How Eating Too Much is a Direct Connect to Stress and Depression

By | Anxiety, Depression | No Comments

Wondering why depression and overeating are connected?

Who hasn’t felt like a glutton after Thanksgiving dinner? You’ve just stuffed your stomach with turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie galore. And the weeks following Thanksgiving aren’t much better.

Over the summer holidays and leading into the winter holiday season with colder weather, you’re faced with an abundant supply of cookies, goodies, heavier meals, eggnog, and alcohol.

Many people gain a couple of pounds over the holidays, but they’re nothing some exercise and a cleaned-up diet can’t undo. Others experience food in a much different way. Not only is their willpower tested by overwhelming amounts of delicious food, but they’re also coping with a roller coaster of emotions. For them, overeating isn’t just a one-day event.

Overeating is either a result of underlying depression or a precursor to it. Eating alone while watching TV, eating again while working remotely from the computer with food hidden off to the side of the desk, and eating just to eat.

In these cases, knowing about the relationship between depression and overeating is crucial to finding the right treatment.

What Is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)? 

In the U.S., about 3.5% of women and 2% of men suffer from binge eating disorder. It’s characterized by frequent episodes of excessive eating. More specifically, it’s defined by quickly consuming a large number of calories that would take most people two hours to finish. Binge eating can be diagnosed when at least three of these symptoms are present:

  • Having large amounts of food very quickly
  • Eating until you are uncomfortably full
  • Snacking throughout the entire day with a focus on junk foods
  • Continuously eating even after you feel full
  • Eating by yourself to hide the amount of food you’re consuming
  • Feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty after overeating

The effects of Binge Eating Disorder can range from obesity to high cholesterol. In fact, two of every three people who have this condition are classified as obese.

Another glaring friend to binge eating disorder is depression.

Depression and Overeating: Which Comes First?

Depression can take hold in many forms. It can zap your energy, cause you to be irritable, and even alter your appetite. In some cases, depression significantly suppresses hunger. For other people, persistent sadness can induce binge eating.

One study found that a specific group of US Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans who expressed signs of depression and PTSD also showed a tendency to binge eat. The researchers concluded that the psychiatric conditions of this group led them to become overweight or obese.

But why?

People with depression seek different tactics to shake those feelings of sadness. To boost your mood, you start munching. When a couple of bites of food don’t suppress your feelings, you keep reaching for more with the hope that some amount will bring you satisfaction. Before you know it, you have overeaten. This same tendency can also be found in children who are experiencing changes in their environment whether it be the home or at school.

If your depression is not properly treated, these episodes can happen again and again.

On the other hand, it could be that an eating disorder develops first. As mentioned earlier, binge eating can result in depression because compulsively eating leads you to:

  • Feeling like you lack control
  • Guilty or regretful for eating too much at once
  • Feeling disgusted with yourself

These feelings, along with emotional detachment or numbness, are what defines depressive overeating.

Another potential reason for depressive eating is the type of food you might eat during a binge eating episode. If comfort food is your go-to, you could be adding fuel to the fire. For example, a diet high in saturated fat and refined sugar reduces brain-derived neurotrophic factor.

That’s associated with memory and your ability to learn new things. Decreased BDNF may be a pathogenic factor involved not only in dementia and depression but also in type 2 diabetes.

Eating high-sugar foods can also mute your hunger signals. When your body can’t tell if it’s full or not, you’re likely to continue eating well past your stomach’s limit.

The Health Risks of Depressive Overeating

In addition to depression, there are a few serious health risks that come from binge eating. Some of these can be life-threatening if they’re not addressed.

1.  Weight Gain or Obesity

Two-thirds of people with binge eating disorder are obese. Eating too much food in a short period is a surefire way to gain weight, especially if moderate exercise is not part of your regular routine.

2.  Heart Disease

Heart disease often comes along with obesity. Extra weight on your body makes it more difficult for your heart to pump blood. Combine that with excessive visceral fat (belly fat), and you significantly increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. The nutritional value of the food you overeat can contribute to high cholesterol or high blood pressure as well.

3.  Type 2 Diabetes

As with heart disease, the type of food you eat can raise your risk of type 2 diabetes. If your binge eating episodes feature more sweet things than celery sticks, you’re spiking your blood sugar levels and teaching your body to become resistant to insulin.

4. Unchecked Stress


Chronic stress can increase appetite and causes you to crave high-fat, sugary foods. Left to build up, you may not only eat too much, but face other health concerns, from headaches to poor sleep and more. Employing stress management strategies supervised by a licensed counselor to keep your tension and your overeating under control is the best possible option.

How to Treat Depressive Overeating

Depression and overeating can be treated as co-occurring disorders or by focusing on the underlying issue. If depression is causing you to binge eat, your depression should be treated first. If overeating continues after your depression is under control, then you may want to seek treatment for binge overeating disorder.

