What Triggers A Nervous Breakdown?

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Many misconceptions surround the term “nervous breakdown.” While a nervous breakdown is often used to describe periods when normal functioning is disrupted by extreme stress, the term is not considered an actual medical diagnosis by licensed professional therapists.

Instead, a nervous breakdown is a colloquial phrase that describes symptoms that may represent a number of different psychiatric conditions. The critical characteristic is that these symptoms are intense and make it very difficult for the individual to function normally.

A nervous breakdown is a serious mental health issue that requires prompt, professional treatment. It is triggered by excess stress and a lack of healthy coping mechanisms to manage that stress. The amount of stress that causes a breakdown varies by individual, with some being able to cope longer than others.

The stress causing a nervous breakdown may come from any source and may build up slowly over time or occur all at once. One of the most common triggers for a nervous breakdown is work-related stress.

What is a Nervous Breakdown?

A nervous breakdown occurs when a person is no longer able to function normally, even doing small things like chores or personal hygiene. Although the condition is not an official mental health diagnosis, it can have a serious and negative impact on someone’s life. Going through a nervous breakdown, a person may not be able to work, go to school, take care of family, or do any of their usual activities.

While a nervous breakdown is temporary, it is serious and should be treated as a mental health crisis. An evaluation by a mental health professional can help determine if there is an underlying mental illness contributing to the breakdown that needs to be diagnosed and treated. The evaluation can lead to treatment, often including a short residential stay in a treatment facility followed by ongoing therapy, medication if needed, lifestyle changes, and the regular use of stress coping strategies and relaxation techniques.

Excessive Stress Causes Breakdowns

There may be any number of different factors that trigger a nervous breakdown in an individual, but generally what leads to a breakdown is a buildup of stress, pressure, and anxiety. One person might experience a slow building of stress that over months causes the eventual breakdown, while another experiences one big stressful situation that triggers a crisis.

The commonality is stress and a feeling of being pressured to keep up and to continue to function normally.

Some examples of stress and situations that may lead to a nervous breakdown include:

  • Feeling pressure and stress at work, and having a lot of work responsibilities.
  • Academic pressure and responsibilities.
  • Family duties that become stressful and overwhelming, such as caring for an aging parent or special needs children.
  • Taking on too many responsibilities.
  • A divorce or loss of children in a custody trial.
  • A death in the family.
  • The loss of a job or some form of financial hardship
  • A traumatic experience.

Poor Stress Coping Skills Lead to Breakdowns

Many people experience high levels of stress, but not everyone will have a nervous breakdown. What leads to a nervous breakdown during the experience of all that stress is an inability or poor ability to cope with and manage stress. Experiencing a lot of stress, in combination with being unable to cope with it in healthy ways, is what really causes nervous breakdowns.

It is important to remember, though, that even people who are generally good at coping with stress can reach a breaking point. It simply may take more stress for these people to have a breakdown.

Managing and coping with stress is something that everyone does, but not always in healthy ways. Some people may react to stress in negative ways, such as withdrawing from friends and family, turning to drugs or alcohol, yelling at other people, binge eating, or other unhealthy responses.

These do not help to mitigate stress or manage it, and ultimately without good, positive coping strategies, a person under a lot of stress is likely to have a breakdown.

Nervous Breakdown Risk Factors

Stress and an inability to cope with it is the general cause of having a nervous breakdown. This can be highly individualized, though, with different types and amounts of stress affecting people differently.

There are certain risk factors that make some people more vulnerable to ultimately having a nervous breakdown, including:

  • Taking on a lot of responsibilities at home and elsewhere.
  • Being a perfectionist and having a high-achieving personality.
  • Feeling a need to be in control and struggling to give responsibilities to others.
  • Having a pessimistic outlook on life, in general.
  • Working long hours.
  • Not sleeping enough.
  • Lacking a good social support system and close relationships.
  • Lacking healthy coping mechanisms or engaging in unhealthy ones.
  • Having an untreated mental illness.

Making lifestyle changes is one of the most important things a person can do to recover from a nervous breakdown and to prevent a future breakdown. Making these changes involves looking at the risk factors that led up to the breakdown and finding ways to change them. For instance, a person may decide to work fewer hours, go to bed earlier, and make more time for socializing with friends and family.

Work Stress is a Common Trigger for Nervous Breakdowns

Stress caused by one’s job is a common cause, or at least a factor, in many nervous breakdowns. A nervous breakdown triggered by work stress may also be called burnout syndrome. It is characterized by exhaustion and fatigue, reduced performance at work, feeling depersonalized or detached from work, and other symptoms of nervous breakdown.

General factors that may occur in any kind of work and that contribute to burnout of a nervous breakdown include:

  • Being overworked and working long hours.
  • Feeling unappreciated at work.
  • Doing work that is not meaningful or that is repetitive and not challenging.
  • Having a poor understanding of job expectations and duties.
  • Having expectations that are overly demanding.
  • Lacking control over work.
  • Being a poor fit for a particular job or duties.
  • Having different values from the company or employer.
  • Difficult relationships with co-workers.
  • Harassment from a boss or other person in a position of power.

