Gagandeep Singh, MD

Mental health (and substance abuse) issues impact many of our lives, either directly or through the struggles of our loved ones. Unfortunately, people often do not know where to turn for help. Additionally, there are barriers to treatment even when we do know where to seek help.

Why is this important? Forgive the dry statistics to follow, but the lack of accessibility of services is something that is important to illustrate.

Based on figures from 2017, 56.5 percent of Americans with mental health issues received no treatment. In the same year, one out of five (20.3 percent) of adults reported they were not able to get necessary mental health treatment. Just over half (50.6 percent) of children with a mental health condition aged 8-15 received mental health services in 2014. Various factors contribute to this, including lack of access to healthcare, lack of finances, lack of providers, etc.

So how many people does this really mean? How many people are affected by mental health issues?

The most recent data tells us that approximately one in five adults in the U.S. — 43.8 million, or 18.5 percent — experiences mental illness in a given year. 18.1 percent of adults — nearly one in five — in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and specific phobias. Approximately one in five youth aged 13–18 (21.4 percent) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13 percent.

In 2016, there were an estimated 10.4 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with SERIOUS mental illness. This number represented 4.2 percent of all U.S. adults. An estimated 49.5 percent of adolescents had any mental disorder. Of adolescents with any mental disorder, an estimated 22.2 percent had severe impairment. These statistics are from the National Institute of Mental Health, and can be found on their website – www.nimh.nih.gov.

These numbers are, frankly, astounding. But so what?

What do we mean by mental illness?

What is mental illness? What are the signs and symptoms?

Clearly, a single article may not be able to do justice to the nuances of the myriad mental health issues, but this is an attempt to outline symptoms in brief for more of the predominant mental health disorders.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is defined by excessive feelings of sadness, loss of interest/lack of pleasure, difficulties with sleep, energy, appetite, and concern. It also entails feelings of guilt, worthless, helplessness, and — sometimes — hopelessness. Thoughts of self-harm and even suicidal thoughts may occur.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) involves having excessive worry over various, sometimes “trivial” matters. Physical symptoms include muscle tension, fatigue, irritability, restlessness/fidgeting, sleep issues, and concentration difficulties. Often, gastrointestinal symptoms may occur. Panic attacks — feeling like one is physically uncomfortable to the point where they may be having a heart attack or stroke — can occur in the setting of GAD and also in Panic Disorder (recurring panic attacks and fear of the same).

Bipolar Disorder involves depressive symptoms but also periods of manic (or hypomanic) symptoms, which involve excessive energy, racing thoughts, distractibility, impulsive behavior, decreased need for sleep, grandiose thoughts, risk taking, and increased activity level, among other symptoms.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is seen after one has suffered a trauma such as sexual abuse, sexual assault, physical abuse or assault, or other traumatic events. Symptoms in PTSD include re-experiencing the trauma via nightmares, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts, and psychological or physiological arousal when recalling the trauma. Avoidance can occur of people, places, and things that are reminders of the trauma. Hopelessness and emotional numbness can occur. Hyperarousal — being hypervigilant and having an exaggerated startle response may occur.

Psychosis involves one’s “mind playing tricks on them” — whether this be paranoid and delusional thoughts or auditory and/or visual hallucinations.

How does someone get help?

Where can one turn for help if they are experiencing these symptoms? One option is to see an individual therapist and, possibly a psychiatrist. A therapist provides counseling services, while a psychiatrist may provide counseling as well as medication management.

Locally, Dr. Gagandeep Singh, MD, is a double-board certified child/adolescent and adult psychiatrist, and has been named a New Jersey Top Doctor.

He has a private practice here in Monroe Township, as well as in Freehold. Dr. Singh’s sessions in his private practice are never shorter than 30 minutes, as he does not believe in a “quick med check” and aims to provide supportive therapy at every appointment. He can be contacted directly at 609-245-8550 or www.gsinghmd.com.

Dr. Singh is also the founder of Center For Wellness (CFW), which is a Partial Hospital Program and Intensive Outpatient Program agency on Applegarth Road in Monroe Township.

Center For Wellness aims to be a premier provider of substance abuse and mental health treatment services at an outpatient level. Services offered include Mental Health Partial Hospital Program (PHP), Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), short-term outpatient (‘traditional’) individual counseling, as well as Substance Abuse IOP.

What are PHP and IOP?

So what are these programs? These are services that are more intensive than “traditional” outpatient treatment, but not as restrictive as a hospital setting.

These services provide a combination of group and individual counseling for at least nine hours per week and include psychiatric assessment and medication monitoring. The focus is primarily group therapy, but each client is assigned to a therapist for individual sessions at least every other week (IOP), if not weekly (PHP). The PHP program for mental health runs for 25 hours a week, Monday through Friday.

IOP programs run three hours per day, three days per week. The Mental Health Adult IOP runs during the daytime, while the Adult Substance Abuse IOP (when running) is in the evening, to allow for work and other obligations. For Adolescents, the Mental Health IOP runs three days a week after school.

Patients are seen for assessment by a licensed therapist, and the appropriate level of care is recommended. Some patients start at PHP, while others go straight to IOP, depending on the severity of symptoms. PHP is typically a brief initial intervention even when it is recommended, and most of the time spent in treatment is at the IOP level.

Dr. Singh founded the agency after his clinical experience revealed a critical need for such services. With a dedicated and professional team, Center for Wellness aims to provide outstanding and clinically unparalleled treatment. Dr. Singh has worked in PHP and IOP programs for several years and believes his vision combines the most positive aspects of multiple programs.

Center for Wellness, 312 Applegarth Road, #200, Monroe. 732-655-4239. www.centerforwellnessnj.com.

Gagandeep Singh, MD. Appointments in Freehold and Monroe. 609-245-8550. www.gsinghmd.com.

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