MENTAL HEALTH UNIT
Most people desire positive physical health, mental health and spiritual health. There are many ways to approach each and each has its own benefits. Each one has an impact on the others. For example, for our physical health, we may have regular checkups, exercise, take specific medications, watch our diets, etc.
There are many levels of mental health treatment, as well, including individual therapy, group therapy, medication, behavioral, case management and others. And, just as in our physical health or spiritual health, there are varying levels of need within our mental health from minimal to severe.
An additional safe and effective treatment for those with severe mental illness is now being offered through the Maxis Health System members, Marian Community Hospital and Tri-County Human Services Center. The treatment is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Through Dr. Sanjay Chandragiri, a psychiatrist with Tri-County Human Services Center and the Medical Director of the Mental Health Inpatient Unit at Marian Community Hospital, ECT is now being offered to our local communities. ECT is an effective and safe treatment for those with severe mental illness, yet many consider it so dangerous that they fear it as much as they fear the disease. This mistaken fear has many roots --- in the pain and complications of ECT's early days, in the confusion with ineffective treatments which have long been discarded.
ECT treatment, through the utilization of anesthesia, controlled oxygenation, and muscle relaxation make the procedure very safe. The physician, following a prescribed procedure, induces a seizure in the brain. By inducing muscle relaxation and anesthesia, the physician prevents side effects.
For several severe and persistent psychiatric illnesses like schizophrenia, major depression, etc., ECT has proven to be the most efficacious treatment. It is safe for patients of all ages and has also been utilized safely with pregnant women. ECT is advised when other treatments for a psychiatric condition have failed or when the side effects of medications preclude their use. Dr. Chandragiri notes, "Traditionally, a patient has to be admitted to a hospital to receive ECT and required to stay in the hospital until the course of treatment was completed. However, refinements in the procedure now allow people to receive ECT on an outpatient basis."
Dr. Chandragiri is Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and has successfully completed a certificate course and exam in ECT administered by the Association for Convulsive Therapy. He also received ECT training under the guidance of Max Fink, M.D., a pioneer of and international authority on ECT while he was a resident at the State University of New York - Stony Brook. Dr. Chandragiri is also the Secretary of the Northeast Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society, a local chapter of the American Psychiatric Association.
It is something we do every minute of every hour throughout the every day.
The same breaths that sustain our bodies can revive our psyche and
nurture our souls. The simple
act of breathing is not something we usually focus on as we go about daily
activities. However, taking a
few minutes to focus on the sensation of breathing leaving and entering
the body can have a calming, stress reducing effect.
Mindfulness meditation is a therapy that combines aspects of
meditation and yoga to bring new focus on stress and how each individual
responds to it. “This
practice allows individuals to become more aware of their thoughts and
feelings by looking at them from a different perspective,” relates
Martin Sowa, MA, NCC, a board certified medical psychotherapist at Marian
For many people the word meditation means focusing on one thing or
mantra and excluding other thoughts as distractions.
While these practices are very calming, mindfulness encourages
accepting of thoughts and feelings and observing them without judgment.
The practice of letting thoughts enter the mind and not reacting
begins the process of feeling less caught up in thoughts and emotions. This in turn gives a deeper perspective on reactions to
everyday stress and pressures.
Many individuals literally become “frozen” with stress,
explains Mr. Sowa. We are
creatures of habit. We hold
onto stress and unexpressed feelings, which over a long period of time,
produces tension in our muscles and throughout the body.
While illness and unhealthy lifestyles produce stress, we are often
our own worst enemies and worry about things over which we have no control
or fixate on past injustices or unhappy experiences.
“Mindfulness releases stress by creating an energy flow and
encouraging wellness to take place,” add the psychotherapist.
“During a mindfulness class, we encourage participants to be more
aware of their breathing. We
do some simple exercises where we focus on breathing.
It is very relaxing to experience the sensation of breath entering
and leaving the body. Class
members are often amazed that they not only feel less stressed, at the
same time they feel energized.”
The practice of mindfulness utilizes breathing and yoga to focus
the mind. Researchers in the
field explain that it encourages participants to live fully in each
moment, to accept the moment whether we like it or not and to embrace life
to its fullest. One of the
most well-known proponents is John Kabat-Zinn, a professor at the
University of Massachusetts Medical School, who has intergrated
mindfulness in a structured and systematic approach to mind-body healing.
“A mindfulness approach can be beneficial to anyone, while those
with an illness or injury can gain additional perspective,” outlined the
psychotherapist who also serves as the therapeutic coordinator for the
inpatient Mental Health Unit at Marian Community.
For these individuals, coming to terms with this segment of their
lives is very important in terms of their treatment as well as their
overall outlook. With the new
perspective that mindfulness affords, patients get a better understanding
of their illness and their own response.
They can better explore this new situation and gain the
understanding that they are a well person with an illness rather than a
sick person. They also
appreciate that every life experience, both pleasant and unpleasant,
contributes to who we are. Participants
who have cardiac problems, diabetes or cancer begin to understand that the
illness is a part of their life, but not their whole life.
They also begin to appreciate the person they have become as a
result of their response to their illness.”
“Mindfulness touches every aspect of the spirit-mind-body
connection,” concludes Mr. Sowa. “People become well grounded and have a better
understanding of who they are. This
practice can be a useful tool in putting one’s life in perspective and
learning to understand one’s soul.
In our increasingly fast-paced life, there seems to be a growing
interest in discovering what really matters . . . discovering one’s
spirit. Mindfulness is an
opportunity to gain a better perspective and understanding.”
© 2001 Marian Community Hospital, Carbondale, PA. All
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