Work is a major contributor of stress for most people and therefore a common cause of nervous breakdowns. Many people are increasingly vulnerable. According to surveys, the average work week for U.S. workers has increased from 40 to 47 hours in recent years. Vacation time, on the other hand, is down, with American workers using fewer of their vacation days than ever before.

Not everyone who feels stress at work will ultimately have a breakdown, but there are many factors that make a breakdown likely. Changing and minimizing work stress is an important way to prevent mental health crises.

Underlying Mental Illness

Stress may be the main trigger for a nervous breakdown, but having a mental illness can make a person more vulnerable to stress and its negative consequences. In many cases of nervous breakdown, an individual has a mental illness that has gone undiagnosed and untreated. Trying to live with that mental illness along with the stresses of daily life can come together to ultimately lead to a breakdown.

There are two common mental illnesses that often underlie nervous breakdowns:

  1. Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses. There are different types of anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety and social anxiety, but all are characterized by feeling worried, nervous, anxious, and stressed to an unusual degree. Someone with this condition feels anxious, often to the extreme and for extended periods of time. These negative feelings interfere with normal daily activities. Untreated and combined with a lot of stress, this can trigger a nervous breakdown.
  2. Major Depression. Depression is another common mental illness and amood disorder that makes a person feel sad, hopeless, and fatigued persistently and often for weeks at a time. It is a depressed mood that cannot be easily overcome. Without getting diagnosed and treated, depression can easily be a triggering factor in a nervous breakdown and an inability to function normally.

 

Being evaluated, diagnosed, and then treated for any mental illness is crucial for overall good health, but in the case of a nervous breakdown it can be preventative. Many of the symptoms of these two mental illnesses mirror those of a nervous breakdown and often occur together. Anyone who experiences a nervous breakdown should be evaluated to determine if there is an underlying condition that needs to be addressed as part of ongoing treatment and recovery.

A nervous breakdown is ultimately caused by an inability to cope with large amounts of stress, but how that manifests exactly varies by individual. Work stress, mental illness, family responsibilities, and poor coping strategies are all things that can lead to a nervous breakdown and the inability to function normally.

The good news is that nervous breakdowns are treatable and manageable. With quality treatment by professional therapists and with good follow up care, lifestyle changes to reduce stress, and care for mental illnesses, full recovery is possible.

We are always here to help the people residing in McKinney, Plano, Dallas, Denton, Allen, Garland, and the surrounding communities found throughout Texas. If you believe that you are in the midst of experiencing a nervous breakdown, or you know someone who may be, please contact our certified therapist team at Foundations Counseling today.

Types of Anxiety that Can Affect Children

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Childhood itself is quite an anxious process. Kids are tasked with learning new skills, meeting new challenges, overcoming fears, and navigating a world that doesn’t always make sense. But sometimes these fears or stressors prove too much to handle, and the normal comforts that adults can provide don’t quite seem to be enough. In these cases, a child may have a diagnosable anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are the most commonly experienced mental illnesses in the United States, and kids are no exception. Roughly one in eight children may have an anxiety disorder, but a majority of children who would qualify for a diagnosis are not getting the treatment they need.

Young people are also being exposed to the online world earlier, with social networking sites having the potential to become a negative environment for young, impressionable minds. Social media has also been linked to cyber-bullying, low self-esteem and poor body image, all of which can increase feelings of anxiety.

Children and young people can find it difficult to express their concerns and may bottle up emotions. If these feelings are not addressed they can affect mental health, leading to anxiety disorders and sudden panic attacks. Not treating anxiety leaves a child at risk of decreasing performance in school, poor social skills, and harmful behaviors like substance abuse.

Understanding the Warning Signs

Anxiety affects everyone differently. However, there are some common symptoms to look out for in your child:

  • They are struggling to concentrate.
  • They are having difficulties sleeping.
  • Their eating habits have changed.
  • They quickly become angry or irritable.
  • They appear tense, fidgety or need to use the toilet often.
  • They cry more than usual for no apparent reason.
  • They are clingy and reluctant to leave you.
  • They complain of feeling unwell or having tummy aches.

Of course, whenever you spot a change in your child’s behavior or health it’s recommended that you make an appointment with a therapist as soon as possible.

How to Help a Child Having a Panic Attack

Panic attacks are an incredibly frightening symptom of anxiety. They can last anywhere between five and 20 minutes, and have very real physical effects such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, or trembling.

Children may not be as capable of articulating their feelings as adults, so it can be hard to know if they need help. Below are some tips about how you can help your child if you suspect they are having a panic attack:

  1. Remain in control. Remember, a child in the midst of a panic attack has lost their sense of control, which in itself is frightening and overwhelming.
  2. Stay calm and mindful while using a firm but gentle tone of voice to communicate that you are present and there for them and that you understand how anxious they feel.
  3. Use age-appropriate words to describe anxiousness, such as “nervous” or “scared.” By doing this you will communicate a sense of safety, confidence, and containment for the child who is in the middle of an emotional storm.
  4. Ensure the child feels increasingly safe. Use soothing words. Use their name. Say things like, “I know you don’t feel okay but you will be okay,” “I will help you get through this and it will end soon,” and “Take some deep breaths.”
  5. Remind them that panic attacks always end and that they will get through them. This can offer hope. However, try not to give excessive reassurance. You want your child to find their own coping strategies.
  6. Pay attention to the physical symptoms of panic attacks. Convey to the child that the fast heartbeat, dizziness or shaking will pass in a few minutes. Tell them these are signs of their fear, not of illness.
  7. Give them time to calm down. Don’t rush the child. They will need time to help them regain their sense of self and composure.

