Posts Tagged ‘psychology’

Depression Self-Assessment

June 13, 2016

Everyone feels down in the dumps sometimes. It’s normal to be sad or tired occasionally for unknown reasons. Whether you’re just feeling down or something more, it’s worth exploring.

Depression invades every area of your life, impacting your day-to-day affairs. Maybe you can’t get out of bed in the morning or your appetite is never satisfied. Overcoming depression isn’t just about will power; it’s about getting the professional help and treatment you need for a happy, productive life once again.

QUESTIONS TO ASK

  • Are you feeling depressed or down lately?
  • Have activities you once enjoyed lost your interest?
  • Are you struggling to fall asleep or sleeping too much?
  • Do you feel lethargic, lacking energy to get through your day?
  • Has your appetite changed? Eating too much or too little?
  • Are you struggling to focus on work or activities like reading?
  • Do you or others notice you moving or speaking more slowly?
  • Have your thoughts leaned toward death or harming yourself in any way?

If you identify with these questions and answered yes to several, you might be struggling with depression. It’s important to see a physician or mental health professional for an official diagnosis, rather than self-diagnosing. They can rule out any other possible causes for your depressed mood.

THE NEXT STEP

Having a plan is a great start for treating depression. These suggestions can help you begin your journey toward a new beginning.

  • Take notes – Write down all your physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. Even if these don’t fall under the depression category. It’s still helpful information for your physician or psychiatrist to rule out other causes.
  • Give yourself grace – Experiencing depression is no one’s fault. Improvement takes time. Celebrate the small victories and be kind to yourself during the setbacks.
  • Access resources – Affordable counseling is often available through your employee assistance program, community services, religious organizations, and universities. Support groups can also be invaluable.
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Looking Inward

May 21, 2015

Often when we find ourselves unhappy in a relationship, we look at the other person as the problem. Psychologist and author Dr. Sherrie Campbell cautions us to look to ourselves before we look outwardly. She says you should first examine your own role, as you may be contributing to the problem more than you think. Dr. Campbell shares a few tips to help you look inward.

Resist complaining. Instead of resorting to the childlike behavior, have a serious discussion with the other person. Start with how you want things to be rather than expressing dissatisfaction or starting a conversation from a negative place.

Stop defending. Listen to the other person without interrupting and correcting them. If you’re too busy defending yourself without listening, you’ll be closing yourself off to the information the other person is trying to tell you. This makes it hard to connect and understand the other person.

Understand and state your needs. Think about what you really need from the other person in the situation. This is different from what you may want. What is it that’s keeping things from moving forward in a positive direction?

Know your weaknesses. Perhaps you are quick to judge, or maybe you have a short temper. Knowing the areas you need to work on within yourself can help when you run into problems in a relationship. Think about how these weaknesses may be interfering in your relationship, and what you can do to work on them.

Breaking Bad Habits

January 30, 2015

Do you typically think about every step involve din your daily routine? Probably not, thanks to habits. When we develop habits from our repeated action, it frees up our brains to focus on other tasks. The more enjoyable the instant gratification, the harder the bad habit is to break.

Why is it so difficult to change our vices? When behaviors are enjoyable, even if they’re unhealthy, they can release a chemical in the brain called dopamine. The habit becomes even stronger, and we continue doing it regardless of how we feel afterward.

Strategies to Break Bad Habits

It is possible to break bad habits, and humans are good at learning how to exercise self-control. Along the path to better habits, we must start by making a choice. Here are several proven strategies to break bad habits.

Identify purpose. What purpose does the habit serve? If you aren’t getting something enjoyable from it, you wouldn’t keep doing it. for example, maybe you smoke to help calm you down or you overeat for comfort. When you identify the needs behind the habit, you can look for healthier alternatives.

Identify progression. What actions typically lead up to your habit? Disrupting this progression of events can help set you up for greater success.

Identify motivation. Why do you want to change? Feeling deep connection to your “why” helps make difficult choices worth it. Be specific for greater motivation.

Tips for Changing Habits

Plan ahead. Don’t trust your strength in the moment. Making a plan ahead of time for dealing with temptation prepares your mind to resist the urge. Try calling a friend or someone to hold you accountable.

Practice mindfulness. Pay attention to your mind and body. Be mindful to the emotions you’re experiencing and what’s going on in your body. This will help you take better care of yourself.

Replace with good. Trade out your bad habits for good ones. For example, swap out the time you once spent overeating and use it to exercise. Create healthy, daily routines to help fill the need or craving of your bad habit.

