Psychological interventions for the first time in Romania

Psychological interventions for the first time in Romania

An unusual conference was held on Thursday, October 6th, at the headquarters of Hope Clinic in Bucharest: the launch of two unique psychological treatment programs in Romania: one for bipolar disorder and one for borderline personality disorder.

Thus, the patients in our country, who suffer from these severe diseases and who until now had only part of the drug treatment, will be able to benefit from the complete, psychiatric and psychological interventions, as they are recommended in the specialized guides. They will have the opportunity to significantly increase their chances of regaining balance and mental and emotional health.

In the conditions in which it enters 27 of the adult population of Europe had at least one episode of mental disorder in the last year (WHO, 2014) and close 50% of US adults they will have a psychological problem in their lifetime (CDC, 2011), mental and psychological health is gradually becoming one of the most important concerns of our life and of the whole society. Psychic disorders are the main cause of suffering in Europe's population.

The treatment of the psychological disorders is possible and is a successful one, provided the harmonious combination of the drug intervention (if necessary) with psychological methods (different forms and psychotherapeutic approaches). In this context, Dr Gabriella Bondoc, psychiatrist and manager of Hope Clinic (the initiator of the programs) explained to us: "Our desire and dream is to develop and implement treatment programs that offer patients in Romania the same types of services and implicitly the same healing opportunities that they would have in other countries, with foresight in the field of major mental disorders (depression, anxiety, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder). "

About the treatment program for bipolar disorder "Navigating between poles"

Bipolar disorder (former manic-depressive disorder) is a chronic mental disorder characterized by episodes of severely increased mood (mania / hypomania) and episodes of depression, which alternate with periods of normal mood. It is a very common disorder, about 4.5% of the general population can have one of the diagnoses within the bipolar disorder. The age of onset and most episodes of the disease occur between 15-40 years, severely affecting the most important and productive period of life.

Bipolar disorder is a biological and genetic disorder in which the mechanisms that regulate the emotional state and which manage to keep it in balance are affected. In bipolar disorder, the mood switches from one extreme to another. Although dramatic through manifestations, bipolar disorder is a chronic disease, similar to, for example, diabetes, the disorder can be treated by proper medication and by following a very orderly lifestyle.

Many celebrities have openly declared that they suffer from bipolar disorder, including Catherine Zeta-jones, Demi Lovato, Linda Hamilton or Sinead O'Connor. A series of scientists, writers and artists have suffered from this disorder such as Churchill, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Schumann, Virginia Wolf, Hemingway, Baudelaire, Herman Hesse or Edgar Allan Poe.

Although the international recommendations focus on chronic medication and psychological interventions, in Romania the treatment of this frequent disorder was, before this program, almost exclusively medicinal.

The program for the treatment of bipolar disorder "Navigating between poles" builds a complete system of management of bipolar disorder, in which psychiatrists and psychotherapists work closely together for a personalized treatment program.

The program has 3 aspects:

- psychiatry for evaluation, diagnosis for establishing the drug treatment scheme and its follow-up

- individual and / or family psychotherapy

- the psychoeducation group "Navigating between poles".

The 12-week psychoeducation program it combines the education about the disease with the interpersonal therapy and the social biorhythms in a unique psychological intervention in Romania meant to restore the balance. It helps patients "navigate" as effectively as possible on the "waves" of anger and depression and manages to avoid crossing from "one pole" to another.

The knowledge about the disorder and the treatment manages to offer the patients the possibility to prevent or treat the episodes from the first signs, avoiding the major imbalances and maintaining the quality of life and better understanding the importance of strictly adhering to the drug treatment. Patients learn about the role of a balanced lifestyle and build an individualized program of "social biorhythm" (sleep, physical activity, professional activity, meetings with other people and interpersonal relationships) that maintain their emotional stability. Currently, in the Hope Clinic there is already a second series in the psychoeducation group, the first being a success among patients.

About the borderline personality disorder treatment program "Find your balance"

Borderline personality disorder is by far the most intensely studied, discussed, contested and difficult to treat personality disorder, the lives of those affected being extremely dramatic and fraught with suffering. The list of celebrities who have / had borderline personality disorder includes very sound names like Princess Diana, Amy Winehouse, Courtney Love, Lindsay Lohan, Marilyn Monroe or Angelina Jolie. Their tumultuous life stories caught the attention of the press for long periods of time, and some stories did not have a happy ending.

It is a very common type of personality, almost 6% (Grant, 2008) of the general population and over 30% of those who appeal to a psychologist / psychiatrist with this disorder.

Symptoms include profound emotional and interpersonal instability with impulsivity, major sensitivity to rejection, fear of abandonment, anger, interpretivity, associated with suicide attempts, self-harm or drug or alcohol use, being frequently accompanied by other diagnoses: anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol or drug addiction, eating disorders. The cause of this personality disorder is also strongly disputed, the last variant being: a personality pattern that appears after multiple psychological traumas in childhood accompanied by an instability of the parent-child relationship.

Treatment is very difficult and involves psychotherapy over a very long period of time, with many problems and conflicts, occasionally requiring psychiatric treatments for the associated psychiatric disorders. Therefore, the treatment of these patients requires specialized forms of psychotherapy and therapists with skills in these types of intervention. Of these, the most recommended is dialectic-behavioral psychotherapy, especially developed for this disorder by Marsha Linehan from the 1970s to the present and which is distinguished by repeated studies that prove their effectiveness.

In Romania, Hope Clinic is the first and only one to implement this type of psychotherapy, through the program "Find your balance!"

The treatment is also in three poles:

- Consultation, diagnosis, evaluation and psychiatric treatment

- Individual long-term psychotherapy (essential)

- The "Find your balance" skills course

The peculiarity of the psychotherapeutic treatment of the borderline disorder consists in the fact that, in parallel with the individual psychotherapy, it is necessary to participate in a course in which to learn a set of psychological skills that allow the client to improve their symptoms more quickly and to improve their quality of life. It is a 6-month program, which can be repeated for a period of 1 year. 4 sets of techniques and skills are taught: Mindfulness, tolerance to emotional distress, effectiveness in interpersonal relationships (assertiveness), emotion regulation and their learning is stimulated through weekly themes.

To better understand the role of this treatment, Oana Munteanu, a psychotherapist explained to us: "People with this personality disorder are like people with burns all over the skin, any accident in the ordinary life causes them pain as the ordinary touch causes pain to those with burns. Sufferers from their childhood "burned" and now this skills course comes as an "artificial skin" until, through psychotherapy, the "skin" of the soul heals. " The first group to take these courses started on September 3.

The mental health services in Romania are many times after those from abroad, many types of interventions or clinics are completely missing. Therefore, the treatment programs that reduce these deficits are important not only for the patients to whom they are addressed (at least a few) but also for our society in general because they bring hope in building a Romanian medical system characterized by professionalism, quality, passion and interest for the maximum good of the patient.

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