Achieving an Optimal State of Mind

Worry and anxiety are on the rise in our homes. We have been living in a state of seemingly insurmountable odds with the pandemic, a charged political arena, as well as everyday bumps along the road of life. While overcoming worry and anxiety may seem impossible, tried and true practical steps can be taken in order to live a life centered on contentment and growth. 

Get Quality Sleep

One such practical step is simply to document your sleep schedule. While we all have internal rhythms that may vary, many of us fail to realize the importance of adequate sleep. Sleep provides our bodies with essential time for maintenance and repair of many of our life-giving organs, including our brains. When we miss sleep, our minds are not able to function at the highest levels, and that off-kilter feeling can give way to both worry and anxiety. 

Make Easy Changes to Diet

Another practical habit to help you battle worry and anxiety is eating well. Anxiety induced by any number of toxins can take away a sense of balance and stability in your life. Take our addiction to caffeine for example. As a worried people, should we really be consuming vast quantities of products that increase our on-edge feelings? Sugar is also known to affect both our mood and our sleep patterns. Taking a close look at how your diet could be contributing to your feelings of worry and anxiety may uncover ways you can calm your mind and live a steadier life. 

Release Endorphins Daily

And the third in the practical ideas line-up is, of course, exercise. Spending time working out can help reduce worry and anxiety as well. Humans burn energy, and it seems we can either burn it through the exercise our bodies need or through worrying endlessly in the middle of the night about things often beyond our control. So get outside, get active, and release those endorphins- you will be amazed at how this one change can help you sleep better and have less anxiety! 

Again, these simple reminders – adequate sleep, diet, and exercise – may help you reduce worry and anxiety in your own life. A steady, prepared mind is something that we all strive for, and working on these three areas of your life will perhaps enable you to achieve that optimal state of mind.

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

Understanding Codependency: What, Why, & How COVID-19 Has Made it Worse

Unless you have gone to therapy or been close to someone seeking help for codependent tendencies, your perception of codependency is likely inaccurate in some ways. Aside from popular belief, the term does not refer to the behavior of people who “can’t do anything on their own” or “had parents who did everything for them growing up.” In fact, it often means quite the opposite.

And, believe it or not, codependency doesn’t just affect a small portion of the population! Some estimates suggest that close to 90% of people demonstrate codependent behavior in relationships, with many having realized they struggle with codependency only during and after COVID-19.

So, what is codependency, why do so many of us experience it, and how has COVID-19 made it worse? Keep reading for the answer to these questions and more.

What is Codependency?

Codependency is a pattern of behavior characterized by a mental, emotional, physical, and/or spiritual reliance on another person in a close relationship (e.g. spouse-spouse, friend-friend, coworker-boss, sibling-sibling, etc.). It can also be thought of as an imbalanced relationship in which one person (“the giver”) assumes the responsibility of meeting the needs of the other person (“the taker”) and, in doing so, cannot acknowledge their own feelings and needs to the point of personal detriment. 

Codependent people are typically empathetic, highly capable, and independent in that they take care of everyone, including themselves, without asking for help. The problem with this ultra-independence is that it is impractical; we all have needs, and they can only go unmet for so long. And while codependents can maintain complacency for extended periods of time (months, years, sometimes decades), they do eventually become resentful of the lack of reciprocation from others and explode—either internally or externally.

At their core, codependents want to feel secure and wanted for their true selves, but in pursuit of this safe connection, they self-sacrifice so much that they end up losing all sense of themselves. In other words, by making others “need”/depend on them, they make the very thing they crave, authentic connection, impossible. 

What Causes Codependency?

Codependency is not a personality disorder or clinical diagnosis but rather a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. Those who struggle with codependency usually developed the condition by watching and imitating other family members who managed situations of abuse, neglect, illness, addiction and other traumatic situations (usually within the family) the same way—by “fawning” (repressing one’s own needs in order to be loved and accepted, i.e. people-pleasing).
But it goes deeper than that. At its root, the compulsion to self-deny is the result of a complex form of attachment disorder and PTSD developed in childhood. As children, codependents received inconsistent attention, affection, and emotional support from their parents—a sort of hot and cold dynamic interpreted by children as a reflection of their own inadequacy. To cope and thus reduce these feelings of abandonment, they learned to attain more consistent love through people-pleasing, a softer form of manipulation and control.

