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More About Stress

 

Long-Term Stress:

 

While short-term stress is of minimal health risk, the longer that the stress is experienced by an individual, the more likely it is that the stress may have adverse health effects. Long-term stress, also called chronic stress, is persistent stress that may be associated with digestive problems, sleep disturbances, problems in the immune system, sex and reproduction problems. The longer the stress is experienced, the more likely there is to be adverse results in the physical health of the person.

 

Different people experience chronic stress in different ways. For one person, it may result in digestive problems, while, for another person, it may result in impotence and sexual-related problems. Some people may experience sleeplessness, feelings of sadness, headaches, irritability and/or anger. With other people, the stress may result in persistent colds and even a viral infection like the flu.

 

Chronic stress may be experienced so commonly for particular people that it becomes a matter of routine in their daily life. As such, while acute stress is easily discerned by the individual, long-term stress is not accompanied by the rapid development of physical symptoms. Because of this, the person may not realize the fact that stress is operating in the background of his daily life. The presence of long-term stress may not be recognized by the individual, but it may take the form of seemingly not directly-related psychological conditions, such as anxiety or depression.

 

Managing Stress:

 

1) The most important element in managing stress is to recognize that stress is present and having effects. Therefore, it is most important to learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress in one's daily life (see previous postings in this blog). Depending on the individual, they might be: problems in going to sleep and staying asleep all night, an increase in alcohol use, the initiation or increase in drug use, depression, anger, and feelings of low energy.

 

2) Check with your doctor to be sure that the problems you are experiencing are not the result of some actual physical malady or illness.

 

3) Begin to become more aware of your own behavior, reactions, and health status to discover changes which could be associated with short-term or long-term stress.

 

4) If you are experiencing identifiable stress or the signs or symptoms that are associated with stress, connect with a psychologist to help you to investigate your personal situation to determine the relative role in your problems associated with stress.

 

5) However, in extreme situations, such as suicidal thoughts or ideation, incipient violence related to friends, family, or general or specific other people, extreme alcohol or drug abuse, or other alarming circumstances, immediately seek psychological intervention to avoid further harm to yourself or other people.

 

 

Parenting And Bipolar: How To Manage Being A Good Bipolar Parent

There are lots of studies showing that having a parent with mental illness or disorders can greatly increase your chances of developing your own. This can cause an added layer of anxiety to any parents who are living with and managing their own bipolar disorder. Having a bipolar parent doesn't have to mean that a child develops the same or a similar disorder.

Mental health care is finally able to come out of the shadows thanks to more public conversations and celebrities who are open about it. As mental health issues become destigmatized, we will benefit from having honest conversations about the role it plays in everyday life. Parenting is one place where there isn't enough honest conversation.

Whether or not you grew up with a bipolar parent, you can imagine the effect it can have on your child. Follow these 4 tips to continue being an amazing parent.

1. Remember Your Role

Your child can't take responsibility for your health and you shouldn't ask them to. You're the caretaker, even when you're in the middle of a crisis.

They can't control what is going on with you. Don't ask them to keep you in check or remind you to control yourself. You need your own system.

2. Talk Openly

Your kids need to know that you love them and to be able to understand the conditions of depression from your unconditional love. It's not their experience to carry your weight when they feel hurt or let down, but the more you telegraph your feelings, the better they'll be able to understand you.

You can build a strong and deep relationship with your children simply by being honest.

3. Balance Treatment and Childcare

Make sure your treatment plan doesn't get in the way of what your child needs and vice versa. If you schedule your child's activities in the way of your own mental health needs, you could find yourself blaming them for things out of their control.

Don't disrupt your child's routine just because you're having issues with your bipolar disorder. Find ways to make sure everyone stays on track. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

4. Your Child Has A Story

The way you interact with your child helps to inform their story. But they have their own experiences and you need to listen to that. If something is hurting them, understand how hard it is to articulate that as a child and listen carefully.

You Can Be A Great Bipolar Parent

Every family has challenges and things that make them unique. While your struggles might make parenting hard, seeing you deal with your disorder could inspire your children. You could teach them how important it is to communicate their feelings.

If you're looking for more tips on how to balance mental health issues with everyday life, contact us for information to keep on the right track.

