What to Avoid to Ensure Healthy Relationships

If you think you or someone you know might be in a toxic relationship, you need to know the signs of a toxic relationship. Of course, if your partner or someone you know shows one sign of toxicity, then it doesn’t automatically mean that person is toxic. But perhaps it’s a good thing to address before it negatively affects your relationship.

If you’re in a toxic relationship, it’s very possible that the other person isn’t aware that they are toxic. And they probably aren’t googling “signs of a toxic relationship.” People can develop these toxic behaviors from poor decisions and unhealthy learned behaviors. But even if they have developed these behaviors from unfortunate life circumstances, it doesn’t make their behavior excusable. They still don’t have the right to treat others poorly.

The Signs of a Toxic Relationship

Here are signs of a toxic relationship and what you can do if you’re in a toxic relationship:

Blaming Others

If your partner or friend or family member is constantly blaming others for things that go wrong and can’t take responsibility, that a sign of a toxic behavior. And if you find yourself making excuses for your partner/friend/family member’s bad behavior, then you are enabling their toxic behavior.

Refusing to Acknowledge a Problem

If someone is shutting you down when you bring up a problem you want to address, that’s a sign of a toxic relationship. It’s important to talk about problems and address them.  In a healthy relationship, both parties should be able to take feedback and adjust.

Draining

A toxic relationship will leave you feeling drained. If you start to notice you’re constantly stressed out by a relationship, it might be a toxic one. It can literally take a toll on your body, leaving you tired and drained.

Controlling

Another sign of a toxic relationship includes controlling behavior under the guise of trying to “help.” If someone is pushy with their opinions, especially when you haven’t asked for their opinions, you may be in a toxic relationship.

Taking Advantage

A toxic relationship will include someone who routinely takes advantage of you and your time, may constantly forget what you have to do, and ask for favors when you told them you’re swamped.

Putting Others Down

In a healthy relationship, both parties feel safe and loved. In a toxic relationship, one or both parties will try to make the other feel bad about themselves. This is a toxic behavior.

Manipulating

In a toxic relationship, you’ll notice your partner/friend/family member tries to manipulate you or try to make you believe something that may not be true. Make sure you have other people in your life who can keep you grounded and help you avoid believing the manipulation.

Threatening

If someone is threatening to leave the relationship as a means to get their way, this is a sure sign of a toxic relationship.

Signs of a Toxic Relationship: What Do I Do?

Now that you know the signs of a toxic relationship, what can you do? You might be thinking that it’s time to break it off with the toxic relationship, but you might also be wondering how you can make things work. If your plan is to break it off with the toxic relationship, then break it off and don’t do the on-again-off-again thing, because that can be toxic too. Instead, do what you can to remove yourself from the toxic relationship and remind yourself of the reasons why it’s unhealthy for you.

If you need, find a friend or a family member who can support you in your decision and help remind you why you broke off the relationship. If after reading the signs of a toxic relationship, you think you might be the toxic one in the relationship, don’t think there’s no chance for you! A therapist can help you work through your unhealthy behaviors so you can have happy, healthy relationships.

If you feel like you need to maintain the relationship, first start by finding a good therapist to help you through the process. Chances are your toxic relationship isn’t going to like that you’re going to be making some changes to the relationship, and a therapist can help you through the transition. Remember that a healthy relationship is about both parties doing their part to make the relationship work. You might want to try bringing your significant other to meet with the therapist as well.

Here are some things your therapist will help you learn and practice:

Making Decisions

Take control of your life and try making your own decisions. Don’t let the toxic relationship dictate your every choice. Start by making small decisions. When you do this, you start to feel like you’re gaining control over your life again.

Establishing Boundaries

It’s important to create healthy boundaries with your toxic relationships. Be clear about what you are willing to do and what you aren’t willing to take. There will be push-back against the boundaries you try to create because your toxic partner/friend/family member isn’t used to you sticking up for yourself. Be firm and repeat your boundaries as necessary.

Learning to Communicate

Learn healthy communication skills. If you need to, take a course or meet with a therapist who will help guide you and your partner through positive communication skills.

Separating

If you find that there’s no way the two of you can cooperate to create a healthy, non-toxic relationship, sometimes the best choice is to separate.

For a more comprehensive list of signs of a toxic relationship, read this article on Psychology Today.

6 Ways of Building a Positive Perspective

Every March 9th we observe National Get over It Day. This is a day when we can practice how to overcome the big and little difficulties in life. Maybe you got into an argument, had a stressful day at work, didn’t get the grades you expected in school, have a rebellious child you don’t know how to handle, are in a pinch financially, etc.

At the same time, there are probably a lot of good things happening in your life as well. When we look for it, there are many things to be happy about and to be grateful for: the sunshine outside, a kind gesture from someone, helping those around you, your health, etc.

You can choose to stop ruminating on those negative vibes starting today! You can put your 2020 positive glasses on!