One of the most successful treatment for depression and overeating is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be helpful for both an eating disorder and depression. During your therapy sessions, you might discuss feelings about your body image, self-esteem, and perfectionism. Your licensed therapist will look for triggers that cause your depression and overeating, so they can teach you how to cope with them more effectively.

By improving your body image and self-esteem, you may feel relief from depression. As a result, your tendencies to binge eat may become less.

We are always here to help people residing in McKinney, Plano, Dallas, Denton, Allen, Garland, and the surrounding communities throughout Texas. If you believe that you are struggling with binge eating disorder brought on by depression and stress, or you know someone who may be experiencing these signs, we highly recommend that you reach out to our professional counselor team at Foundations Counseling.

10 Ways to Release Anger and Why Therapy Can Help

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Everyone is familiar with anger. We’ve all been there. You feel it building. It is slow at first, like a locomotive, then faster, then stronger. Now at full speed, it seems like it cannot be stopped. Like a destructive force, controlled by an out of this world energy, we act, speak, and think in a way that just doesn’t make sense or seems out of character. What was that? Why were we angry? What can we do about it?

What is Anger?

At its core, anger is simply an emotion. Anger is defined as a strong feeling of displeasure, annoyance, hostility, or antagonism. Anger can be considered a secondary emotion. It is the response to other emotions having been triggered first. Anger is the emotion needed to engage the “fight” in the Fight or Flight Response System. It is a protective force utilized when dealing with a real or perceived threat.

The expression of anger tends to be primarily behavioral. The source of anger tends to be primarily emotional. However, anger can be expressed in both overt and covert ways.

Not all who struggle with anger will act out in a visible manner. Not all will have a “quick temper” or be “hot headed” as we have come to label those who display anger. Some may be passive-aggressive. Some may bottle it up and let it build and then explode visibly. Others may turn their anger inward and become withdrawn, isolated, or even depressed.

Why Do We Get Angry?

We get angry about what is happening in the world around us. It is our internal response to external stressors. Common emotions known to trigger anger are anxiety, shame, sadness, fear, frustration, guilt, disappointment, worry, embarrassment, jealousy, and hurt. All of these emotions are experienced as negative and are perceived as threatening to our well-being.

Simplifying it and breaking it down to a purely primitive sense, we get angry because we feel a need to protect ourselves. For example, a young boy receives a bad grade in class (environmental stressor) and is feeling disappointed and embarrassed (internal trigger). He knows he will get into trouble at home (perceived threat). Later, when a classmate talks to him (also a perceived threat), he pushes him and yells “leave me alone.”

The boy’s disappointment triggered his anger and therefore an angry behavior.

What Do We Do?

Given that anger is displayed in many ways, some of which being aggressive and unsafe behaviors, always assess for safety risks first. If safety is a concern, it may be necessary to contact a cognitive therapist, immediately. Though it’s imperative to address the emotional triggers to truly work through anger, safety must be dealt with first.

Whether there is or isn’t a safety issue, take a break and walk away. No matter the situation or scenario, it’s always best to let cooler heads prevail.

Once everyone is calm, you can begin the discussion about emotional triggers and work on validation. It is imperative to validate the emotions driving the behavior. This is where true change is made. It is important to spend time listening and communicating, keeping in mind not to blame or shame those involved.

When demonstrating true understanding, it builds trust and respect and can impact the outcomes of future experiences with anger. If the trigger emotions and the associated anger are not validated, then the angry behaviors will not go away. In fact, if one were to focus only on the undesired behavior, it is very likely that the anger and behavior will get worse. Remember, thought behaviors create an observable issue, anger is an emotion. You must deal with the emotions.

The experience of anger often is an intense one for all parties involved. It is for this reason we continuously hear the phrase “anger problem.” If you feel that you or someone you love is experiencing anger so frequently and so intensely that it seems out of control, then it may be necessary to talk to a professional.

A therapist can help someone struggling with anger to learn to control their anger using behavioral strategies or emotional regulation strategies. Furthermore, through individual and/or group therapy, a therapist can help identify and work to resolve the root emotional causes that contribute to anger.

Though anger is a normal emotion, it can be a dangerous emotion. It is experienced in so many ways and for so many reasons. The problem lies in our outward expression, our inability to understand, and our focus on the behaviors. If true resolution is your goal, then you must know what’s hiding behind the anger.

The following 10 ways to release your anger may help you manage emotions better. Ideally, we highly encourage anyone dealing with anger issues to speak with a therapist first in order to identify triggers and develop a personalized, short and long-term program.

Take Deep Breaths

In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to overlook your breathing. But that kind of shallow breathing you do when you’re angry keeps you in flight-or-flight mode.To combat this, try taking slow, controlled breaths you inhale from your belly rather than your chest. This allows your body to instantly calm itself.

You can also keep this breathing exercise:

  • Find a chair or place where you can comfortably sit, allowing your neck and shoulders to fully relax.
  • Breathe deeply through your nose, and pay attention to your tummy rising.
  • Exhale through your mouth.
  • Try doing this exercise 3 times a day for 5 to 10 minutes or as needed.