Stress and Important Things to Know About It

 

According to Psychology Today, “Stress generally refers to two things: the psychological perception of pressure, on the one hand, and the body's response to it, on the other, which involves multiple systems, from metabolism to muscles to memory.” Stress is a psycho-physical response to stimuli relating to the primitive fight-or-flight responses to the environment. There is something in the individual's awareness which causes discomfort, worry, fear, or some form of threat (the stressor). The body's reactions to the stressor is to become more psychologically alert, nervous, impatient, and consciously or unconsciously anticipating the need for some response.

 

While this sounds unusual, in fact, it is very commonplace. People experience various kids of stress every day, such as bills that are due, social events, interpersonal relationships, and many other aspects of people's day-to-day lives. Stress is the body's reaction to some anticipated need for action of some kind (even though, often what exactly that action might be may be uncertain). Any demands for or needs for action, conscious or unconscious, can be the source of stress.

 

Becoming “stressed out” is a state of mind that is often expressed by people today as there are many elements of our daily lives that can be the source of stress, and when more than one affects us, we seem to feel overwhelmed by all of the stresses being felt--”stressed out.”

 

The more that you know and understand about stress, the more capable you will be in encountering and dealing with it.

 

Important things that you need to know about stress:

 

1) Everyone experiences stress: Although virtually everyone may feel stress as some time or another, the type of stress or the source of the stress may affect how one deals with it. Stress is not necessarily a consistent experience. Stress may come and go as different elements in your environment change. Further, stress often has different levels: The stress that one feels about a lost key is significantly different form the stress that one feels if a family member is terminally ill. Some stress is quickly alleviated, such as you find the key that you forgot you put in a drawer. Other forms of stress are more prolonged, such as that over a sick family member.

 

Stress does bring with it threats to both mental and physical health.

 

Examples of stress:

 

  • The pressure of school, work, family life, and certain daily activities

  • Sudden unexpected changes in circumstances in life, being fired, death in the family, divorce, the onset of illness. This is traumatic stress.

  • Larger-scale non-personal events, such as war and natural disasters. This is traumatic stress.

 

2. Stress is not necessarily negative:

 

Stage fright is a form of stress, and it makes one alert and conscious of the fear of failure, so it often improves an actor's performance. Studying for and taking a “big” test is stressful, but if one reacts positively to the stress and studies hard, the effect will most likely be positive. For people witnessing someone floundering in the water and needing help is stressful, but it can motivate positive action to go to the person's aid. Stress can often be beneficial.

 

If you are suffering from some form of stress, be aware that in a number of ways that psychological counseling can help you to cope with it or overcome it altogether.

 

More points about stress in the next installment.

 

5 Steps To Effectively Managing Anxiety In Your Daily Life

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting more than 40 million people. Either you or someone you know is struggling with managing anxiety.

In our modern day society, it's a normal part of life to deal with anxiety. However, when it becomes crippling and interferes with everyday activities, it may be an anxiety disorder.

It is characterized by extreme fear and worries, phobias, panic attacks, separation anxiety, and social anxiety just to name a few. It is related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression, and PTSD.

But how does someone deal with managing anxiety? When life becomes overwhelming, how do you cope and continue on living your life without relying on medications?

Check out our guide below for managing anxiety, it may just help you live your life better.

Avoid Synthetic Coping Tools

Many people have different coping mechanisms that they turn to when feeling overwhelmed with anxiety. Unfortunately, most of these mechanisms are very unhealthy practices and can lead to you feeling weaker, promoting more anxiety.

Stay away from practices such as:

  • Gambling
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Reckless behavior
  • Overuse of medications

These are more like "vices" that provide a temporary relief, but if they are also overused, can lead to more anxiety problems. They affect your body's natural ability to cope, leading to a dependency and eventually, addiction.

Get Moving

We all know that exercise is great for the body, but did you know about its plethora of benefits for the mind? Studies found that people who exercise were 25% less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder.

Exercising is a form of relief for mental stress. It basically converts that pent-up energy into a healthy movement, which in turn, has many more benefits such as more confidence and a boosted immune system.

Find forms of exercise that you enjoy and are comfortable doing. Exercising outdoors has incredible benefits on your well-being, as being in nature has its own remedies for coping with depression.

Meditation, Breathing, and Relaxation

The strongest coping tool you have is your mind, and just like any muscle, strengthening your mind is the best way to relieving yourself from an anxiety attack. Try listening to some guided meditations, they will help quiet the mind and help you feel calm, relaxed, and grounded.