Positive thinking is a tool to create and maintain good mental health. When you spend more time thinking about all the good things happening in your life, you naturally spend less time in negative thoughts.

Positive thinking reduces your risk of depression and anxiety. Positive people are more likely to use healthy coping mechanisms and stay away from destructive behaviors such as substance abuse, self-harm or eating disorders. For example, if a person is having problems at work, positive thinking helps find ways to make the environment more enjoyable or get a new job instead of ruminating on work stress.

Positive thinking can help you cultivate healthy relationships. Think about it, would you like to be around someone with a positive disposition and who is able to look at the silver linings, or someone reminding you of everything that is going wrong?

We can act as a light for others who are struggling and need a “pick me up”. We can choose to surround ourselves with others who uplift us and help us see the sunshine when we are in a dark place.

Healthy and supportive relationships are a big protective factor we can use to overcome and cope with our mental health issues.

Your body also needs positivity!

People who tend to have a positive outlook experience better physical health. Our mind and body are interconnected and always interacting. A positive perspective can encourage our bodies to have a strong immune system.

  • People who focus on the positive tend to live longer than those who would describe their glass as half-empty. They get through health challenges like cancer, heart attacks, and diabetes with fewer complications and are more likely to survive.
  • Optimists have less overall inflammation than pessimists. This means that the aging process goes more smoothly and they are less likely to develop heart disease and other illnesses.
  • People who have a positive attitude get better sleep, eat better, and exercise more than those who have a negative attitude. All of these self-care activities lend to better physical and mental health. For example, sleep deficiency can be linked to anxiety and getting enough exercise has been proven to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • One study showed that people with HIV who were taught positive coping skills had lower virus loads, tended to take their medication more reliably, and felt more in control of their illnesses than those who were simply given supportive counseling.

Source: https://paradigmsanfrancisco.com/positive-attitude-improves-mental-health/

What if I am a pessimist?

Some people naturally tend to expect the worse out of a situation or think about worst-case scenarios in order to be “prepared”. People suffering from anxiety and depression struggle daily with negative and self-defeating thoughts because it is part of their condition. Also, always being happy is not realistic. Difficult things will happen in life that will cause sadness, hopelessness, etc.

The majority of these thoughts are a product of cognitive distortions, discussed in our last post. These thoughts might seem realistic but they are actually based on emotion– not facts or evidence. When we are caught in these distortions our minds tend to expect the worse and make reality seem worse than it actually is. This is when positive thinking can be greatly beneficial!

Positive thinking is a skill that can be learned and developed over time. The important thing is effort and consistency.

Think about when you go start going to the gym. The first time it feels unfamiliar and difficult and the results are not immediate. You look at yourself and notice you haven’t gained any muscle. Somedays you may have to push yourself to keep up with your training.

However, you know that if you keep going, over time you will see and feel the results of your hard work. Months after you started working out you have a toned body, you eat healthier, feel more energy throughout your day, and you’re proud to show off.

Mental health and positive thinking are quite similar. When you practice positive thinking regularly, it might not always be successful, but your perspective towards your world starts changing. You start thinking of everything that can go RIGHT and feel confident to take on challenges.

It is a skill that needs constant practice and is flexible enough for you to mold it to your needs. For example: when you get into an argument instead of thinking of all the things you said wrong, you start actively looking for solutions and compromises.

TIPS TO THINK POSITIVELY

Practice Gratitude

Be thankful for the good things that you have. Your family, friends, coworkers, community. Be grateful for all the little things, like the fact that you have access to drinking water. Little things that we take for granted can be a great source of gratitude.

DON’T MINIMIZE YOUR SUCCESSES

Recognize your efforts and talents when achieving a goal. We have a tendency to downplay our achievements, but we need to learn to celebrate ourselves and be our own cheerleaders.

Avoid White or black mindset

This kind of mindset limits our ability to be happy and undervalues our efforts. White or black thinking leads to seeing all bad when something is not perfect. Even in imperfection, things can be successful and worth it.

FOCUS on your strenghts

Dedicate a day to each of your strengths and practice them to develop ways to use them effectively. Take advantage of all your talents to make your day better

Generate positive emotions

Choose a song, picture or video that makes you feel good! This is a way to take a break from anything that is going on in your life and can help you laugh a little.

picture your best future

Use visualization to help you achieve your goals. Each day visualize the best day you can have and include as many details as you can. See what you’re wearing, how you’re feeling, where are you, what are you doing. Include all five senses. You want to immerse yourself in this experience.

If you need help relaxing and creating positive thoughts, we can help! Our meditation room is a comfortable and safe place to explore your mental health. We offer enhanced meditation with our David Delight Pro AVE and CES machine. This equipment will guide your brain to a meditative state and stimulate your brain to generate more positive thinking.

If you’re interested you can email us at aspenvalleycounseling@gmail.com or call us at (801)224-1103 for your FREE appointment for our meditation room.

