Individual Counseling

Personal therapy is a time to meet one-on-one with your therapist for support,
guidance and tools to help you better manage your life.

 

Conquer Depression

Depression can feel daunting and overwhelming. Talk through your problems, learn some skills and gain hope that you can conquer depression.

 

Marital Counseling

Couples meet together with their therapist to learn how to better listen, understand and
communicate with their partner.

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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.

10 Ways to Release Anger and Why Therapy Can Help

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

What Triggers A Nervous Breakdown?

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

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

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

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

What is a Nervous Breakdown?

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

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

Excessive Stress Causes Breakdowns

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

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

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

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

Poor Stress Coping Skills Lead to Breakdowns

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

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

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

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

Nervous Breakdown Risk Factors

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

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

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

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

Work Stress is a Common Trigger for Nervous Breakdowns

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

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

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

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

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

Underlying Mental Illness

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Types of Anxiety that Can Affect Children

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

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

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

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

Understanding the Warning Signs

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

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

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

How to Help a Child Having a Panic Attack

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

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

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

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

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

Types of Childhood Anxiety Disorders

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

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

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

Separation Anxiety Disorder

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

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

Selective Mutism

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

Specific Phobia

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

Panic Disorder

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

Social Anxiety Disorder

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

Kids ad Parents Learning to Cope with Anxiety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Some of the common symptoms of depression are:

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

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

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

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

Major Depression

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

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

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

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

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

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

Persistent Depression

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

Some symptoms of persistent depression include:

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

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

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

Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder)

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

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

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

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

Signs of a manic phase include:

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

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

Depressive Psychosis

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

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

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

Situational Depression

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atypical Depression

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

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

Other symptoms of atypical depression can include:

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

How do I know which type I have?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Overcome Social Anxiety and Social Phobia

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

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

Safer At Home

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

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

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

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

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

Social Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

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

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

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

 

Physical Symptoms from Social Anxiety

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

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

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

The Right Kind of Treatment is Successful

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

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

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

Seeking Effective Treatment

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

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

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

 

Overcoming Social Anxiety

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

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

How to Conquer Social Anxiety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By | Anxiety, Depression | No Comments

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

By | Depression | No Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Physical symptoms get treated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. It helps you deal with future curveballs

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

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

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

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

6. You know you’re not alone

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

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

7. It will rewire your brain

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

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

Consider, for example, the entire United States:

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

Offering Telehealth as a Temporary Solution

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

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

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

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

The Benefits of Virtual Mental Health Programs

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

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

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

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

Benefits From The Patient Perspective

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

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

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

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

Foundations Counseling Telehealth Services Saves Times and Increases Access

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

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

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

Depression and the Economy

By | Depression | No Comments

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.

Learning to Structure Your Children’s Time During School Closures

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It is known that professional therapists and counselors express considerable worry over risks with families locked up 24/7 together for an indefinite period. Parents may be joking on social media about their childcare experiences as more and more states go into lockdown with the Coronavirus. Learning to structure your children’s time is essential during school closures.

Being locked down gives us the chance to spend lots and lots of time with our children which can be a wonderful thing. But when we have to work from home and we are all stuck together in a small space, tensions can escalate.

Your child’s school has canceled in-person classes due to the Coronavirus outbreak, and you are worried about an academic freefall or a home-schooling free-for-all where you end up playing the homework police all day, every day — while also working from home?

Regardless of the situation, this is a great opportunity for parents to learn how to structure their children’s time when school is out. For example, wearing pajamas signals to children that their day hasn’t started or that they are on vacation.

Structuring a Routine While at Home

Kids of all ages, and adults too for that matter, perform best with structure. When they know what to expect, they can adjust better and more successfully moderate their mood and behavior.

Maintain a consistent bedtime.

When kids say, “But there’s no school tomorrow!” reply with “Yes, but your brain and body are still growing, and tomorrow you will learn something new.”

Maintain a consistent wake-up time.

While you may not need to drag your teen out of bed to look bleary-eyed at a geometry workbook at 6am, and studies have shown that teenagers do not perform best early in the morning, continue to create and maintain a daily routine. Have your child get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth, and do any typical “before school” chores or activities.

Maintain consistent meal times.

Your school-aged child can likely tell you exactly when lunch is, and their body and brain will function best if they’re kept on that schedule.

Set a reasonable schedule that mimics the school day.

Many schools are providing materials or Internet resources for children. Structure your child’s day to include focused time on subjects, such as scheduling math from 9–9:40am. Model good behavior by focusing on your own quiet tasks at the same time. Separate work times depending on their age, as if they were at school such as a “recess.”

Each day does not have to be identical.

Learning to structure your children’s time usually requires remembering that your child is used to special days like gym, art or music. Gym can mean playing leap frog. Art can mean building a fort for action figures out of a cereal box. Music can be playing a favorite song with a soup pot and spoon for“accompaniment.”