Finally, always remember that if you can remain calm during their emotional storm they will regain their resilience and the attack will pass more quickly.

If you are struggling with your mental health due to your child’s panic attacks and need to talk, or if you are worried about your child, always seek out professional support sooner rather than later.

Types of Childhood Anxiety Disorders

There are many types of anxiety disorders, but here are the disorders most common anxiety disorders experienced by children.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

If your child experiences excessive anxiety or worry that results in fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, or sleep disturbances, then they may receive a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. This worry may be about school performance, friendships, family relationships, or other activities or concerns.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Some separation anxiety is developmentally appropriate, especially for children between 1-3 years old. But for older children, if they have excessive fear or anxiety about being separated from caregivers, then they may qualify for a diagnosis of separation anxiety disorder.

Children with the disorder may frequently worry about parents dying or becoming separated from them. They may refuse to go out or go to school, have nightmares about separation, or experience physical symptoms like headaches or nausea due to this anxiety.

Selective Mutism

Children with selective mutism may refuse to speak in certain social situations, even though they are very talkative at home or wherever they feel comfortable. They may refuse to speak at school and withdraw from others or avoid eye contact. Children around the age of 5 are most commonly diagnosed with this disorder.

Specific Phobia

Some children may exhibit fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation. If this fear lasts a long time and is out of proportion to the actual danger posed, this fear may be classified as a phobia. Children will cry, freeze up, or cling to an adult when their fear is present. Children can have phobias that include but are not limited to insects, animals, storms, needles, loud sounds, and enclosed spaces. 

Panic Disorder

Children who experience recurring panic attacks and worry about having more may have panic disorder. A child having a panic attack may complain of symptoms that can include shortness of breath, chest pain, sensation of choking, nausea, dizziness, chill or heat sensations, fear of “going crazy,” and fear of dying.

Social Anxiety Disorder

If your child has an intense fear of having to participate in class or interaction with their peers, then they may have social anxiety disorder. Children may exhibit this fear through throwing tantrums, crying, clinging to adults, freezing up, or refusing to speak. They may also attempt to avoid social situations that provoke this fear.

Kids ad Parents Learning to Cope with Anxiety

Never hesitate to consult with licensed professionals about your child’s anxiety, as they can guide you towards the right resources and conduct a proper assessment. Children with anxiety disorders are typically treated with talk therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help a child test out what thoughts they have are realistic or unrealistic. Play therapy may work best for young children to work through anxieties.

Parents often can feel helpless when they see their child experiencing intense fear or worry. There may be a temptation to simply remove the child from all situations that prompt this anxiety or to over accommodate for their child’s fear.

These actions only make a child more sensitive to these environments. Parents can validate the child’s feelings but also model calmness and confidence that their child is going to be okay and can master scary situations like school or meeting new people. Also, because children are most anxious leading up to a challenging situation, it’s important for parents not to ask too many questions about the anxiety.

Remember, as a parent, it’s not your goal to eliminate all anxiety from your child’s life. Your job is to help your child learn to manage anxiety effectively so that they can deal with life’s challenges long into adulthood.

Anxiety is inevitable in life, but no child should have to feel stuck with it. What steps can you take today to help your child learn to manage anxiety successfully?

We are always here to help families residing in McKinney, Plano, Dallas, Denton, Allen, Garland, and the surrounding communities throughout Texas. If your child is experiencing panic attacks or anxiety, please contact our therapist team today at Foundations Counseling.

 

6 Types of Depression Affecting Your Day-To-Day Life

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Everyone goes through periods of deep sadness and grief. These feelings usually fade away within a few days or weeks, depending on the circumstances. But profound sadness that lasts more than two weeks and affects your ability to function may be a sign of depression.

Some of the common symptoms of depression are:

  • Deep feelings of sadness
  • Dark moods
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Appetite changes
  • Sleep changes
  • Lack of energy
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Difficulty getting through your normal activities
  • Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
  • Withdrawing from friends
  • Preoccupation with death or thoughts of self-harm

Depression affects everyone differently, and you might only have some of these symptoms. You may also have other symptoms that aren’t listed here. Keep in mind that it’s also normal to have some of these symptoms from time to time without having depression.

But if they start to impact your day-to-day life, they may be the result of depression. There are many types of depression. While they share some common symptoms, they also have some key differences.

Here’s a look at six types of depression and how they affect people.

Major Depression

Major depression is also known as major depressive disorder, classic depression, or unipolar depression. It’s fairly common. In fact, about 5% of the people in the U.S. have experienced at least one major depressive episode.

People with major depression experience symptoms most of the day, every day. Like many mental health conditions, it has little to do with what’s happening around you. You can have a loving family, tons of friends, and a dream job. You can have the kind of life that others envy and still have depression.