Unfortunately, as these children become adults, the fear never goes away (PTSD), driving them to continue fawning in hopes of never being abandoned again. What they don’t realize, though, is they are still being abandoned—only now by themselves. For these reasons, codependency can be considered a symptom or defense against PTSD.

…AKA relationship addiction

When we think of addiction, alcohol, drugs, sex, and gambling are the first words that come to mind, but a less commonly known form of addiction is the addiction to people, which is codependency in of itself. As codependents begin to only think of the thoughts, needs, and desires of the one they are pleasing (“the taker”), they are no longer able to identify their own. This enmeshment means that their only sense of worth derives from the praise, recognition, or affection they receive from the other person. Over time, this creates an addiction to the highs of validation and affirmation, much like the highs you would see in any other addiction. The codependent looks for ways to help, and they are rewarded with praise in return. On the flip side, when their help goes unnoticed and the other person withdraws, the codependent fears the relationship will end and falls in a state of severe emotional distress until they feel valued again. With time, the caretaking becomes compulsive, and the codependent experiences feelings of helplessness in the relationship, unable to break free.

Signs of Codependency

  • A tendency to do more than your share all the time.
  • Never asking for help; overwhelming yourself with tasks that others could do.
  • Fear of losing relationships/abandonment.
  • Fear of rejection.
  • Doing way more than the other person to hold onto your relationship.
  • An overwhelming need to be reassured and recognized.
  • A compelling desire to control others.
  • Lack of trust in yourself and/or others.
  • An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others.
  • A tendency to love people you can rescue.
  • Excessive concern with loved ones’ behaviors.
  • Constant feelings of hurt when people overlook your efforts.
  • Guilt after asserting yourself.
  • A tendency to apologize to keep the peace.
  • Difficulty naming your feelings or fully feeling them.
  • Minimizing your feelings when you do feel them.
  • Worrying about what others think of you.
  • Problem with creating and keeping boundaries.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Dishonesty.
  • Doing things you don’t want to do to make others happy.
  • Poor communication in relationships.
  • Idealizing loved ones to the point of maintaining relationships that don’t fulfill you.

The Link Between Codependent Tendencies & COVID-19

COVID-19 has taken its toll on couples with underlying, previously unnoticable or manageable codependent tendencies. Without breaks from one another and access to other sources of fulfillment and support (such as exercise classes, lunch with friends, in-office work, etc.), many report feeding off of each other’s emotions more than ever and relying heavily on the relationship for every emotional need. Couples who don’t live together have also experienced strains on their relationship but for the opposite reason: not being able to spend enough time together due to shutdowns, quarantine, and limited date nights.

Amidst traumatic circumstances, slipping back into old ways—natural instincts—is normal. Just like with PTSD from childhood, PTSD from the accumulation of stresses caused by COVID-19 can cause codependent habits to resurface, worsen, or appear for the first time. If that is you, rest assured that there is hope. As mentioned above, codependency is a learned behavior, meaning it is possible to unlearn the compulsions causing you distress and negatively affecting your relationships. The best course of action is to seek help. A therapist can show you how to form healthy attachments in your relationships, establish your own identity, and assist you in healing from the triggering experiences you have had, whether in childhood or more recently.

The good news is, post-pandemic, our environments and circumstances are changing. With that, and professional support, how you are feeling will change too. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

Isolation is No Vacation- Drug Abuse on the Rise During Forced Furlough

Humans aren’t designed to live in isolation. We are social beings and that human connection, in a sense, keeps us breathing. A little over a year ago, we were full of breath, full of life. Our world, filled with school, sporting events, hanging out, working, and ceremonies, was brought to a screeching halt. This blow to the very reason we got up in the morning, had us gasping for air. What we experienced and what many are still experiencing is acute trauma. 

Experiencing trauma of any kind opens the door and possibility of substance abuse and addiction.

Feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, panic attacks and nightmares are all symptoms of trauma and that makes us feel out of control. And unfortunately, we were out of control. We had no say in when we could leave the house, if we could work, or even put food on the table. This is where comfort and control were found- in the use of alcohol and drugs as a way to self-medicate. For many, that form of medication claimed their last breath.

