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What Causes Depression? 5 Main Culprits

In any given year, depending on demographics, about 5-12 percent of the population will experience an episode of major depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Depression, as described as a major depressive episode, can be an overwhelming experience. Over a life span, around 20 percent of the population will experience a mood disorder (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.). This means that many people you know are living with depression, and possibly in silence.

What causes depression?

With so many people affected, it poses the question, "Where does all of this come from?" It’s a question psychologists have been asking for decades. While we have some idea of the answer, it is more complex than straightforward and the answer looks different for each person suffering from depression.

Different Types of Depression

First of all, let’s define our terms here. When we say depression, this can mean a few different things. Did you know that under the classification of Major Depressive Disorder (the hallmark depression diagnosis), there are 14 different codes (sort of more specific diagnoses) that therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists can use? These look at different aspects of depression such as its tendency to cycle (or ...

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Anger Management for Kids: How Christian Counseling Can Help

The reasons and causes for a child to be prone to angry outbursts are too numerous to discuss in one article. Children are born with different innate dispositions, may be dealing with a disability that constantly frustrates them, or may be reacting to a dramatic change to their life. These are some examples of life factors that result in an angry child who is difficult to manage.

Having an approach specific to the particular cause is an important consideration when dealing with anger management for kids. However, we can find some universal parenting principles in the Bible that are necessary ingredients for helping children develop coping skills to function in the world.

In my 20 years in working with families, a common theme I have found with children and teenagers with anger problems is inconsistent parenting. A lot of permissive parents focus on being connected to their child, but shift to be controlling in a crisis. Conversely, authoritarian parents don’t know how to be positively connected to their kids when things are going well and provide little support toward autonomy.

Many parents shift back and forth between the two styles inconsistently, leaving the child without stable boundaries to figure things out. The result is that the child is constantly frustrated t...

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10 Ways Anxiety in Children Affects Their Education and Life

Do you remember what emotions you felt on the first day of middle school? How about something a little more recent, like your first day of work at a new job? Maybe by now the scary thoughts and fear you had then are no longer part of your memory because they were fairly normal responses to what was happening that day, but can you imagine what it would be like if those feelings were a part of you all the time, even when they do not make sense?

What if you were a young child trying to go to school every day or to a friend’s birthday party on the weekend, but fear made it difficult for you go?

Perhaps you are the parent of a child struggling with anxiety and you're wondering exactly what is happening inside of their mind and body when they think about a social setting. It can be hard for everyone when a child in the family is experiencing anxiety symptoms, but even harder when their school teacher or their best friend doesn’t understand what is going on and they are not supportive of their emotional needs.

Teachers often do not know what is happening with the child and they can underestimate the effects of anxiety on the student and their peers. Teachers can mistake anxiety for many other things and sometimes do not have the knowledge yet on how to recognize anxiety in ...

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Behavior Therapy Can Help You Overcome

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can manifest in a wide variety of forms and intensity specific to the sufferer’s emotional and/or neurological structure, characterized by an experience of feeling stuck in repetitive cycles of thinking and/or behavior.

Over time, these feelings of being unable to change one's thinking or behavior can cause escalating feelings of anxiety and depression, until life becomes unmanageable. Popularized by movies like As Good As It Gets, Jack Nicolson’s portrayal of a man who has to turn the lock on his door the same number times each time he touches it and can’t step on sidewalk cracks, is actually a pretty narrow view of the condition.

The complexities of this particular diagnosis make it essential to see a mental health professional if you are concerned about the behavior in yourself or a loved one. Because obsessive and compulsive behaviors can be somatic, neurological, or behavioral, it is important to understand the cause in order to find the best treatment. If you have received a diagnosis of OCD from a mental health professional, depending on the severity and causality, it may be treatable by Behavioral Therapy.

Behavioral Therapy for Obsesseive-Compulsive Disorder

In general, Behavioral Therapy (BT) is about using ...

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Am I Experiencing Symptoms of Anxiety?

When we are traumatized at an early age (and most of us are in one form or another), one of the most obvious and prevalent defensive structures we use to survive is disconnection from our bodies. This is the mind walling itself off from the experience of trauma to prevent being overwhelmed. When the mind is overwhelmed, it stops functioning.

If you are reading and understanding this, whatever you have suffered, it means your defensive and family or social support structures were sufficient to allow you to become emotionally formed. This disconnection from our bodies becomes important when we start to wonder about anxiety, because the first place we notice anxiety is in our bodies.

Symptoms of Anxiety

The American Heritage Medical Dictionary defines anxiety as “a state of intense apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a threatening event or situation, often to a degree that normal physical and psychological functioning is disrupted.”

Symptoms may include but are not limited to:

  • muscle tension
  • heart palpitations
  • sweating
  • dizziness
  • syncope (fainting)
  • tingling in the hands
  • shortness of breath

The body and mind store trauma as...

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The Benefits of Marriage and Family Counseling Together

One of the hallmarks of marriage and family counseling is the idea that everything is connected. When a family is in a stressful situation, the stress might rear its head as a child acting out, as a relationship in turmoil, siblings fighting, or it can emerge in any other sort of relationship or individual. Further, when something is affecting the couple or marriage, it will likely affect any children or individuals from the family of origin.

This sort of interconnectedness is often called “systems” thinking or theory. Troubles go up and down, left and right in the hierarchy of the family, and it only follows then that coming around to support the family in therapy should include a multi-pronged approach.

When I work with couples and families, often they come in trying to say who the problem is, rather than what the problem is. In most instances, anything somebody has done can be boiled down to a symptom of a larger issue within the system.

A lack of affection from one individual might stem from a lack of trust in the relationship on both parts. Someone constantly blaming someone can be the symptom of neither partner listening. Rather than the “problem” residing in one person or the other, I like to frame it as the relationship that needs mending.

When sittin...

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What is an Emotional Affair? 5 Ways to Stop and Re-engage Your Spouse

Let’s begin with a simple definition. An emotional affair is any relationship where we go outside our marriage to have our emotional needs met. This is by necessity an egregiously broad definition. The difficulty comes from the fact that we are created for relationship. It is our position in the relationship that determines whether it is an affair or not.

Examples of Emotional Affairs

Consider for a moment a wife who loves listening to live music, and a husband who doesn’t. He doesn’t engage with her and she feels lonely. She finds a friend who also loves live music and they begin going out on weekends. In the absence of her husband’s attention, she becomes attached to this friend, begins preferring her over her husband and choosing her needs over his.

Or a husband who works on a Bible Study with a single theology student who goes to his church. She is lively and interested and genuinely appreciates his mind. Things are okay at home, but this woman makes him feel alive in ways he hasn’t felt in years, or maybe ever. He begins to find reasons to text her and meet with her, and his interest in spending time with his wife begins to wane.

Or a pastor begins counseling a single woman, who is attractive and genuinely interested in him as a person, or damaged ...

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