Therapy Blog

  • ADD & ADHD: The Truth of the Matter

    Is it ADD? Is it ADHD? Is it depression? Is it anxiety? Or is it something else medically related? These are all valid questions that you have possibly asked yourself or asked about your child at one time or another. It is a difficult diagnosis to pin-point and can often be confused with other diagnoses. It is extremely important try the following steps, in this order, to assess whether or not you might be dealing with ADD/ADHD:

    1. Get a full physical. Rule out any medical issues that could be masquerading as inattention or hyperactivity.
    2. If medical issues are ruled out, seek assessment by a mental health professional. Don't try to diagnosis and/or treat yourself.
    3. If your child is the one displaying ADD/ADHD- like symptoms, speak to his/her teacher, school counselor, principal, and any other school professional that may be involved in your child's education. They can give you insight into what they see in the classroom and what is observed as they interact with peers during the school-day.
    4. Work with your mental health professional to institute an individualized treatment plan to deal with whatever diagnosis is made. If outpatient therapy is not successful, consider being evaluated by a psychiatrist for possible medication management IN ADDITION TO mental health therapy.
    5. Be sure to take care of your physical self as this impacts your emotional and mental well-being. Getting plenty of sleep, eating right, and exercising are all key ingredients to getting any ADD/ADHD-like symptoms under better control.

    So, what would symptoms of ADD or ADHD look like? Often times in my practice, I see individuals come in who assume that since they are having trouble concentrating, it might be ADD or ADHD. I carefully evaluate their medical, personal (including mental health, substance abuse, and family), and work history to get a handle on the bigger picture of what we might be looking at as a diagnosis. Sometimes, a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is deducted from certain combination of hallmark characteristics along with the close assessment of behavioral and emotional health information a client gives. However, sometimes issues as basic as stress, depression, loneliness, grief/loss, or anxiety are truly at the root of what might otherwise be considered ADD/ADHD.

    There are a number of checklist symptoms of ADD and ADHD which include:

    • Inattention
    • Difficulty Concentrating
    • Easily Distracted
    • Unable to Sit Still
    • Fidgety
    • Frequently Interrupts
    • Struggle to Complete Tasks
    • Frequent Forgetting
    • No Filter
    • Restless
    • Talk Excessively

    Now please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list of symptoms for ADD/ADHD. This article is also not a substitute for professional help. However, if you are needing to find relief from these symptoms while working on yourself between sessions with a therapist and/or appointments with a psychiatrist, you may want try this simple tips:

    • Get Adequate Sleep
    • Keep a Consistent Schedule
    • Take Breaks
    • Get Organized (start color coding, use a journal, use a note pad as a reminder system, etc.)
    • Eat Healthy
    • Exercise (get out excessive energy to assist you in focusing and concentrating through your day)
    • Learn Healthy Communication Skills
    • Use You Support System
    • Relaxation Techniques

    Again, this is not an exhaustive list, and more information can be obtained from your therapist or doctor to institute specific treatment options and steps to help you get a better handle on this disorder. Remember that ADD/ADHD is quite common in our extremely busy and high expectation society. It is no wonder that especially if you have a genetic propensity to having ADD/ADHD, that your environment can aggravate it and exacerbate it. Take care though. There is always help that can be located through your school, work, EAP, health insurance, and simple Google searches for the proper treatment professionals.

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Meghan L. Reitz, MA, LCPC, NCC

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

Meghan has worked within the counseling profession for over ten years. Her experience includes providing individual, family, group, crisis, and substance abuse counseling. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa in Anthropology and Psychology and her graduate degree from Bradley University in Human Development/Community Counseling.

Meghan has worked and volunteered in the following settings as a therapist:

  • Non-profit social service agencies
  • Mental health hospitals
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Therapeutic day schools
  • Managed Care/Insurance companies
  • Private practice
  • Geriatric settings- including nursing homes, older adult care centers
  • Non-profit fundraising agencies

Please check out her daily tweets on Twitter and periodic blogs on mental health topics. You can also chat with her live and/or email her through this site.