Even if there’s no obvious reason for your depression, that doesn’t mean it’s not real or that you can simply tough it out.

It’s a severe form of depression that causes symptoms such as:

  • Despondency, gloom, or grief
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Lack of energy and fatigue
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities
  • Lack of concentration, memory problems, and inability to make decisions
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Constant worry and anxiety
  • Thoughts of death, self-harm, or suicide

These symptoms can last weeks or even months. Some people might have a single episode of major depression, while others experience it throughout their life. Regardless of how long its symptoms last, major depression can cause problems in your relationships and daily activities.

Persistent Depression

Persistent depressive disorder is depression that will typically last for two years or more. It’s also called dysthymia or chronic depression. Persistent depression might not feel as intense as major depression, but it can still strain relationships and make daily tasks difficult.

Some symptoms of persistent depression include:

  • Deep sadness or hopelessness
  • Low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy
  • Lack of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Appetite changes
  • Changes to sleep patterns or low energy
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Difficulty functioning at school or work
  • Inability to feel joy, even at happy occasions
  • Social withdrawal

Though it’s a long-term type of depression, the severity of symptoms can become less intense for months at a time before worsening again. Some people also have episodes of major depression before or while they have persistent depressive disorder. This is called double depression.

Persistent depression lasts for years at a time, so people with this type of depression may start to feel like their symptoms are just part of their normal outlook on life.

Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder)

Manic depression consists of periods of mania or hypomania, where you feel very happy, alternating with episodes of depression. Manic depression was a term commonly used in the past. Today, manic depression is best termed as someone having bipolar disorder.

In order to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you usually need to experience an episode of mania that lasts for seven days, or less. You may experience a depressive episode before or following the manic episode.

Depressive episodes have the same symptoms as major depression, including:

  • Feelings of sadness or emptiness
  • Lack of energy
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Decreased activity
  • Loss of interest in formerly enjoyable activities
  • Suicidal thoughts

Signs of a manic phase include:

  • High energy
  • Reduced sleep
  • Irritability
  • Racing thoughts and speech
  • Grandiose thinking
  • Increased self-esteem and confidence
  • Unusual, risky, and self-destructive behavior
  • Feeling elated, “high,” or euphoric

In severe cases, episodes can include hallucinations and delusions. Hypomania is a less severe form of mania. You can also have mixed episodes in which you have symptoms of both mania and depression. There are actually several types of bipolar disorder.

Depressive Psychosis

Some people with major depression also go through periods of losing touch with reality. This is known as psychosis, which can involve hallucinations and delusions. Experiencing both of these together is known clinically as major depressive disorder with psychotic features.

Hallucinations are when you see, hear, smell, taste, or feel things that aren’t really there. An example of this would be hearing voices or seeing people who aren’t present. A delusion is a closely held belief that’s clearly false or doesn’t make sense. But to someone experiencing psychosis, all of these things are very real and true.

Depression with psychosis can cause physical symptoms as well, including problems sitting still or slowed physical movements.

Situational Depression

Situational depression, clinically known as adjustment disorder with depressed mood, looks like major depression in many respects.

But it’s brought on by specific events or situations, such as:

  • The death of a loved one
  • A serious illness or other life-threatening event
  • Going through divorce or child custody issues
  • Being in emotionally or physically abusive relationships
  • Being unemployed or facing serious financial difficulties
  • Facing extensive legal troubles

Of course, it’s normal to feel sad and anxious during events like these or even to withdraw from others for a bit. But situational depression happens when these feelings start to feel out of proportion with the triggering event and interfere with your daily life.

Situational depression symptoms tend to start within three months of the initial event and can include:

  • Frequent crying
  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Appetite changes
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Aches and pains
  • Lack of energy and fatigue
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Social withdrawal

Atypical Depression

Atypical depression refers to depression that temporarily goes away in response to positive events. Despite its name, atypical depression isn’t unusual or rare. It also doesn’t mean that it’s more or less serious than other types of depression.

Having atypical depression can be particularly challenging because you may not always “seem” depressed to others, or to yourself. But it can also happen during an episode of major depression. It can occur with persistent depression as well.

Other symptoms of atypical depression can include:

  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Disordered eating
  • Poor body image
  • Sleeping much more than usual
  • Insomnia
  • Heaviness in your arms or legs that lasts an hour or more a day
  • Feelings of rejection and sensitivity to criticism
  • Assorted aches and pains

How do I know which type I have?

If you think you might have any type of depression, it’s important to follow up with a professional therapist. All depression types mentioned here are treatable, though it might take some time to find the right treatment for you.

If you’ve had a previous bout of depression and think it may be happening again, contact Foundations Counseling right away.

If you’ve never had depression before, start by calling Foundations Counseling for an initial appointment. Some symptoms of depression can be related to an underlying physical condition that could be addressed.

Try to give your therapist as much information about your symptoms as you can. If possible, mention:

  • When you first noticed them?
  • How they’ve affected your daily life?
  • Any other mental health conditions you have?
  • Any information about a history of mental illness in your family?
  • All prescription and over-the-counter medications you take, including supplements and herbs?

It might feel uncomfortable, but try to tell your therapist everything possible.

