Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Addiction affects neurotransmission and interactions within reward structures of the brain, including the nucleus accumbens, anterior cingulate cortex, basal forebrain and amygdala, such that motivational hierarchies are altered and addictive behaviors, which may or may not include alcohol and other drug use, supplant healthy, self-care related behaviors. Addiction also affects neurotransmission and interactions between cortical and hippocampal circuits and brain reward structures, such that the memory of previous exposures to rewards (such as food, sex, alcohol and other drugs) leads to a biological and behavioral response to external cues, in turn triggering craving and/or engagement in addictive behaviors.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

There are four basic types of bipolar disorder; all of them involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, “down,” or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.

  • Bipolar I Disorder— defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks. Episodes of depression with mixed features (having depression and manic symptoms at the same time) are also possible.
  • Bipolar II Disorder— defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes described above.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder (also called cyclothymia)—defined by numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms as well numerous periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents). However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.
  • Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders— defined by bipolar disorder symptoms that do not match the three categories listed above.

Depression Symptoms & Treatment

  • Difficulty falling asleep or waking in the middle of the night
  • Waking too early and not getting back to sleep
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Having lower sex drive than usual
  • Loss of pleasure in things that normally are pleasurable
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Poor concentration

We treat your depression by starting with a full evaluation to determine its nature. There are different kinds of depression. One type is Reactive Depression, and it occurs as a normal reaction to a loss or a frustration that you can’t do anything about. If someone you care about dies, if there is a reversal of fortune, if any difficult life experience occurs, you might get depressed. Although this is a normal reaction, the depression is still very unpleasant and difficult with symptoms of great distress, hopelessness, helplessness, a profound lack of energy, such that you might just want to stay in bed. Your sleep patterns and eating can change drastically. You lose interest in things that you normally enjoy.

The good news is that Depression is treatable You can substantially reduce the amount of time you feel low.


Dual diagnosis (also referred to as co-occurring disorders) is a term for when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously. Either disorder—substance use or mental illness—can develop first. People experiencing a mental health condition may turn to alcohol or other drugs as a form of self-medication to improve the mental health symptoms they experience. However, research shows that alcohol and other drugs worsen the symptoms of mental illnesses.

The professional fields of mental health and substance use recovery have different cultures, so finding integrated care can be challenging. Tracy has advocated for optimal clinical treatment for dually diagnosed patients for years. 

What exactly are Obsessions and Compulsions?

Obsessions are thoughts, images or impulses that occur over and over again and feel outside of the person’s control. Individuals with OCD do not want to have these thoughts and find them disturbing. In most cases, people with OCD realize that these thoughts don’t make any sense.  Obsessions are typically accompanied by intense and uncomfortable feelings such as fear, disgust, doubt, or a feeling that things have to be done in a way that is “just right.” In the context of OCD, obsessions are time consuming and get in the way of important activities the person values. This last part is extremely important to keep in mind as it, in part, determines whether someone has OCD — a psychological disorder — rather than an obsessive personality trait.

Unfortunately, “obsessing” or “being obsessed” are commonly used terms in every day language. These more casual uses of the word means that someone is preoccupied with a topic or an idea or even a person. “Obsessed” in this everyday sense doesn’t involve problems in day-to-day living and even has a pleasurable component to it. You can be “obsessed” with a new song you hear on the radio, but you can still meet your friend for dinner, get ready for bed in a timely way, get to work on time in the morning, etc., despite this obsession. In fact, individuals with OCD have a hard time hearing this usage of “obsession” as it feels as though it diminishes their struggle with OCD symptoms.

Panic Disorder Symptoms & Treatment

  • Feeling of Imminent Danger or Doom
  • The Need to Escape
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of Breath or a Smothering Feeling
  • Feeling of Choking
  • Chest Pain or Discomfort
  • Nausea or Abdominal Discomfort
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness
  • Sense of Things Being Unreal, Depresonalization
  • Fear of Having a Heart Attack
  • Fear of Losing Control or “Going Crazy”
  • Fear of Dying
  • Tingling Sensation
  • Chills or Heat Flash

What Is Posttramatic Stress Disorder?

PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.

It’s normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after this type of event. At first, it may be hard to do normal daily activities, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about. But most people start to feel better after a few weeks or months.

If it’s been longer than a few months and you’re still having symptoms, you may have PTSD. For some people, PTSD symptoms may start later on, or they may come and go over time.

Understanding PTSD and PTSD Treatment.(PDF)

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. You could say social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being negatively judged and evaluated by other people.  It is a pervasive disorder and causes anxiety and fear in most all areas of a person’s life.  It is chronic because it does not go away on its own.  

What Happens When You Are Under Stress

The reaction to stress is a primitive adaptive response the purpose of which is to help you survive in “stressful” situations. Your body responds exactly as it did thousands of years ago. To understand its impact on your physical self, let’s go back to cave man days. You are out hunting for dinner and suddenly you see saber toothed tiger who is also out looking for a meal. You freeze. You are very still, but your body is not. Your concentration is hyper-acute and focused. You brain is working as fast as it can analyzing all possible choices and outcomes. Your body has prepared you for the response to an aggressive onslaught.

Your breathing rate has doubled. This brings more oxygen into your lungs and is filtered into the blood stream. Your blood pressure has increased twofold. This speeds the flow of blood through the veins and arteries to provide faster access to white blood cells if there is an injury or cut. Your pancreas has released stores of sugar to give you more energy instantly. You notice that your muscles are very tense, but ready to spring into action.

All aspects of your body’s functions that are critical for survival are on high alert, but those not needed are decreased. Your digestive system is slowed. You can’t think of eating. Your reproductive system is not important. You certainly are not thinking of sex. Your immune system is lowered, since your body is not worried about catching a cold.

The tiger moves on, and you are safe. As you sit down to wipe your brow, you find that your heart rate and breathing are slowing down to normal. If you measured your blood pressure in your caveman way, you would find that it also dropped back to its usual level. Your body has returned to its pre stress condition.