Everything listed under: Stress

  • Making Change: Life's Main Hurtle

    Change is what makes us human. It is a natural way of life as we know it- integral to growth, both physical and emotional. Change occurs whether we are ready for it or not, and sometimes we do everything we can to abstain from change because the fear of the unknown holds us back. Do you consider yourself fear-based? Or a worrier? Do you make decisions or choices based on your fears about what will happen or do you think about the rational and realistic consequences to situations? If you answer yes to any of these questions or know people who would answer affirmatively, then this article is for you.

    One of the biggest obstacles in getting life on track can be a person's comfort level with making change. Many people dealing with anxiety, depression, relationship issues, or stress seem to be stuck in the same unhealthy patterns. Without making even small changes to how we go about doing things, you will get the same result by making the same actions. This seems rather simple, but for many people suffering from negative life issues, actually doing something different can feel scary and foreign.

    It is important that if you decide to keep engaging in the same patterns of behavior, the outcomes will almost always be the same. If you truly want to feel better about yourself and your life situation, consider how you can change the ways you go about doing things. This can be as minor as discontinuing that unhealthy relationship with an acquaintance to something as major as changing careers or moving locations. Always ask yourself, is the reason I am unwilling to change because I am scared or worried about the consequences? Then follow that question up with what are the possible outcomes or worst case scenarios. Typically the worst case scenario, realistically speaking, is actually not that bad. Get comfortable with the what if's and prepare yourself for possible negative and positive outcomes. Without change, everything will stay the same.

  • Holiday Stress: Information Everyone Should Know

    Holiday Stress- A time of year where the hustle and bustle of often changing weather, increasing amounts of holidays scheduled close together, that can cause feelings of anxiousness, nervousness, and being overwhelmed.

    This of course is not a textbook definition by any means. However, it is a statement I fully believe defines what most probably think of as "holiday stress." Whatever way you slice it, no matter what religion or faith, this time of year can produce stress in many different ways. This can include family, friend, church, synagogue, and work obligations. It can also impact everything from shopping to parking to traffic. And if you live in a place where cold weather and snow come to those in November, December and January, that you know that this can cause even more affects on daily life.

    The first step in dealing with holiday stress is to acknowledge it! Yes. Being able to recognize that the next month of your life is filled with shopping for presents, decorating, work parties, family get-togethers, friends' parties, donating, traveling, driving, and weather is truly half the battle. The second step is getting yourself organized. It IS possible to manage this time of year with grace. It takes practice and a good sense of realistic planning. Do NOT overbook yourself. That will cause you more stress in the end and may even cause you to cancel last minute to things when at the end of your rope. You also should enjoy this time of year. Remember that the focus is on your spiritual beliefs, your family, and friends. Often times, this time of year becomes synonymous with gift giving and receiving.

    Having trouble prioritizing? Get out your daily or monthly planner. Take down the must-do obligations. Carve out "you" time in between there. Then see what time is left. Remember, sometimes it's not possible to please everyone or get to everything you're invited to. Do your best. Delegate responsibilities like certain gift shopping to other family members. Consider e-cards if needing to save money. Simple gifts given from the heart are most appreciated. And take time to breathe. Give yourself plenty of time to get to where you need to, and prepare your car for winter weather.

    If you're really struggling, many people seek counseling this time of year from pastors, priests, counselors, and therapists. It is ok to ask for support and guidance. And reach out to family and friends. That is what this time of year is really all about.