We are always here to help the people residing in McKinney, Plano, Dallas, Denton, Allen, Garland, and the surrounding communities found throughout Texas. If you believe that you are experiencing major depression or another type of depression, or you know someone who may be, please contact our certified therapist team at Foundations Counseling today.

How To Overcome Social Anxiety and Social Phobia

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Social anxiety is the fear of social situations and interaction with other people that automatically bring on feelings of self-consciousness, judgment, evaluation, and criticism. Social anxiety is the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression.  If a person usually becomes anxious in social situations but seems fine when they are alone, then “social anxiety” may be the problem.

Social anxiety disorder may also be related to having social phobia which is a much more common problem. Millions of people all over the world suffer from this devastating and traumatic problem every day of their lives, either from a specific social phobia or from a more generalized social phobia.

Safer At Home

Agoraphobe is a social anxiety and panic disorder. So, “safer-at-home” is what many dealings with the phobia were built for. What many were not prepared for though was just how debilitating it would feel to watch the internal, irrational fears of imagined threats become someone’s external reality in facing an actual threat to a varying extent.

While the rest of the world is struggling to believe in this terrifying post-pandemic world, people with anxiety disorders are struggling to maintain their disbelief in the seemingly impossible apocalyptic scenarios that they may been dreading.

On the other side of agoraphobia, those with separation anxiety are likely feeling nightmarishly alone because of social distancing. People with contamination-related anxiety disorders like germaphobia and certain types of OCD are obviously getting hit particularly hard.

Disordered eating may be triggered by the stressors of quarantining at home. Those with generalized anxiety and panic disorders aren’t being spared, either, especially since shortness of breath is a symptom of both COVID-19 (the disease caused by coronavirus) and panic attacks. All that compounds with hypochondria, which may be likely amplified.

A specific social phobia would be the fear of speaking in front of groups, whereas generalized social anxiety indicates that the person is anxious, nervous, and uncomfortable in almost all (or the majority of) social situations.

Social Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

People with social anxiety disorder usually experience significant emotional distress in the following situations:

  • Being introduced to other people
  • Being teased or criticized
  • Being the center of attention
  • Being watched while doing something
  • Meeting people in authority (“important people”)
  • Most social encounters, particularly with strangers
  • Making “small talk” at parties
  • Going around the room in a circle and having to say something

This list is certainly not a complete list of symptoms because there are other feelings that may be associated with social anxiety.

 

Physical Symptoms from Social Anxiety

The physiological manifestations that accompany social anxiety may include intense fear, racing heart, turning red or blushing, dry throat and mouth, trembling, swallowing with difficulty, muscle twitches, shaky hands, excessive sweating, and eye contact problems.

The social anxiety physical symptoms may actually be constant and an intense anxiety that does not go away.

Oftentimes, people with social anxiety disorder actually do know that their anxiety is irrational and does not make rational sense. The fear is not based on fact. Nevertheless, “knowing” something is never the same thing as “believing” and “feeling” something. Thus, in people with social anxiety, thoughts and feelings of anxiety persist and show no signs of going away. We would suggest that the anxiety being felt is now considered to be chronic in this situation.

The Right Kind of Treatment is Successful

The good news is that cognitive-behavioral therapy for social anxiety has been extremely successful. People who have had this anxiety problem for long periods of time will blossom while in therapy. After therapy, people with this problem will experience a changed life that is no longer totally controlled by fear and anxiety.

Social anxiety, as well as the other anxiety problems, can be successfully treated.There is no rational reason to continue living with social anxiety. There is no rational reason to believe you must “manage” it the rest of your life.

On the contrary, you don’t need to live with social anxiety disorder for the rest of your life. The decision to get better belongs to the person being afflicted by a social anxiety disorder.

Seeking Effective Treatment

In seeking help for this problem, we recommend working with one of our counselors who understands this problem well and knows how to treat it. Foundations Counseling helps people become informed clients and we encourage everyone to ask questions.

It is true that those people who have lived with social anxiety do realize that their mind is over-exaggerating, but it still feels like others are watching and judging. The feeling of self-consciousness is very real.

As a rule of thumb, remember that the true licensed professional will always welcome your questions. Those people who have or have had social anxiety need support, encouragement, and a relatively stress-free environment while progressing through active cognitive-behavioral therapy.  We like to remind our clients thatthis is your time to get better and heal. This is also your time to move forward in life, away from the effects of anxiety, fear, and avoidance.

 

Overcoming Social Anxiety

While you’re in the middle of this problem, it can definitely feel hopeless. As a matter of fact, it can feel like you may never get better. Life is just one gut-wrenching anxiety problem after another. But this can be stopped, managed, and reduced in a relatively short period of time. It is important to find a cognitive-behavioral therapist who understands and specializes in the treatment of social anxiety.

Remember that millions of people experience social anxiety and social phobias. It isn’t easy to overcome but many who seek professional help will be able to put their fears behind them and live a healthy life.

How to Conquer Social Anxiety

  • Possess the understanding and awareness of an existing problem.
  • Having a commitment to carry through with cognitive-behavioral therapy even when it seems difficult.
  • Practice, practice, practice to get that information deep down into your brain so that the strategies and rational beliefs you learn become automatic.
  • Participation in a social anxiety therapy group in which you can slowly and gradually work on problems that cause you anxiety in the real world.