Sample Schedule:

  • By 9 am: Out of bed, eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth/hair, make bed, complete other routine “before school” chores
  • 9–9:45am: Set out expectations for day. Morning physical activity such as walk outside, stretching or dance party inside.
  • 9:45–10:45am: Focused academic time
  • 10:45–11am: Transition break: Quick game of tag, Simon Says, Frisbee, walk the dog
  • 11am–12pm: Creative time: Build, draw, paint, create
  • 12–12:30pm: Lunch time
  • 12:30–1:30pm: Quiet fun time (no electronics). Look at books, color, build with Legos, dress up dolls, paint toenails.
  • 1:30–2:30pm: Focused academic time
  • 2:30–2:45pm: Break
  • 2:45–3:45pm: Focused academic time
  • 3:45–4:15pm: Clean up all activities
  • 4:15–5:15pm: Outdoor play time: Bike ride, climb a tree, walk around the block.
  • 5:15–6:15pm: Dinner preparation, eating, and clean up
  • 6:15–9pm: TV time, baths or showers, plan for next day
  • 9pm: Bedtime

Alternative Activities Should be Fun!

The best breaks involve movement and exercise! Get up, move around, go outside, have a snack, toss a ball, make a paper airplane, fold the laundry, have a pillow fight. Remember that your child is used to structured activity at school with social interaction.

Learning to structure your children’s time may not be the time to tell your child “go play outside” without providing some suggested activity. Plant seeds (indoors or out) and mark the progress daily in a journal. Take the break with your child; you will find that your focused work time is more productive, too. Make sure “break” isn’t your child trading one screen on a tablet, computer, or iPad for another.

Be sure to limit “screen time” and technology to reasonable sessions. If you are unsure about age vs. screen time, make sure to discuss this theme with a counselor.

Create celebrations or events to look forward to!

All of us are disappointed by the cancellation of fun upcoming events, from school band concerts to birthday parties to major vacations. Yes, many children love to attend school and would “opt in” to weekend classes.

So, create excitement and anticipation by planning fun events at home. The planning of and preparation for an event is often more fun than the actual event. These events need not be elaborate or cost a lot of money.

For example, have a costume party.Get out old Halloween costumes or other dress-up supplies and have a fashion show. You can even invite another family over FaceTime or similar platforms.

Another fun example may be to declare next Friday “polite night” and get out your best entertaining supplies, wear your fanciest clothes and use excellent manners. The next week, have Pirate Night or ‘80s Night and dress accordingly.

When you have a good idea, share with other friends and family so they can try it at their own home.

Parents! Remind yourself to take a time out.

If you feel overwhelmed, stressed, tired, hungry, or are reaching your limit in some way, remove yourself from the situation. Assure that your child is safe, then take a few moments to yourself to calm down. Take a shower. Walk outside. Vacuum. Lie on your bed in the dark. Call a friend. Watch a silly video. Recharge, forgive yourself, wash your hands and start again.

The sense of complete chaos is more anxiety-provoking for kids than having a schedule.

Support tips and suggestions from a counselor will be enlightening.

Learning to structure your children’s time requires a plan and a schedule that can help reduce conflict for school-age kids who might have academic work to do during school closures. It’s easier to get buy-in from kids to do a worksheet or reading or writing time if they know what to expect, rather than surprising them with a request to do homework when they were settling in with a video game or TV.

If you are a parent and need additional support, someone to speak with for suggestions, or feel overwhelmed, please contact Foundations Counseling today! We are here to help parents throughout a myriad of communities in Texas!

How Isolation Can Affect Mental Health

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How Isolation Can Affect Mental Health

As countries across the globe hunker down, long-term isolation can have profound physical and psychological effects. In Texas alone, as with the United States in whole, isolation will affect about half of the population with cases of anxiety and even depression, or both.

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues, millions of people are coming to terms with being increasingly cut off from society. Loneliness is a feeling of sadness or distress about being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world around you. It may be felt moreover a long period of time. It is also possible to feel lonely, even when surrounded by people.

Isolation is being separated from other people and your environment. Sometimes this occurs through decisions we make ourselves, or because of circumstance like doing a job that requires travel, relocation, or currently, it may be due to the Coronavirus.

Beyond the inconvenience of working from home, or not being able to go to bars, restaurants or movie theaters, however, therapists have found that social isolation can have a profound effect on people’s physical, as well as mental health.

Long-term, isolation even increases the risk of premature death. By some, we can also label this phenomenon as a social recession to match any economic downturn also caused by the growing pandemic and it can have profound physical and psychological effects.

People who are more socially connected show less inflammation, conversely people who are more isolated and lonely show increased chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been implicated in a variety of chronic diseases such as prolonged anxiety and depression.

