Tell-Tale Signs that You Have a Shopping Addiction

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It’s one thing to surrender to the occasional impulse buy a watch gleaming from behind the display case, or a pair of black shoes that will add the perfect dash of sophistication to your favorite business suit. But when your purchases shift from impulsive to compulsive, it’s the first sign that you might be grappling with a more serious condition: a shopping addiction.

Researchers estimate that up to 6 percent of Americans are so-called “shopaholics”. And with retailers ramping up their promotions on television and even more intensely online, this number is constantly on the rise over the last five years. In our society, the phrase “shop till you drop” translates as frivolous and fun, but when spending presents a real problem, the glamor fades rapidly.

Professional counselors and therapists are seeing it all-too-often and call it “Compulsive Buying Disorder”, which is characterized as an impulse-control issue, just like gambling or binge eating, and has the potential to create a whirlwind of emotional and financial distress.

Are you or a loved one a shopaholic and addicted to spending?

The following seven signs represent a potential problem. Of course, there are more signs to watch out for but if a few from the list below stands out, we highly encourage people to contact a professional therapist.

1. You have many unopened or tagged items in your closet.

We’re not talking about the sweater your aunt gave you last holiday season, but about items you selected on your own that sit unopened or with their tags still attached. You likely even forgot about some of these possessions. These may include boxes of shoes lining the bottom of your closet or jackets that have never seen the light of day. Any unopened item, or stacks of products stowed away in closets or around your house represent a potential problem.

2. You often purchase things you don’t need or didn’t plan to buy.

You’re easily tempted by items that you can do without. A fifth candle for your bedroom dresser, a new iPod case, even though yours is fine. You get the idea. You’re particularly vulnerable if you’ve admitted to having an “obsession,” like shoes or designer handbags. Just because your splurges tend to stick to one category doesn’t make them any more rational.

3. An argument or frustration sparks an urge to shop.

Compulsive shopping is an attempt to fill an emotional void, like loneliness, lack of control, or lack of self-confidence. Shopaholics also tend to suffer from mood disorders, eating disorders, or substance abuse problems. So, if you tend to binge on comfort food after a bad day, professional therapists will probably suggest that you may be more likely to indulge in a shopping spree too.

4. You experience a rush of excitement when you buy.

Shopaholics experience a “high” or an adrenaline rush, not from owning something, but from the act of purchasing it. Therapists say dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure, is often released in waves as shoppers see a desirable item and consider buying it. This burst of excitement can become addictive. This action is repeated in order to induce the adrenaline, over and over again.

5. Purchases are followed by feelings of remorse.

This guilt doesn’t have to be limited to big purchases, either; compulsive shoppers are just as often attracted to deals and bargain hunting. Despite any remorse that follows, though, shopaholics are adept at rationalizing just about any purchase if challenged.

6. You try to conceal your shopping habits.

If you’re hiding shopping bags in your daughter’s or son’s closet or constantly looking over your shoulder for passing co-workers as you shop online, this is a possible sign that you’re spending money at the expense of your family, your loved ones, or even your job.

7. You feel anxious on the days you don’t shop.

It’s one thing to feel anxious if you haven’t had your morning cup of coffee, but if you’re feeling on edge because you haven’t swiped your debit card all day, you should be concerned. Shopaholics have reported feeling “out of sorts” if they haven’t had their shopping fix, and will typically admit to their therapists that they go shopping online if not able to physically pull away from their day’s responsibilities.

If the characteristics above sound a lot like you or someone you know, consider speaking to a professional prior to a shopping addiction getting even more severe. And if you’re on the fence about whether you really have a problem, trying to figure out on your own why you’re always shopping and how you can change could be a big relief – for both your well-being and your budget, definitely consider contacting a licensed therapist immediately.

Some recommendations to help you kick a shopping habit in conjunction with professional therapy may be:

Find a new activity.

 Jogging, exercising, listening to music, and possibly watching more TV to entice your brain with different stimulation. Any of these activities could potentially substitute for shopping and would be a much lighter burden on your wallet.

Identifying triggers. 

Take note of what’s likely to send you off to the nearest department store; whether it’s an argument with your significant other or frustration after a business meeting. When these feelings overcome you, resist shopping at all costs and find a healthier way to work it out.