Everything is voluntary. A person must be ready to do an activity before they do it.

Our experience also tells us that it is simply impossible to stop a motivated person who refuses to give up practicing. The role of your therapist is to know specifically what to do and how quickly to do it. This sounds easy, but it is not. You must be practicing the right material and you must proceed at the correct pace for your own anxieties. You are more in control of this than your therapist.

Today, cognitive-behavioral therapy is used to treat all forms of social anxiety. We focus on present-day problems and symptoms and use many small strategies, techniques, and methods to eradicate anxiety thinking and anxious feelings.

This is where learning, motivation, and practice come in. The more you can practice these small strategies at home, and then begin using them in real-life in conjunction with your therapist, the quicker social anxiety and social phobia can be reduced and will be overcome.

We are always here to help the people residing in McKinney, Plano, Dallas, Denton, Allen, Garland, and the surround communities found throughout Texas. If you are experiencing social anxiety or social phobias today, or you know someone who may be, please contact our specialist team at Foundation Counseling.

How to Cope with Adjustment Disorders Caused by Major Life Changing Events

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Adjusting to change can be difficult, as even positive life transitions tend to cause some stress. Over the course of a lifetime, a person can expect to experience a significant amount of change. Some of these changes, such as marriages, births, and new jobs, are generally positive, although they may be accompanied by their own unique stressors.

Other major life transitions, such as school closures or home schooling, working from home, new social distancing norms, moving to a new city, retirement, or entering the empty nest phase of life may cause a significant amount of stress.

Those who find themselves experiencing difficulty coping with life transitions may find it helpful to speak to a therapist in order to become better able to adjust to changes they cannot control.

How Can Change Be Beneficial?

Certain changes, such as going back to school, starting a new job, or starting a family, can often be exciting, even when they cause some amount of stress, because they are generally considered to be positive changes. Many people look forward to obtaining a degree, rising in their chosen field, or having a home and family.

Changes, and especially difficult changes, can influence personal growth, and dealing with a change successfully may leave one stronger, more confident, and better prepared for what comes next in life. In other words, even those changes that are neither expected nor wanted might still produce some beneficial outcome.

Change can encourage the development of skills or knowledge, and might also bring about greater awareness of a condition or group. For example, the family of a person diagnosed with schizophrenia might become more aware of severe mental health conditions and their effects. Or the parents of a child who has been diagnosed with depression might become interested in learning more about the topic to increase awareness.

Change can also make clear what is important in one’s life and allow for greater self-discovery and self-awareness.

Coping with Change

Because change can cause stress, it can have an effect on one’s daily life. A person facing a big change may experience depression, anxiety, or fatigue. The individual may also have headaches and develop trouble sleeping or eating well or abuse drugs and alcohol. Persistent symptoms of stress might improve with treatment in therapy.

Planning for changes in advance, as much as possible, and in conjunction with a therapist is always the ideal scenario.

  • Researching an upcoming change.Often, stress can develop out of fear of what is unknown. When one is well-informed about a change, it may be easier to face.
  • Attending to one’s physical and mental health.Being healthy in mind and body may make it easier to cope with changes in life. Sleeping well, exercising, and eating nutritional foods regularly may all be beneficial in improving both physical and mental health.
  • Taking time to relax. Remaining calm in spite of stress may be easier when one’s life is well-adjusted and includes time for leisure as well as work.
  • Limiting changes as much as possible.It may be helpful to avoid making a large change immediately after another change. Generally, adjusting to a change takes some time, and making multiple changes at once, even smaller ones, may not allow enough time for an adequate adjustment period, which can cause stress.
  • Discussing any difficulties adapting with another person.Family members may be able to help one adjust to change, but professional help may also benefit those experiencing difficulty or stress as a result of life changes.

Adjustment Disorder

A diagnosis of adjustment disorder can occur when a major life stress or change disrupts normal coping mechanisms and makes it difficult or impossible for a person to cope with new circumstances. Symptoms of this condition tend to begin within three months of the stress or change and often include a depressed or anxious mood, changes in daily habits, feelings of overwhelming stress and panic, difficulty enjoying activities, and changes in sleeping or eating.

This condition may also lead an individual to engage in reckless or dangerous behavior, avoid family and friends, or have thoughts of suicide. A diagnosed adjustment disorder generally indicates that a person is experiencing more emotional turmoil than others facing the same situation might experience.

For example, a young woman who cries frequently after the death of her mother is likely experiencing distress typical to the major life change she has experienced, but a man who lost his job and stops speaking to his children may be experiencing a significant amount of difficulty adjusting to his changed situation.

Therapy for Change

There is no particular treatment for adjusting to change, but several different tactics may be helpful. Talking about changes in life with a therapist, such as a marriage, the death of a family member, the loss of a job, current economic situations, frustration, or the approach of major life-changing events, can be helpful to many. Varying types of therapy is likely to be well-suited to helping a person cope with dramatic changes in life.

When life changes prove difficult and lead to stress, anxiety, or depression, a therapist can also help treat those issues and help one explore coping strategies. When people know that they do not cope well with change, speaking with a therapist before any significant changes in life occur may be warranted.