How to Overcome Your Cognitive Distortions

Do you hate failing? Are you overwhelmed with life? Do things just never work out for you?

Sometimes life is hard, but sometimes we make our lives harder than they have to be. We do this by holding onto something called cognitive distortions.

What are cognitive distortions?

The term “cognitive distortion” is a fancy way of describing some of the ways our brains incorrectly process information. Cognitive distortions can be a mixture of exaggerated, irrational, or untrue thoughts that we believe to be true. Cognitive distortions are most commonly used to consciously or unconsciously help us justify negative thoughts or emotions.

It is important to identify your own cognitive distortions because they distort the way we view yourself and the world around you.

Different types of cognitive distortions?

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Here’s a list of some cognitive distortions. Once you go through them, you can figure out which ones you want to work on. After you’ve identified your cognitive distortions, scroll down to the next section to see how you can overcome them.

  • “Should” statements: If you think the words “should, “must,” “ought,” or “have to,” you’re probably about to stumble upon the “should” statement cognitive distortion. When you use these words, you’re using guilt and shame to get yourself or others to do something. These words are a shame trigger and can leave those affected feeling inadequate. This is a cognitive distortion because there is no one perfect way to do something, and when you put expectations on yourself and others, you’re going to be disappointed when things don’t turn out the way you think they’re supposed to.
  • Polarized thinking: Polarized thinking is when you think in extremes or where there are only two options. An example is when you think 1) you have to be perfect otherwise you’re a failure and 2) either you’re good or you’re bad. The problem with polarized thinking is that it views the world through only black and white lenses and ignores all the gray. Life is filled with all the gray in between black and white. A lot of the time you’re not going to be perfect, but you’re not a failure either; you’re going to be in the middle.
  • Heaven’s reward fallacy: When you think that you deserve for things to go right just because you’re doing your best, you are giving in to the heaven’s reward fallacy cognitive distortion.  When you start thinking that life isn’t fair, you decide that somehow it’s God/the Universe fault. This is a cognitive distortion because God never promised life would be easy, even for those who were obedient. Just look at Job’s life.
  • Catastrophizing: You’re catastrophizing when you take a bad situation and exaggerate to make it seem worse. You go into a downward spiral where everything seems like it will fall apart. This is a cognitive distortion because often the disaster you imagine will happen probably won’t happen. Instead of picking yourself up by the bootstraps, you’ll end up wallowing in despair.
  • Overgeneralization: When one bad thing happens, you start thinking it will happen again and be just as bad. You may see one unpleasant event as an unending stream of negative events. But this thought pattern will keep you upset and unmotivated.
  • The fallacy of change: If you think that people will change to meet your needs, you’re putting your happiness in their hands. If you’re only happy when people do as you please, you will often find yourself unhappy.
  • Jumping to conclusions: Assuming what people mean without asking them means you’ll end up making incorrect assumptions about their words and behavior. You’ll often assume something that’s incorrect, which will eventually cause problems in the relationship and lead to unhappiness.
  • Blaming: When you blame others for things that happen, you’re holding them responsible for what you go through rather than accepting responsibility for things that happen. And sometimes, things just happen that don’t have to do with choices you or others intentionally make. But it’s also possible for you to blame yourself for everything, and that’s not healthy either. It’s not possible for something to always be your fault, and it’s not possible that everything is always the fault of others.
  • Negative filter: You’re using a negative filter when you focus on the negatives and ignore the positive. But life has both positive and negative things that happen, so you’re robbing yourself of happiness when you ignore the positive.
  • Personalization: The personalization cognitive distortion is when someone believes the things that are said and done by the people around them are personally directed at them. Someone might make the comment, ” I hate when others are late,” and the personalizer might interpret that their friend thinks he or she (the personalizer) is always late. These people tend to be defensive and argumentative as they think others are always attacking them personally.
  • Control Fallacies: Control fallacies show up mainly in two different ways: external and internal. Someone with an external control fallacy takes a victim stance in their life. They have the belief that everything in their life is out of their control and that their life is a by-product of other people’s actions and choices. On the flip side, someone with an internal control fallacy will believe that they are responsible for the happiness and wellbeing of those around them.
  • Emotional Reasoning: Emotional reasoning is summed up in the belief that what one must feel must be the reality. When we are emotionally charged, we do not reason or see logic as we would if we were in a calmer state of mind. When emotional reasoning is in use, the person feels that whatever they are feeling must be true automatically and unconditionally. It gives the person tunnel vision to all reason, logic, rational, and consequently, all other options.
  • Always Being right: This distortion centers on the belief that one is always right in actions, thoughts, and beliefs. This fallacy is a distortion because there are many varying opinions that are neither “right” or “wrong” only differing. Also, when it comes to relationships, it is impossible for one to always be right. Oftentimes, when two people are fighting both parties are at fault in some way. Just as it takes two to tango; it takes two to fight.