Remove temptation. 

It’s no secret that you shouldn’t walk through your favorite boutique if you’re trying to curb your spending. Try to limit your shopping trips and go only when absolutely necessary. If online shopping is your weakness, resist the urge to surf your favorite stores’ sites and even consider keeping your laptop out of reach.

Carry only enough cash to buy what you went for.

Leave your debit and credit cards at home. Create a shopping list with estimated costs, and stick to it when you’re at the store.

Ask for help. 

If you’re still struggling with compulsive spending, don’t be afraid to ask a professional therapist for help. You can start with self-help books or by asking a friend or family member to help keep you in check, but it is always most cost-effective and wiser to enlist professional help. A therapist can help you nip this problem in the bud, efficiently and with positive decision-making techniques.

If you or a loved-one are experiencing patterns of a shopping-related addiction, please contact our highly experienced team of professionals today, at Foundations Counseling.

Your Teenager’s Tech Use in Texas Should Be Monitored for Best Mental Health Outcomes

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As the most prominent therapists counseling group in McKinney, Texas, there are things that we know and still discovering when it comes to a teenager’s use of technology. For the last few years, our expert therapists have seen a spike in situations with parents concerned about their teen’s tech use. We work with pre-teens and teenagers, including the parents, on how to monitor “too much tech.” From McKinney to Allen to Plano to Melissa to Princeton, Texas the subject comes up more often than anyone communicates, openly.

Anxiety and Mental Health Issues in Youth

With anxiety and mental health issues in youth on the rise over the last few years in McKinney, Texas and the surrounding communities within Texas at large, parents and educators have scrambled to find the culprit. A likely issue is a combination of an abundance of new technology and smartphones.

The rise in the ubiquity of smartphones or tablets has coincided with the rise in psychological distress among teens, and there are more than a few intuitive reasons to believe the two trends are connected. Smartphones and social media have given teenagers in Texas, who are in the process of developing a sense of self, an unbridled ability to compare themselves and new mediums through which to be bullied by “angsty” peers.

Throw in the ability to escape from the world and its problems anywhere they go through games, movies, and other forms of media, and it is easy to see why parents in Texas are concerned that smartphones may be destroying a generation.

Correlations Between Teenagers in Texas Using Too Much Tech

Our team of certified and licensed therapists at FoundationsCounseling in McKinney, Texas, understand the validity of these concerns and related worries. With a topic such as mental health that has so many determinants, it is important to be cautious about assuming that a correlation confirms our hypotheses and look instead to what the research says about the importance of a particular variable.

Thus far, the research has been mixed: many studies have confirmed the correlation, but none have found a causal link that can confirm technology or social media are leading to an increase in teen mental health issues.

The association between increased digital technology use and psychological distress is well documented. Psychological distress in general has increased in the United States over the last 10 years.At the same time, smartphone consumerism and ownership has also increased from 35% to 81%.

This increase has been especially pronounced for Generation Z, the generation that has grown up with smartphones. Individual-level survey data show similar correlations, with data from multiple surveys across different locations in Texas and years showing that increased digital technology use is associated with increased psychological distress for individuals.

It could be that increased screen time is causing mood disorders, but it could also be that teens with mood disorders are more likely to spend time in front of screens. Published research in psychology has not yet produced a study that clarifies this relationship and confirms that it is indeed increased digital technology use that leads to mental distress, and not vice versa. Yet, we are told confidentially by teens and parents alike in Texas, that anxiety begins to develop usually with the use of social media, video games, and constant texting even during school.

Texan Teens Use the Term Digital Technology

Digital technology can take on many forms and mediums, each with different effects on the human psyche. Using technology to webcam a long-distance relative, for example, will likely alleviate feelings of loneliness, whereas spending hours scrolling through Instagram may exacerbate one’s social anxiety.

Mental health is similarly broad, with technology affecting different aspects asymmetrically. It is documented that some teens may turn to Netflix to help boost their happiness through TV shows and providing a cultural connection to others. We may never know what the effects of digital technology on mental health are, because it may be too broad of a question with different implications for different people. Whether the teenager is from Allen, Texas or Houston, Texas or even Austin, Texas, digital technology in abundance definitely takes it’s toll on the younger generation.