Recite a Comforting Mantra

Repeating a calming phrase can make it easier to express difficult emotions, including anger and frustration. Try slowly repeating, “Take it easy,” or “Everything’s going to be okay,” the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by a situation. You can do this out loud if you want, but you can also say it under your breath or in your head.You can also keep a list of phrases on your phone for a quick reminder before a stressful work presentation or challenging meeting.

Try Visualization

Finding your happy place in the midst of a flight delay or work setback can help you feel more relaxed in the moment. When wrestling with boiling tension, try painting a mental picture to calm your body and brain:

  • Think of a real or imaginary place that makes you feel happy, peaceful, and safe. This can be that camping trip to the mountains you took last year or an exotic beach you’d like to visit someday.
  • Focus on the sensory details by envisioning yourself there. What are the smells, sights, and sounds?
  • Be aware of your breathing and keep this image in your mind until you feel your anxiety start to lift.

Mindfully Move Your Body

Sometimes, sitting still can make you feel even more anxious or on edge. Mindfully moving your body with yoga and other calming exercises can release tension in your muscles. The next time you’re confronted by a stressful situation, try taking a walk or even doing some light dancing to keep your mind off the stress.

Check Your Perspective

Moments of high stress can warp your perception of reality, making you feel like the world is out to get you. The next time you feel anger bubbling up, try to check your perspective.Everyone has bad days from time to time, and tomorrow will be a fresh start.

Express Your Frustration

Angry outbursts won’t do you any favors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t vent your frustrations to a trusted friend or family member after a particularly bad day. Plus, allowing yourself space to express some of your anger prevents it from bubbling up inside. Speaking with a licensed therapist may also be the best release for expressing your emotions.

Defuse Anger with Humor

Finding the humor in a heated moment can help you keep a balanced perspective. This doesn’t mean you should simply laugh off your problems, but looking at them in a more lighthearted way can help.

The next time you feel your rage bubbling up, imagine how this scenario might look to an outsider? How might this be funny to them? By not taking yourself too seriously, you’ll have more chances to see how unimportant minor annoyances are in the big scheme of things.

Change Your Surroundings

Give yourself a break by taking some personal time from your immediate surroundings.If your home is cluttered and stressing you out, for example, take a drive or a long walk. You’ll likely find that you’re better equipped to sort through the mess when you return.

Recognize Triggers and Find Alternatives

If your daily routine turns you into ball of rage and frustration, try finding an alternative route or changing things up prior to getting to work. Got a loud neighbor who constantly has people over or plays music at the utmost volume? Look into some noise-cancelling headphones.

The idea is to pinpoint and understand the things that trigger your anger. Once you’re more aware of what they are, you can take steps to avoid falling prey to them.

If you aren’t sure where your anger is coming from, try to remind yourself to take a moment the next time you feel angry. Use this time to take stock of what happened in the moments leading up to your feelings of anger. Were you with a particular person? What were you doing? How were your feelings leading up to that moment? If you need help, contact a professional therapist to find the triggers with you and solve them together.

Focus on What You Appreciate

While dwelling on your day’s misfortunes can seem like the natural thing to do, it won’t help you in the short or long term. Instead, try refocusing on the things that went well. If you can’t find the silver lining in the day, you can also try thinking how things might’ve gone even worse.

Why Therapy Can Help

It’s totally normal and healthy to feel upset an angry from time to time. But if you can’t shake a bad mood or constantly feel overwhelmed by anger, it might be time to ask for help.

If your anger is impacting your relationships and well-being, talking with a qualified therapist can help you work through the sources of your anger and help you develop better coping tools.

We are always here to help the people residing in McKinney, Plano, Dallas, Denton, Allen, Garland, and the surrounding communities throughout Texas. If you believe that you are struggling with anger issues at this time, or you know someone who may be, we highly recommend that you reach out to our professional counselor team at Foundations Counseling.

Coping with Feelings of Isolation and Depression During Pregnancy

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

We often hear talk of postpartum depression, or the baby blues, which occurs shortly after the birth of a baby, but we don’t hear as much about depression that occurs during pregnancy, called prenatal depression.

Today, if you are pregnant, you also might be worried about how to protect yourself and your baby during the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19). So far, evidence suggests that pregnant woman are not at any greater risk of serious illness if they get COVID-19. Only a small number of pregnant women have had COVID-19, but based on the current findings, it appears that pregnant women are at no greater risk than the rest of the general population.

However, any respiratory illness, such as influenza, can cause serious complications, so it is advised that pregnant women take extra precautions in practicing good hygiene and physical distancing to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19.

In general, women are more at risk of depression while they are pregnant, and during the weeks and months after having a baby. During pregnancy, hormone changes can affect brain chemicals and cause depression and anxiety. Sometimes, pregnant women don’t even realize they are depressed.