How can I overcome my cognitive distortions?

Photo by Tachina Lee on Unsplash

If you’ve identified your own cognitive distortions, you’ve completed the first step! Great work! Now, you just have to start recognizing when you’re believing your distortions. Try to catch yourself in the act. When you notice yourself believing your cognitive distortions, tell yourself why it’s a cognitive distortion and try to move away from believing it.

For example, if you have a bad date and you start thinking that all of your dates are horrible, and you’re never going to have a good date, so you probably won’t ever find the love of your life, and you’ll probably die alone, then you are catastrophizing. Stop yourself once you notice what you’re doing and walk yourself through the thoughts. Just because you had a bad date does not automatically mean you will die alone.

By interrupting your negative thought patterns, you can start to overcome your cognitive distortions. Be patient with yourself, and remember that noticing your cognitive distortions will take time, but any small progress is progress.

Try sharing your goals to overcome your cognitive distortions with those you spend time with. If you feel comfortable with it, ask your friends and family to mention when they notice you’re going down the cognitive distortion road.

It will take persistent work, but as you overcome your cognitive distortions, you’ll find life is much more fulfilling and enjoyable.

PsychCentral.com has a worksheet that you can go through to help change your negative distortions. Click the worksheet below.

Cognitive Distortions Worksheet

Crying Over Spilled Milk?

“Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk” Day

The past has a lot of lessons to teach. Reflecting on our past mistakes, misfortunes or failures can be helpful to process emotions. When it comes to mental health, our attitude towards the past can influence our emotions and behaviors in the present and the future. It is healthy to give yourself some time to process past events and allow yourself to grieve. We can learn to avoid making the same mistakes, build better coping mechanisms, value forgiveness and/or memories.

However, when constant negative thoughts about our past or uncontrollable events start invading our mind, we are doing what is called rumination. Rumination diminishes our quality of life because we are unable to live in the present moment. A common phrase for this is to “cry over spilled milk,” which gives us no resolution.

Rumination can be identified when we find ourselves having the same thought over, and over again during a prolonged period of time. These thoughts are usually self-defeating and can feel restricting because they seem to have no solution or escape. People ruminate for many reasons, but the most common reasons include:

1. The belief that by ruminating we’ll find a solution or gain insight to a problem

2. Facing ongoing uncontrollable stressors. Overthinking can give us a perceived control over these factors.

Ruminating is detrimental to our mental health. It can intensify depression and anxiety, decrease self-esteem, impair our ability to process emotions, isolate us, and create unhealthy cycles.

TIPS TO STOP RUMINATING

FIND DISTRACTIONS

When you notice you start having non-stop thoughts about the same situation or problem, find things to distract yourself and help you break the cycle.

– Watch a movie

– Call a friend

– Listen to music

– Exercise

– Do a puzzle

– Read a book

CHALLENGE YOUR THOUGHTS

Most of the time ruminating thoughts are irrational and catastrophic, making our problems seem bigger and more dramatic than they really are. The best way to solve these feelings is to question our thoughts and find your strengths. Ask yourself questions such as

What evidence do I have to support this thought?

Is this thought based on facts or feelings?

Will this matter a week from now, a year from now, or 5 years from now?

What would I tell a friend is this situation? or what would a friend say?

IDENTIFY YOUR TRIGGERS

when you find yourself ruminating take note of what’s going on around you. Who is there, what time is it, what were you doing, etc. When you know what triggers negative thoughts you can work on avoiding or managing triggers.

USE A WORRY MAP

Saying “stop worrying” sounds a lot easier than it is to actually do it. A worry map takes you through different steps to manage worrying. If your worry has a solution do it now or make an action plan. If not, then write down on a list for later and let it go. Use this list for “worry postponement”, sometimes not being able to worry causes…worry! Schedule a time in your day for 15 minutes to worry all you want. However you can’t worry outside the scheduled time.

TALK TO A FRIEND OR COUNSELOR

Being able to express out loud our worries, feelings, etc. can be very therapeutic. Having someone validate our experiences and “get it all out” helps us process emotions in a healthy way and provides introspection.

“To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be. When we let be with compassion, things come and go on their own.” –Jack Kornfield

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Get Your Head in the Right Space

Did you know…? Your body is extremely intelligent and capable of healing. Often when thinking about our health we fail to see ourselves as complex beings. Our mind and body are always connected and interacting to help us adapt to our environment and keep our functioning in optimal condition. However, when afflictions affect the body or the mind, this delicate balance can be broken and cause an array of physical and emotional symptoms.

Nowadays in Western culture, we have a quick-relief approach to our health. When we feel pain or discomfort we can take a pill and hope to make it go away. Unfortunately, this is a temporal fix and will cause the symptom to come back if we ignore its origin.

