Posts from category "Wellness"

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.





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, 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.




  • 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




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




Psychological Components of Alcohol Addiction


While a significant element of alcohol addiction is physical dependence, the other critical component is psychological addiction. “Psychological” means related to the emotions and the operation of the mind. Thus, the component of psychology refers to the process through which the individual becomes addicted to alcohol, continued use of alcohol, and behaviors related to it. In addition to physical dependence, it is the psychological factors that reinforce and reiterate the use of the substance that has known adverse effects. While will power can be an effective tool in the elimination of alcohol addictive behavior, because it is combating powerful psychological needs and motivations, it may often not be enough to eliminate the dangerous dependence on alcohol.


There are a number of symptoms related to the psychological dependence on and addiction to alcohol:


* Powerful cravings for the substances* Feelings of anxiety associated with the real or imagined unavailability of the substance* The loss of appetite in relation to the increased use of alcohol* Feelings of inability to cope from day to day without the substance


* Motives of denial in regard to the use of alcohol* Restlessness when not using or desirous of using alcohol.* An obsessive need to get and use alcohol * A depressive reaction while trying to stop or after repeatedly trying to stop alcohol use.* Differing levels of anxiety when alcohol is not available.


* Insomnia


* Even after stopping the alcohol use, continued thoughts and desire for it, often appearing in times of stress


* Unexpected rapid changes in mood, mood swings* The continued excessive use of alcohol can result in damage to the brain contributing to psychological symptoms. These may be memory loss, changes in personality, and/or confusion.


Psychological Cravings:


A craving is an obsessional want or need for something. Craving for alcohol is a significant psychological symptom of alcohol addiction. A combination of physical and psychological factors, cravings can appear at any time when alcohol is not available. Cravings can even arise after the individual has successfully quit the use of alcohol. Thus, effective psychological coping mechanisms need to be learned to deal with cravings when they arise. Cravings without the coping mechanism in the individual may lead to the resumption of alcohol use.


Thus, psychological counseling can provide effective and meaningful approaches to the termination of problem drinking, alcohol addiction, and alcoholism. Psychological counseling can assist in helping you to ameliorate the psychological-social circumstances leading to drinking and help you to create coping mechanisms to the termination of the need or will to drink.



Alcohol Addiction and Alcoholism


Why do people drink?


The making of beverages and concoctions containing alcohol as the result of fermentation can be traced back into prehistory and into current-day primitive societies. While the consumption of differing forms of alcoholic beverages among prehistoric and primitive cultures has often been associated with religious rites and ceremonies, somewhere along the way, it was discovered that intoxicating beverages could be used also for “recreational” purposes.


Thus, a transition occurred, transforming a religious practice into a commonplace, non-religious activity—drinking. While the taste of primitive alcoholic concoctions was only minimally associated with their moving from religious rituals into non-religious practice, the mind-altering effect they produced was probably the source of non-religious drinking. Thus, the mind-altering effects of alcoholic beverages became an end in itself. No longer the means to gain religious insights, the purpose of drinking developed from motives relating to the pleasures of the mind-altering effects of drinking.


It is the mind-altering effect of alcoholic beverages which are the source of common practices of drinking. Many people have a drink for social purposes, to have a drink with associates and friends contributes the conviviality of such social relations making it a kind of non-religious ritual celebrating social exchanges. For other people, the slight elevation in spirit and slight lowering of inhibitions produced by alcohol creates a kind of relaxation which, additionally, in social situations reduces stress and increases social behavior. For some people, wine connoisseurs, for example, certain alcoholic beverages are consumed to experience the pleasures of their taste rather than for the purpose of intoxication.


These forms of drinking motivation and behavior lead people occasionally and often in particular situations to have a drink or two. This is “social drinking,” and, ordinarily, it is relatively harmless.


For some people, however, somewhere along the way, their drinking behavior crosses the line and becomes something more serious. However, people don't ordinarily cross the line from social drinking to alcohol addiction and alcoholism because they like the taste of particular alcoholic beverages. The motivation for this change of behavior from social drinking to addiction and alcoholism is most often the result of elements of the personality of the individual. Consciously or unconsciously, they have some inner psychological needs or motivations for something beyond the pleasure of the mild intoxication of social drinking. They are seeking escape from something, self-medicating, or seeking to numb themselves.


This kind of drinking, therefore, has different causes and effects from social drinking. As we all know, there are many dangers from alcohol addiction and alcoholism, ranging from driving under the influence of alcohol and other legal problems to serious physical violence against property and other people. Therefore, when and if many people come to the recognition that their drinking patterns have changed from social drinking to alcohol addiction and alcoholism, they often seek to avoid the adverse health effects and other serious results by seeking to control and terminate the heavy drinking behavior.


In seeking to change, there are two major perspectives: The first is the extinction of the drinking behavior itself. This is usually accomplished through some form of stopping the drinking—detox. In addition to simply stopping the drinking behavior, and to avoid starting it again at some time in the future, it is desirable and necessary to discover what is at the heart of the motivation to drink to excess. It is in assistance in accomplishing this goal that psychological counseling can be of very real and direct help. What are the underlying psychological motivations that compel you to drink to excess? Why are behaviors that can be learned to “short-circuit” the impulse to drink in excess? What are effective coping behaviors which can mediate the dealing with inner psychological conflicts and problem other than alcohol abuse which can result in healthier, less destructive, and more socially acceptable behavior instead of alcohol addiction and alcoholism?