Pregnant women may think they have symptoms of pregnancy or the “baby blues,” which many women experience right after birth. Coping with feelings of isolation and depression during pregnancy are something to be aware of and there is help by contacting a certified therapist to help in cope with your feelings.

5 Causes of Depression During Pregnancy

Potential triggers of prenatal depression include:

  1. Hormones: Research has shown that hormones affect the areas of our brains that control mood and the difference in hormonal levels during pregnancy may trigger depression in some women. However, while hormones are often blamed for many of the mood swings and other emotional and psychological happenings in pregnancy, they are usually only one part of the whole picture when it comes to pregnancy and depression.
  2. Stress and Uncertainty: Sometimes the stress of pregnancy brings on depressive symptoms, even when the pregnancy was planned. These feelings might intensify if your pregnancy is complicated or unplanned. If life itself is stressful, for instance, you have financial difficulties or relationship issues, this can also lead to depression. Other known stress-causing factors are sometimes brought on simply because of the changes that pregnancy potentially brings, like moving to a new house or apartment to increase space or to have a more baby-friendly environment. Sometimes this might mean career changes for one or both parents too.
  3. Abuse or Trauma: Having a history of trauma or abuse may trigger prenatal depression.
  4. Previous depression:If you have ever been diagnosed with depression before you became pregnant, your risk for depression during pregnancy is higher than for women who have never had depression.
  5. Family history: If depression runs in your family, you may be at a higher risk.

Risks of Untreated Depression During Pregnancy

Some of the risks of untreated depression during pregnancy include:

  • A negative impact on good prenatal care. This is especially true in the areas of nutrition, sleep habits, exercise, and following care instructions from your doctor. This can result in not gaining enough weight, missing doctor appointments, and difficulty sleeping, all of which are harmful to your baby.
  • A higher risk of substance abuse.This includes alcohol, drugs, and cigarette smoking.
  • Health problems for your baby. Low birth weight and/or premature birth are more of a risk for babies when depression is untreated. Babies who are born to mothers who are depressed also tend to be less active and more agitated.
  • Postpartum depression.Your risk of staying depressed after your baby is born increases, which makes it difficult to parent.

Potential Signs of Isolation and Depression

Many of the signs of isolation and depression mimic pregnancy symptoms. It can be hard to determine what is normal fatigue in pregnancy and what is actually depression, which can lead to an under-reporting of the problem. There is also a tendency to ignore depression in pregnancy simply because this is supposed to be a happy time in life. Symptoms of depression include:

  • Problems concentrating
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Feeling anxious
  • Irritability
  • Feeling blue
  • Feeling guilty, overwhelmed, or worthless
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Feeling detached from your baby
  • Having recurrent headaches and stomachaches
  • Crying more than usual

If you have these signs, especially if they have been going on for 2 weeks or more, call your licensed therapist right away. It’s important for both you and your baby’s health that you get treatment and have the ability to express your feelings throughout the pregnancy, and afterwards.

Treatment

Treatment during pregnancy involves several avenues, including:

  • Support network: Developing your support network is extremely valuable. Being surrounded by supportive individuals that you know can be beneficial, particularly if they have experienced the same feelings. This can include joining an online or community support group as well. Please talk to your therapists about a potential support group.
  • Counseling: Talking to a professional counselor or therapist can also be very beneficial, particularly since there are major changes going on during pregnancy.
  • Medication: Antidepressants can also be used during pregnancy under the care of a therapist who has experience with using antidepressants and other medications during the course of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Again, first speak with your therapist about the use of antidepressants.

Getting the Right Type of Help with a Certified Counselor

The key to preventing the problems that stem from feelings of isolation and depression in pregnancy is getting the support and help you need as soon as you realize that you are experiencing it. With many pregnant women having depressive symptoms, it’s important to recognize that you’re not alone, and that help is available.

Talking to a therapist is definitely the best gift you can give yourself and your growing baby.

We are always here to help the people residing in McKinney, Plano, Dallas, Denton, Allen, Garland, and the surrounding communities throughout Texas. If you believe that you are struggling with isolation and depression during your pregnancy, or you know someone who may be, we highly recommend that you reach out to our professional counselor team at Foundations Counseling.

7 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health During COVID-19

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

The devastating physical effects of COVID-19 are obvious including job security, uncertainty in general, business closures, and much more. But have you considered the toll it takes on your mental health?

With stay-at-home orders, unemployment, and concerns about infection, is it any wonder that so many Americans have more depression and anxiety during this challenging time?

This period of heightened stress can dramatically affect your mental health. Thankfully, with technology such as Telehealth, you can stay in touch with your mental health counselors at all times and seek their advice and guidance.

Why Is Mental Health Important?

Mental health is important because it can affect every aspect of your life. This includes your job, your marriage, your relationship with your family and your general well-being. When you’re experiencing mental health issues, it may seem impossible to complete even basic work assignments or care for children.

Mental health can also impact your physical health. For example, chronic anxiety and stress can have a negative effect on your heart, particularly if you already have an illness like high blood pressure.