The CDC reports that by the end of May 2020, we had seen 81,000 deaths due to overdose and the numbers continued to surge during the pandemic. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is on a mission to breathe life back into those who are suffocating. They will direct $1.65 billion to prevention and treatment. Tom Coderre of the SAMHSA says, “We know multiple stressors during the pandemic – isolation, sickness, grief, job loss, food instability and loss of routines – have devastated many Americans and presented unprecedented challenges for behavioral health providers across the nation…we want to assure them that funding is in place to help states and territories provide pathways to prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services, especially for underserved populations.” 

Finding relief.

As life makes a slow turn back down a somewhat normal path for the majority of Americans, many will still be gasping for air and trying to find relief.  Trauma doesn’t disappear when the mask is removed. Find healthy coping skills that resonate with you.

Create healthy coping skills poster

Check on those around you.

Be their oxygen tank to life.

Be their relief as we all navigate toward the end of this isolated “vacation”. 

Mental Health Services
Your Way,

Learn about Ruby and her journey towards freedom in her relationships and childhood wounds through SouthEnd Psychiatry.

Millennial mental health. From 9/11 to Parkland, politics to pandemics, social media to telemedicine – this generation is set to positively disrupt the world.  We purposely built SouthEnd for a mental health revolution.

Get Inspired

Join Now

Helpful Resources:

People searching for treatment for mental or substance use disorders can find treatment by visiting https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov or by calling SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The American Society of Addiction Medicine and Shatterproof have provided an assessment to determine need: 

https://www.treatmentconnection.com/assessment

Sources: CDC.gov

NPR.org– Pandemic Fuels Record Overdose Deaths: Coronavirus Updates

Vantagepointrecovery.com

Childhood Emotional Wounds: How They Affect Us As Adults

Emotional wounds from childhood…the vast majority of us have them. In fact, roughly 60 percent of adult Americans report having experienced trauma or difficult relational dynamics as children—and that doesn’t even include those of us who have repressed these experiences.

But what is an emotional wound anyway, and why do they matter now?

An emotional wound is a negative experience, or series of experiences, that causes pain on a deep psychological level. It typically involves someone close to you: a parent, family member, lover, mentor, friend, or other trusted individual. It may be tied to a specific event or pattern of events, to learning a hard truth about life, or to going through a physical limitation or challenge. Most emotional wounds are associated with abuse, abandonment, loss, neglect, mistreatment, and inconsistency in close relationships, but even these terms can be defined differently depending on the person. We are all different in a myriad of ways, from genetic makeup to the circumstances in which we live, so what may have been traumatic for you may not be for someone else. Thus, the most important factor in identifying and understanding emotional wounds is not the world’s perception of what happened, but the individual who has them.
Childhood emotional wounds are particularly devastating because of who we were at the time: children. If adults have trouble processing these occurrences, just imagine the stress and overwhelm felt by a child trying to understand the same. Unlike adults, children are not yet able to analyze circumstances through the lens of education, social norms, and life experiences. All they know is that they are in pain, and without another point of reference, their conclusion is usually that they themselves must be to blame—that something inside them is inherently wrong, bad, or undeserving.
Unfortunately, these deeply rooted hurts and beliefs don’t just disappear with time. Even in cases where the conscious brain cannot recall the experience, the anxiety caused by it continues to be felt by our bodies to some degree. This is why emotional wounds come up later in life, particularly in relationships that mimic the ones in which they were caused (with significant others, family, and close friends): They can only stay hidden for so long. Such long-term, unresolved heartache has both mental and physiological effects. Not only does it chip away at a child’s sense of stability and self, damaging their self-worth and later producing feelings of guilt, shame, lack of belonging, and disconnection from others; emotional wounds can also lead to heightened anxiety, difficulty managing emotions, depression, and anger in adults. It isn’t uncommon for those with a history of trauma or painful relationships to develop struggles with addiction, chronic illnesses (cancer, heart disease, etc.), poor memory, and other mental disorders as well.
These effects ultimately dictate how we view ourselves, the world, and those around us, changing the way we interact with others. Many adults with emotional wounds have trust issues in relationships and develop victimhood thinking. This causes them to cap their own potential, compromising their success in careers, relationships, and other goals and dreams. For example, when self-expression and self-defense felt unsafe in childhood, unhealed wounds often manifest as passivity and subservience in adults. While these characteristics are sometimes viewed as positive, such people-pleasing behavior can have detrimental effects on the trajectory of one’s life as bottling up feelings instead of communicating can lead to resentment, blow-ups, and even depression. Moreover, people-pleasers’ “go-with-the-flow” nature makes them more susceptible to the exploitative intentions of narcissists and other parasitic people. Other adults may yell, lash out, be overly assertive, seek control, and push people away in times of distress. 