Breathing is one of the most underrated, and productive ways of curing anxiety. It activates the body's natural relaxation response, which is a physical state in the body that changes emotional stress responses. When you feel overwhelmed, take deep breaths and count to 10, or even 20.

Learn More About Managing Anxiety

Want to learn more about coping skills for managing anxiety? You probably need to talk to a professional. Cognitive Behavior Therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapies provide incredible results for relieving anxiety.

If you want to gain more control over your anxiety, please feel free to contact us at any time. We are here to help you gain control over your disorder and help you live your life!

Risk Factors For Depression

Depression is a very common mental disorder in the U.S. Research indicates that it is the result of a combination of factors, biological, genetic, environmental, and psychological.

 

The onset of depression may happen at any age, but most commonly in adulthood. Research has discovered, however, that it does occur in childhood and adolescence. In children and adolescents, irritability is a more common symptom than low mood or affect. Cases of high anxiety in children can mature into full scale depression in adulthood.

 

In mid-life or for older adults, depression may accompany such serious medical problems as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's Disease, and heart disease. Depression, further, is often a complicating issue, contributing adversely to the patient's condition. Some medications for medical problems may have depression as a side effect. Therefore, in seeking psychological help with problems of depression, it is necessary to inform the psychologists of the medications one is taking as that is important to the determination of treatment strategies.

 

There are generally three typical risk factors for depression:

 

1) Family history of depression

 

2) Circumstances of major life changes, such as stress or trauma

 

3) Physical illnesses and/or medications

 

Treatment and Therapies for Depression

 

Depression responds to treatment, even in severe cases. However, the earlier after the onset of signs and symptoms that treatment is initiated, the more effective the treatment is likely to be. Treatments focus on identifying the causes, ameliorating the effects of the causes, and the development of adaptive or coping strategies. However, since personalities and circumstances differ, there is no “standard” treatment, but treatment must be tailored to the specific patient and their situations and circumstances.

 

Treatment for major Depressive Disorder ranges from psychological counseling to a variety of more active psychological therapies. Individuals suffering from just a few of the symptoms, but the symptoms are particularly distressing, while not in full major Depressive Disorder, can also benefit from psychological counseling.

 

 

 

Depression

 

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

 

Demonstrating or suffering from one or more of the following symptoms, signs, or behaviors for a good part of the day, virtually every day, for a period of at least two weeks or more may be a sign of depression:

 

  • Feelings of being anxious without any particular reason

  • Feelings of being “empty”

  • Pessimistic feelings

  • Feelings of hopelessness

  • Being irritable

  • Persistent guilt feelings

  • Feelings of helplessness

  • Feelings of being worthlessness

  • Loss of energy

  • Persistent fatigue

  • Slow thought or speech patterns

  • Restlessness or problems in sitting still

  • Problems with concentration

  • Memory problems

  • Trouble in making decisions

  • Difficulty in going to sleep and/or staying asleep for an extended period of time

  • Oversleeping

  • Weight loss or gain

  • Changes in appetite, depressed appetite

  • Recurring thoughts about death or suicide

  • Actual suicide attempts.

  • Persistent pains, aches, cramps, headaches, and/or digestive problems that have no particular physical cause, and which are not alleviated by medical treatment.

 

 

People suffering from depression do not ordinarily demonstrate all of these symptoms. While some people may experience several of the signs and symptoms, other people will demonstrate only a few, or just one or two. Accompanying the signs and symptoms is usually a “low” mood, a negative change in the enthusiasm for life. This is also a requirement for the diagnosis of a major Depressive Disorder.

 

 

Treatment for major Depressive Disorder ranges from psychological counseling to a variety of more active psychological therapies. Individuals suffering from just a few of the symptoms, but the symptoms are particularly distressing, while not in full major Depressive Disorder, can also benefit from psychological counseling.

Next:  More on depression

 

 

 

DEPRESSION

 

Definition

 

Depression, also called Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression, is a significant mood disorder that is, unfortunately, relatively common. The effects of depression are a variety of symptoms affecting how one thinks, personal emotions, and how one reacts to and performs activities, working, and even eating and sleeping. For the diagnosis of depression to be relevant, symptoms must have been demonstrated for at least two weeks.

