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Medical Reviewer

Marjorie Gies, M.D. Psychiatrist & Medical Director

Professional & Experienced Staff

Mental Health Treatment

Casa Serena offers primary mental health treatment through a partial hospitalization program. Our DBT-focused, evidence-based program is focused solely on helping women recover from mental health struggles and build fulfilling lives.

Our team also offers dual diagnosis treatment for those who are suffering from mental health disorders and addiction. Our clinical staff helps women heal from the root of their addiction, which is often a mental health struggle.

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How Mental Health and Substance
Abuse Are Tied Together

Research indicates a connection between mental health and substance abuse, regardless of gender. While it is important to point out that one disorder does not “cause” the other, they are often highly intertwined, share symptoms and often, share similar root causes. It is generally difficult and sometimes impossible for mental health providers to clearly define which struggle came first. According to researchers, there are three key reasons why substance use disorders and addiction are so often connected. The first possible connection is common risk factors. Mental health conditions and substance use disorders can, and often do, share a range of risk factors. Some of the most common include genetic factors, environmental factors, trauma, stress, and other preexisting physical or psychological health conditions.

Another potential link is a previously diagnosed (or undiagnosed) mental health condition. Some mental health conditions are known to increase one’s risk for developing a substance use disorder. It is believed that individuals who struggle with mental health symptoms, regardless of their severity, may turn to drugs or alcohol to help manage their symptoms. This practice, known as self-medication, may be helpful at first as it can significantly reduce the intensity and severity of mental health symptoms, making them easier to manage. Unfortunately, this solution is only temporary, and symptoms often quickly return, sometimes worse than before. Additionally, some mental health disorders inevitably lead to a notable change in the structure and function of the brain. This may also increase one's risk for developing a substance use disorder as drug and alcohol abuse impact how the brain functions. This can lead to changes in how the brain processes emotions such as joy, pleasure, and rewards, making them difficult to achieve without the assistance of drugs or alcohol.

The third factor is that substance use and substance use disorders often contribute to the development of various mental health conditions. As previously noted above, chronic substance use can change how specific areas of the brain work. These areas are the same areas also impacted by other mental health conditions, including anxiety, impulse control disorders, mood disorders, and schizophrenia. When someone who may be predisposed to these illnesses uses drugs or alcohol, it can increase their risk of developing a mental health condition.

Men and women are different in many ways, and mental health is no exception. Although men and women experience mental health conditions and struggles with substance abuse, they experience each differently. A vast body of research shows that women are more likely to be diagnosed with disorders such as depression or anxiety. In contrast, men are more frequently diagnosed with antisocial disorders, personality disorders, or substance abuse disorders. Additionally, data provided by studies conducted through the American Psychological Association suggest men and women develop mental health conditions and substance use disorders differently and for different reasons. However, one thing that does not seem to change between the genders is the link between mental health conditions and substance use disorders. Also referred to as a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis condition, millions of American adults of both genders struggle with addictions to drugs or alcohol while simultaneously trying to manage intense and overwhelming symptoms of a range of mental health conditions.

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What to Expect in a Women's Mental Health Treatment Center

Although both genders are susceptible to mental health and substance use disorder struggles, how they experience symptoms will be different. Also, the struggles and challenges encountered during detox, therapy, and recovery will vary between men and women. Research shows that biological gender, the gender we have at birth, plays a prominent role in the development of substance use disorders. How and why women become addicted to drugs and alcohol is different than the reasoning for men. Biological gender is a significant contributing factor to why women begin using drugs and alcohol. As a result, the treatment team at a women's mental health treatment center needs to understand the unique treatment needs of women seeking to heal from mental illness or substance use disorders.

In addition to specific needs related to detoxing and withdrawing from drugs and alcohol (if necessary as part of a dual diagnosis treatment plan), women have specific needs when it comes to therapy models and the therapeutic environment. For example, suppose a woman is entering treatment to address trauma-related mental health conditions (such as post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety). In that case, she will likely experience improved treatment outcomes in a gender-specific treatment environment. This is especially true in instances where the perpetrator of her trauma is someone of the opposite sex. Women who have been the victims of assault or violence are less likely to openly talk about their struggles in a mixed-gender environment. In a women-only mental health treatment center, women with trauma histories can feel safe and supported as they work through their mental health symptoms.

Additionally, mothers seeking help to resolve mental health (and addiction-related) symptoms may experience enhanced benefits from a gender-specific treatment approach and a treatment environment where they feel supported by other women who are also moms trying to navigate healing from addiction and mental health symptoms. At a women’s mental health inpatient treatment center in Santa Barbara, we consider the important treatment differences women need when working on getting and staying sober.
Santa Barbara Mental Health Clinic

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Our Santa Barbara Mental Health Clinic for Women

At our Santa Barbara mental health clinic for women, members of our treatment team are here to help you begin your journey towards health and wellness. Whether it's freedom from the weight of substance addiction or a comprehensive, evidence-based therapy program designed to help you learn safer, healthier ways to manage mental health symptoms, the team at Casa Serena is here to help. We will work with you from the very beginning to design a treatment plan based on your unique treatment needs. We understand the value of individually designed holistic treatment plans. Therefore, we strive to ensure the care you receive at our women's mental health treatment center addresses your physical, psychological, and spiritual health needs. We also strive to ensure the components of your treatment program are appropriate to manage any dual diagnosis concerns you may have.

If you are ready to seek help to feel like yourself again and are wondering about the benefits of a program that tailors their therapeutic models to address the unique needs of gender-specific care, consider Casa Serena. At our women's mental health treatment facility in Santa Barbara, California, our caring and compassionate treatment team is here to help you start on your journey to wellness. We underrated that the path to recovery is not always easy. For women seeking sobriety from substance-related struggles, relapse is a genuine concern. Our team is here to provide you with the relapse prevention skills and tools you need to manage (or avoid) relapse triggers so you can enjoy a lifetime of freedom for your symptoms. If you would like to learn more about how our programs can help you (or a loved one), contact our admissions team today. They are available to answer any questions you may have about the benefits of women-focused treatment at Casa Serena. If you want to see what therapy at our oceanside Santa Barbara facility looks like, ask about a tour.
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