  • Pets and Mental Health

    Whats do pets have to do with one's mental health? Quite a bit actually. It has been found that having pets, such as cats or dogs, actually lower blood pressure and improve physical health of owners. This trend is also found in correlation with mood and anxiety disorders. According to an article on www.moodletter.com, pets provide companionship, helping owners to feel less lonely. The responsibility of caring for a pet also can help individuals struggling with depression and getting motivated. It requires you to feed, walk, and clean up after your pet, which also promotes excercising. It promotes mental stability, through petting and cuddling with your pet. All in all, having animals in your life is a rather positive thing. (http://www.moodletter.com/PetsandMentalHealth.htm)

    Therapists, hospitals, nursing centers, and other healthcare oriented programs are increasingly instituting animal therapy into clients' and patients' daily routines. Pet therapy is gaining popularity because it works. Think about how you feel when you have that special bond and unconditional with your cat or dog. They listen. They don't talk back. They love you whether you like it or not. Petting your animal can release stress and anxiety. Healthcare providers are seeing that individuals are demonstrating improved moods, less depression and anxiety, when engaging with animals. (http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/36/3/17.1.full)

    It doesn't have to just be a cat or a dog! Rabbits, mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, ferrets...the list goes on and on. Can't afford to keep a pet? Volunteer at a local shelter or pet store. There are so many ways to get involved with animals without actually having to own one. Google counselors in your area with "pet therapy" as a keyword. See what you come up with! Need ideas on how to find these resources in your community or how a pet might enhance your life? Check out LivePerson to speak with a licensed counselor live.

  • Battle of the Bulge: Weight and Mental Health

    The fight against weight gain, and even weight loss, is on!

    What does mental and emotional health got to do with it?

    Actually, a lot. If you're feeling stressed, upset, angry, or sad, do you ever reach for that gallon of ice cream? Or do you lose your appetite altogether? Either way, it's not healthy for anyone. In a perfect world, we would all be an average, normal weight. We wouldn't have things like stress and life issues bombarding us on a daily basis. However, we don't live in that perfect world (Which ultimately is probably a good thing! Otherwise, things would be pretty darn boring.). Stressors are a part of our way of life. It's all about how we manage them that makes the difference. And how you're feeling can be directly related as to whether you seek solace in food or engage in eating disorder behaviors. Fluctuations in weight and our physical health are impacted by whether we are in an emotionally and mentally healthy spot. When we feel good or are making healthy choices, we take care of ourselves. When we feel bad or are not managing our mental health successfully, our physical health pays the price.

    I know I'm having difficulty regulating my mood. What now?

    Identifying that you're struggling is the first step. That opens the doors to seeking the help and support you need to get yourself to a better frame of mind. This in turn will lead to a happier existence, where mental and physical health are in balance. Locate a trainer, see a dietician, talk with your primary care doctor, seek counseling/therapy, and/or ask for emotional support from family and friends. Don't know where to start? Feel overwhelmed? Get a physical. That will give you a baseline of where you're at right now- whether you're overweight, underweight, have any physical issues beyond weight, etc. From there you can determine your next plan of action.

    I don't know if I can beat the way I'm feeling. How do I feel better? And get my weight under control?

    Feeling unsure, scared, and overwhelmed can be common feelings when you're mental and emotional healthy are out of whack. It takes some effort to reach out for the help you need. It's ok to not be able to do it on your own. Journaling, taking breaks, practicing relaxation techniques, talking to clergy/friends/family, and doing some realistic goal setting are good ways to get started. By getting the depression, anxiety, panic, stress, confusion, anger, and/or apathy under control, you WILL see results in terms of your physical health (i.e. weight gain/loss). Counseling can be a helpful tool to use- especially if you feel you can't really depend on someone in your life currently. Counseling gives you an objective, nonjudgmental individual to help support you through your life's issues.

  • Weight Loss and Its Link to Stress Reduction

    Weight. The never-ending battle. If you yourself isn't dealing with weight issues, you probably know someone who is. There is definitely a link between stress and weight gain. There are a number of studies that have found that stress can increase a chemical in the body called cortisol to be produced at higher rates. This in turn can cause weight gain by slowing down the metabolism. So the question is: How do you reduce stress in your life?

