

If you notice your loved one is seeking out access to guns, pills, knives or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt, this could be a warning sign.


Preoccupation With Death

People who are thinking about suicide tend to start focusing on death, dying, or violence. They may write poems or stories about death. They may post pictures with sad quotes about it. If you notice this, ask them what’s wrong!


No Hope for the Future

Hopelessness is a big warning sign that someone may be suicidal. Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness or being trapped are common in people who are having suicidal thoughts. They believe that nothing will change or get better.


Self-Hatred or Self-Loathing

If you notice someone is feeling worthless, guilt, shame, or self-hatred they may be suicidal. They may also express how they feeling like a burden, saying things like “everyone would be better off without me”.


Getting Their Affairs in Order

Often suicidal individuals will begin getting their affairs in order. Things, like making a will, giving away prized possessions, and making arrangements for dependents, is a sign that they’re planning for a future when they’re not in it.


Saying Goodbye

If you receive an unexpected call or visit it could be them saying a final goodbye. They may also express casual goodbyes in a manner that implies they won’t be seen again.


Withdrawing from Loved Ones

People struggling with suicidal thoughts will typically pull away from friends and family. Increased social isolation or expressing a desire to be left alone are common amongst suicidal individuals.


Self-Destructive Behavior

If someone is suicidal they may begin exhibiting self-destructive behavior. They may take unnecessary risks as if they have a “death wish”. This could mean increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, or unprotected sex.


Sudden Sense of Calm

Having a sudden change in mood, going from depressed to happy and calm, is a major red flag. It can mean that they’ve made the decision to end their life, and are happy about the pain ending soon.



It’s important to understand that people who are suicidal don’t want to die; they just want the pain to stop. When someone is in that state of mind reaching out is difficult, nearly impossible. If you have spotted the warning signs, reach out and speak up about your concerns. It may just save them. If you would like to learn more tips or are concerned about a loved one feel free to reach out to us!

Startling Facts About Mental Health & LGTBQ


June is Pride Month, where we celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) community. This community faces mental health issues like the rest of the population, however,  they tend to have worse mental health due to prejudice and other societal biases. Here are some startling facts about mental health and the LGBTQ community you might not have known.


They Are More At Risk

LGBTQ individuals are nearly 3 times more likely than others to experience mental health issues. They are at greater risk for conditions such as depression, anxiety, and self-harm. Fear of coming out to their loved ones or facing discrimination and violence can lead to them developing depression, PTSD, suicidal thoughts, or substance abuse issues.


They Face Additional Prejudice and Stigma

Individuals that identity as LGBTQ already faces additional prejudice and stigma due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. This is why many are reluctant to come forward and seek treatment for their mental health conditions.


Suicide Is a Leading Cause Among LGBTQ Youth

For LGBTQ youth aged 10-24, suicide is the leading cause of death. They are four times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts, or engage in self-harm. This increased suicide rate is due to lack of support and increased harassment.


Substance Abuse Rates Are Higher

Unfortunately, because many LGBTQ individuals are unable or unwilling to seek help, they turn to self-medicating. In fact, an estimated 20-20% of LGBTQ people have substance abuse problems. Comparably, only 9% of the general population has substance abuse issues. Members of this community report higher rates of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use than heterosexual people.


They Receive Worse Care

There is a sad history of how LGBTQ individuals were treated in regards to mental health. In fact, until the 1960’s it was considered a mental illness to identify as homosexual. Many faced treatment against their will, such as involuntary hospitalization, conversion therapy, and electroshock therapy. There have been great strides in recent years, but many LGBTQ individuals receive unequal treatment.



This Pride month, it’s important that people become more educated about the issues that LGBTQ individuals face every day, and to help stop the stigma. People with mental health issues also face negative stigmas. Only by working together can we create a better world for everyone. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues related to their sexual orientation or gender identify feel free to contact us.

Celebrities That Have Bipolar Disorder


Mental illness has a way of making someone feel alone. It creates a cycle of silence that only ends up hurting everyone. But coming out about receiving help for a mental illness isn’t always easy. You can take comfort in the fact that even celebrities, with all their fame and wealth, struggle with mental illnesses too. Here are some famous people that have opened up about having bipolar disorder.


Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey might be a pop legend, but she has a mental illness too. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001 but “lived in denial and isolation” for years. Carey finally sought treatment and has recently opened up about her journey and diagnosis.


Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher is best known for playing the iconic Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise. But she’s also been a huge advocate for mental health ever since getting diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 24. Since then she’s called for more attention and research on the condition.


Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato got her start on the Disney Channel but has since become a full-fledged pop star. In 2010 she admitted herself into a clinic for addiction and self-harm issues. While in there she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Since then the singer has been vocal about mental health issues and has become an advocate for young girls struggling like she was.


Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain is best known for being the lead singer of Nirvana, and unfortunately for his untimely death. He was diagnosed with ADD as a child, and later on bipolar disorder. Cobain never sought treatment and struggled with addiction and mental health issues. He also suffered from depression, and sadly committed suicide at the age of 27.


Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway is a Nobel Prize-winning author whose work is still read and adored today. Throughout his life, he was prone to manic-depressive behavior, something his parents, son, and granddaughter all shared. He ultimately ended his life in 1961.


Ted Turner

Ted Turner is the founder of Turner Broadcasting and CNN. Before becoming a media giant though, he spent most of his life battling depression and bipolar disorder. Despite those struggles, he managed to turn a small independent TV station into a global media empire.


Catherine Zeta-Jones

Catherine Zeta-Jones is an Academy Award-winning actress, who also happens to have bipolar disorder. She’s been married to fellow actor Michael Douglas since 2000. The stress of her husband battling tongue cancer led to a diagnosis of depression and bipolar disorder.



It’s important to remember that mental illness doesn’t discriminate. You’re not alone; around 5.7 million adults in America are living with it. If you or someone you know is seeking treatment for bipolar disorder feel free to contact us.

5 Ways To Show Support This Mental Health Awareness Month


It’s finally May, which means its Mental Health Awareness Month! This month is all about creating awareness around mental health and ending the stigma around it. If you’re looking for some ways to show your support, here are some great ideas!


1. Share Your Story

Whether you’ve personally struggled with mental illness or know someone who has, share your story. People with mental health issues typically feel alone. The more people share their stories the stronger the mental health community becomes. Sharing your experience also helps educate others and smashes the stigma around mental health.


2. Support Certain Brands

There are tons of awesome brands out there, both large and small, that are working to fight the stigma around mental health. They work to raise awareness, stop the stigma, and raise funds for mental health organizations and facilities. So not only will you gain some awesome items like these sweatpants, these cards, or these sweatshirts, but you’ll also be helping a worthy cause.


3. Help Someone Out

Around 1 in 5 people experience a mental health issue in their life. Chances are one of your friends, family members, or loved ones are struggling or have struggled in the past. Learn the signs of mental illness and educate yourself on how you can help. It might be as simple as flashing a smile!


4. Learn How To Talk About It

A big reason it’s difficult to have a conversation about mental health, even today, is that people don’t have the right vocabulary to have an effective dialogue about it. Words like “crazy” and “weak” send the wrong message and may make someone reluctant to share their story or seek treatment. Spend a little time this month reading about mental health, and take note of the words they use.


5. Take Care Of Yourself

By far the best thing you can do this Mental Health Awareness Month is to take care of yourself. Mental health is just like physical health. Get enough sleep, eat well, and keep yourself active. Bettering your mental health is the best way to put yourself in a situation to help others!


If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health feel free to contact us.

5 Warning Signs That Your Child May Have An Eating Disorder


Adolescents have some of the highest rates of eating disorders, particularly young girls. While parents are rarely to blame for these illnesses, they are a crucial part of the solution. Catching an eating disorder early on increases the chances of a full recovery. Here are 5 warning signs to look for that may signify your child is developing an eating disorder.


1. Weight Loss or Stagnation

Most parents know to look out for weight loss as a warning sign of an eating disorder, but weight stagnation is also another signs. Our bodies continue to put on weight into our early 20s. If you notice that your child continues to grow but isn’t gaining weight, especially in early adolescence when most growth takes place, they may be in the early stages of an eating disorder.


2. Anxiety

Being a kid is difficult and stressful, especially as they grow older and have to manage more responsibilities. But if you see an uptick in anxiety that might be a sign they have an eating disorder. Increased anxiety is both a precursor and a byproduct of anxiety due to the constant thoughts surrounding food and weight, and the constant worry of keeping it secret.


3. Strange Food Behaviors

One sign of an eating disorder is unusual behaviors around food. These changes in how and what they’re eating a usually to mask their decreased food intake. Some common ones are cutting food into small pieces, using large quantities of condiments, cutting out entire categories of food, or insisting on usual particular utensils.