While everyone has periods of depression or anxiety, when these escalate to the point that it is difficult to function in day-to-day life, it is time to get help from a qualified mental health counselor.

How to Improve Your Mental Health

If you show signs of clinical depression or other mental health conditions you should schedule an appointment with a mental health professional to get the help you need.

Remember, if it is not possible to meet in person, Foundations Counseling also offers video meetings and treatment through telehealth.

Given the challenging times, we have outlined seven ways you can help improve your mental health during the coronavirus uncertainties.

7 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health During COVID-19

 

1. Limit the Amount of News You Watch

Of course, it’s important to stay informed, but sometimes the constant streaming news stories can be too much. After a while, they can be extremely upsetting, and watching the 24-hour news cycle can create a lot of anxiety.

Instead, schedule time to watch something fun. Maybe there’s a movie you’ve always wanted to see on Netflix. Maybe you want to revisit a funny movie or play board games.

The important thing is to make sure you don’t suffer from information overload. Give your mind a break and let it have a chance to “have fun” through more uplifting entertainment.

2. Take Care of Yourself Physically

Physical and mental health are closely intertwined. To help protect your mental health you should also safeguard your physical health. This includes:

  • Avoiding junk food
  • Eating healthy meals
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol use
  • Taking medication as prescribed

3. Talk to Other People

Social distancing has transformed your social life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch with those important to you. Phone calls help, but sometimes you need to see a face. Utilize video chat programs such as What’s App, Skype and Zoom to keep the lines of communication open.

You may find it therapeutic to reconnect with old friends or relatives you may have lost touch with through the years.

4. Be Sure to Do What You Enjoy

Sometimes the anxiety of the unknown makes it easy to forget the things you love to do. Make a list and plan to participate in as many as possible.

Granted, you may need to adjust based upon current guidelines. For example, if you enjoy basketball with friends, you won’t be able to participate in this activity. However, perhaps you can join those same friends for a walk in the park.

Remember that there are often creative ways to still participate in the things you love. Here’s another example: If you enjoy meeting with your book club, organize a meeting through Zoom or another conferencing program.

5. Practice Meditation

Studies have shown that meditation relaxes both your body and mind. All you need is a quiet location, a comfortable position and an open mind. How does meditation help? Studies show that meditation:

  • Can help relieve stress
  • Gives you tools to manage stress
  • Reduces negative emotions or attitudes
  • Nourishes creativity
  • Helps you be more patient
  • Allows you to clearly focus on the present

Long-term research is still ongoing to see if meditation is a great complement to traditional treatment. Talk to your licensed counselor about whether or not this would be a good activity for you.

6. Use Social Media Carefully

Of course, what better way to stay in touch with people than through Facebook or Instagram? There are several great benefits of social media, but it also has some drawbacks.

Many well-meaning friends may spread information that is false or misleading. Just because you saw it on social media doesn’t mean it’s true.The last thing you need is stress caused by questionable information.

7. Talk to a Licensed Counselor

There are many qualified mental health counselors available to help you at Foundations Counseling. If you or we are unable for a visit in person during COVID-19, we also offer virtual appointments.

Remember that not everyone responds to stress in the same manner.This is why it will help to make a list of things you’d like to talk to the counselor about. This includes worries about yourself or others.

Foundations Counseling is Here for You

We understand the importance of keeping our community safe from COVID-19. We want you to know that we are safeguarding the health of our patients and the counselor team to help ensure that everyone is protected.

We believe that it is important to share facts and assist those in need with mental health issues due to COVID-19. Together, we will get through this challenging time.

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 struggling with mental health issues at this time, we highly recommend that you reach out to our professional counselor team at Foundations Counseling.

How to Help Seniors Dealing with Depression and Feelings of Isolation

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

It is a mistake to assume that depression is an inevitable side effect of our later years. It’s true that this phase of life comes with unique stressors and pressures, but with the right professional help and strategies, one can lead a fulfilling and empowered life. Dealing with your aging parent’s depression and feelings of isolation is a priority, and comprehensive therapy offer a well-rounded approach to an overall better quality of life.

While growing older is inevitable, disempowerment and depression are not. Why is it so common to assume that poor quality of life is a natural part of aging? It’s true that we cannot escape the transitions of purpose, ability, and lifestyle as the years go on, but we can embrace and adapt with the flow of change.

What this means for our aging parents is that we shouldn’t take anything for granted. We shouldn’t assume that suffering and isolation are unavoidable. We shouldn’t assume that they don’t need an active support system; after all, we need supportive connections at every single stage of life.

When you notice signs that your mother or father is depressed, you can help them to access a variety of therapy options with licensed counselors to revive their overall well-being. Compassionately dealing with aging parents’ depression and isolation is a necessary step toward their best health and quality of life. And generous help is never out of reach.

Common Stressors That Older Adults Experience

If it weren’t enough to prioritize an older adult’s mental health for its own sake, it’s important to also consider that one’s mental health can have an impact on physical health and well-being.