Negative Effect on Teens’ Sleeping Habits

One major finding is the negative effect technology has had on teens’ sleeping habits. A survey report by Common Sense Media revealed that 68% of all teens throughout the United States actually take their devices into the bedroom at night and 29% sleep with their devices in their beds.

Many studies have shown the deleterious effects of technology use before bed, as the blue light emitted by smartphones disrupts the production of sleep hormones and thus decreases sleep quality. Even more alarming for parents, 36% of teenagers wake up and check their devices at least once per night.

The survey confirms what parents may see themselves: that increased smartphone use in the bedroom, especially right before sleeping, has the potential to decrease both the quantity and quality of children’s sleep. And a lack of sleep creates a major determinant of mental stability.

Conclusion: Mental Health for Teens in Texas

Technology and mental health are complicated, and it is difficult to fully understand the relationship between the two. Some aspects of technology may have negative effects on mental health, while other aspects may have positive ones.

Part of the reason we don’t fully understand the relationship between the two is that we have not asked enough specific, targeted questions. A question about how technology is affecting sleep is one example of a good one, and there are countless others that parents can ask and observe for answers that may be unique for their child.

Whether it be wondering how technology affects their child’s ability to focus or how it affects their patience, parents should continue to closely watch for positive and negative patterns in behavior or attitude and experiment with media rules to find what fits their family’s needs.

We are here to help and specialize in working with younger generations who will usually be willing to learn how to adjust their tech habits. If you are concerned about your teenager’s use of technology and live in McKinney, Allen, Plano, Melissa, or Princeton, Texas, please contact our distinguished expert therapist team today.

Our Foundations Counseling offices are easily accessible from surrounding communities and located in McKinney, Texas.

Quitting Alcohol Isn’t Easy but Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Plays a Huge Role in A Successful Recovery

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was developed as a way to implement cognitive and behavioral changes to identify and correct problematic behaviors. Typical goals of CBT are to be able to anticipate, and identify, behavioral and cognitive problems, increasing clients’ self-control by developing effective coping strategies, and educate the client on maladaptive thinking and behaviors and promote positive change.

Understanding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Techniques are utilized to exploring positive and negative consequences of problematic behaviors such as the negative consequences of continued alcohol use and abuse. Self-monitoring is also utilized in CBT to recognize cravings early, and identifying trigger situations that might increase the addicts’ risk for use, and developing positive strategies for coping with urges and triggers, as well as managing high-risk behaviors.

Develop Better Habits with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of psychotherapy. The idea is that your thinking patterns can affect your emotions and your behavior. To treat substance use disorders, you’ll need to change the way that you think and behave. This form of therapy was created by a psychiatrist named Aaron Beck in the 1960s. However, the therapy that is practiced today incorporates other techniques practiced by certified counselors who specialize in addiction disorders.

CBT helps patients identify, understand and even deal with the emotions behind their thoughts. This treatment combines both cognitive therapy and behavioral techniques. Patients become more self-aware of their emotions and their actions. They are then able to modify their behavior. With constant practice, their behaviors and reactions to stimuli become a habit. They then use this habit to recover from an addiction.

CBT will usually incorporate both a “multimodal therapy” and a rational-emotive behavioral therapy. It’s also very client-recovery centered for those dealing with alcohol and other addiction challenges. This is one of the many therapeutic approaches that are the most hands-on. Licensed therapists work with alcohol and drug abusers to change their way of thinking. This addiction recovery process will typically take many therapy sessions and is mid to longer term.

Some Crucial CBT Techniques and Tools for Alcoholics

This type of treatment relies on several different techniques. Each patient and therapist may prefer one technique over another. It may take some time for patients to master different alcohol recovery tools. Some of the most popular tools include:

  • Journaling. Writing down one’s emotions and thoughts can prove to very useful. Many patients use journaling to analyze their behaviors. They can then identify harmful behaviors and think of positive solutions for them.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation. One of the main reasons why most addicts struggle to get sober is because they can’t calm down their emotions. They often give in to cravings and urges. They also look for escapes when faced with stressful situations. CBT teaches patients how to relax by de-escalating situations. One of the easiest ways to relax is to relax one muscle group at a time. When drug and alcohol abusers are relaxed, they tend to make more logical decisions.
  • Interoceptive Exposure. Many alcoholics are afraid of certain situations. Fear can drive abuse. To get over their fear, CBT may expose patients to certain stimuli when they are in a safe environment. This teaches patients that there’s actually nothing to be afraid of. This CBT technique is a powerful coping strategy.