In situations where any form of child abuse took place, emotional wounds tend to show up as insecure attachment styles. These include:

  • Fearful-Avoidant Attachment: It is normal for some children exposed to abuse and neglect to fear close relationships. Now, as adults, those with fearful-avoidant attachment are distrustful, have a hard time sharing emotions with their partner and others and often avoid emotional intimacy altogether.

  • Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment: When a parent or caregiver ignores or rejects a child’s needs, this attachment style results. As an adult, individuals with this style turn to ultra-independence to protect themselves from being rejected again.
  • Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment: Adults with this attachment style require repeated validation in relationships and at times, come across as clingy and needy. Due to a childhood in which their parents were not consistent in the emotional security they provided, these individuals never feel secure. Loving the child and then rejecting them over and over again causes the child to constantly question their place and the validity of the love they receive.

Although distinct, each of the responses mentioned above is a coping mechanism, first learned in childhood in order to function under difficult circumstances and now a pattern of behavior in adulthood used to manage fear, uncertainty, rejection, abandonment, and uncomfortable feelings of any kind.
In sum, emotional wounds run deep and have a profound impact on our beliefs and behaviors as adults, specifically on our self-image and relationships. These traumas, whether big or seemingly small, fracture our foundation and can taint our perception of what is normal and true. They are not easily overcome, but the good news is that they can be. If this article resonated with you and you are not currently seeking support from a mental health professional, contact us today. We would love to help you take steps towards healing—because even though these wounds may be part of who you are, their negative effects don’t have to be. 

Mental Health Services
Your Way,

Learn about Ruby and her journey towards freedom in her relationships and childhood wounds through SouthEnd Psychiatry.

Millennial mental health. From 9/11 to Parkland, politics to pandemics, social media to telemedicine – this generation is set to positively disrupt the world.  We purposely built SouthEnd for a mental health revolution.

New Year: New Anxieties, Old Regrets

It’s a new year—a time to pause, plan, reflect, look forward, and dream before life picks up and the days and weeks start to blur together again. It’s what many would consider the second most wonderful time of the year—a fresh start, a clean slate, a moment of optimism. For others, though, the New Year isn’t so inspiring. It’s a reminder of setbacks and shortcomings, a reason to feel sorrow over decisions and events of years past. And, for at least 20 percent of the US adult population, it’s also a time of heightened anxiety over the months ahead. 

So, what’s the secret to actually enjoying the start of a new year—to fighting the regret and anxiety so many of us are feeling?

Be more positive! And no, we don’t mean “Cheer up, buttercup.” After all, emotions, whether positive or negative, aren’t bad. They’re just human. We mean finding a balance between the two by mitigating the never-ending flow of negativity in our lives in very intentional ways. This, research suggests, makes our minds more resilient, leading to less anxiety, regret, and an improved quality of life overall.

To help you get started, here are a few resolutions you can make to kick off your New Year right:

  1. Trade two for one. It won’t be easy to reverse your negative thought processes, but that old saying, “Slow and steady wins the race,” really does apply here. When you find yourself ruminating on past failures—the school you didn’t go to, divorce you never wanted, 30 pounds you didn’t lose—remind yourself that the past is the past, and you can only work on today to have a better tomorrow. The same goes for negative thoughts about the future: When expecting the worst, speak truths about the situation to yourself, remembering the positive possibilities and the strength you’ve developed from situations in the past.
  2. Aim to replace every negative thought with two positive affirmations, observations, or gratitudes that counter it. By trading two for one, you’ll be teaching your brain to see situations in a better light.
  3. Similarly, practice thankfulness. If you’re tired of focusing on the past or future, redirect your mind to the present by listing the people and things for which you are thankful today. Be thankful for a good night’s sleep, a steady job, a friend who cares about you, your education, yummy lunch, the task you just completed, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is, just give thanks! Keep a list in your notebook or phone, and glance at it throughout the day. You’ll notice a difference in no time.
  4. Want to get out of a mental rut? Prove it in your posture. It’s old news that the body affects the mind and vice versa, but studies have found that it’s not just healthy eating and exercise that make a difference, but the small habits too—like posture. On the days when you’re in a lull and can’t break out, stand up tall, pull your shoulders back, and stretch your arms out wide. This posture will not only get your blood pumping, but it will cause you to produce endorphins, much like exercise, that boost your positivity.
  5. To take this a step further, try power posing! A social psychologist at Harvard University found that there are “high power” and “low power” posture poses that affect our mood. By holding high power poses for about two minutes, we cause hormonal shifts in our bodies to take place, sparking feelings of self-confidence. The next time you need a coffee break, break into a power pose instead (like the Wonder Woman pose!), and feel more positive and empowered instantaneously.
  6. Set firmer boundaries. Distance yourself from negative people, and surround yourself with more positive ones—ones that are on the same journey towards self-improvement as you. We all know that phrase, “You are the sum of the people closest to you.” That’s because it’s true. Being around negative people for an extended period of time can rewire our neuronal connections. When this happens, the networks in our brains begin to respond negatively to situations that we once considered positive. These “re-wirings” can cause long-term depression and anxiety. It can take time, sometimes years, for our brains to learn to think differently again.
So, who uplifts you? Who pushes you towards your goals? Who is kind, patient, and genuinely concerned for your wellbeing? Choose them, and take measures to limit your time with the rest.
 
Last but not least, seek out a licensed counselor or therapist. Nobody should have to face regret and anxiety alone, and it’s important that one of the people standing next to you through these struggles has a deep understanding of their causes and effects. Friends and family are great for advice, consolement, and encouragement, but when it comes to chronic emotional distress, treatment is necessary. A professional will be able to break patterns of negativity on a more individualized basis—that is, according to your unique situation and needs.
So, begin implementing the habits above. If these feelings of regret and anxiety continue, schedule a time to talk to someone who can navigate these new habits with you, and maybe even help you identify more that will make this year worthwhile.
Here’s to a more positive 2022! Happy New Year to you and yours.

The Holidays and Depression: What to Look For and Ways to Cope

You’ve made it through the Thanksgiving meal, and now you’ve got weeks of holiday parties and gatherings ahead. If just the thought of all that fills you with sadness and dread (more than just the introvert kind), you’re not alone. This year, more adults will experience feelings of depression during the holidays than ever before.

The holidays already tend to be a hard time for mental health: the financial stress of gift-giving, the nostalgia of holidays’ past, and the inherent anxiety in getting together with some of the loved ones we prefer to love at a distance. But add loneliness, the loss of a family member, or just the thoughts of what “could be,” and you’ve got Grandma’s recipe for anything but holiday cheer.

And that was all before the pandemic sent depression rates skyrocketing. Since the start of the pandemic, depression among American adults has tripled—and they haven’t dropped. Even with reopenings and the release of the vaccine, rates have only increased, revealing that 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. now suffers from depression.

So, like we said, you’re not alone.

But other than statistics, what else do you need to know, or do, to cope with feelings of depression this season?

Know the Warning Signs.

If you’re reading this post, then you’ve probably already noticed some of the more well-known symptoms of depression in yourself or someone close to you. While sadness and demotivation are at the top of the list, it’s important to know that depression can lead to other, less overt changes, such as unusual sleep patterns, irritability, trouble concentrating, impulsivity, exhaustion, loss of appetite and weight, crying spells, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, mood swings, feelings of overwhelm and anxiety, and so on.

If you notice yourself experiencing some of these symptoms, take action: Call someone you trust, and consider contacting a mental health professional if they persist. If you observe these in a loved one, kindly express your concern, and be willing to listen.