In this way, one can prepare for changes and become better able to face them in the future, even without prior knowledge of potential changes.

We are always here to help the people residing in McKinney, Plano, Dallas, Denton, Allen, Garland, and the surround communities found throughout Texas. If you are struggling to cope with life-changing events, or if you know someone that is experiencing challenges, please contact Foundations Counseling today.

8 Reasons to Talk to a Licensed Therapist Before Taking Antidepressants

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Some people are under the misapprehension that cognitive behavioral therapy may not be as helpful in extremely stressful and challenging times. So, many are turning to antianxiety or antidepressants. Over the last month, there is a massive increase of 35% turning to medications. Rather than simply taking medications, speaking with a licensed therapist is the best course of action.

In fact, successful or afflicted people do not fear therapy, they embrace their therapy. And therapy is not just something that smart people use, it’s something that most everybody should probably try during at least some point in their lives, especially now, during challenging times of anxiety or depression.

Many of us grew up under the impression that internal stuff shouldn’t be discussed or maybe it should be swept under the rug. This is perhaps the single worst thing you can do for yourself. Stamping down your emotions and not working through your psychological issues – especially economic downturns, job loss, or with societal anxiety, and depression – can culminate in a host of problems.

If you need a numbers-based reason to convince you to speak to a therapist before turning to antidepressants, depression alone is a major player in the global burden of disease, the leading cause of disability worldwide, and responsible for billions of dollars a year in lost work.

1. Therapy’s effects persist over the long-haul

A huge benefit of talk therapy is that its effects are long-lasting. This is because you’re not only working through stuff, but you’re also developing the tools to help you deal with future stuff. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) treatment is durable over the years. The positive gains continue and grow over time as though some of the work gets further consolidated after therapy stops.

The whole talking-with-the-therapist process gets internalized so that self-therapy picks up where the actual therapy leaves off. The “getting-to-the-cause” aspect of therapy is a big reason why therapy together is believed to be extremely effective.

2. Physical symptoms get treated

Psychological trauma can trigger physical symptoms – and depression and anxiety are well known to have significant, and sometimes debilitating, physical effects. Going to therapy can help these issues fade away.

When people do not express feelings but swallow them and keep them buried and out of conscious awareness, one’s body often reacts. Physical symptoms such as stomach aches, headaches, sleeping problems, and ulcers are just some of the ways our body reacts to stress and psychic pain.

3. Repressed emotions will come back to haunt you later on

The most serious drawback of not talking about things maybe that unexpressed feelings and traumas can pile up and explode later. Even if you don’t have a full-on breakdown later on, not fully processing events and emotions often creates negative thought patterns that can inform every area in your life – your relationships with your spouse, parents, kids, coworkers, and even yourself.

So, learning how to process them with a therapist can change how you maneuver in many different ways.

4. Therapy will give you a whole new perspective on other people

An awesome benefit of therapy is that it not only helps you understand yourself better but it helps you understand other people. When we hold negative thoughts in without processing them, they become ingrained so that we see the world through that lens – and we make lots of assumptions that may or may not be true.

Without the clutter of your own assumptions, it’s a lot easier to understand others’ intentions and motivations. Also, therapy can help an individual become more empathetic.

5. It helps you deal with future curveballs

Since big and small problems are going to come up from time to time, knowing how to deal with them in a healthy way is an essential skill. The truth is, conflict is a part of everyday life. It’s helpful to be aware of one’s feelings around conflict. If, for example, you are angry with your boss who is piling up work for you when you are getting ready to go away, you are bound to feel resentment and conflict.

By reflecting on what’s going on outside like your boss’ demands while working from home, and inside such as your mounting anger, irritation, and fear of losing your job if you say ‘no’, you are in a better position to resolve the conflict.

Talking things through with someone and reflecting on what feelings are evoked, and why, leads to a greater understanding of oneself. Then one is freer to think of ways to respond in a more proactive way.

Learning how not to get swallowed up by events, but instead how to form a game plan to deal with them, is the key.

6. You know you’re not alone

Seeing a licensed counselor, especially now, can be a huge relief in-and-of itself since you know you’re acting against what ails you. It also comforting just knowing that you have a built-in support structure that you can go to once a week.

Not that misery loves company, but it is true that being with people who are dealing with similar issues can be very reassuring.

7. It will rewire your brain

One of the best things about therapy is that it can bring about change at the level of the brain. We think of medication as changing the depressed brain, but there’s very compelling evidence that talk therapy does the same. With brain imaging methods, psychotherapy has been shown to alter activity in the “me-centered” worry thoughts, control, emotion, and fear.

One very effective method, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), helps people identify the negative thought patterns and replace them with new and more positive mental habits or thoughts. In addition to helping people experience fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, it brings about positive changes in one’s outlook.

8. You won’t have to self-medicate anymore

Self-medicating to “deal” with psychological stuff is incredibly common. But it doesn’t do anything to actually address what’s going on – in reality, it just masks it. It also creates an addictive cycle, which may exacerbate the real problem.

Getting to the root of your past stuff in therapy will, with time, eliminate the need to self-medicate. When you’re no longer living by the negative things in the past or even present, the need to avoid them will disappear.