Taking the time to figure out the root cause of our health symptoms can seem like a complicated and daunting journey. Treating the root cause of an illness requires commitment since it might include changes in lifestyle and creating new habits. Moreover, they might not bring immediate relief to certain symptoms but they will bring LONG TERM RELIEF and enhance your quality of life.

When a health specialist, being physical or mental health, takes the time to look at every factor that might be contributing to discomfort or illness, they are using Holistic Health. A holistic doctor may use conventional and alternative approaches to treat their patients. For example, a patient that complains of frequent headaches might have to look at medications, diet, sleep pattern, stress levels, and possibly therapy if there’s an emotional component to it.

Psychosomatic Illness and Symptoms

Pyschosomatic illness refers to physical symptoms that are caused by emotional distress and other mental health disturbances rather than an organic cause in the body. A common misconception is that psychosomatic symptoms are not as serious because they are caused by emotions. However, they are very real and need to be treated just like any other illness. Our mind has a great influence on brain structure and functioning, and in effect, our brain influences physical functioning.

Common health issues such as anxiety and depression, as well as high stress, can cause various physical symptoms besides emotional changes.

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Racing heart
  • Muscle tension
  • Sweaty or trembling hands
  • Digestion issues
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakened immune system

MINDFULNESS

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

Mindfulness allows us to heighten our awareness of the present, our surroundings, what we think, and our sensory experiences. The first rule of mindfulness is to learn to accept things as they are.

By practicing mindfulness we gain self-awareness and self-compassion, we allow ourselves to look at our advantages and defects without judgment or biases. When doing this, we also learn to look at others with a different perspective and more empathy.

Research shows that when you train your brain to be mindful, you’re actually remodeling the physical structure of your brain.

The goal of mindfulness is to wake up to the inner workings of our mental, emotional, and physical processes.

Simple Mindfulness Tips

  1. Schedule quiet time. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, just anywhere where you can take a time out.
  2. Observe the present moment. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgment.
  3. Let judgments go. When we notice judgments arise during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.
  4. Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.
  5. Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.

NEUROFEEDBACK

Neurofeedback can help you treat the root cause of your symptoms: your BRAIN.

Neurofeedback is a treatment that allows you to train brainwaves to improve and enhance their functioning. The brain receives feedback to produce changes in brain patterns that are associated with positive outcomes in physical, emotional and cognitive skills. This treatment does not require surgery or medicine and is not painful. Feedback usually consists of watching images on a screen, which could be a game or a movie.

If you wish to know more about neurofeedback and train your brain to a healthier state please visit: https://aspen-wellness.org/nft/ or call our office for questions (801) 224-1103

Photo credits to Marc Bourcier Photography

LEARN MORE ABOUT DEPRESSION

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”
― Laurell K. Hamilton, Mistral’s Kiss

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

Mental illness affects tens of millions of people in the United States. Depression is by far the most prevalent, representing 99% of all mind-brain illness. (Schizophrenia and major psychotic illness represent the remaining 1%). 

The umbrella of depression encompasses Major Depressive Disorder and its related mood disorders including bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety disorder, and suicide.

Depression is a common, but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities; such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.

If you experience these symptoms consistently for most of the day or nearly every day for 2 weeks you might be suffering from depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

Depression doesn’t look or feel the same for everyone. Different individuals might be affected by all symptoms or just a few, with varying degrees of intensity.

This also means different individuals will benefit from different treatments or mental health approaches and diagnosis. It is important to note mental health is greatly influenced by physical health and some symptoms might be caused by a physical condition. Please talk to a doctor as well as a mental health professional.

Depression is a condition that can bring many questions. The journey towards emotional health can seem scary, confusing, or daunting at times because it requires us to acknowledge something is not right. In order to be able to overcome our struggles, first, we must be aware of them and, second, decide what actions can we take to improve what is not working or hurting us.

When working towards building healthy coping methods and making healthy changes in our lives, it is always important to focus on things that are within our control by making realistic goals.

Focusing on factors we can control in our lives helps us feel empowered and take charge. Controllable factors include what we say and do, our perspective on different situations, how we handle and act in relationships, our self-awareness, our eating, sleeping, and exercise, etc.

Identifying factors that we can control helps set realistic goals we can reach, increase introspection, encourage healthy behaviors and boost self-esteem.

DEPRESSION MYTHS DEBUNKED

  1. DEPRESSION IS ALL IN YOUR HEAD

Depression is a psychological, social, and biological disorder. It can be chronic and takes treatment to manage. Someone who is depressed can’t just shut it off or “suck it up.”

The general public only sees the emotional side of depression-like acting out or not acting like yourself. If we took the time to realize that depression is a condition that causes physical issues as well, maybe we would see that depression is a real disease that takes time and treatment to manage.

