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Depression

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

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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.

Mental Illness in Young Adults Ages 18 to 29

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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

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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.

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 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!

Depression and the Economy

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Depression and the economy; not knowing is an uncomfortable experience. As human beings, we are naturally curious. We seek to understand, predict and control as much as we possibly can. The feeling of having some sort of control in our lives helps us learn and it keeps us safe. Uncertainty can feel dangerous because we cannot predict with complete confidence what will happen. As a result, both our hearts and minds may race.

While it is quite natural to experience uncertainty as uncomfortable, for many people it is seemingly unbearable. Seasoned professional therapists and counselors will suggest that finding it difficult to cope with the experience of not knowing could seriously affect our mental health – occurring alongside a number of conditions.

But does uncertainty, or economic uncertainty, play any part in causing depression? Depression and the economy can go hand-in-hand with mental health problems while learning how to cope.

It’s easy to see how the concept of uncertainty is linked to mental health. If uncertainty can feel dangerous, then it might feed our worry and anxiety. What’s more, if getting rid of that feeling of uncertainty feels essential, then the compulsion to wash our hands again and again to make sure they are clean and safe might also feel essential. If this condition of controlling things around you, it can trigger Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, for example.

And if we ultimately feel unable to cope with the change and unpredictability life throws at us, then it’s understandable that we are at risk of feeling defeated and depressed.

The Struggle with Uncertainty

The struggle with uncertainty does help us to understand depression. Some evidence suggests that we may find that our mood is more negative when we feel less able to cope with the unknown. But low mood is only part of the experience of depression, so fuller sessions are needed with a counselor to determine a variety of factors.

Understanding what underpins mental health difficulties is important because it can help us understand how to provide better support for the many of us who have these experiences. Mental health difficulties are more common in times of economic uncertainty, or uncertainty in one’s life in general. In fact, they often occur together including depression and the economy.

For example, the human process of thinking repeatedly and unhelpfully about our economic concerns or other worrisome aspects of our lives may lead to both anxiety and depression.

Another example of economic uncertainty is falling below the line of poverty. Poverty increases the risk of mental health problems and can be both a causal factor and a consequence of mental ill health. Mental health is shaped by the wide-ranging characteristics (including inequalities) of the social, economic and physical environments

in which people live. Successfully supporting the mental health and wellbeing of people living in poverty, or in times of economic uncertainty, and by reducing the number of people with mental health problems experiencing poverty, typically require engagement with a therapist.

Coping with Job Loss

Losing your job can be one of the most painful and traumatic events that you will ever have to endure. Depression and the economy, or economic situation, can affect every aspect of your life, from your interpersonal relationships to your sleep patterns. It can cause feelings of anger, inadequacy, fear, shame, failure, isolation, and embarrassment, to name just a few.

In fact, if you remain unemployed for an extended period, a situational depression may ensue. Job loss is one of the most life-changing experiences one ever faces. Its negative impact on individuals is exceeded only by the loss of a loved one or a family breakup.

Many professionals feel that other than the death of a child or going through a divorce, job loss is probably the single most terrible event of a lifetime.

What makes job loss so traumatic is the shattering blow that it delivers to the self-esteem. When you are let go from a position, for whatever reason, the underlying or subliminal message you may receive is, “I’m a failure. I am just not good enough. No matter what the economic times, if I were any good they would have kept me.”

Isolation and Counterproductive Behavior

Sudden job loss and economic uncertainty tends to have an isolating effect. When people undergo divorce or other painful experiences, they tend to share with those whom they trust. They talk it out with business associates, friends, and family.Consequently, there will always be people to comfort them and offer them advice.

Conversely, when people lose a job or feel like the economy may have a negative impact on their own lives, the last thing in the world that most people want to do is tell others what has happened, fearing that others will perceive them as failures or “exaggerating.”

In uncertain times or when dealing with job loss, many people will withdraw into a self-induced “code of silence” and wind up isolating themselves from the very people who are highly motivated to help. Unfortunately, this tendency to retreat behind self-created walls and limit social interaction is counterproductive to a job search or positive outlook that things will pass over time.

Minimize Stress When You’re Angry

Once reality sinks in that there is uncertainty, it’s natural to feel angry about losing your job or the economic situation. You might be mad at your employer, your former coworkers, the economy, or yourself. You might be mad at anyone and everyone around you.

