Fighting Depression Together

In the US alone, about 1 in 10 people experience depression. From the pandemic to social unrest, there are many factors in today’s society that contribute to this rising mental health condition.

Psychology Today states:

“The trigger for depression can be almost any negative experience or hardship. Triggers can be external—losing a parent (especially when young), losing a job or developing a debilitating disease—or they can be internal and invisible, such a brooding over that most common of experiences, a failed relationship. People differ in their susceptibility, both by virtue of the biological heritage, their parenting heritage, their styles of thinking, the coping skills they acquire or deliberately cultivate, and the degree to which situations afford them the ability to control their fate.”

What is Depression?

Webster defines depression as a mood disorder that is marked by varying degrees of sadness, despair, and loneliness and that is typically accompanied by inactivity, guilt, loss of concentration, social withdrawal, sleep disturbances, and sometimes suicidal tendencies.

Signs of Depression

According to the latest edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, depression can be considered an illness when at least five symptoms occur together for at least two weeks. Symptoms include:

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Irritability, angry outbursts, or low frustration tolerance
  • Loss of interest in or ability to enjoy usual activities, from sex to sports
  • Sleep disturbance, whether inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much (hypersomnia)
  • Fatigue and lack of energy; everything feels effortful
  • Appetite disturbance, including loss of interest in eating and weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation, and restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, moving, or talking
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt, a focus on past failure, self-blame
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering things, and making decisions
  • Recurring thoughts of death
  • Physical pain such as headaches or back pain that has no clear cause.

How Can Therapy Help?

At SouthEnd Psychiatry, our therapy team first helps patients understand what thoughts, feelings and beliefs are contributing to their depression. We then begin to develop healthy coping skills to combat and prevent depressive episodes. 

Negative thought patterns directly affect our mood. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps us understand these patterns. We learn how to reframe our thoughts through newly developed skills including meditation.

How Can We Help a Loved One With Depression?

Helping someone with depression can come in many forms. Acknowledgment, understanding and empathy are a great place to start! Here are five ways you can help a loved one battling depression:

  • Encourage therapy treatment. Depression is a complex disorder. Talking to someone who is trained and experienced can mean all the difference in the world. SouthEnd Psychiatry has many different therapy plans and means of communication to help make seeing a therapist easy.
  • Get active. People battling depression tend to loose motivation yet physical activity is a great form of behavioral activation. Invite your loved one on a walk. Exercise, sunshine and companionship all have antidepressant qualities.
  • Intentional sleeping habits. Our sleep patterns can be negatively affected by depression. Encourage your loved one to be intentional about getting a good night’s sleep through meditation, a healthy night time wind down routine and consistent bed times.
  • Keep talking. Maintaining regular contact with someone battling depression is key. Take time to listen without judgement or criticism. Social contact helps prevent alienation and seclusion.

Southend Psychiatry is here as you navigate the complexities of today. We can come alongside you or your loved one to offer support and help. Contact Southend Psych today to inquire about appointment availability and get on your way to a better you.

Southend Psychiatry 

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.

Is it Anxiety or Something More?

One positive outcome of the increased awareness surrounding mental health is that people are talking more about anxiety and how to address its impact on our lives. Anxiety and worry are often confused with more panic attacks, and people suffering from anxiety often wonder when anxiety crosses the line to panic. Panic attacks are often more intense and can occur with or without a trigger, while anxiety attacks are a response to a perceived threat.

The following checklist can help you discern if you or someone else is having a panic attack. When several of these conditions exist together, it’s advised to see a medical professional.

–       Irregular racing heartbeat (may simply feel like it)

–       Sweating

–       Sense of impending doom

–       Fear of loss of control or death

–       Trembling or shaking

–       Shortness of breath

–       Tightness in your throat

–       Chills

Southend Psych is here as you navigate the complexities of today. Whether you have moderate to severe anxiety or are experiencing panic attacks and are under the advice of medical professionals, we can come alongside to offer support and help. Contact Southend Psych today to inquire about appointment availability and get on your way to a better understanding of your anxiety.

Southend Psychiatry 

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.

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.