2. MEDICATION IS THE ONLY WAY TO HANDLE DEPRESSION

Medication is only one way of treatment. There are other treatments that might not require medication or will work together with it. Therapy techniques including CBT, EMDR, DBT and Art therapy can help depression. Neurofeedback targets specific brainwaves training that can help enhance brain functioning and help depression by boosting positive thinking and self-awareness.

3. EVERYONE EXPERIENCES DEPRESSION THE SAME WAY

People who experience depression may have physical differences in their brains than the average person. These differences don’t always act the same way in everyone’s brain. The changes in the brain, plus hormone changes, can influence the severity of moods, thoughts, and physical issues.

4. DEPRESSION IS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS

Depression does not discriminate. You do not decide to become depressed. The only reason depression is viewed as a weakness is that society has stigmatized the condition. Depression is a biological and psychological condition that has nothing to do with how strong you are.

5. DEPRESSION COMMONLY HAPPENS TO WOMEN

t’s not that there isn’t any depression in men, it’s just that men don’t talk about it as often as women. In the U.S., four times as many men die by suicide than women. Some men believe that talking about their emotions is silly or pathetic. Some men avoid treatments for depression in fear that they will no longer appear masculine or strong.  Some symptoms of depression in men, additional to the ones mentioned above, include anger, unable to meet daily responsibilities, loss of interest in sex.

“The strongest people are those who win battles we know nothing about.”

– Unknown

“Don’t let your struggle become your identity.”

– Unknown

Source: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

Attachment styles

What is an attachment style? An attachment style is how each person behaves and interacts in their relationships. At a young age, we tried to figure out how to fit into our social circles. Based on how our parents or caregivers treated us, we figured out how to interact with people and develop our own attachment style.

Your personal attachment style that you learned from childhood follows you throughout your life. It is how you interact and behave with your family members, romantic partners, and kids.

Understanding what attachment style you have will help you understand your relationship difficulties and give you an insight as to what to work on. The healthiest relationships are built when both individuals feel a secure attachment to one another.

Attachment styles

Secure attachment

If you have a secure attachment style, you’ll seek out stable relationships and feel safe opening up emotionally. You’ll also feel comfortable asking for what you need. Secure adults will be able to reach out to their romantic partner in times of need but also attend to the needs of their partner.

Anxious attachment

If you have an anxious attachment style, you’ll desire closeness but may not feel as though you are ever able to get close enough. You’ll end up questioning yourself a lot, wondering if your romantic partner really loves you, and you’ll regularly seek out validation. If you have an anxious attachment, you might end up seeming clingy and do things that push your partner away.

Dismissive attachment

If you have a dismissive attachment style, you tend to distance yourself from people. When confronted with conflict, you’ll emotionally shut down and choose not to show your emotions. If you have a dismissive attachment, you may feel isolated from yourself and others.

Fearful-avoidant attachment

If you have a fearful-avoidant attachment, you may have grown up in a home where you detached from your feelings because of trauma. While you will desire connections with others, once the relationships become emotionally involved, your past trauma may affect how you see the relationship. If you have a fearful-avoidant attachment, you may have very rocky relationships and fear being abandoned – but also fear being close to others.

How do I develop a secure attachment style?

Now don’t get too discouraged if you’re not happy with your personal attachment style. The good news is that you can develop a secure attachment style.

  • Start taking note of when your behaviors are anxious, dismissive, or avoidant
  • Think about how you feel and what you need
  • Try to express your feelings and needs to someone close to you
  • Set healthy boundaries with those you have relationships
  • Model your behavior off someone with a secure attachment style
  • Work with a therapist to help you change your attachment style

Does Your Child Have ADHD?

Raising kids is hard enough as it is as each child comes with their own unique challenges. But does it seem your child is especially challenging and wonder if they might have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

what is ADHD?

ADHD is a condition caused by problems related to the structure and wiring of the brain and can affect one’s ability to focus, sit still, and make appropriate decisions. Scientists aren’t sure exactly how ADHD is developed, but we know it can be linked to family history as well as brain injury. It is usually diagnosed in childhood but can often continue into adulthood.

What does ADHD look like in children?

Psychologists have categorized ADHD into three groups or “types” based on their symptoms: inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive type, or combined type.

If your child has been showing six to nine of ADHD symptoms for the past 6 months, it is likely that they could have ADHD. It’s important to note that you as a parent might not see all these symptoms displayed in the home. Be sure to talk to your child’s teachers, parents of friends, and other adults who they interact with to get a better picture of how your child is behaving in various situations.