As with any difficulty, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Find a therapist, support group, or organization to help you get started on learning more about yourself. The encouragement could steer you toward the best strategy to break your bad habits and change them for good. After all, Who wouldn’t want a healthy lifestyle to be second nature?

Guidelines for Succeeding in the Workplace with ADHD

September 5, 2014

The symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) create special challenges for the adult in the workplace, just as they do for the child in school. The assistance of a career counselor or a psychologist, social worker, or employee assistance professional is extremely helpful in understanding and maximizing these factors

Some adults with ADHD have very successful careers. Others may struggle with a variety of challenges, including poor communication skills, distractibility, procrastination, and difficulty managing complex projects. Each individual with ADHD has a different set of challenges. Therefore, it is important to consider your unique picture as you go about designing strategies, accommodations and modifications for the workplace.

Problems with noises and movement in the surrounding environment and internal distractibility (daydreams) can be the biggest challenge for adults with ADHD. The following strategies may help:

  • Request a private office or quiet cubicle, take work home, or work when others are not in the office.
  • Use “white noise” earphones, classical music or other sounds to drown out office noises.
  • Work in unused space, such as a conference room, where distractions are few.
  • Route phone calls directly to voice mail and respond to them at a set time every day.
  • Jot down ideas in a notebook to avoid interruption of the current task.
  • Keep a list of ideas that come to you during meetings so that you can communicate more effectively.
  • Perform one task at a time. Do not start a new task until the current one is done.

Adults with the hyperactive type of ADHD often do better in jobs that allow a great deal of movement, such as sales, but if you have a sedentary job, the following strategies may help:

  • Take intermittent breaks to do photocopying, go to the mailroom, or walk to the water fountain.
  • Take notes in meetings to prevent restlessness.
  • Move around, exercise, take a walk, or run up and down the stairs.
  • Bring lunch – instead of going out to but it – so the lunch hour can be a time for exercise.

Failing to remember deadlines and other responsibilities can antagonize coworkers, especially when working on a team. To improve memory, try the suggestions below:

  • Take copious notes at meetings.
  • Write checklists for complicated tasks.
  • Use a bulletin board or computer reminder list for appointments and memos.
  • Learn how to use a day planner and have it with you to keep track of tasks and events.
  • Write notes on sticky pads and put them in a highly visible place.

For more information on adult ADHD visit http://www.help4adhd.org for tips, help and more.

 

 

Intermittent Explosive Disorder Affects up to 16 Million People

July 11, 2014

A little known mental disorder marked by episodes of unwarranted anger is more common than previously thought, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has found. Depending upon how broadly it’s defined, intermittent explosive disorder (IED) affects as many as 7.3% of adults – 11.5-16 million people – in their lifetimes.

People with IED may attack others and their possessions, causing bodily injury and property damage. Typically beginning in the early teens, the disorder often precedes – and may predispose for – later depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders.

To be diagnosed with IED, and individual must have had three episodes of impulsive aggressiveness “grossly out of proportion to any precipitating psychosocial stressor,” at any time in their life, according to the standard psychiatric diagnostic manual. The person must have “all of a sudden lost control and broke or smashed something worth more than a few dollars… hit or tried to hurt someone… or threatened to hit or hurt someone.”

People who had three such episodes within the space of one year – a more narrowly defined subgroup – were found to have a much more persistent and severe disorder, particularly if they attacked both people and property. Affecting nearly 4% of adults within any given year – 5.9-8.5 million people – the disorder leads to a mean of 43 attacks over the course of a lifetime and is associated with substantial functional impairment.

Evidence suggests that IED might predispose toward depression, anxiety, and alcohol and drug abuse disorders by increasing stressful life experiences, such as financial difficulties and divorce. If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from IED, contact Soundside Wellness Consultants.

It’s Not My Fault!

March 10, 2014

Why is it that we seem to experience the same problems and issues over and over again? Often our unexamined thoughts create what happens in our lives. For example, on the day you are in the biggest rush, it seems every light turns red and every driver is in your lane. But it is really your own hurry that makes you sensitive to what is between you and your destination. The obstacle is internal.

Some obstacles are external. Circumstances out of your control sneak up on you and knock you out of your routine. For example, your flight is delayed, you receive a call that a relative is having emergency surgery; or a coworker quits and leaves you to do the job of two people.

So some obstacles are internal, and others are external. As obvious as this may seem, most people are not aware of the difference. Nor are they aware of how critical it is to understand this distinction.

Internal obstacles are generated entirely on our own. These internal obstacles often get in the way of achieving our personal goals.