The unique tools in CBT can help those with a co-occurring disorder. Those struggling with a mental illness or a mental health disorder may benefit from this treatment as well. They learn how to modulate and regulate their own thinking to treat depression and anxiety disorders.

Use of CBT For Alcoholism Treatment

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in recovery from alcoholism includes various interventions, which can be used individually or in group settings, especially in alcohol abuse recovery programs.

One of the interventions is Motivational Interventions. This is where the counselor will address the motivational barriers, or treatment interfering behaviors, to change and recovery. It targets client’s ambivalence toward behavior change in regards to alcohol abuse and recovery. The motivation to overcome alcohol abuse by helping the person to live in the now and focusing on how they want to live.

This therapy involves structured conversations with therapists, which help clients increase CBT skills and tools. When the addict is in engaging their addiction, unhealthy, high-risk behaviors can be all consuming. Homework assignments and constant attention to the therapy process of learning sober behaviors are integral to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

CBT Treatment for Relapse Prevention

Relapse Prevention is a variant of CBT treatment. This therapy focuses on the identification and prevention of high-risk situations the alcoholics might encounter. This could be a favorite drinking establishment, or friends and acquaintances who have been long-term “drinking buddies”.

This therapy includes challenge the client’s expectation of their perceived positive effects of alcohol will have coupled with psychoeducation to help the client make an educated choice in a high-risk situation.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy includes learning and unlearning behaviors within the addiction. CBT is an all-immersive program that works on changing belief systems and behaviorally working to change responses to triggers both internally and externally.

These behavioral therapies and treatments can be particularly effective when coupled with pharmaceutical treatments to help reduce the effects of withdrawal. Pharmaceutical treatment can help the client get a few weeks of sobriety and take the ‘edge off’ of the initial recovery processes.

Effectiveness of CBT in recovery from alcoholism focuses on studying the thought patterns to help introspection of self, both negative and positive, the world, and future planning. Individuals involved in CBT will learn to identify cognitive distortions which cloud a person’s world view. Some distortions include all or nothing thinking where the person sees situation or event in either “black or white.”

Integrating CBT in Alcoholism Treatment

In CBT and alcoholism, the focus is on specific, attainable goals. Each session has a specific objective. The goal is to help the individual formulate a goal and a way to obtain that goal with healthy tools and skills. CBT also works on educating the individual on life skills to create their own toolbelt for success.

Rational thinking is also a part of this process where thoughts and actions are based on real, functional ideas, and to question what is happening in the person’s environment to make appropriate and rational decisions. This is extremely useful in triggering situations where oftentimes during the addiction, the addict was acting on highly emotional states, rather than rationality.

Overgeneralization or viewing a recent event as negative or a never-ending pattern of defeat. A “mental filter” is when a person only thinks about the negatives. Disqualifying the positive where only believing that “positives don’t count” because of another force. Jumping to conclusions where individuals tend to “mind read” or assume something will happen or has happened and it is true, whether or not it is. Within Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the belief is that changing your thoughts will lead to more positive thinking and improved emotions which in turn change addictive behaviors.

Effectiveness of CBT in recovery from alcoholism includes various components which utilize cognitive and behavioral changes, incentives and rewards, motivational drives, as well as beliefs for future recovery. CBT provides a support network for the recovering alcoholic to help navigate through triggering situations.

And lastly, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy provided specifically by licensed professionals helps the individual with positive thinking which can in turn foster increased levels of self-confidence and hope. CBT aids the individual in withstanding peer pressure and recognizing stressors, the therapy is also relatively cost effective, and can also aid in keeping to more normalized activities of daily living and routine.

In conclusion, CBT can benefit the recovering addict significantly as it address the emotions and thoughts of destructive alcohol addiction.

If you are an alcoholic, a recovering alcoholic, or know someone who has challenges with alcohol addictions, please do not wait. For more information and appointments, please contact the highly experienced team of professionals at Foundation Counseling today.