    In previous blog articles I have mentioned different techniques and tips that you can do manage stress more succesfully. However, I feel that there can't be enough of techniques and ideas shared on stress reduction since it is such a pervasive issues for most American lives. Stress is a way of life for most. Some stress is positive like major life changes such as getting married, having a child, graduating, etc. Some stress is negative like work, school, family and interpersonal issues, loss and grief, etc. Either way, stress is present and something that we all need to learn how to manage.

    The following website links are great resources in finding different ways to manage stress:

    http://www.holisticmed.com/stressfree.html

    http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tai-chi/SA00087

    Know that you can't rid your life of stress. However, accept it and practice techniques like journaling, drawing, painting, cooking, baking, music (listening or playing an instrument for example), knitting, jewelry making, fishing, playing catch, exercising, eat healthier, taking a walk and enjoying nature, deep breathing, counting, positive self-talk, and the list goes on and on. Don't know where to start? Try starting one technique. Doesn't work? That's ok. Try another. Also, make sure you know who is in your support network. List these individuals out so you can readily access them by phone, email, text, etc. Sometimes when we are most stressed we don't reach out for others. Try not to isolate. It is ok to need help!

    Find more information about stress and it's connection to weight gain/weight loss through the following sites:

    http://www.advance-health.com/cortisol.html

    http://technorati.com/lifestyle/article/assist-weight-loss-with-stress-reduction/

    http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/can-stress-cause-weight-gain

    If you feel like your stress is out of control, and you're having trouble managing your stress even if you are trying the above techniques, talk to your MD, talk to a dietician, find a counselor if you don't already have one, and reach out to friends and family. You are not alone.

  • Anger Management: Signs, Symptoms, and Tips

    Ever get that feeling where you feel like you just can't hold your anger in and you might just burst? Ok...maybe some of you can say yes I've definitely felt this way, others of you may not be able to relate as closely. Either way, everyone gets angry. It's a normal human emotion that everyone experiences in some form or another. However, there are definitely healthy and unhealthy ways to manage your anger, and that's what this article is about. How do you know if you have an anger management problem? If you do, how do you work to take your unhealthy behaviors of anger management and make take them to healthier outlets? These questions and more will be answered below; But, before getting started ask yourself the following questions:

    1) Do you feel like you cannot control your anger at times?

    2) Do you ever take out your anger on loved ones when it isn't deserved? Whether verbally or physically?

    3) Do you feel guilty or ashamed after you have lashed out at someone when being angry?

    4) Have people told you you have an anger management problem?

    5) Does your anger seem to consume your normal life activities?

    *If you said yes to any of these questions, then it might be fair to say that you need assistance in gaining some anger management skills.

    This article is definitely not a quick fix for these issues. It is encouraged to take steps through talking with a counselor, seeing a psychiatrist, and looking into anger management group therapy to assist you in your journey through managing this emotion. However, there are ways to work on this daily with just a few of these tips:

    • Note when you physically START to feel angry: turning red, feeling hot, clenched fists, tightening of muscles, heart racing
    • Note when you mentally START to feel angry: racing thoughts, increasingly focused on the issue(s) that have triggered your anger, inability to control your emotions or physical body
    • Journal when you start this process- if you can see these signs and symptoms, you know it is time for a TIME-OUT
    • Usually anger comes from sadness, being upset, depression, feeling hurt- this may be your way of displaying those emotions; if this is so, you should look into yourself and your past and see what is really at the root of the problem
    • Is your anger warranted? It's ok to be angry about things! Just don't take it out on others, especially those who don't deserve it- or channel that anger into something positive (i.e. upset with something your child has done- it might be helpful to take a five minute break before you come back to the situation to sit down and talk to your son/daughter instead of instantly going into yelling mode)
    • Outlets for stress, anxiety, depression, and ANGER: exercise, relaxation exercises, playing music, drawing, painting, writing, meditating, talking it out with a spouse or friend (venting-but appropriately)

    These are just a few things you can start to do in order to begin the process of healing and managing your anger. Seek counseling for more extensive assistance in keeping your emotions under control. When you can check your anger, manage it healthily, it will really give you a new lease on life.