 

There are several forms that the depressive disorder may take arising from particular circumstances:

 

  • The Persistent Depressive Disorder is also called “Dysthymia.” It is a state of depression that persists for at least two years. The person demonstrating this disorder can have intermittent periods of major depression along with times of symptoms that are less severe. But, the critical element is that this condition persists for at least two years.

  • The Perinatal Depression which typically follows childbirth. Thus, it is also called the “baby blues.” It is a generally mild depressive condition combined with anxiety that typically arises in women in about two weeks following childbirth. This is called Postpartum Depression. The symptoms of this form of depression may also be experienced before childbirth. The symptoms are anxiety, feelings of sadness and exhaustion. Often this depression adversely affects the ability of the new mother to carry out her child caring duties an also appropriately caring for herself.

  • The Psychotic Depression is a severe depression which is accompanied by forms of psychosis, such as delusions and/or hallucinations. These symptoms may also be accompanied by various forms of delusions relating to poverty, responsibility, or guilt.

  • The Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that is a reaction to conditions, such as sunlight, cloudiness, or the length of daylight. Further, as the word “seasonal” suggests, this condition differs based on the season of the year. In the autumn and winter, it comes on and often worsens, but it is alleviated and even may vanish in the spring and summer. Known also as Winter Depression, SAD symptoms may be withdrawal from social activities, gains in weight, and a desire for sleeping more and longer. These symptoms recur each year with the coming of the winter

  • The Bipolar Disorder is a distinctive form of depression and a disorder of its own, but those suffering from the bipolar disorder experience moods which are the same as those of depressive disorder. The significant element of the bipolar disorder is the fact that they can also experience periods of mania, elation, and “highs” in which he or she may be manic, irritable, or euphoria.

 

 

There are also less common forms of depression, such as disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, which occurs in children and adolescents, and the premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

 

 

Next: Signs and Symptoms of Depressive Disorders.

 

 

 

Treatments and Therapies For PTSD

 

There are a number of possible treatments and therapies for people suffering from PTSD. While some medication may contribute therapeutic benefits, psychotherapy is focused on long-term relief or mitigation of the worst symptoms. Since each individual case is unique, a treatment that is effective for one patient may not be so effective for another. What is critical is that people suffering from PTSD receive treatment by a trained psychologist with knowledge and experience in treating PTSD. Work with a psychologist may entail efforts focused on several possible treatments to discover which is the most effective.

 

Additionally, beyond the treatment for PTSD itself, there may be family members or significant others who are regularly or occasionally affected also by the PTSD reactions of the patient, and so differing approaches to family or personal therapy may be required for them as well as the PTSD patient. Occasionally, there are abusive relationships situations involved which requires an expanded range of people receiving treatment.

 

In some cases, there may be other psychological problems not directly associated with the PTSD that require treatment, such as depression, suicidal impulses or behavior, and/or substance abuse.

 

Thus, it is important that a knowledgeable psychologist, like Dr. Blair, provide expert PTSD treatment.

 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder II

 

PTSD Symptoms

 

The symptoms of PTSD are relatively clear cut:

 

Re-experiencing: This is a typical effect of PTSD in which something that happens to the individual triggers reactions directly related to the original experiences which generated the PTSD condition. These may come in the form of:

 

  • Flashbacks—which are the reliving of the original traumatic experiences over and over.

  • Physical effects of flashbacks: some form of fear reaction, self-protection, defensive action, sweating, and increased heartbeat.

  • Nightmares reliving the traumatic experience or associated traumatic experiences.

  • Psychological fright accompanied by the symptoms of physical fright.

  • Displacement—physical or psychological circumstances in everyday life may take on new and frightening, dangerous meanings. Such circumstances might be situations, objects, or even words that in some way remind the PTSD sufferer of the original traumatic event or situation.

 

Avoidance:

 

  • Having recognized that certain things, places, or situations tend to trigger the re-experiencing event, such situations or things are avoided in the hopes of avoiding the re-experience.

  • Because thoughts and feelings can also trigger re-experiencing, the individual tries to avoid certain thoughts and feelings. For instance, if one had been involved in a traffic accident, that person might avoid driving or even riding in a car.