Depression and other mental illnesses can undermine the immune system’s resiliency, contributing to infections, cancers, autoimmune disorders, and other medical complications. These interconnected conditions can quickly compound for immeasurable distress, or a comprehensive approach to care can untangle the grip of illness and replace it with empowered therapies and tools for coping.

Aging is a challenging enough journey. In a lot of ways, the later years in life present unfamiliar territory as our parents transition and face these common disappointments and stressors:

  • Transitioning out of a long-time career and the related sense of purpose
  • Financial strain following retirement
  • Increasing medical concerns and expenses
  • Changing family roles and dynamics
  • Declining physical abilities as the body ages
  • Increasing dependence on others
  • Waning independence
  • Heavy responsibilities if caring for a spouse, an adult child, or grandchildren
  • Grief and loss of family and friends
  • Worries about one’s own illnesses and overall health
  • Chronic pain and weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Isolation and loneliness

Older adults may be at risk of depression due to genetic factors, co-occurring disorders, a history of depression, and other neurological factors. But this list of challenges can also influence the onset of depression, and these pressures can aggravate existing depressive symptoms.

The more you can understand your parent’s sources of stress, the more you can empathize and think in the direction of solutions. By turning away from or minimizing their pain, we isolate them further. But, by believing that there are accessible ways to improve their quality of life and their mental health, we inspire hope, connection, and feelings of empowerment.

Help for Dealing with an Aging Parent’s Depression

Depression in the elderly is not simply incidental. Depression at any age is a serious psychological disorder that requires early and comprehensive care to reverse an individual’s suffering and to prevent further mental and emotional decline. While it’s very normal to feel sadness and even despair when enduring certain situations, such as the loss of a loved one, when these low emotions persist, it could be the result of a serious underlying problem.

If your parent experiences a fairly constant low mood for two weeks or more, they may be suffering from major depression. And it is unlikely that their condition will resolve with time alone. In fact, it’s more likely that their condition will get even worse. In addition to their overall distress, they may be at risk of self-harm, suicide, substance abuse, more serious isolation, physical decline, and a deteriorating lifestyle.

The best course of care and recovery for seniors addresses more than just their depressive symptoms. A comprehensive therapy treatment program also considers the stressors and challenges they face. Professional, licensed counselors can design a treatment plan that incorporates:

  • Therapies for processing complex thoughts and feelings, the development of positive coping skills, and empowered relaxation.
  • A dynamic support system composed of knowledgeable therapists, experts, family, friends, and peers enduring similar phase-of-life challenges.
  • Home and lifestyle support to mitigate some of the inherent stressors in your parent’s life.

The dangerous trend of isolation is reversed in a therapy treatment environment where the focus is on individual as well as cooperative care. Elderly patients can be assured of careful monitoring as they adjust throughout the therapeutic process. And, while working with a therapist, they’ll be able to face the changes and challenges before them with compassionate acceptance.

They can learn to cope with the stressors of daily life and feel empowered by their reliable sources of support. And, in the meantime, you can learn how to care for your aging parent in ways that support their long-term recovery and their opportunities to thrive.

The good news is that depression and feelings of isolation in the elderly 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 your parent may be in the midst of experiencing depression or has feelings of isolation, please contact our certified therapist team at Foundations Counseling today.

Mental Illness in Young Adults Ages 18 to 29

By | Depression | No Comments

Did you know that young adults are still experiencing cognitive development from the ages of 18 to 29?

You may think that once you’re out of high school, you’re finished growing up. Physically, you’re probably as tall as you will ever get, and from this point forward, you may remain the same overall size throughout much of your adult life.

Whether you head off to college or out to make your own way in the world, you will likely gain a great deal of independence at this point in life, moving away from your parents and beginning to take care of yourself. While you still have a lot to learn, you probably feel like the development process is over.

Mentally, however, as a young adult, you’re still not fully grown. This is one of the reasons why mental illness can present at this time of life.

Brain Development for Young Adults

Most people are familiar with the developmental stage of adolescence. The independence of relying more on peers than on parents for the first time, the angst of finding one’s own identity while belonging to a social group, and the inhibitions and poor decision-making are legendary parts of the teen years.

What most people don’t realize, however, is that this phase of brain development does not stop at age 18. The part of the brain that controls impulses and plans and organizes behavior to reach a goal will continue to develop into the mid-twenties. For most people, at age 18, this growth process is only half over.

The brains of adolescents have heightened reward systems that also remain active several years beyond their eighteenth birthday. This increased sensitivity is what drives adolescents to be highly emotional and incredibly sensitive to peer pressure. Throughout their twenties, they continue to seek out new, potentially pleasurable experiences without regard for the risks.

The changes that take place in the brain during the early twenties affect how new experiences and new pieces of information are synthesized. This brain growth tends to coincide with a loosening of parental controls, and possibly the freedom of attending college. The types of experiences, both good and bad, a young adult encounters can significantly shape brain development in this stage, potentially presenting as mental illness.

