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Yes, New Fathers Suffer from Depression Too!

Having a baby is an event that typically brings a lot of joy and excitement for couples. However, roughly 60% of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression (PPD), with symptoms being either moderate or severe. Fortunately, PPD is a common health issue with much discussion and content outlining the symptoms and treatment.

What’s not commonly discussed is that new fathers can absolutely suffer from depression as well. While this depression is usually caused by stress and lack of sleep, and not hormonal shifts, the fact remains that men can and do suffer from PPD. In fact, according to the JAMA Network, roughly 10% of new fathers suffer from PPD.

Other research by APA has also shown that a “similar proportion” of new fathers experience some form of depression after childbirth. Since the frequency of depression is fairly similar between new mothers and new fathers, PPD can no longer be viewed as a woman’s issue.

Because of these recent findings, researchers are now recommending that both new mothers AND new fathers (or expectant mothers and fathers) get regular screenings for signs of depression. This is especially important in new mothers and fathers with a history of mental health issues in their own past, or in their family lineage.

Causes of Male PPD

A study out of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas published in the Journal of Family Issues found there were a handful of common causes of PPD in new fathers:

No Education

Fathers simply didn’t know they could suffer from PPD and so ignored any symptoms they were experiencing, instead of focusing on supporting their partner.

Gender Expectations

Many men feel the need to be “manly” and act like a “tough guy” that isn’t bothered by emotions.

Repressed Feelings

Men are often reluctant to share their feelings, let alone seek help because of them.

With these new findings, hopefully, more men will pay attention to how they are feeling and seek help should they feel depression creeping on.

If you or a loved one are a new father that is suffering from PPD and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me.

 

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How Social Media Can Actually be Good for Our Mental Health

Whenever there is a discussion about social media and mental health, there is generally a negative association. Many studies now have pointed to individuals developing depression or anxiety as a result of time spent on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

But is this a full picture?

There is actually another side to the coin that suggests social media can actually be good for some people’s mental health.

Social Media Keeps Us Connected to Those We Love

Currently, most of the country is prepared to go into lockdown again because of Covid-19. This pandemic has caused a lot of grief and stress for many people. But thanks to social media, we have all been able to stay connected with loved ones, share important information with community members, and stay apprised of the latest health findings. In times of stress, social media can actually be something that brings people together so we don’t feel so alone.

Social Media for Mental Health Support

Global pandemic aside, there are times in a person’s life when they may develop depression or feelings of anxiety. And many people who suffer from mental health issues feel as if they have no one in their immediate circle to turn to for support.

At these times, many people turn to the Internet to search for support and encouragement from the mental health community. In doing so, they receive the information as well as the comfort and guidance they need.

A Michigan State University study published in the Journal of Computer Mediated-Communication supports the theory that social media use might actually be beneficial to our mental health. In the study, researchers analyzed data from more than 13,000 relationships from adult participants. The data suggested that social media users were 63% less likely to experience mental health crises, including anxiety and depression.

Be a Mindful User

The study found that those people who use social media, even on a daily basis, to connect and share information, had positive mental health outcomes. Those who had an emotionally unhealthy connection to social media – as an example, those people who check their pages excessively out of fear of missing out, tend to have negative mental health outcomes.

In conclusion, it seems that the real key is to be a mindful social media user. Those that may have already developed an unhealthy social media habit that seems to have developed anxiety or depression may want to seek counseling to adjust their behavior.

If you would like to speak to someone about your social media use and how it is negatively affecting your mental health, please get in touch with me.

 

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How Counseling Can Help You Reach Your Goals in the New Year

If you struggle to set goals, let alone reach them, you are definitely not alone. In fact, it is thought that roughly 92% of the population has found it hard to stick to goals. This constant cycle of trying to set beneficial life or health goals, but never quite reaching them, can ultimately lead to depression.

That’s because reaching goals is empowering and helps us feel we are in charge of our life. When we don’t reach goals, we feel powerless and even hopeless that our lives can change for the better!

How Counseling Can Help

Just as you must follow a recipe to the proverbial “T” to end up with something edible, there is a formula that must be followed to the “T” to set reachable goals. This formula is often used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help individuals set and reach goals that will help them change behaviors and better their lives.

Goal setting has actually been shown to be a useful tool for those suffering from depression according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE. The study found that individuals suffering from depression had more trouble setting goals and were far less likely to believe they could reach them.

The study found that those who were depressed had more difficulties setting goals and they were also less likely to believe they would achieve those goals. The participants also tended to set avoidance goals rather than approach goals.

An avoidance goal is one you set to avoid a negative outcome. “I want to lose weight so I don’t develop type 2 diabetes.” An approach goal, on the other hand, is one that you set to ensure a positive outcome. “I want to lose weight to have more energy!”

