individuals counseling Articles

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 ...

...Read More

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 ...

...Read More

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 ...

...Read More

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...

...Read More

A Look at Signs of Bipolar Disorder and the Latest Treatments

Imagine that you are sitting in a sailboat. Looking out at the water, you envision where you want to go. You set the rudder, lift the anchor, put up the sails and away you go. If the wind is strong, you can move quickly to your destination. Perhaps the wind picks up and up and you're suddenly feeling less like a sailor and more like a pilot. The wind is carrying you faster and faster and this has become an incredibly fun thrill ride! You look down at the water and enjoy watching the waves go by as you speedily fly atop the waves, nothing holding you back. However, the wind eventually dies down. After some time, it crawls to a stop and you are stuck.

With no wind in your sails, you float in the ocean all alone. You feel isolated. You look at your boat and realize that that high speed thrill ride you were on a short while ago left your hull damaged, chunks of wood flown off, and you neglected basic maintenance for some time. Perhaps you try blowing into the sails, but nothing can get your boat going again.

Eventually, the winds pick up and once again you're flying. But soon they die and again you're stuck. This process goes on and on for some time. It wears on you, and you never get where you wanted to go in the first place. Ultimately, you are at the whims of the wi...

...Read More

Sex Addiction: Effects on Partners

This article references the book, Mending a Shattered Heart, edited by Stefanie Carnes

Finding out your partner has been unfaithful is devastating. If the behavior proves to be the result of a sexual addiction, there can be even more overwhelming feelings of shame, confusion, loss, and pain; sometimes there are symptoms of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), such as hypervigilance and intrusive thinking.

Sex Addiction Criteria

Following are ten key criteria for sex addiction. If someone meets three or more of these ten criteria, he or she would be considered a sex addict. These criteria need to be present over a prolonged period of time (e.g., six months) and not be part of a major mood swing, such as in bipolar disorder.

1. Recurrent failure to resist sexual impulses in order to engage in specific sexual behaviors

2. Frequently engaging in those behaviors to a great extent or over a longer period of time than intended

3. Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to stop, reduce, or control those behaviors

4. Inordinate amounts of time spent in obtaining sex, being sexual, or recovering from sexual experiences

5. Preoccupation with sexual behavior or preparatory activities

6. Frequent engaging in the behavior when expected to f...

...Read More

Coping with Social Anxiety Disorder

I am walking through the woods on a peaceful day and I suddenly see a huge grizzly bear standing on its hind legs looking at me. I am paralyzed with fear. My heart rate accelerates, my mouth feels dry, my muscles tighten, my mind goes blank, my skin gets clammy, and I feel like I just drank 10 Red Bull Energy drinks.

These are all very adaptive fight or flight responses my body produces to protect me from the huge animal. Under this stress response, I will move faster, bleed less if hurt, be fueled by energy hormones, and will be less distracted by irrelevant details going through my mind. The Fight or Flight response is rooted in my instincts as an automatic response to help me survive when my wellbeing is threatened.

What if this survival response got triggered every time I had perform a new social interaction? My body and mind respond to a social interaction with another person as if I am about to be devoured by a grizzly bear. Having the survival response trigger when it is not needed can be exhausting and bring a person’s quality of life to a standstill.

Social anxiety disorder is the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to social avoidance as means of coping. Fear of embarrassment or being in situations where you could be scrutin...

...Read More

Contact Us

Blog Sidebar Form Sample