First Signs of Mental Illness in Young Adults

Mental illness encompasses a wide variety of disorders that exist on a severity continuum. Some can be temporary responses to crisis or other experiences, while others are chronic conditions. Mental illnesses have various causes and triggers. The stigma of mental illness in this country is fading as more and more people discover they have some sort of mental illness, and that their lives can be improved by treatment.

Common Mental Health Disorders

Mental illnesses are generally grouped into these categories:

  • Eating Disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating)
  • Personality Disorders (antisocial, paranoia, borderline personality disorder)
  • Addiction (alcohol, opioids, tobacco)
  • Mood Disorders (major depressive disorder, bipolar disorders, cyclothymia)
  • Thought Disorders (schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, delusional)
  • Anxiety Disorders (social anxiety, phobias, generalized anxiety)
  • Developmental Disorders (autism spectrum disorders, ADHD)

While some of these mental illnesses can present and be diagnosed in childhood, many cannot be diagnosed until adolescence or even later. Personality disorders, for example, cannot be confirmed until the personality is more fully formed. Addiction does not usually develop in childhoodbecause adults control the substances children have access to. Eating disorders also tend to develop during adolescence or later, because that’s when you gain full control of your eating habits.

Young adults are at a particularly vulnerable time in their development, which might explain why one out of every five is affected by mental illness. Mental illnesses that commonly present in young adults include:

  • Addiction
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder

Young adults are completing a transition in their mental state that is marked by heightened emotions and turmoil. When you add the sort of changes they are likely going through in their lives at the same time, it’s easy to see why mental illness may present at this time.

In their early twenties, most people leave their parents’ house for the first time to go to college or get their first apartment. They are under increased pressure to succeed academically, financially, and socially. Some move back home after college, while others move away from families and support systems to begin new jobs.

All of this change, while exciting, is definitely stressful. Given the right conditions, stress can trigger mental illness.

Managing Symptoms of Mental Illness in Young Adults

If you’re a parent, you might tend to feel helpless once your children have moved out or gone off to college. You can no longer protect them from many of the dangers in the world. When it comes to mental illness, though, you can make a big difference by recognizing the signs and knowing when to seek help for your child.

Symptoms of mental illness in young adults include:

  • Anger
  • Substance abuse
  • Isolation, or being “a loner”
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Delusions
  • Confused thinking
  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Excessive anxiety
  • Unexplained physical ailments
  • Changes in sleep patterns – staying up all night or sleeping all day
  • Changes in appetite or diet
  • Impulsive behavior – particularly in terms of travel, spending money, or sexual relationships

A lot of these signs may seem like normal parts of your teen or young adult’s personality. Often, young adults exhibit these behaviors as a natural part of the transition their brains and lives are going through. But as a parent, you know your child better than anyone. If you notice him or her exhibiting behaviors that are unusual, it may be worth a conversation.

Only a qualified, certified licensed therapist can truly diagnose a mental illness, but you may be able to identify some warning signs and involve a professional sooner rather than later. One of the problems with detecting a mental issue is that the person experiencing it may not be helpful to you. They may not notice the warning signs themselves, or they may want to hide them rather than face the problem and get help.

Ignoring the signs of mental illness is one of the worst things you can do. If your college-aged child is exhibiting unusual behavior, do not hesitate to talk with them about it. There’s no shame in suspecting the behavior could be a sign of a mental illness. Getting professional advice will calm your fears and help you develop a treatment strategy, if one is needed.

Mental illness in young adults can often be treated more effectively when it’s identified early. With some professional guidance, conditions like depression and anxiety that are triggered by the increased stress of college life can be managed.

But you definitely need a professional therapist to diagnose the condition and prepare a strategy for treatment. If there is a more serious underlying condition, a mental health professional can help you deal with that, as well.

Results of Cognitive Treatment for Young Adults

Most young adults with a mental illness can learn to successfully manage their symptoms and enjoy meaningful lives in their communities. Many young adults with a mental illness can finish college, enter the workforce, or contribute to causes they care about through volunteering. Effective professional treatment can help improve relationships young adults have with their parents, siblings, and friends.

Receiving a mental health diagnosis is difficult, but it doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams or plans for your future. With the right treatment and support, young adults can enjoy healthy, happy futures.

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, your friend, or for parents with young adult children, is in the midst of experiencing mental health challenges, please contact our certified therapist team at Foundations Counseling today.

8 Keys to Accepting Things that Are Out of Your Control

By | Anxiety, Depression | No Comments

Have you ever wanted something so badly but you felt like you couldn’t do anything about it? How would you describe your state during those times?

Chances are that you experienced one or more of these emotions: frustration, neediness, helplessness, powerlessness, irritation, desperation, anxiousness, nervousness, anxiety, and possibly depression.

Before you beat yourself up for feeling this way, you should know that your feelings are perfectly normal. Most people experience inner turbulence whenever they feel unable to control an outcome that’s important to them. That’s because we dislike the unknown. We perceive the unknown as a threat to our survival.