External obstacles are imposed or dictated by outside agencies, individuals or forces. Like flight delays and hospitalized friends, some things are simply out of your control. The trick is realizing the difference, and then taking action.

“As humans, we have a natural tendency to take the internal obstacles and assign them an external cause, thus perpetuating the problem,” says self-help author Dr. David R. Cox. “Once you identify and understand that your obstacles and determine whether they are internal or external, you can deal with them and achieve your goals.”

“Life is about what we make happen,” says Cox’s colleague Dr. Don Sanders. “As manager of your own life, once you recognize the truth of this you can proactively deal with both the external and internal problems that life presents.”

According to Cox and Sanders, your choices about how you deal with these factors will determine the following:

  • Will you achieve your goals or give in to unconscious compliance?
  • Are you enthusiastic, purposeful and productive? Or do you experience reduced personal productivity, frustration and burnout?
  • Are you optimistic, positive and upbeat? Or do you experience bouts of depression and self-doubt?

Once you understand the obstacles you face, you become committed to ensuring a healthy and productive life.

Breaking the Cycle of Addiction

February 28, 2014

Childhood can and should be a time of wonder and discovery, when parents nurture, protect and care for the precious gifts of life they have brought into the world. But for children of alcoholic parents, life often is filled with shame, suffering, and fear. These children may find themselves trapped by the same disease that affected their parents and grandparents, unless there is outside intervention from caring adults in their lives.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, children of alcohol-addicted parents can suffer from physical illness and injury, emotional disturbances, educational deficits, and behavior problems. Perhaps most troubling, however, is the fact that children of alcoholics (COAs) are two to four times more likely to become problem drinkers and continue the addictive practices of their parents, with similar devastating consequences.

SAMHSA urges every adult to learn about the needs of COAs and the simple actions they can take to help COAs develop into healthy adults. We know that COAs are at greater risk for substance abuse problems in their own lives. But we also know what to do to help them avoid repeating their families’ problems. We can break the generational cycle of alcoholism in families.

That’s good news for the millions of children in the United States who live in households in which one or both parents have been actively alcohol dependent in the past. Experts say COAs can be helped, whether or not the alcohol-abusing adults in their families receive treatment. Adult relatives, older siblings, and other adults who have contact with COAs at school, in the community, through faith-based organizations, and through health and social services agencies do not need formal training or special skills to be caring and supportive.

The help a child of an alcoholic, one must take that first step – by showing you care. Since research shows that one in four children lives in a family with alcoholism or alcohol abuse, many adults will not have to look far to find a child to help.

Almost every community has resources to help make a difference in the lives of COAs. Services such as educational support groups and counseling are widespread. A free publication, It’s Not Your Fault is available from SAMHSA’s National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, offers important insights and resources for adults who want to help. For more information, call 1-800-729-6686 or http://store.samhsa.gov/product/It-s-Not-Your-Fault-NACoA-/MS732.

 

Compulsive Spending

December 13, 2013

It’s a disorder as powerful as compulsive gambling or compulsive eating.

 

Overspending around the holidays is a problem for many people. But it’s one that can be easily remedied with thrift and good-spending habits in the months that follow.

But for some people, overspending is a year-round compulsion with drastic complications. Compulsive spenders may fisk their jobs, their families and their careers to acquire things.

University of Florida researchers estimate that between 2% and 8% of the population spends compulsively. Symptoms of the problem include:

  • being preoccupied with shopping or the idea of shopping
  • frequently buying unneeded items
  • routinely spending than one can afford
  • shopping for longer periods than initially intended

U of F researchers say compulsive spending is just like any other impulse-control disorder: shopping and the act of acquiring things lessens feelings of emptiness or anxiety. The disorder eventually takes its toll. The average compulsive spender is $23,000 in debt, usually in the form of credit cards or mortgages against his/her home. The person’s marriage or family life may suffer due to high debt, his/her job may be in jeopardy due to absenteeism following a shopping spree, and his/her social life may be in shambles due to borrowing money from friends. Some compulsive spenders may be in trouble with the law, stealing from their employers or others to pay off debts or to buy more.

To end the cycle, the person must acknowledge the problem and get help. If you or someone you know may be a compulsive spender, seek professional help.

A Guide to Finding Help with Mental Health

November 26, 2013

Sometimes we need help with problems beyond what family and friends can provide. Substance abuse, anxiety, depression and other mental disorders are conditions best addressed by professionals who have the specialized knowledge to handle them.