Get plenty of sleep.

A hectic holiday schedule can easily cut into your sleep schedule, but when feeling distressed, sleep is the last thing that should go. Poor sleep makes you more vulnerable to depression, and sleep deprivation worsens symptoms like irritability, crying spells, exhaustion, and poor concentration. In other words, sleep helps to prevent low moods and manage them! To ensure your sleep is a priority, set a bedtime alarm, create a nightly routine, and avoid keeping your phone near you at night.

Drink only in moderation.

As “at ease” as it can make you feel, alcohol is a depressant, meaning it can bring down your mood, exacerbating negative emotions—the opposite of what you want when you’re feeling depressed. So, to keep spirits high, limit the amount of alcohol you drink during the holidays, aiming to consume no more than one or two drinks in a single setting.

Exercise.

A much better alternative to alcohol for managing emotions is exercise. Exercise increases the production of endorphins in your brain, leaving you feeling euphoric, and research shows that incorporating it into your daily routine can prevent and reduce symptoms of depression. While starting a rigorous, time-consuming workout routine right now is probably a no-go, starting your day with a quick walk or a 30-minute workout video is no big thing and really all it takes to keep some of those holiday blues away.

Don’t isolate.

Whether you’re longing for company or want to be alone (or a little bit of both), resist the inclination to isolate. A tendency to hunker down is a huge factor in the development of depression. If you’re alone this season, reach out to a friend for a Zoom call once a week, and let them know you’re down. Get connected in your community: Join a church, volunteer at a soup kitchen, sign up for a group exercise class. And don’t rule out meeting with a therapist. Seek support even when it’s uncomfortable. Negativity only breeds negativity without sources of positivity.

Plan things you can look forward to.

Who says you have to spend the holidays at home? Book a trip, visit a friend across the country, stay with extended family—do something different! Make a schedule of things to do or try, and stick to that schedule even when your enthusiasm dips. Having something to look forward to—like trying that new restaurant!—will motivate you to get up and go and mitigate the hopelessness you feel. Plus, when you’re on the move, your body (and brain) are bound to feel better!

Prioritize your needs.

We often think of the holidays as a time of “have tos,” but the truth is, you’re an adult, and you CAN say no. Don’t want to go to that party with the aunt that always asks why you’re still single? Don’t! This is not to say you should say no to every less-than-pleasant event, but it does mean that you need to consider what is healthiest for you…because nobody else is going to. Assess how you are feeling and what you need throughout the day, and hold yourself accountable to respecting those needs in your decision-making. Remember, just because you’ve always done it, doesn’t mean you should now.

Reconsider your expectations.

Sometimes, the enemy of good is great. Instead of running around in mental circles considering how your holidays don’t look as you had hoped, remind yourself of what is good about your life. Be intentional about staying present with your loved ones in the moment, actively stopping thought processes that lead you to unmet expectations. Don’t like how your days look? Figure out a couple realistic ways to improve them. The key is to realize that an imperfect reality doesn’t make your reality any less meaningful.

We hope that these tools help you and yours have a most joyous, peaceful holiday season! If the holiday blues turn into New Year’s gloom, consider scheduling an appointment with one of our mental health professionals. If at any point your symptoms lead to suicidal thinking, call 911 immediately.

Recognizing These Six Signs of Depression

Unfortunately, depression does not discriminate. This disease has affected the lives of over 300 million people worldwide. Just looking at statistics can be overwhelming, but it’s necessary to understand the magnitude of what’s happening to those around us. It’s imperative that we are in tune with the ones we love and cue in on the signs and flags they are metaphorically waving. 

6 Signs to Watch For:

Feelings of Worthlessness

When someone is constantly doubting themselves, never feeling confident in their abilities and their reflections are negative– this is a sign. 

Loss of Interest- 

When someone suddenly loses interest in activities that previously brought them joy such as sex, sporting events, hobbies, and social gatherings–this is a sign. 

Suicidal Thoughts- 

When someone feels they are no longer of use in this world, makes a plan, or speaks of taking their own life–this is a sign. 

Change in Appetite- 

When someone is overeating or undereating due to stress or anxiety, and these habits cause a dramatic change in appearance–this is a sign.