  • Tips & Tools in the Counseling Trade: Ideas to Promote Peace of Mind

    I thought that this week a focus on sharing tools of the trade would be helpful. Sometimes, I think as both a client and a therapist, you really want to reach solution-focused help. Talk therapy can be very therapeutic, cathartic, and releasing. However, when you walk away from a session- do you have homework to do between sessions? If not, then maybe ask yourself, why you don't.

    In order to engage in the therapy/counseling process, it takes work on the client's part to make changes and be held accountable for the goals that he/she has set out in seeking therapy/counseling in the first place. A good place is to start learning techniques that can ease stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness- basically giving a person a better state of mind.

    I am going to touch upon a few here. There are so many out there- and with the world of Google, many of you can find similar and additional ideas. But, for the sake of this article, I'd like to stick with some of the powerful ones that I utilize in my practice with individuals.

    1) Guided Imagery:

    Gently inhale and exhale until you feel yourself calming down from your activities. Now, gradually allow an image of yourself to emerge from within your mind. See yourself sitting in the middle of a Triangle–as a point in the middle …

    (You can put on quiet, transcendental music as you begin to imagine yourself).

    Feel the Triangle forming itself all around you … right where you are … Let your senses really create this sensation … Now, notice how you feel sitting in the midst of this great structure … how are you sitting, what you look like. Notice as much as you can … (long pause).

    Now, very slowly, allow this Triangle to become filled with a warm and gentle blue light … until you can feel yourself being enveloped in it … Bring this light into your solar plexus … and on up into your heart … (long pause).

    When your heart is full, imagine a point in the center of the sun … way out there in space where the heart of God resides … Gradually now, allow yourself to merge with this heart in the center of the sun … (long pause). Feel your mind … your heart … your body becoming filled with the energy of the sun … (long pause).

    Now, sit for awhile in calm reflection … in the center of the sun … and just let this experience fill you to the very core of your being. Breathe it in with long, slow breaths … (long pause).

    Very slowly, now, feel yourself returning here … and coming back into your body. Feel your feet, your arms, your face. You may want to move around a little to bring your consciousness fully back … Take some time to feel yourself being totally present in your ordinary reality.

    ~This was taken from: HEALING THE EMOTIONS by Jacquelyn Small, Eupsychia Institute

    2) Positive Affirmations:

    By using the power of affirmations you state what you want to be true in your life. You see reality, as you want it to be. For a while, you ignore your current circumstances and your doubts, and concentrate on a different reality.

    - I am healthy and happy.
    - Wealth is pouring into my life.
    - I am flowing on the river of wealth.
    - I am getting wealthier each day.
    - My body is healthy and functioning in a very good way.
    - I have a lot of energy.
    - I study and comprehend fast.
    - I am getting A's in my exams.
    - My mind is calm.
    - I am calm and relaxed in every situation.
    - My thoughts are under my control.
    - I radiate love and happiness.
    - I am surrounded by love.
    - I have the perfect job for me.
    - I am living in the house of my dreams.
    - I have good and loving relations with my wife/husband.
    - I have a wonderful satisfying job.
    - I have the means to travel abroad whenever I want to.
    - I am successful in whatever I do.
    - Everything is getting better every day.

    ~ Copyright 2001-2005 Remez Sasson, SuccessConsciousness.com

    3) How to do the Grounding Technique:

    1. Bend your knees slightly and place your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your top teeth. Focus on your feet and imagine them sinking down into the ground that supports them.
    2. Place the fingertips of one hand beneath your lower lip and the heel of the other hand on your navel with the fingertips pointing down towards the ground (see arrow on diagram).
    3. Hold your hands on the points for about 30 seconds, or 4 - 6 complete breaths. Then switch hands and repeat.
    Breathing slowly and deeply encourages relaxation and further enhances the benefits of using this technique.