The study shows that counseling can help people with depression set and achieve realistic and achievable goals as well as help them stay on track mentally in pursuit of that goal.

The goal-setting formula used by most CBT therapists is as follows:

  • Identify your goal.
  • Choose a starting point.
  • Identify the steps required to achieve the goal.
  • Take that first step and get started.

A therapist can help you with each one of these steps. From ensuring you select realistic goals that are approach goals, to helping you identify where you are in relation to your goal, breaking down the goal into smaller, actionable steps, and helping you take that very first one, a counselor or coach will be in your corner, helping you every step of the way.

Make 2021 the year you reach those goals that will help you live your best life. If you’d like some help getting there, please get in touch with me. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

 

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Mental Health Therapy for Frontline Workers

None of us were prepared for the global pandemic we find ourselves in. Not parents, teachers, and certainly not the healthcare workers around the country. Doctors and nurses suddenly found themselves working double shifts to care for sick people. As the rest of the world went into lockdown and people stayed home, safe and sound, these frontline workers showed up day after day, putting their health and life on the line.

Many, in an effort to keep their families safe, found other living arrangements. The idea of possibly exposing their family to something they may have been exposed to at work was too much of a risk, and so many mothers and fathers also had to deal with the stress and sadness of being away from their family during the height of the pandemic.

While many frontline workers appear stoic, all of this stress and fear took its toll, even on the bravest among us. As a result, many frontline workers have found themselves burnt out and experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety

It’s common for everyone to feel stressed or sad from time to time. But when certain symptoms linger, you are typically dealing with depression or anxiety. If you’ve never dealt with either before, you may not know the symptoms.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • A persistent feeling of sadness
  • A lack of energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Sleep disruption (either sleeping too much or too little)
  • Appetite disruption (eating too much or too little)
  • Difficulty focusing
  • A loss of enjoyment of previous hobbies or activities
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms of anxiety can include:

  • Excessive worry
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Tense muscles
  • Panic attacks
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Irrational fears

Is it Time to Seek Therapy?

For many healthcare workers, all of their time and focus is on how they can help others. The idea of self-care and asking others for help is not something on their radar.

If you are a healthcare worker that is experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression as a result of COVID, it’s really important that you let someone else help you right now. A therapist can offer strategies that will help you cope with your symptoms and deal with the underlying emotions.

If you or someone you know would benefit from mental health therapy, please get in touch with me. I offer both in-person appointments as well as online support.

 

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Helping Kids Cope with Divorce

Divorce isn’t easy for anyone, but children can take it particularly hard. Many children don’t understand what is happening and many more feel the divorce is somehow their fault. 

 

Here’s how you can help your child cope:

Communicate Openly

The divorce should be explained in simple and straightforward terms. If at all possible, both parents should be part of the conversation. Your language should be tailored to the age of your children as well. So for instance, when speaking with very small children you might say something like, “Mommy and Daddy yell at each other a lot and everyone is feeling unhappy. So we have decided to live in different houses. But we love you very much and we will both take care of you still.”

Keep Things Predictable

Children do best when their environments are familiar and predictable. Do your best to provide the structure and routine your children have become used to.

Explain How Things Will Work

Many children will panic at the news, they will not understand how both Mommy and Daddy will both remain in their lives. So clearly explain how things will work going forward. “You will spend weekends with Daddy, and the rest of the time you will be here with Mommy.” You may also want to work on creating a calendar together so your child has something to refer to.

Never Speak Badly About Your Ex

Your ex may have caused you a lot of emotional pain in your relationship, but to your child, that ex is their mommy or daddy. Never speak unkindly about your child’s other parent.

Encourage Your Children to Speak Honestly About Their Emotions

Your child will sense that YOU are dealing with a lot of emotions, and, wanting to protect you, he or she will keep their emotions to themselves. It’s important that you encourage your children to talk to you candidly about how they are feeling. Let them know they can come to you at any time and talk to you whether they are scared, sad, or angry.

Seek Guidance

Everyone’s situation is different – and all children are different. Some may take the news better than others. You may find that your child is suffering more than you originally expected. If this happens, it may be a good idea to seek help from a trained family therapist, who can give all of you helpful coping tools.

 

If you would like to explore treatment options for your child, please get in touch with me. I’d be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

 

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6 Signs of Depression in Teens

Ask any parent what their main job is and they will tell you it’s protecting their children and keeping them safe. New parents spend hours, if not days, baby-proofing the house. They research the best car seats and bike helmets and figure out ways to ensure their kids are safe online.

But, no matter how hard parents work to keep their kids safe, it is very difficult to protect children against mental health issues such as depression. According to the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), depression affects roughly 11% of adolescents by age 18.