Trouble Sleeping

When someone begins to lose sleep due to daily stresses such as financial woes, work issues, marital or relationship problems–this is a sign. 

Fatigue-

When someone, rather they get enough sleep or not, has an overwhelming feeling of tiredness–this is a sign. 

Symptoms in children are quite similar, but we must keep a closer watch as 3.1 million children from ages 12-17 are experiencing depression. They might withdraw socially, suddenly become more sensitive, have unusual vocal outbursts, or feel overwhelmed with sadness. 

Regardless of the different outlets available to those who are depressed, 35% still receive no help. Listening is invaluable. Listen to your friends and family.  Check in on them and ask the questions that in a positive way, force an answer that will allow you to help. Here are some examples of questions to ask:

How can I best support you?

  • What specifically is hurting you? 
  • Who do you have in a supportive circle at work? At school? At home? 
  • What night can I bring dinner so we can talk? 
  • My calendar is open, pick a morning and let’s meet for coffee. 

Ask the questions, have the conversations, and tune in to those around you.

The flags will wave, it’s critical that you see them. Once seen, take the next step and have the conversations. Bring a certified professional in. Don’t be afraid to push them toward healing. At Southend Psychiatry, we offer services primarily online and in-person at flexible locations near you, and will be ready to support you and those you love on the path to mental wellness!

The Day is Coming- Let’s Cope with Heading Back

For most companies and schools, Labor Day is THE day. The day that offices and classrooms will begin to fill again. The day that many are looking forward to while others are dreading. The day where so many worries will surface and anxiety will take hold. 

Working from home and remote learning offered a safe haven.

With the deadline approaching to re-enter the world not as we knew it, there are elements that are likely to cause more worry. Public transportation, no reliable childcare, getting sick and lack of space are the most mentioned concerns when surveyed. Just like adults, kids have worries too, and we all need to know how to navigate through their feelings. Remember, that any anxiety you feel is normal. We love order, making plans and following routines. Upon returning, order-plans-routines may all be up in the air.  However, humans are exceptional at adapting. Remember that when you walk into the office or you’re preparing your children for class next week. 

How can we make it a smooth return to the physical workplace or classroom? 

  • Dress Rehearsal – Make lunches, lay out clothes, set the alarms and practice a dry run of an actual day back to work and school. Iron out all the kinks. This means stepping on to the subway or hailing a cab, socially interacting with others in public and then coming home to work through the feelings. 
  • Schedule a time to relax – As busy as we can find ourselves, make sure that you schedule in some time to breathe, take a bubble bath, read to the kids, go for a walk or just sit. Getting back into the groove is going to be exhausting and this time of relaxation is imperative for you and the kids. 
  • Maintain a routine – Being home means the routine may have gone right out of the window. You’ve taken breaks when you needed one, made an afternoon tea and possibly even had a lunchtime nap while at home.  The office and school setting is quite different and an adjustment will take time. Give yourself and the kids that time by establishing the routine now. 
  • Ask for the employer’s or school’s COVID 19 policy – Prior to returning, make sure you are well versed in what is in place to protect you and your children. If you feel uneasy, this is the time to reach out and ask the questions. This also gives you time to prepare yourself and the kids on how to handle situations that may arise as you re-enter. 
  • Show yourself some mercy – Don’t enter back in full force and go 100 mph because you’ve got a to-do list a mile high. Take it slow. 
  • Practice calming methods – Breathing exercises are key to calming down and easing your mind. Teach these to your children as well. Equip them with the same tools that you intend to return with next week. 

Remember, emotions and feelings are real.

It’s normal to be cautious, nervous or even weary, but it’s also important to be prepared to re-enter the world with a toolbox filled with the right tools. These strategies will help you feel some much-needed ease this fall as we try and learn how to navigate in another new normal. 

Staying Abreast of What’s Best for Your Mental Health

August is National Breastfeeding Month, and it’s necessary to take a look at how it can affect one’s mental health, both positively and sometimes negatively. As a mother, we want to do what’s best, but does that always mean the breast?

What do the Experts Say?