    How it Works:
    When you hold your hands in these positions they are contacting key points on the central vessel of the energy system. By simultaneously stimulating the beginning and end points of this meridian the brain is stimulated and mental fatigue is relieved.
    This simple exercise is useful during breaks from repetitive tasks, when working in front of a computer, or after long spells of driving.

    The Grounding Technique helps with:
    - General co-ordination
    - Organizational & sorting skills
    - Reading without disorientation (smoother tracking along lines of text)
    - Promoting grounding
    - Mental alertness
    - Improved posture (discourages slouching)
    - Relaxes the eyes

    ~From livingbydesignonline.com

    4) Anger Management Techniques:

    Anger is a very strong emotion. Uncontrolled anger is a life-long pattern. It is not easy to overcome anger; it requires determined commitment. It requires honesty, courage, and tremendous inner strength. It also requires help from others. To overcome anger, these steps are important:

    • Consciously determine to be calm. Don't react, think! Remember your goals and respond appropriately. Choose to remain calm!
    • Communicate. When someone upsets you, tell them. Calmly talk to them about how you feel about their words or actions. Learn to express yourself better -- clear and composed. Choose to!
    • Remove yourself from the scene until you can respond without anger.Your success will not happen overnight. Take it one step at a time, one day at a time. Remember to relax. Relaxation exercises or music can be helpful. Keep in mind you can reach out to someone you trust for help. Choose to!
    • Frequently take time for yourself. Do something you enjoy like walking in the park, swimming, reading the Bible, or seeing a feel-good movie. Do something nice for someone you admire. It's okay to feel good about yourself. Choose to!
    • Look for the positives. Don't dwell on the negatives. "Don't sweat the small stuff." Learn to be forgiving. This is difficult, but we need to start by learning to forgive ourselves!

    ~ From allaboutlifechallenges.org

  • Realistic Thinking: Distorted Cognitions

    Through my years of counseling practice, I have noticed that a major mental health issue has been what's called "cognitive distortions." These are thoughts that include all or nothing thinking, catastrophizing, focusing on what you should have done in the past, etc. They are not realistic ways to think of yourself or situations. These distortions can be very common with depression, anxiety, stress, OCD, and a mulititude of other mental health diagnoses. Particularly in a world where the pressure is on to be bigger, better, and faster, it makes sense that feeling this way has increased through time.

    I you feel you are experiencing unrealistic thinking, and it is interfering with your life, it would probably be helpful to take a look at this link which details out the different types of "cognitive distortions." See if any fit for you:

    http://cognitivetherapymd.com/Links/Distortions.htm

    If you fit into any of the categories at that website, it may be helpful for you to seek assistance in gaining control by seeing a counselor, therapist, or a life coach. There are also techiniques and workbooks to utilize in managing it on your own.  I would recommend the following:

    1) Recognizing a cognitive distortion, writing it down. Ask yourself, is this a realistic thought? If not, change it into a statement that IS realistic. (i.e. "I always mess up- could be changed to "I messed up, but I have learned from my mistakes in the past.")

    2) Positive Self-Talk- I have probably harped on this topic a number of times in my previous blog articles. I can't stress enough how important it is to be kind to yourself.

    3) Check out this book: How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life by John C. Maxwell

    4) Journal!!! Track when you're most having these cognitive distortions- it will help you see if there are particular situations, times of day/weeks/months that it's happening, a certain person triggering it, etc.

    Remember, change can be scary and difficult, but it is necessary to live your life to its fullest potential- especially if you are having a difficult time seeing things clearly.

  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and You

    http://www.ptsd.va.gov/http://www.ptsd.va.gov/http://www.ptsd.va.gov/http://www.ptsd.va.gov/PTSD. This term is thrown around quite a bit in both the world of psychology and with veterans of war. What is it? And who does it affect?

    PTSD means Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  According to the DSM-IV, PTSD is: The development of characteristic symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor involving direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or other threat to one's physical integrity; or witnessing an event that involves death, injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of another person; or learning about unexpected or violent death, serious harm, or threat of death or injury experienced by a family member or other close associate.