Depression Therapy for Residents in Texas

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What is Depression & How to Get Help if You Live in Texas?

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. Specifically, our team works with people who live in McKinney, and the surrounding communities such as Allen, Plano, Melissa, and Princeton. Since Texas is the second-largest state, our team has been specializing in working with depressed patients for over one decade.

Overall, more than 17 million adults in the United States live with depression, according to the latest statistics. According to the 2018 SAMHSA Uniform Reporting System, Texas ranks in the top 20 for a number of mental health disorders and in the top 15 for those patients in need of treatment for depression.

Depression affects all ages, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. From the boardroom to the classroom, no one is immune to the effects of this disease. Everyone feels down or sad sometimes, but depression is more than just a case of the blues. Depression is characterized by a relentless sense of despair and sadness.

With depression, these feelings persist. Depression is a chronic condition that requires treatment and finding a licensed therapist in McKinney, Allen, Plano, Melissa, and Princeton can be a challenge. A person with depression cannot “just snap out of it” on their own, no matter where they reside. The good news is that there are many effective treatments for depression and our team of therapists based in McKinney, Texas are in constant training and updating ourselves with new certificates.

The Best Therapists for Depression Based in McKinney, Texas

In spite of the fact that depression is so prevalent amongst residents in Texas, and there are so many effective treatments for the disorder, many people today still do not reach out for help. We surmise that less than 30% of people diagnosed with depression actually get treatment. However, we are unable to say, with certainty, that the treatment being provided to patients in McKinney and communities like Allen or Plano, Texas are with certified licensed professionals.

There are many reasons why people don’t seek treatment for depression. Although we have come a long way in terms of changing the public perception of depression, there is still a stigma associated with the disorder.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), many people with depression in Texas are still discriminated against when it comes to housing, employment, and more. Another reason why people don’t seek treatment is that they may not recognize their own symptoms. Sadness isn’t the only sign that you could be struggling with depression. Some of the signs of this illness are quite surprising or subtle.

Typical Types of Depression We Work with in Texas

There are different types of depression, each with unique causes, effects, and symptoms. Since treatment differs depending on the type of depression, knowing what type of depression you have can go a long way in helping to manage symptoms.

One of our expert therapists will determine what kind of depression you have and develop a treatment plan based on that. The first step is to make an appointment with one of our therapists at the Foundations Counseling offices in McKinney, Texas.

Major Depressive Disorder is Urgent

When people use the term depression, they are typically referring to major depressive disorder. To be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, you would need to have five or more of the above symptoms for a period of at least two weeks. There are several different subtypes of major depression.

Below are a few of the most common ones we often see with clients living in Texas.

With seasonal pattern.

This subtype of major depression is often referred to as (SAD) seasonal affective disorder. People in Texas with this type of depression only experience symptoms during one part of the year, typically during fall or winter. The symptoms go away during the rest of the year when it’s sunny and we have great weather in McKinney, Allen, Plano, Melissa, and Princeton, Texas.

With peripartum onset.

Depression with peripartum onset refers to depression that begins sometime during pregnancy to four weeks after delivery. This type of depression is also known as “postpartum depression.”

With psychotic features.

Depression with psychotic features is a type of depression that also includes symptoms of psychosis, such as delusions or false beliefs and hallucinations, which refers to seeing or hearing things that are not real. If you, a friend, or a family member in the surrounding communities living in Texas are experiencing something similar, we recommend to contact Foundations Counseling, immediately.

With anxious distress.

This type of depression also features symptoms of anxiety. The person must have at least two of the following symptoms of anxiety to be diagnosed with this type of depression: feeling on edge or keyed up, difficulty concentrating because of worry, feelings of restlessness, and fear of losing control.

With atypical features.

Sometimes called atypical depression, this subtype includes the following specific symptoms: increased appetite or weight gain, sleeping too much, feeling weighed down, and being really sensitive to criticism or rejection.

If you, a loved one, or a friend are experiencing depression and located in McKinney, Allen, Plano, Melissa, Princeton, or even Dallas Fort-Worth, Texas and able to visit to our offices, please contact Foundations Counseling today.