If you are unsure as to whether your own child may be suffering from depression, here are 6 signs to look for:

  1. 1. More Than Just Mood Swings

Thanks to raging hormones, it is quite normal for teenagers to experience mood swings. But those suffering from depression will show wilder and more frequent swings into and out of anger, sadness and irritability.

  1. 2. Academic Problems

A drop in grades and notes from teachers can be a big signal that something is going on. Is your teen getting to school late and/or cutting classes? Are they not showing up at all? Never ignore academic problems.

  1. 3. Changes in Social Behavior

Is your child spending less time with their friends? Do they have new friendships that you question? Or are they spending more and more time isolated? Changes in social behavior are often the first signal kids are in trouble.

  1. 4. A Loss of Interest in Their Favorite Activities

Did your teen use to love playing basketball or spend hours drawing? Have they suddenly lost interest in these activities? If your child no longer shows interest in favorite hobbies and activities, this is an indicator that something is wrong.

  1. 5. A Lack of Motivation

Granted, teenagers are not known for being highly-motivated individuals, but those suffering from depression will show a marked decline in motivation.

  1. 6. A Family History of Depression

If you or someone else in your family suffer from depression, there is a very good chance your teen may also suffer from it.

If you have noticed one or more of these signs, it’s important to seek help from a mental health therapist. While you may want to, you can’t love depression away. It needs strategic attention and a plan for management.

A therapist will be able to assess your teen for depression and provide coping skills and tools for dealing with symptoms. If you or a loved one are concerned for a teen’s safety and would like to explore treatment options, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

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Recognizing the Signs of Postpartum Depression and Getting Help

The birth of a child is a wondrous and glorious thing. Until you bring that baby home and are responsible for keeping it alive on zero sleep for weeks and weeks. Add to this already trying scenario is the hormonal cocktail the new mother is living with and you understand why some new mothers don’t feel so blissful.

While it’s normal for every new mother to feel some stress and irritability in the weeks after giving birth, it is estimated that  9 to16 percent of moms, through no fault of their own, will experience postpartum depression (PPD).

What makes some women more susceptible to PPD than others? It is believed that a combination of things including hormones, genetics, predisposition, support (or lack of), and stress all create a perfect storm to experience PPD.

As if experiencing PPD isn’t hard enough, there are actually a few myths surrounding the condition that can make a new mother feel even worse. Let’s dispel those myths right now:

Myth #1: PPD starts after a woman has given birth.

PPD can actually start while a woman is still pregnant. In fact, it is believed that in 50% of moms experiencing PPD, the symptoms began during pregnancy.

Myth #2: PPD starts immediately after giving birth.

In those instances where PPD does begin after a new mother has given birth, it is not uncommon for symptoms to begin well beyond the first four weeks. This can often take the new mother by surprise.

Myth #3: PPD is the only postpartum illness a new mother may experience.

The truth is, there is an entire collection of postpartum illnesses besides PPD that a woman may experience such as postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, and rarely, but sometimes experienced postpartum psychosis. These are all challenging disorders new moms experience.

Now let’s take a look at some of the common symptoms of PPD so you know what to be aware of.

  • Guilt – You feel like you should be handling the situation better. Many women feel worthless in the role of mother.
  • You Can’t be Comforted – With baby blues, mothers feel overwhelmed but can be comforted by encouraging words from their partner or loved ones. But with PPD, reassurance feels like a lie.
  • You Fantasize About Escaping – While many new moms think about wanting to just get away for a week or two to get some rest and feel human again, women with PPD fantasize about leaving and never returning because they think their families will be better off. NOTE: If you have thoughts of suicide, it is important that you seek help immediately.
  • You’re Angry and Irritable – You snap at your partner, at the baby, at the dog. You no longer feel in control of your own emotions.

Not every woman will experience every symptom. But if you are experiencing any of these it’s important that you get help. PPD is very treatable, so it’s important that you recognize the signs, understand that you’re not a bad mother, and reach out for the help you need.

If you’d like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. I’d be happy to discuss how I may be able to help you during this time.

 

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5 Ways to Effectively Manage Anxiety

If you suffer from anxiety, you know that awful feeling when heart races, you start to sweat, and you feel like you just want to run. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the United States, affecting roughly 40 million adults. While anxiety can feel debilitating, there are ways you can manage it.

Slow Your Breathing

When we feel anxious, our breathing becomes quicker and shallower. This way of breathing, in turn, makes us feel even more anxious. It’s a vicious cycle.

When you feel the anxiety start to come on, start to focus on your breath and begin to slow it down. Breathe in slowly and deeply for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, then exhale slowly for a count of 4. Repeat this cycle three to five times until you feel yourself begin to calm.

Limit Caffeine 

Drinking or eating anything with caffeine in it can exacerbate your anxiety. Studies have even shown that caffeine can trigger an anxiety attack, so try and avoid or greatly limit consumption.