    That's a pretty long definition- and it keeps going from there!! So what does this mean to you? Most often we hear of PTSD as something that veterans of wars go through due to the traumatic experiences they have during combat. It's normal to have such symptoms as flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, depression, decreased motivation, suicidal/homicidal ideation, etc. It can manifest itself in many different forms, but either way, it is something that needs to be addressed as early on as possible as it can cause increasingly problematic issues in one's functioning in everyday life.

    So, does PTSD affect civilians too? Of course. Anyone who has been through a traumatic event such as sexual assault or abuse, mental or emotional abuse, verbal abuse, witnessing a traumatic event, etc. could experience any level of PTSD depending on what the person has witnessed or been through and his/her predisposition to stress and depression. Many people turn to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate and cope with the feelings they are having. The problem with that is, is that is never really addresses the underlying problem and the PTSD symptoms can actually become worse if masked by certain vices.

    PTSD can be managed and worked through with the proper treatment. Many individuals turn to talk therapy in conjunction with possible anti-depressant medications. There are also support groups for survivors of certain traumatic events that can help people cope more efficiently with the feelings and thoughts associated with the traumatic event(s). How might you be able to tell that you have PTSD? And what resources are there for treating it?

    A good resource is the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder:

    http://www.ptsd.va.gov

    http://helpguide.org/mental/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm

    A great checklist to see if you might actually be experiencing PTSD can be found here:

     http://www.tgorski.com/Terrorism/ptsd_checklist_civilian_version.htm

    To start the process of healing, I would recommend using this workbook in conjunction with talk therapy and seeing a psychiatrist: The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery, and Growth by Glenn R. Schiraldi

  • Is it ADD, ADHD, or Something Else?

    One of the most mis-diagnosed mental health issues is ADD/ADHD. Often times, as a child, individuals will present with symptoms that may mimic ADD/ADHD when they might really be experiencing bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, or stress. If you or someone you know is trying to figure out if he/she indeed does have ADD/ADHD, there are some things that should be thought of from the start:

    • Did you take medications or receive assistance in school or counseling when you were younger? 
    • Are you having trouble focusing?
    • Difficulty keeping your attention span?
    • Feeling a little manic even?
    • Having trouble finishing tasks?

    I suggest seeing your regular MD first for a full physical. Then, seek a psychiatrist for help with getting on medication if you aren't already on some. You can bring with you the results of a quiz on whether or not you may have ADD/ADHD with you. There are many sites out there that you can find free quizzes on- i.e. http://psychcentral.com/addquiz.htm.  He/she can then determine if what you're dealing with is indeed ADD/ADHD, or something else.

    Psychotherapy, as well as possible medications, could be the answer you're looking for in dealing with whatever it is you may be diagnosed with. With talk therapy, you can begin to build the tools to manage symptoms of interrupted concentration, inability to focus, stress, and anxiety. This, in conjunction with possible medication management, may be the relief you are seeking- whatever the diagnosis in the end may be. I also recommend reading this book as well as one travels on this journey:

    You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!: The Classic Self-Help Book for Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder by Kate Kelly, Peggy Ramundo, and Edward M., M.D. Hallowell

  • Mid-Life Crisis: Not just a Male's Issue

    What is it about reaching your forties and fifties that causes some individuals to revert back to the action of their twenties? There are many theories on this. Most of them surround the typical mid-life crisi a man has where he buys a sports car or a motorcycle. Maybe he'll start dressing more up to date or looking for a younger woman. But what about the female that hits her forties and fifities? Is it possible for women to have a mid-life crisis too?

    The answer is simple: Yes. Everyone starts to evaluate their life's accomplishments around this stage in life. You've usually gone through marriage, having kids, working for a period of time, etc. You start to think about the end of your life- have you accomplished all the things you've wanted?  Is there where I thought I'd be at this age? What does my future hold? And there only so many years left, I'm going to get out there and do the things that I should have done when I was younger.