 

Arousal and Reactivity:

 

Arousal” is the psychological awareness of an imminent PSTD re-experiencing event. “Reactivity” refers to the types of reactions one might demonstrate in the re-experiencing event. Typical symptoms are:

 

  • Feeling startled by a triggering stimulus.

  • Feelings of being “on edge” or tense.

  • Insomnia or irregular sleep patterns

  • Outbursts of anger

  • In arousal, one may feel stressed or nervous.

  • Arousal may also affect work performance, concentration, and commonplace daily activities like sleeping or eating.

 

 

Cognition and mood symptoms include:

 

 

PTSD may also affect cognition, which is the process of thinking. Mood is the state of ambient emotions at any particular time. Symptoms in cognition and mood may be:

 

 

  • Memory problems related to the original traumatic event or situation.

  • Patterns of negative thoughts about oneself and/or about other people.

  • Feelings of personal guilt or blame on oneself and/or on other people.

  • A lack or a sense of personal pleasure or enjoyment in activities which, under normal circumstances, would be seen as pleasurable or enjoyable.

  • Feelings of separation and detachment from friends and members of the family.

 

While some of these symptoms are not unusual following varying degrees of traumatic events, in the case of PTSD, they may last for an extended period of time, even years. The short-term form is called “Acute Stress Disorder.” However, if the symptoms last for more than a month and, in varying ways, affect the person's abilities to function normally, PTSD may be the diagnosis. Further, these symptoms should not be due to substance abuse, physical illness, or any other cause beyond a traumatic event. While, for some people, the symptoms of PTSD may onset relatively soon after the traumatic event, for other people, the time before onset might be weeks, months, or even years. PTSD may be accompanied by associated problems, such as depression, substance abuse, or anxiety disorder.

 

Psychological counseling can assist in helping you to ameliorate the adverse psychological and social effects of PTSD through the use of a variety of therapies.

 

Next: More about PTSD risk factors

 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

 

Definition

 

PTSD is a psychological disorder that is the result of exposure to some form of dangerous, frightening, or shocking event or series of events.

 

To feel fearful during and after experiencing some form of traumatic event is normal, but those immediate sensations tend to dissipate as time passes. Such immediate effects might be the “fight or flight” reaction. Another might be the desire to hide or stay away from public places or situations similar to the original shocking experience. Further, it is normal to experience a variety of different feelings after such a shocking event, but the feelings decline in incidence as time goes on. As such, it can be said that most people “recover” from the shocking experience, and leave it, for the most part, in their past.

 

However, this effect does not happen for all people uniformly. For some people, due to the severe or intense nature of their experience and their own psychological makeup, the passage of time does not significantly diminish the adverse after-effects of what they experienced. This is a psychological disorder called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. PTSD may be short-term--acute, or long-term--chronic. The experience of PTSD affects different people in different ways.

 

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

 

The occurrence of differing forms of shocking events may be different for different people. For one person, it may have been an incident of domestic violence. For another person, it might be the death of a close friend or relative. One of the most common sources of PTSD is the aftermath of having fought in a wartime situation. Although many people have experiences these kinds of events, they do not all react to them in the same way.

 

When such a shocking experience takes place, under normal conditions, the intensities of the experience's reactions may dissipate in three or six months. For the individual reacting differently, the PTSD symptoms may take a period of three to six months to fully manifest themselves. For a few people, it could take a number of years before their symptoms and reactions are identified as such. Further, for some people, the symptoms may last for only a short period of time. That is “acute.” For other people, the symptoms may last for many years. That is “chronic.” Regardless of the duration of the PTSD reaction, it may demonstrate itself by adversely affecting interpersonal relationships, educational activity, and work experiences.

 

For psychologists, the diagnosis of PTSD requires the identification of a number of symptoms which the individual has been experiencing for a month or more:

 

  • The re-experiencing of the original shocking incident or situation

  • The development of one or more symptoms of avoidance

  • Experiences or arousal and reactivity under the circumstances of particular stimuli

  • The experiencing of at least two symptoms of cognition (thinking) and mood

 

Psychological counseling can assist in helping you to ameliorate the adverse psychological and social effects of PTSD through the use of a variety of therapies.

 

Next: More about PTSD symptoms

 

 

 

 
  • Conditions & Disorders

    Dr. Blair has the training and experience to treat a wide variety of problems, conditions and disorders. She is a relationship expert and marriage family therapist who specializes in relationship counseling .

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