Exercise

Studies have shown that just 20 minutes of exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety. Not only does exercising make you feel good about yourself, it actually floods your body with feel-good endorphins, which can totally turn your mood around.

Make a List

One of the worst parts of feeling anxiety is the feeling that you are out of control. One simple exercise to turn this around is to make a to-do list of small, easy-to-manage tasks. Crossing these tasks off your list will actually empower you and make you feel in control again.

Remind Yourself of Reality

When the plane of a nervous flyer hits turbulence, that nervous flyer must remind themselves that the plane is okay, and it is just a normal occurrence to hit turbulence. People who experience anxiety may also have to remind themselves that they are actually okay when an anxiety attack comes on. Simply tell yourself that you are experiencing anxiety but that you are, basically, okay, you are not going to die.

It can also be very beneficial to talk to someone about your anxiety issues. A therapist will be able to offer more tools and advice on how to cope and manage your anxiety.

If you or someone you love suffers from anxiety and would like to explore treatment options, please be in touch. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

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Is Social Media Bad for Your Mental Health?

Have you been feeling a bit low lately, but you can’t quite put your finger on why? It may have something to do with your social media habits. According to a recent study, social media use can increase depression and loneliness.

For years people have suspected that social media use might have an ability to negatively impact our mental well-being. After all, it’s hard not to feel inadequate or jealous when looking at photos of people whose lives seem so much more perfect than ours. But now research is actually making a definitive link between spending time on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and a sense of loneliness and isolation.

It May be Time for a Social Media Detox

I encourage my clients to take a social media detox every now and then to gain a more positive sense of reality. They often report back to me that the detox offered some amazing and unexpected benefits such as:

Improved Self-Esteem

When you take a break from comparing yourself to other people, you can start to look at how great you and your own life really are.

New Interests and Hobbies

When you spend less time trying to get that social approval in the form of ‘likes’, ‘retweets’, and ‘upvotes’, you suddenly find you have a lot of time on your hands for other things.

Improves Your Mood

Trading in online friendships for real face-to-face ones makes us feel more grounded and connected to people. This can drastically improve our mood and sense of well-being.

Better Sleep 

Many people are on their mobile phone in bed, checking their social media accounts. The blue light from these devices disrupts our sleep pattern. When we put these devices away, we inevitably sleep better.

Able to Enjoy the Moment More

I am a big proponent of daily mindfulness. By being present in our lives, we feel an increased sense of peace and joy. That’s priceless.

So how do you perform a social media detox?

Follow these 4 steps:

  1. Temporarily deactivate your accounts. Don’t worry, you can reactivate them again in the future should you choose.
  2. Remove all Social Media Apps and notification pathways from your devices.
  3. Use a web filtering tool to block social media sites. (Why tempt yourself?)
  4. Be prepared for some withdrawal symptoms and have other activities ready to replace the void.

If you follow these steps and take a break from social media, chances are you will find you feel a whole lot better!

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4 Signs Your Partner is Potentially Being Unfaithful

Remember when Ashley Madison, the website that helps people cheat on their spouses, was hacked? As news spread, many of us probably wondered if our own partners would be capable of cheating.

A survey by polling company YouGov uncovers some rather startling statistics. When they asked roughly one thousand Americans about their fidelity, 21% of men and 19% of women admitted that they had, in fact, cheated on their partners. Another 7% stated they would prefer not to answer the question. It’s safe to say we can probably put that 7% over with the “yeses.”

Another study, this one published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found that the average person has about a 42% chance of cheating on their partner. 9% of these participants admitted they had already strayed.

If these numbers are getting you to wondering about your own relationship, here are 4 signs your partner is being (or is thinking about being) unfaithful:

(Before hopping into this, while these are potential signs, please do not interpret this as, “Yes, my spouse is cheating,” or “No, they aren’t”).

1. More Time Away from Home

Has your partner suddenly become a social butterfly? Are they spending time at social events or out with co-workers after work? Does their job suddenly require they spend more time on out-of-town travel assignments?

2. Secretive Smartphone Usage

Do you find your partner spending more time texting on his or her smartphone? When you enter the room, do they suddenly put it down?

3. They Seem More Irritable

Do they seem like they get easily irritated by anything you say or do? Do they blow up when asked simple questions or accuse you of accusing them of something?

4. Lack of Sexual Desire

Even though they are getting slimmer and wearing tighter, sexier clothing in public, they have a lack of sexual desire in your direction.

You Can Recover from An Affair

While it is painful to recognize your relationship may not be as strong as it once was, the good news is, you can recover from an affair. When the offender shows true remorse and the partner is ready to truly forgive, healing can begin, and the relationship can become even stronger than it once was.

If you or someone you know is reeling from the betrayal of infidelity and you’d like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.