Thus, psychological counseling can provide effective and meaningful approaches to the termination of problem drinking, alcohol addiction, and alcoholism. Psychological counseling can assist in helping you to ameliorate the psychological-social circumstances leading to drinking and help you to create coping mechanisms to the termination of the need or will to drink.



Risk Factors for Drinking Problems and Alcoholism



The risk factors for alcohol addiction are often interconnected: there may be a genetic predisposition to alcohol. Home environment as a child, past and current social environments, psychological-emotional adjustment, and social adjustment. There may also be some racial component, such as with Native-Americans, which contributes to the predisposition of alcohol addiction. Specific risk factors may be a history of alcoholism in the family, the frequent socialization with heavy drinkers, and mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and bi-polar disorder. Self-medication is often a conscious or unconscious motivation for the use of alcohol that becomes addictive.


Pathways to alcohol addiction


While the abuse of alcohol is not 100 per cent predictive of alcohol addiction, it is certainly a high risk factor. Ordinarily, for some people, the addiction to alcohol is progressive over a period of time, for other people, however, it may be rather quick, such as if it is related to some life-changing event, such as retirement, divorce, a death of someone close, or other form of loss, such as the loss of a business.


For “regular drinkers,” the regular consumption of alcohol tends to build up tolerances, meaning that you have to drink more to get the same desired effect. Binge drinking increases the likelihood of alcohol addiction. Daily drinking also increases the likelihood of addiction.


Alcoholics vs. alcohol abusers


There is a distinction between alcoholics and alcohol abusers. Alcoholics ordinarily do not have a significant ability to set limits on their drinking, while, to some degree, alcohol abusers can set such limits.


Common symptoms and signs of alcohol addiction




1) The repeated neglecting of responsibilities: This may occur at home, a work, or at school due to drinking. While adverse effects may occur while the alcohol is still I the system, the problems may also arise from hangovers. This may become apparent through poor work performance, poor academic performance, and/or the neglect of partner and/or children.



2) The use of alcohol in circumstances of potential physical danger. The most common example of this is driving under the influence of alcohol. However, alcohol severely adversely affects the use of all forms of machinery at home or work. Another form of this danger is drinking alcohol in combination with prescription medications.


3) The incidence of legal problems association with drinking, such as drunk and disorderly conduct on the street, fighting while drinking or drunk, domestic abuse, or driving under the influence. Of alcohol.


4) Continuing to drink despite the various kinds of problems that it is causing at work, in personal relationships, or with neighbors.


5) Using alcohol as a way to relax, stress-reduction, or self-medicate. One example of this is to have the urge to have a drink during or after family conflicts, or as a way to de-stress after work.


If any of these behaviors sound familiar to you, you probably have some degree of a drinking-alcohol addiction problem.


Psychological counseling can assist in helping you to ameliorate the psychological-social circumstances leading to drinking and help you to create coping mechanisms to the termination of the need or will to drink.



What are the warning signs for alcohol addiction?


We all may have a drink or two occasionally, but for some people, it doesn't stop with “one or two” or “occasionally.” Having the availability of alcohol and the circumstances or occasions in which to consume alcohol can lead to occasional overindulgence. But, even occasional overindulgence is usually not a problem for most people. That is because overindulgence has a kind of “remedy” which discourages further overindulgence: the hangover. For most people, the hangover is painful enough that it discourages immediate or continued instances of overindulgence.




However, for some people, regular drinking sometimes has the insidious effect of becoming an addiction to alcohol. While steady and heavy drinkers are usually aware that they are having a problem with alcohol, that is, it has become more than “social lubrication” and that it has become a regular habit. Nevertheless, often people with incipient or continuing alcohol addiction problems have a kind of built-in defense mechanism that allows them to overlook and ignore the truth about their addiction. Sometimes, people are simply unaware of the time when regular social drinking becomes alcohol addiction.



To help to identify problems of alcohol addiction, there are a number of warning signs to watch for. Be aware that you may addicted to alcohol if you demonstrate any of these behaviors:



  • Do you feel ashamed or guilty about your drinking?

  • Do you hide your drinking habits?

  • Do you lie to others about the regularity of your drinking or drinking habits?

  • Do you drink when alone?

  • Have friends or family members commented on your drinking habits?

  • Have family or friends commented or complained to you about your behavior while drinking?

  • Do you need a drink in order to “take the edge off,” relax, or “even out”?

  • Have you “blacked out” while drinking; do you often “black out” when drinking?

  • Do you forget what you did when you were drinking or immediately afterwards?

  • Do you dread people telling you what you did while you were drinking or afterwards?

  • Do you often think, “I'll just have a couple of drinks,” but often end up drinking more than you intended?



If any of these behaviors sound familiar to you, you probably have some degree of a drinking-alcohol addiction problem.



Psychological counseling can assist in helping you to ameliorate the psychological-social circumstances leading to drinking and help you to create coping mechanisms to the termination of the need or will to drink.




  • 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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  • Therapies / Treatments

    Dr. Blair provides unique combinations of therapies to achieve faster results for her clients, many of whom are busy professionals who don't have time for years of therapy.

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