Conclusion

People are starting to open up more about their personal struggles and mental health issues. The stigma seems to be fading, if slowly. If you feel therapy would benefit you, go for it. Most likely, your friends and family will also be grateful you opened up and it may give them the green light to do the same. Chances are it will help kick off some important dialogues during challenging times.

If you, or someone you know, needs additional support to deal with anxiety and depression during challenging times, please contact Foundations Counseling today!

The Benefits of Mental Health “Telehealth Counseling” During Challenging Times

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In a given year, approximately one in five adults in Texas is diagnosed with a mental health disorder. And more than half of those affected adults with a mental health condition do not receive proper treatment or supervision by a certified, licensed counselor. While there are multiple reasons and issues keeping people from receiving proper treatment today, one variable leading to this statistic is access to quality care.

Consider, for example, the entire United States:

  • More than 35 million American adults self-reported needing treatment for alcohol or illicit drug use, and needing mental health treatment.
  • There have been nearly 10,000 designated mental health shortage areas across the country, leaving over 100 million people without adequate access to mental health services.
  • Therefore, thousands of people in McKinney, Dallas, Plano, Denton, Allen, Dallas Fort Worth, and Garland Texas or additional surrounding communities need mental health therapists to one extent or another.
  • With the recent Coronavirus, it has been reported that an astonishing 50% of people are suffering anxiety and depression.

Offering Telehealth as a Temporary Solution

Improving mental health in Texas is not a simple, one-time fix. It requires a re-thinking of how we define healthcare to include behavioral health, moving beyond the stigma so people feel comfortable seeking care, and the coming together of multiple stakeholders and experts to develop new ways to deliver that care.

While the industry works to address the issues that prevent widespread and comprehensive behavioral health services, many providers are looking to improve access to quality mental health care through telemedicine, in general terms.

However, our counseling model is absolute. We firmly believe in person-to-person therapy sessions whether they be short-term or over the longer-term. In order to adapt to the current situation and challenging times that our patients are having to endure, we are offering “Telehealth” video conferencing.

The telehealth method allows our patients to continue a face-to-face therapy session, albeit digital nonetheless, but it reassures every individual that we are only a quick-click away from a chat.

The Benefits of Virtual Mental Health Programs

Data does show virtual mental health counseling is at least as effective — and in some cases, more than — treating anxiety, depression and other disorders compared to traditional face-to-face.

A four-year Johns Hopkins study that included close to 100,000 military veterans found the number of days patients were hospitalized dropped by 25 percent if they chose online counseling. This is slightly higher than the number of hospital visits experienced by patients who used face-to-face counseling.

For Foundations Counseling and patients alike, in addition to the positive health effects, there are numerous benefits to our temporary virtual mental health programs.

  1. Ease and convenience: patientssimply need a computer, webcam, and broadband internet access.
  2. Increased access: patients who live in remote areas, who are housebound, who have trouble lining up childcare, or just have too much going on in their lives to make room for regular therapy sessions, now have a connection to mental healthcare.
  3. Fewer missed appointments: patients are less likely to run into problems when they can meet from wherever they are located in Texas.
  4. Reach new clients: counselors who offer services virtually can expand their reach to new clients across Texas and reach into some new communities in the surrounding areas.
  5. Customize care: leveraging a virtual platform, Foundations Counseling is able to turn our focus to how care is delivered through appropriately-timed assessments and tracking trends and progress over time.

Benefits From The Patient Perspective

For patients in Texas, access to a mental health services provider can be life-changing especially given the challenging times. While benefits of virtual mental health services differ from patient to patient, they can include: ease, convenience, privacy, access and increased choice and options.

Our temporary Telehealth services allow patients the ability to fit sessions into their current lifestyle, rather than the other way around.

For example, a patient who needs continued therapy and is seeing a Foundations Counseling therapist using the Telehealth methodology is now able to get the support needed, from an individual who is understanding, non-judgmental and knows how to talk to the patient — since the patient is basically homebound. Having consistent access to this kind of professional support has reduced a patient’s stress and anxiety levels, and given them a sense of calm.

While Telehealth alone cannot fix all the challenges that exist today when it comes to comprehensive access to quality mental health services, it does give us a temporary solution in getting to one step closer. By bridging the gap between a Foundations Counseling therapists and patients — and removing barriers to things like location, transportation and convenience — we can focus on addressing the obstacles that continue to stand in the way of achieving treatment during challenging times related to the Coronavirus.

Foundations Counseling Telehealth Services Saves Times and Increases Access

Our temporary solution using Telehealth puts the Foundations Counseling teams mental health services within reach of men, women, and children who live in rural or remote areas. We continue to serve all patients located in McKinney, Dallas, Plano, Denton, Allen, Dallas Fort Worth, and Garland Texas.

Lastly, with clinical mental health counselors now serving clients over long distances through videoconferencing, travel time can involve just the seconds it takes to walk to one’s laptop. Our innovative counseling model eliminates a client’s need for transportation, and any travel-related costs.

If you are a current patient or know someone who is having a challenging time during the current situation, please contact our highly skilled and professional team of therapists at Foundations Counseling today!