We tend to associate control with security and even power.

Currently, things are in flux, but our response to uncertainty hasn’t changed. We still have a need to try to control our environment. The possibility of losing a job or a business deal or being rejected by someone we fancy is not going to kill us, but we may feel as if it could.

Accepting what we don’t like maybe one of the most difficult aspects of life. To solve challenges, we normally try to take positive action and change what we can, but inevitably there will be people, situations, and events we don’t like and that we aren’t able to change.

Do you find yourself trying to change things you have no control over?

If so, you probably find it difficult to be satisfied and content with life. If we can’t change a situation or an outcome our best option is to learn how to accept it and deal with it.

Acceptance has many benefits:

  • A more positive attitude
  • Less worry and stress
  • Less energy drained from trying to figure things out
  • Ability to embrace change
  • Greater appreciation and gratitude
  • A more compassionate perspective

Acceptance is not the same as resignation or passivity. We can continue to push forward despite accepting that there are things beyond our control. Here are a few tips to living with greater acceptance so you can have more joy and peace of mind. 

 

1. Let Go of the Past

We all have baggage that we carry from our past, and this baggage gets heavier the longer we hold onto it. Many people have a hard time letting go of past. We carry a mental reminder of our mistakes and losses with us everywhere we go, not realizing how much they steal from our present joy and contentment.

We can’t change the past. What happened in your past happened, so our only hope is to learn how to accept our past and move forward.

2. Learn Coping Skills

At one point or another life will present us with an unexpected turn of events. It may be a difficult loss or a failure of epic proportions that we aren’t prepared to deal with. Sometimes these events are beyond our current ability to cope. So, part of the acceptance process is learning new ways to cope with a crisis.

Keep your emotions in check so you can make a more conscious decision about how to deal with a difficult situation.

3. Make It Meaningful

Sometimes the “worst” thing that happens to us ends up being the most fundamental part of our personal growth. It is easier to accept something when we explore the opportunities and possibilities that come out of it. What can you learn from your difficulty? How has your difficulty made you a stronger person?

4. Expect Less

We live in a world that tells us to want more, be more, and do more. This isn’t always a negative message, but it often gets in the way of our life satisfaction. When something doesn’t meet our expectations, we are disappointed and angry. Life can appear purposeless, unfair, and ruthless if our expectations are unrealistic.

So, instead of expecting something to happen, or expecting a person or event to act a certain way, try to focus on accepting and creating. Focus on what you want to create instead of what you expect to happen. Creation is motivating, expectation is demanding.

5. Set New Goals

When we run into failure or setbacks it can feel like we are stuck with nowhere to turn. Life will take unexpected turns and when this happens our trajectory might have to change as well. There is a point where it is in our best interest to move on and let go of what we want. If something doesn’t work the way we planned, don’t get caught up in the outcome.

Instead of doing the same thing and expecting different results, accept things aren’t working the way you planned and do something different.

You may not be able change what you’re going through right now, but this doesn’t mean you can’t live a full and meaningful life. You can adapt and adjust to your present circumstances.

Stop avoiding difficult issues and only focusing on what you can’t change. Focus on what you can do about the situation, and if you can’t change something it’s time to accept this reality.

Ask yourself, “What do I need to accept so that I can be happier and more fulfilled?”

6. Embracing a Spiritual Outlook

Adopting a spiritual outlook provides a psychological cushion to cope with our perceived lack of control. It comforts us with the notion that there is a divine order behind everything that occurs in life and that there’s a reason why things happen the way that they do. It’s reassuring to know that there’s a benevolent force that’s got our back and supports our personal evolution.

7. Stop Worrying Unnecessarily

Nothing good has ever come from worrying. It induces anxiety and is a major energy drainer. Whenever you worry, you operate from the frequency of fear, which will immobilize you. If we’re not careful, we can go down a tailspin of “what if?” loops and scary visions of all the possible things that could go wrong.

The only way we can get out of this rabbit hole is by letting go of our fears and worries and replacing them with optimism, faith in the future, and probably learning better coping skills with a licensed therapist.

8. Focus on What You Can Control

Anxiety caused by the excessive need to control circumstances will wear down your mental energy and focus. You can regain power by surrendering your control over a situation. You’ll realize that although you have no way of controlling the events or people involved in a certain situation, you do have control over how you feel and how you react.

Based on what you know, you can create a plan and proactively follow through with it. You’ll feel more empowered knowing that you’ve done the best you could and you’re open to all possible outcomes.

Summary

Letting go of control is, essentially, an act of faith whether spiritual or otherwise. Faith can get us through foggy times of uncertainty and help us navigate through the dark valleys where we can’t see where we’re heading. Faith will illuminate our path and lead us down to our destiny if we allow it to.

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 are suffering from spiritual challenges, constant worry, anxiety, depression, or need assistance with coping skills, or you know someone who may be, please contact our certified therapist team at Foundations Counseling today.