    In my experience working with both males and females, I've been told that it feels almost like a switch has been turned on and they can't make sense of it. It may be confused with mania, depression, anxiety, stress, etc. It can also come hand in hand with those emotional issues. It doesn't mean that you are crazy though.

    Some sites that I would particularly recommend both males and females to check out are listed below. They help to define what is or isn't "normal" in a mid-life crisis state of mind. They also talk about the differences in what manic behavior might be like as opposed to mid-life crisis thoughts/feelings/actions.

    http://www.more.com/2035/2640-midlife-crisis--how-women-cope\ 

    http://cme.medscape.com/viewarticle/487928 

    http://counsellingresource.com/distress/mood-disorders/manic-symptoms.html

    If you feel you can't seem to get a hold of what's going on with you, seek help from your friends, family, and your doctor. It may be helpful to also work these issues out with a therapist/counselor, especially if you feel what's going on is affecting your family and friends (and living your life in general).

  • Self-Esteem: A Look Inside and Out

    Ever feel less than perfect? Or that you just aren't measuring up? This is a common issue amongst people all over the world. It's a stressful environment out there. The pressure to look and be a certain way is forever rising. The bar is set just a little bit higher for each generation to come. Is there a way to actually love yourself for you are? The answer is definitely yes.

    Body image is not just an issue females face, males also struggle with how they look. It's doubley difficult if others have mistreated you or not been there for you as you've experienced your weight/body image/self-esteem issues. Do you see a psychiatrist or a therapist/counselor? If not, I would definitely recommend it. It can be really helpful to get out whatever you're feeling, particularly to someone who isn't in your world and can be objective. There are places that do sliding scales for fees and free clinics if money is an issue. I'd be happy to help you get referrals in that regard.

    As for what you can do for yourself, I'd definitely recommend checking www.whatswithme.com. There are articles/blogs I've posted on here about depression, anxiety, stress, anger, etc. I also have my website linked to my Twitter account. It sounds cheesy, but I post daily positive affirmations on there. It's really important to try to focus on the positives about you (because you are not just made up of your outward appearance, it's also what is inside).

    I would suggest reading:

    http://www.loveyourbody.org/

     
     

    The Body Myth: Adult Women and the Pressure to be Perfect by Margo Maine

    The Good Body by Eve Ensler

    I hope some of these resources are helpful. Remember that you can always turn to depression, body image chat boards or forums. You can also contact me online now and either chat live or drop me an email. Hang in there- You ARE smart enough, good enough, and gosh darnit, people like you!

  • Stress: How Do I Manage It?

    Stress is a common and often consistent part of our every day lives. Unfortunately, it's not something we can completely cut out of the human routine. Especially during these difficult economic times, stress seems to have reached a fevered pitch. However, this does not mean that people can't learn, access, and utilize tools to manage it.

    Although we can't eliminate family, relationship, school, and work stress, here are just a few ways you can lessen stress:

    • Ground yourself- take a 5 minute break to focus on your 5 senses. Be aware of sights, sounds, touch, taste, and smells.
    • Counting- Count back from 100 or whatever number you are comfortable with- steady your breathing with your countdown picturing the number in your head while saying out loud (or internally).
    • Breathing Exercises- Place your hands on your abdomen. Breathe in and breathe out slowly, letting your belly relax- while it moves outward and inward.
    • Imagery- Place yourself in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Choose a place (pretend or real) that makes you feel calm (i.e. lying in a hammock on the beach at sunset works for me!). Focus on that image. Take note of the atmosphere around you, notice the smells, notice the noises around you, etc. Sometimes imagery works well if you can also put on some calming soft music.
    • Make realistic daily goals for yourself. A list of "things to do" longer than seven items will probably cause you stress. Do what you are ABLE. Do not set yourself up for failure before you've even begun to tackle your day.

    These are just a few ways to take breaks from stress and calm yourself. I will be posting more blogs detailing more specific tools to use in de-stressing your life. For now, remember, you are a good and worthy person who has much to offer the world.