It is always best to surround yourself with family and friends who understand your challenge. Perhaps seeking out professional counseling or guidance from your minister. There are also many community support groups available. Seek them out and participate in therapy if your anger turns to depression. In fact, you may not recognize the signs at first. As your outward anger subsides, you can start to move into the next stage.

Financial strain can make things worse, so avoid any rash money decisions that might stress you out later. For example, you probably don’t want to borrow from a retirement account or ignore your creditors during unemployment or a financial crisis, and you definitely want to avoid debt traps. These all have consequences that can add to your stress and fuel your anger or trigger depression.

If you or a loved one are having challenges confronting economic uncertainty, we highly encourage you to please reach out to Foundations Counseling today.

Do You Know Someone Suffering from Bipolar Disorder?

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Whether we are aware of it or not, we all may know someone suffering from Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that can cause dramatic changes in mood and energy levels. Symptoms can affect daily life severely with major ups-and-downs. Importantly, spotting the signs of bipolar disorder can help a person to get the proper treatment, as real dangers do exist.

A person who has Bipolar disorder will encounter a range in mood from feelings of elation and high energy to intense depression. There can also be disruption in sleep and thinking patterns and other behavioral symptoms.

The extremes of mood are known as manic episodes and depressive episodes. Hypomania has symptoms of a manic episode that are less severe.

Typically, in most cases, people suffering from Bipolar disorder do not experience symptoms usually until the age of 25 on average. Symptoms can appear during the teenage years, and less commonly, during childhood.

The Signs and Symptoms?

Bipolar disorder is a condition with mood swings that can range from euphoria to depression.However, for a diagnosis of “bipolar I” disorder, a person only needs to have one manic episode.

What is Mania?

When someone has mania, they do not just feel very happy. They feel euphoric.

A person with mania may:

  • Possess a lot of energy
  • Feel able to do and achieve anything
  • Find sleeping to be difficult
  • Spend money excessively and impulsively
  • Use rapid speech that jumps between topics and ideas
  • Feel agitated, jumpy, or even slightly “wired”
  • Engage in risky and impulsive behaviors
  • Use unwise consumption of alcohol and other substances
  • Believe that they are more important than others or have important connections
  • Show anger or aggression if others challenge their views or behavior

Severe mania can involve psychosis, with hallucinations or delusions. Hallucinations can cause a person to see, hear, or feel things that are not there.People may have delusions and distorted thinking that cause them to believe that certain things are true when they are not.

A person in a manic state may not realize that their behavior is unusual, but others may notice a change in behavior. Some may see the person’s outlook as sociable and fun-loving, while others may find it unusual or bizarre.

The individual may not realize that they are acting inappropriately or be aware of the potential consequences of their behavior.

They may need help in getting help and staying safe, which is where family and friends should step in to seek professional therapists.

What is Hypomania?

Not everyone will have a severe manic episode. Less severe mania is known as hypomania. Symptoms are similar to those of mania, but the behaviors are less extreme, people can often function well in their daily life, and it typically only lasts 3-4 days.

If a person does not address the signs of hypomania, it can progress into a more severe form of the condition at a later time.

Bipolar Depression Symptoms

Signs of a depressive episode are the same as the symptoms of a major depressive episode.These may include:

  • eeling down or sad
  • >having very little energy
  • having trouble sleeping or sleeping a lot more than usual
  • thinking of death or suicide
  • forgetting things or feeling distracted
  • feeling tired on a constant basis
  • losing enjoyment in daily activities
  • lack of emotion or joy in facial expressions

In severe cases, a person may experience psychosis or a catatonic depression, in which they are unable to move, talk, or take any action. Although rare, bipolar disorder could occur in young children and teenagers.

What are the Causes?

Doctors do not know exactly what causes bipolar disorder. In general, there are theories that may be triggers, as follows:

  1. Genetic factors: A person with bipolar disorder may have a parent with the condition. However, having a parent or even a twin with bipolar disorder does not mean a person will have it.
  1. Stress: Someone who has a genetic predisposition may experience their first episode of depression or mania during or after a time of severe stress, for example, the loss of a job or a loved one.

When to See a Therapist?

People with symptoms of Bipolar should seek professional help as soon as possible and as a precaution, at the very least. It is always a good idea to speak with a therapist when there is concern about severe mood swings that seem to come and go or make it difficult to work.