4. Newfound Interest In Cooking- But Not Eating

One warning sign of an eating disorder developing is a sudden interest in food. People with eating disorders become obsessed with food, including shopping and cooking it. If you notice your child has a newfound interest in food, but not eating it, that’s a red flag.


5. Increased Exercising

Over-exercising is common with eating disorders. If you find your child is building their day around exercise it could be becoming an obsession. If missing their daily exercise routine causes them anxiety, or they insist on doing so even when sick or injured that could be a warning sign.



Many of these warning signs are hard to notice. If your child is exercising more or suddenly loves cooking, that doesn’t mean they have an eating disorder. But as the warning signs start piling up that’s when you should worry. If you’re concerned that your child may have an eating disorder or may be developing one, please contact us. One of our wonderful psychiatrists can help guide you on what to do.

Mental Disorders So Rare You’ve Probably Never Heard Of Them


When we talk about mental health and mental disorders most people are able to identify the big ones. They know schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, bipolar, eating disorders etc. However, there are some conditions that are so rare even mental health professionals may not know about them or ever encounter them in their careers.


Stendhal Syndrome

Individuals with Stendhal syndrome experience emotional and physical anxiety, as well as panic attacks, confusion, hallucinations, and dissociative experiences. The unique thing is though is that this only happens when they’re exposed to art. They can also experience these symptoms when they encounter beauty in nature. These symptoms are triggered by art that is perceived as particularly beautiful or when they’re exposed to a large quantity of art in one location such as a museum or art gallery. To put it simply, people with Stendhal syndrome are extremely moved by beautiful art and nature.



This condition is also known as Body Integrity Identity Disorder is characterized by the desire to amputate healthy parts of the body. It’s believed to be a neurological disorder, but not much is known about it. Those affected by it may attempt to amputate their own limbs or damage them so that surgical amputation is necessary.


Alien Hand Syndrome

Yes, this is a real condition in which individuals believe their own hand does not belong to them but has a life of their own. People experience normal sensations in their hand, but feel that it is autonomous with a will of its own. The condition may develop if a person damaged their corpus callosum, damaged their parietal lobe, or suffered from a stroke.


Capgras Syndrome

This one is particularly strange, as people with this condition hold the delusion that someone in their life, usually someone close to their such as a family member or spouse, has been replaced by an imposter. It can occur in people with schizophrenia, dementia, epilepsy, or after a TBI.


Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AIWS), also known as Todd syndrome, is a neurological condition where a person’s sense of body image, space, and time is disoriented. Individuals may have hallucinations, altered sense of velocity, or sensory distortion. People often are confused about the shape and size of their bodies, which can trigger panic or fear responses.

These Are The Best Exercises To Help With Depression and Anxiety

Your body and mind are more intertwined than people think. Your physical health can impact your mental health and vice versa. This link though means that if you suffer from depression or anxiety working out can play a vital role in managing your symptoms. Taking care of yourself helps the whole system. Ask your psychiatrist first, but most doctors encourage patients to incorporate some form of exercise in their life. Research suggests that the following activities in particular help in alleviating the symptoms of depression and anxiety.



Look, running isn’t for everyone, myself included. But it really is one of the best exercises for your overall health, including mental health. It can burn calories, reduce food cravings, and lower your risk of heart disease. It also improves mood though. Running releases those feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain like serotonin. The repetitive motion and breathing also have a sort of meditative effect on the brain.


Hiking In Nature

If running doesn’t appeal to you, consider hiking. Being around nature has a calming effect on the mind. There is tons of evidence that being around plants and trees reduces anxiety due to chemicals plants emit. If you live in the city, escaping that bustle and slowing down in nature could be just what you need to lower your anxiety.



Yoga is one of the best exercises for depression and anxiety, not to mention other mental disorders. Yoga connects the mind and body together through breathing. So yes you’ll become more flexible, more stretched out, and gain some strength but more importantly, the conscious breathing will slow down and calm your mind.



There’s a reason your doctors tell you to use exercise to manage your depression and anxiety symptoms- it works! Although running, hiking and yoga are considered some of the best; any activity that gets you moving and boosts your mood is encouraged. It could be rock climbing or just walking around the neighborhood. Just remember that the mind and body are connected, so taking care of one will improve the other. If you have any questions or want to book an appointment with one of our great psychiatrists feel free to contact us.