Here are the two types of ADHD and their corresponding symptoms:

Inattentive type:

  • They don’t pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in school or tasks
  • They have problems staying focused on tasks or activities
  • They don’t seem to listen when spoken to (seems to be elsewhere)
  • They don’t follow through on instructions and doesn’t complete schoolwork or chores
  • They have problems organizing tasks and work
  • They avoid or dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • They often misplace important things
  • They are easily distracted
  • They forget daily tasks, such as doing chores and running errands

Hyperactive/impulsive type:

  • They fidget with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat
  • They are unable to stay seated (in the classroom, workplace)
  • They run about or climb where it is inappropriate
  • They are unable to play or do leisure activities quietly
  • They are always “on the go,” as if driven by a motor
  • They talk too much
  • They blurt out an answer before a question has been finished
  • They have difficulty waiting for his or her turn, such as while waiting in line
  • They interrupt or intrude on others
adhd, adhd awareness, adhd in children, therapy in orem utah, aspen valley counseling, neurofeedback

HOW CAN I KNOW FOR SURE IF MY CHILD HAS ADHD?

If you have wondered if your child might have ADHD, the first step to managing your child’s behavior is to first find out if your child does indeed have ADHD.

First start by talking to your child’s pediatrician, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or a therapist who specializes in ADHD. They can help set your child up with a treatment plan based on their diagnosis. If your child’s pediatrician is unfamiliar with diagnosing and treating ADHD, they may refer you to a child psychologist. Some mental health clinics may offer ADHD screenings as well.

You can go to this website to look for psychologists in your area that can better help with diagnosis. You can even go to your child’s school counselor to seek help.

From there, you can work with professionals to find the best form of treatment for whatever diagnosis your child has.

What treatment is available for ADHD?

An ongoing study from the National Institute of mental health has shown that the most effective treatment for ADHD in children is stimulant medication. This type of medication is designed to help children in their interactions with others, reduce symptoms of hyperactivity, and help them focus more. Ritalin, Adderall, and Vyvanse are some of the common brands of stimulant medication. Talk to your child’s pediatrician or a psychiatrist about whether or not your child can benefit from this treatment.

Psychologists and counselors will not be able to prescribe medication for your child, but they can help your child with behavioral issues that come with ADHD. Studies have shown that a combination of medication and behavioral therapy can significantly improve symptoms, especially if your child is struggling with any other type of emotional disorder.

You should also look into neurofeedback as a non-medication option for ADHD. It has been shown to help kids with ADHD think more clearly.

adhd, adhd awareness, adhd in children, therapy in orem utah, aspen valley counseling, neurofeedback

What can I do to help as a parent?

Catching and treating ADHD early is crucial to your child’s social and educational development. One of the most important things you can do is to praise them for their efforts and notice when they show good behavior. Reinforcing good behavior and appropriately addressing bad behavior will not only help their self-esteem but also help them learn right from wrong.

ADDitude Magazine has outlined 12 “Dos and Don’ts” for how to best help your child with ADHD. Some of them include punishment and positive reinforcement, avoiding blame, and modeling appropriate behavior.

Depression– The Basics

While everyone will experience high points and low points in their lifetime, the degree to which everyone experiences their highs and lows varies greatly.

For those who experience more extreme low points, it can be hard to know if or when you should seek help. In this post, we will discuss the symptoms of depression and where you can find help to better manage your low points in life.

There is a difference between feeling depressed and struggling with depression.

Feelings of depression are fleeting and don’t last longer than a day or two. Depression lasts for days, weeks, or other long periods of time and usually is accompanied by changes in weight, sleep, appetite, and mood.

Dealing With Depression: Symptoms

Depression Symptoms: Mood/ Cognitive
  • A feeling of hopelessness, helpless,
  • Mood swings
  • Intense sadness or feeling “empty”
  • Anxiety
  • Apathy
  • Loss of interest
  • Loss of pleasure
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Repetitive thoughts
  • Lack of concentration
  • A bleak outlook on life
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Self-criticism
Depression Symptoms: Behavioral
  • Isolation
Depression Symptoms: Physical
  • Weight gain
  • Emotional eating
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Restless sleep
  • insomnia
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Unexplainable aches and pains
  • Frequent upset stomach
Suicide Signs and symptoms

Suicide and suicidal thoughts are not only associated with depression but can be linked to other mental disorders. If you have any of the following symptoms, you may be at higher risk for suicide.

  • Hopelessness 
  • Excessive sadness
  • Excessive moodiness
  • Sleep problems
  • Sudden calmness
  • Withdrawal

“Choosing to be alone and avoiding friends or social activities also are possible symptoms of depression, a leading cause of suicide. This includes the loss of interest or pleasure in activities the person previously enjoyed.”

WebMD
  • Changes in personality and/or appearance

“A person who is considering suicide might exhibit a change in attitude or behavior, such as speaking or moving with unusual speed or slowness. In addition, the person might suddenly become less concerned about his or her personal appearance.”

WebMD
  • Dangerous or self-harmful behavior
  • Recent trauma or life crisis
  • Threatening Suicide
  • Making preparations

“Often, a person considering suicide will begin to put his or her personal business in order. This might include visiting friends and family members, giving away personal possessions, making a will, and cleaning up his or her room or home. Some people will write a note before committing suicide. Some will buy a firearm or other means like poison.”