The best person to start with may be a primary care physician or family doctor. They will likely refer someone with these symptoms to a therapist, or a specialist who cares for people with mental health disorders.

Someone who notices these symptoms in a friend or loved one can also speak with atherapist about their concerns.

If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or believe that you may be suffering from bipolar disorder, please pick up the phone today and call our team at Foundations Counseling.

Tips On Overcoming Depression

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Depression rates have been steadily increasing over the past decade. It’s also said that 1 in 5 people may suffer from depression at one point in their lives. Depression can be very difficult, in part because there is no guaranteed cure that works for everyone. However, there are some things you can do to help you in overcoming depression.

3 Helpful Tips To Overcome Depression

1. Focus on what you’re usually doing right.

It may be hard for you to do right now because negative thoughts constantly alter positive results in your brain. However, you’re still trying, and this shows that you still have that chance to overcome it. At the end of your day, try listing down things you’ve done right. This may be difficult because of your current state of mind, but try listing just two or three things, even if they are small. This list will serve as a guide to help lift up your mood that you are not totally doing everything negatively or wrong.

2. Resist your urge to think of what happened in the past.

Being depressed lets you create images or scenes that constantly play over and over again. This habit forces you to give in to your depression and may be a threat to you emotionally. Loathing yourself or thinking of what you think you did wrong will not help you get past your depression. You should try to create new positive memories that may help you remove the negative ones from your current thoughts. Think of that new memory and how it made you feel at that time instead of the past that will constantly damage your emotion.

3. Let your social connections enter your life again.

Depression will more likely take you away from your friends and family, and will likely set you in a place where you are alone. It will then be present in your mind that being alone makes you feel better, but in reality, it doesn’t. We all need to have friends and family to talk to and lean on in times when we are sad. Having a person enter your comfort zone allows you to fight depression.

How Can Depression Counseling Help You

Since depression makes you want to be alone all the time and not want to go outside, it may be difficult for you to overcome it on your own. If you really want to help yourself get rid of your depression, then you should try seeking depression counseling. Depression counselors are someone that you can talk to about your problems. They can analyze your situation and provide you with accurate advice on how you can try to overcome those problems. They can give you specific tools to help lift your depression. They may even provide you with another point of view where the problem you are thinking of isn’t really a problem at all.

Tips On Dealing With Depression

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Depression is becoming a serious and alarming condition that affects many people. It drains your energy, hope, and will to do something you like. This makes it difficult for you to take the necessary steps to help yourself feel better. Depression is not something that you can easily get rid of when you begin to realize your symptoms. Recovering from depression takes time and the choices you make every day will impact the way you recover from it.

How To Deal With Depression

The key to dealing with depression is to start with small things that lighten up your mood and continue on from there. The first steps to deal with depression are often the hardest but may get easier as you continue to fight it. In most cases, you may feel like you don’t need anyone to help you in your recovery. On the contrary, you will need support from your friends or family. Reaching out for help is difficult as you feel better when isolating yourself from them. However, they play an essential role in your recovery because it is harder for you to maintain your own goals and motivate yourself to fight your depression alone.

Doing things that you normally would love doing will also help you in your recovery. Although you can’t force yourself to enjoy your favorite activities easily when you are depressed, you should still try to do them even if you don’t feel like it. Doing things that used to make you feel good and help you relax may help you remember how comforting it was for you.

Try going outside your home and walk or exercise. Even if getting out of your bed can seem to be a difficult task for you, you should still try to move. Exercise is a great depression fighter and is one of the most important tools to help you recover. Getting sunlight also helps you boost your serotonin levels that can improve your mood. Try exposing yourself to sunlight at least 15 to 20 minutes daily; it will help with your mood and prepare you for your next task you have in line.

How Depression Counseling Helps

Depression counselors are mental health counselors who are experts in depression.  Those who suffer from depression for a long period of time may not be able to recover from it alone. This is where depression counselors can come in and help them alleviate their symptoms to make them feel better. They have plenty of treatments that can help a person with depression recover. Most depression counselors use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat their patients. This therapy is designed to help the person suffering from depression see a different side of him or her.

Depression is always easier to be treated when they are referred to depression counselors early. The longer you continue to fight depression on your own, the harder it may be for you to recover. If you feel like there are no results on your own way of dealing with your depression, then you should definitely seek a depression counselor’s aid.