What do Statistics Tell Us about Isolation?

Loneliness increases earlier death by 26%, social isolation by 29% and living alone by 32%. With that being said, a period of a few weeks in isolation should not lead to the inflammation of severe mental health issues. Yet, many people will still see an impact on their health, however.

One of the reasons people can suffer in social isolation is because personal relationships can help us cope with stress.

The ongoing uncertainty of what’s going on right now in the world, your body’s response to that may differ. Depending on the extent to which you feel like you have the resources you need to cope with that. And that in large part may be dependent on whether or not you feel like you have others in your life you can rely on; that you’ve got someone who has your back or you can count on, or you can get through it together.

The fact is that short periods of isolation can cause increase anxiety or depression within only days.

Traditional Reasons that You may Feel Lonely or Isolated include:

  • Losing a loved one or friend through death or relocation
  • Lack of close family ties
  • Living alone
  • Difficulties in meeting new people due to access issues, having an introverted personality, or feeling like you don’t belong
  • Feelings of loss or grief
  • Poor physical health, frailty, mobility issues
  • A mental health condition such as depression or anxiety
  • Fear of rejection from others or feelings of being “different” or stigmatized by society
  • Inability to participate in activities due to access issues, mobility, illness, transport
  • Retirement from work, home relocation, starting out in a new role or community
  • Lack of purpose or meaning in life
  • Language or cultural barriers, or reduced connection with your culture of origin
  • Geographic isolation
  • Feeling lost in the crowd

Texas is a Community-Driven State

We have evolved to be social creatures. For all the history of humanity, people have been in family structures, people have been in groups, we’re evolved to kind of crave and rely on that interaction with other human beings. Most therapists realize and understand the importance of socializing.

The paradox is that yes, the quarantines and isolation may help our physical exposure to the Coronavirus. While on the other hand, Texas is one of the most social states where people love to gather, watch sports, go on family outings, and places of worship.

So, when we don’t have that it’s a huge void in the way that we go about being human. This is something that has been kind of hard-wired into who we are as beings.

Texting, video calling, or even the phone could potentially help avert the sense of isolation or loneliness but it isn’t the same.

Tech isn’t a perfect substitute but it is a temporary solution, in the short-term. Physical contact, being face-to-face with people, there’s all sorts of subtle social cues that we pick up on that we rely on, that are ingrained in us over generations in Texas.

We do think you can get part of the way there by engaging with others digitally. We think the richer the format, probably the better – so a phone call is better than a text, a video conference is probably better than a phone call.

What did our team decide to do given the health crisis? We immediately integrated a “telehealth methodology” consisting of video conferencing to meet our patients, see their faces, and interact as much as humanly possible during this challenging period. As well all know, this too, will eventually pass.

How Does Loneliness and Isolation Affect Your Mental Health?

Everyone feels lonely from time to time, but long periods of loneliness or social isolation can have a negative impact on your physical, mental and social health. Some signs include:

  • Physical symptoms: aches and pains, headaches, illness or worsening of medical conditions
  • Mental health conditions: increased risk of depression, anxiety, paranoia or panic attacks
  • Low energy: tiredness or lack of motivation
  • Sleep problems: difficulty getting to sleep, waking frequently or sleeping too much
  • Diet problems: loss of appetite, sudden weight gain or loss
  • Substance abuse: Increased consumption of alcohol, smoking, medications, drugs
  • Negative feelings: feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or thoughts about suicide

The Most Vulnerable to Isolation?

Over time, almost anyone and everyone can be vulnerable to loneliness and isolation. Oftentimes, and for a variety of reasons, older people tend to be the most vulnerable in these situations.

Older people, who are more at risk of the Coronavirus, may be less technologically savvy, and may have fewer connections to begin with. They might not be able to video conference or even send a text message. Family members and friends must remain diligent by reassuring them that help is just about everywhere.

We truly want to make sure that all of us our reaching out to the older generations around Texas, the elderly, and ensure that they’re doing OK. It is important that they know there are still people looking out for them, that they’re bonded with, and that they’re connected with.

How to Seek Professional Help and Support?

If loneliness and social isolation are causing you, a loved one, a family member or a friend distress during these challenging times, please contact one of our professionally licensed counselors today, at Foundations Counseling.

Shopping Addiction TX

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 shopping addiction 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.

Teenager Mental Health

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

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Teenager mental health is a must to focus on given the world we live in and society today. 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 teenager mental health issues 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 Foundations Counseling 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, teenager mental health, 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.

Successful Alcohol Rehab TX

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

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Alcoholism treatment combined with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and plays a huge role in a successful recovery. 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 for alcoholism treatment 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 during alcoholism treatment, understanding 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 alcoholism 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 as an alcoholism treatment 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 alcoholism 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.

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