WebMD

Finding a therapist

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, a therapist will be able to help you and can give you more resources or tools for recovery.

Are you nervous about going to see a therapist? Don’t worry, you still have options.

If dealing with depression is making it hard for you to get out of bed, you can talk to a therapist in your pajamas, from the comfort of your own home.

Today’s technologically enhanced world allows you the opportunity to talk with a licensed therapist through phone calls, online chats, or mobile apps. Such options include Talk Space, Better Help, Regain, Teen Counseling, and Break Through.

You can also set up a Skype or regular phone call with a therapist who does telehealth appointments. By visiting Psychology Today you can search for providers in your area. Once you put in your geographic area, on the left-hand side there is an option to search for providers who offer online services.

Living life with depression is hard enough. Don’t try to tackle it all on your own.

The National Network of Depression Centers also keeps a list of online resources that could be helpful.

To get more understanding about dealing with depression, watch this video called, “I had a blag dog, his name was depression” from the World Health Organization.

If you’re looking for more ways to help you deal with depression, the National Institute of Mental Health also gives great explanations about medication and other therapies that can be helpful for someone dealing with depression.

The Second Brain– How Food and Digestion Affect Mental Health

The information system of the body is most commonly thought of as the brain receiving information from, and relaying information to, the various parts of the body. While this is accurate, it’s not the whole picture.

Studies have shown that the brain isn’t the only one interpreting and relaying information. There is a second player in the game — the gut.

What does the research show?

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), found through a study on mice, that 90 percent of the serotonin in the body is made in the gut. Elaine Hsiao, the senior author of the study, said,

“It is estimated that 90 percent of the body’s serotonin is made in the digestive tract. More and more studies are showing that mice or other model organisms with changes in their gut microbes exhibit altered behaviors.”

Dr. Siri Carpenter stated similar findings from other researchers that confirm the findings of Elaine Hsiao. She stated that changes in the microbiome of the rat’s stomachs affect neural development, brain chemistry, and can affect different types of behaviors– such as– emotional behavior, pain perception, and stress responses.

The studies that have been done on rodents are starting to match what researchers are finding in humans.

In another study done by UCLA, their findings showed that bacteria ingested with food directly affects the human brain. Dr. Kristin Tillisch, the author of the study, said,

“Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut. Our study shows that the gut–brain connection is a two-way street.”

 As the research shows, the food you eat and the health of your gut flora play an immense role in your overall health and could affect your mental state.

Why does the food I eat matter?

Your gut health can be affected by diets high in carbohydrates, low in nutrient-dense food, high in sugar, and processed foods, which are high in chemicals and preservatives. Change in gut health can lead to adverse reactions through food sensitivities and changes in mood.

This means that if you’re not happy — either physicall or mentally — then looking into your gut health might be a good place to start.

The American Psychology Association had an article written by Kimberly Keys where she shared her own experience on eating the right food for your body. She said,

“What I can share is that not eating the fuel mix that your body requires can make you have a number of deleterious symptoms like weight gain or loss, foggy thinking, depression, moodiness, inability to focus, nervous system disorders, fatigue, nausea, cravings, digestive disorders, headaches and migraines, and a host of other conditions that get inflamed because the improper fuel is basically taxing your immune system.”

What is a food sensitivity?

During regular digestion, your body breaks down the food you eat into simple components that can be absorbed into your bloodstream. Once absorbed, the components are distributed and used by the rest of your body.

However, if your bacterial composition of the gut is not favorable to the breakdown of a specific food, then those bacteria communicate with the gut immune system and promote an intolerance to that food.

As a result, your immune system produces antibodies to attack the food that caused the intolerance. This process can cause adverse reactions in the body.

Some examples of food sensitivity reactions are as follows.

-Feeling bloated – Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS) -Mood swings -Chronic fatigue -Restlessness -Brain fog -Aggressiveness -Headaches -Insomnia -Asthma -Canker sores -Sinus problems -Excessive mucus -Acne -Eczema -Excessive sweating -Hair loss -Hives -Itchy sensations -Weight gain -Cravings -Compulsive eating -Water retention -Depression -Anxiety -Muscle soreness -Earaches -ADHD -Hyperactivity -Lethargy

If you have one or more of these symptoms, there’s a 95% probability that you have a food sensitivity and could benefit from food sensitivities testing.

How do I know if I have a food sensitivity?

It is almost impossible to detect the exact food(s) that you are sensitive to on your own. Reactions can present themselves several hours to several days after the food is ingested thus making it hard to pinpoint the exact food that you are sensitive to.

The best way to determine which food(s) you have sensitivities to is through a simple blood test called Food Sensitivity Assay. This test measures your immunoglobulin immune response when different foods are introduced. The results include the foods that your body is sensitive to.

By identifying and eliminating foods that cause food sensitivities, you can help repair your gut health, potentially reverse food sensitivities, and decrease adverse reactions that can range from bloating to depression.