But whom do you all for what and how can you tell if the professional is qualified to handle a particular problem? It can save time and minimize confusion to ask for guidance and referrals.

Many people can serve as guides. Your employer may have an employee assistance program which can put you in touch with an employee assistance professional. These people are trained to assess a problem, help when it’s possible and to refer employees to other helping professionals when needed. A school’s student assistance counselor can do the same for young people. Other sources for help or referrals to help are clergy, hospitals and community-based mental health clinics.

When asking for referrals to mental health professionals, be specific about the nature of the problem as you know it. For example, if you know or suspect that substance abuse it the problem, don’t be shy about saying it. Helping professionals do not judge. They understand that we all have problems sometimes. Specific information can help them get you to the person who can most quickly and knowledgeably help you.

This is an important point. Various types of mental health professionals are trained in a general way to help people of all ages with a variety of problems. But many of them continue their training by focusing on a particular area of knowledge. For example, a therapist or counselor also may be a certified addiction counselor (CAC), which means s/he has developed additional expertise in substance abuse problems. This person may further specialize by working with adolescents who have substance abuse issues or people who relapse frequently.

When you select someone to call, ask questions. If you don’t understand something, ask the professional to explain it to you until it’s clear. This is a good way to get a feel for how the person interacts with you. You’ll want to feel comfortable with this person and with entrusting your health to him or her.

A word about insurance: Call your insurance company to find out what mental health services are covered and for how long or how many visits. Be sure to ask the professional or agency which insurance plans they accept before scheduling an appointment.

It may take time and several calls or an introductory visit or two to find the person who can best help. Stick with it even though it’s a difficult time in your life.

Questions to Ask – Knowing the answers to these questions can help you determine who can best help you.

  1. How many years have you been in practice?
  2. What are your professional credentials? (Write down the acronyms (letters) and names so you can ask for an explanation of any terms or letters with which you are not familiar.)
  3. Do you specialize or have a special interest in a particular area of mental health or behavioral health, such as substance abuse?
  4. Will your services be covered by my health plan? (Have your health plan information handy.)

To be happy and less stressed, be creative.

September 20, 2013

There is a direct link between creativity and happiness. That’s because research shows that being creative stimulates the brain’s pleasure centers.

Not only does being creative make us happy, it’s a natural way to fight stress, to build confidence, and to learn more about ourselves and the world around us. The more we exercise the creative, right-half of our brain, the greater our ability to find creative solutions to difficult problems in our work or personal lives.

To cultivate creativity in your life, try the following:

Use creativity training techniques. Just as weight training makes a person stronger, creativity training can make a person more creative. Come up with as many uses as you can for a white paper bag. A chef’s hat? A comet catcher? A lunch bag (of course)? Now push yourself to 50 more. The technique is called brainstorming, and it’s only one of many ways to exercise the creative side of your brain.

Express yourself. Find a way to express yourself through writing, painting or doing a craft. But don’t overlook other forms of expression such as restoring an antique car, gardening or solving a difficult math problem. Whenever we lose track of time doing something just for the love of doing it, we’re in a heightened sense of creativity called “flow.” Flow is an ultimate human experience that refreshes and makes us happy.

Unlearn ways that stifle creativity. James Higgins, author of Escape from the Maze: Nine Steps to Personal Creativity, says that to be creative, we should look beyond certain rules in life that stifle creativity. For example, place someone in a maze, and s/he will likely walk the corridors in search of an exit. After all, isn’t that the rule one is supposed to follow when in a maze? But what about digging a hole and tunneling out, Higgins asks? Or pole vaulting? Or calling a friend with a helicopter so you can be lifted out? To unlearn ways that stifle creativity, look at the rules you follow, then look beyond them.

Change your environment. A new environment can give you a different, more creative outlook on something, such as a difficult problem. One software company encourages whole departments to take a movie break when they’re stuck on an especially vexing challenge. The employees carpool to the theater to see a movie with the understanding that no one will talk or think about the problem until they return to the office. Once back, managers say employees are so rejuvenated, they often solve the problem immediately.

Have creative things around you. Books of poetry, art, photography or architecture and other reflections of creativity can inspire your own creativity. But it’s not enough just to have these resources around – you must turn to them for inspiration. Higgins says that people who believe that their lives have become routine and dull should make use of the many resources that can inspire passion and creativity.

Identify times when you are most creative. Just before a deep sleep and after a good workout are naturally occurring creative moments. A workout increases the flow of oxygen to the brain and leads to other physiological changes that encourage an active mind. And just before a deep sleep is a period of highly creative dream-like brain activity.