For babies, breastfeeding is recommended by the American Pregnancy Association as the most nutritionally balanced meal as it helps protect against common infections and increases the survival rate in the first year of life. But, how does it benefit the mother? From increased confidence and self-esteem to lowering the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, there are many benefits to breastfeeding.

Additionally, there are two hormones produced when breastfeeding: oxytocin and prolactin. These two hormones promote stress reduction, positive feelings and lessen the risk of postpartum depression. The American Psychological Association reports that 1 in 7 will be diagnosed with what is otherwise known as the “baby blues,” and breastfeeding is a great way to combat this disease that has affected many new mothers. 

The Pressure to Breastfeed.

On the flip side, can the pressure to breastfeed exclusively affect your mental health? Psychologists and real-life moms say YES! When it comes to what is best for the baby, a healthy mother takes precedence.

“Breastmilk does not care for, nurture and bond with the baby. A mother does. I am not arguing the health benefits of breastfeeding. Those are known facts. I am talking about the part that just isn’t talked about enough: a mom’s mental health.”

Carrie Bruno, a lactation specialist, writes in a Today’s Parent article

Viable options are available now more than ever to help supplement and dissolve the feeling of inadequacy, stress, or pure exhaustion. When the pains and strains of exclusively breastfeeding feel overwhelming, it may be time to take a step back and make a new plan. In the end, you have to let go of the societal pressures and do what is best for you.

Moms, this is your decision!

We recommend you surround yourself with supportive people. Discuss options with your doctor and lactation specialist, join a support group online or in-person, and most importantly, trust your instincts!

If you think you may be struggling with postpartum depression, please reach out to someone that can help – schedule an appointment with our team or call or text the Postpartum Support International helpline at 1-800-944-4773

Finding Freedom in your Future: Mindset Matters

Our eyes sometimes see more than they can handle, our ears sometimes hear the unexpected, our hearts sometimes feel broken and our paths sometimes seem off course. How we respond can either hold us back or push us forward. It’s about mindset and some of us may need a shift, especially from the aftermath of a 2020 pandemic, a rise in racial tension and questionable sustainability. 

The pandemic infused fear about health, finances and our normal way of life. The rise in racial tension infused fear of the unknown for populations of color. The question of sustainability infused fear about the economy. Fear is a natural reaction and an OK reaction, but the response can trigger panic if we don’t step back. 

Be upfront about feelings.

Not everyone is going to feel the same way you do about issues, but subduing those will only lead to mental and physical exhaustion. In the same breath, be open to what others have to say and let them know you are listening. A conversation is a two way street and you’re actually damaging relationships when you are not upfront about the way you feel or don’t reach out to check on others. For example, race is not an easy topic to discuss, but it’s imperative and the only way to move forward, understand and heal. Are you uncomfortable when others aren’t wearing masks? Tell them. No one is a mind reader, but the hope is that when we are upfront, our feelings will be received and respected. 

Focus on what you can control.

So much is out of our hands, but the way you respond is all up to you. We are in control of our mindset, work ethic, the way we treat others, our language and how we take care of ourselves. 

Be mindful of where you are seeking information.

Credibility is key. Focus on the facts and where to find those. Go to the experts, not friends who Google information and say they’ve read study after study. We wouldn’t go to a dentist to help us understand why we have stomach pains or our hairstylist to find out the best way to cure an infection. Who is providing the information and what are their credentials?  

Practice self-care.

This can reduce the stress brought on by your fears. Developing a regular sleep time, eating healthy, going for walks AND taking a sick day from work are all paramount to keeping your stress levels down and controlling reactions to fear.

Ask for help.

This is key to our overall mental health and stability. It’s also a sign of strength, not a sign of surrendering control. We have to realize that life was not meant to be lived alone and those who surround us, can help. Reach out to someone you trust or you feel confident will listen, leaving judgement to the side. If you feel like you need to take baby steps in asking for help, a great way to start is anonymous helplines. Their job is to listen and guide. Once you find this to be comfortable, you realize the ease that comes with talking to friends about your feelings towards masks, racial protests and tensions, the economy and so much more. 

When we are able to shift into a healthy mindset, no matter what our eyes are seeing, our ears are hearing, our hearts are feeling and where our paths are taking us, the investment in our future will result in freedom.