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counseling Archives – Foundations Counseling

Do You Know Someone Suffering from Bipolar Disorder?

By | Depression | No Comments

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

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

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

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

The Signs and Symptoms?

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

What is Mania?

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

A person with mania may:

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

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

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

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

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

What is Hypomania?

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

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

Bipolar Depression Symptoms

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

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

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

What are the Causes?

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

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

When to See a Therapist?

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

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

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

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

7 Things You Feel when Losing a Loved One

By | Grief, Grief Counseling | No Comments

One reason that we often find grief and loss to be such a difficult challenge is that we have never learned what to expect. The following will help you understand some crucial truths about grief and loss when losing a loved one.

Importantly, how to work through the process to find healing is just as vital. The following 7 feelings are what you will most likely experience after a tremendous loss.

#1 Grief is Normal

Feeling grief after losing a loved one is not a disease. It is the normal, human response to a significant loss. People may encourage you to “be strong” or “not to cry.” But how sad it would be if someone we cared about died and we didn’t cry or we carried on as if nothing had happened?

When you lose someone special from your life, you are going to go through challenging times – this is to be expected. Our devastating loss is saying that we miss the person and that we’re struggling to adjust to a life without that special relationship.

Admittedly, saying that grief is normal still does not minimize how difficult the feelings are. It may be one of the most challenging experiences of your life. However, you are not crazy, or weak, or poorly managing things.

You are experiencing grief and after a significant loss that is and actually should be a normal response.

#2 Your Own Grief

A loss, whether it be a parent, sibling, child, or friend is a very personal matter. Your loss seems like the worst possible thing that could have happened to you. Sometimes people ask if it is more difficult to lose a spouse than to lose a child.

Others question if it is worse to lose someone after a long lingering illness or if they die suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack or in an accident. While these circumstances make each loss different, they are not important at the moment it happens.

The worst kind of loss is your own.

When you lose a significant person from your life, whatever the relationship, it hurts and nothing takes away from your right to feel the loss and grieve the absence of that person from your life.

#3 Dealing with Loss Is a Process

Grieving is painful. A loss is one of the most difficult human experiences. There is no easy way around it. We may try to avoid the pain. We may attempt to get over it as quickly as possible.

But most often, it simply does not work that way.

Helen Keller said, “The only way to get to the other side is to go through the door”. You need to try and find the courage to go through this experience of grief. Learning this is a major key to recovery and considering a therapist immediately afterward is always a good idea.

#4 Grief is Tied to the Relationship

Every relationship holds a special and unique significance to us. To fully interpret our grief and loss “response,” we need to understand what the relationship brought to our life.

We may grieve the loss of a parent differently from the loss of a friend. Each person made a significant, yet different, contribution to our lives. What we have lost is not the same and so we grieve differently. This too is normal.

Two individuals, both experiencing the loss of a spouse, may grieve quite differently because of the differing circumstances (the duration, level of happiness, and age) of the relationship.

#5 Grief and Loss is Hard Work

A response is painful and the process requires more energy to work through than most people expect. Whether we know it or not, the loss will take a toll both physically and emotionally.

This is why we often feel so fatigued after a loss or why we may feel very apathetic towards people and even joyful events. The problem is often compounded by people’s expectations of us to be strong or pull ourselves together or to get on with life.

The expression, “it is time to move forward” is not the same for everyone and is probably well-intentioned but not realistic.

#6 Overall Duration

How long will grief usually last? The simple answer is,“it is finished when it is finished”.

The first few months may be particularly intense. The first year is difficult—it will be a year of “firsts” without that person in your life. During the first Christmas or Hanukkah, the first birthday, anniversary, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, “a year ago today day” and many other times that remind us of our loss.

All of these special days are now difficult days and we need to anticipate them, know our responses are normal and be compassionate with ourselves.

#7 Grief Comes & Goes

Grief or a loss does not go away suddenly or within a predictable amount of time like the flu or a broken bone. Our healing process is different from a sickness model. Sometimes, at first, we do not feel the pain of grief because we are in shock and numb.

Often the pain is more intense some months after the event. Even then, grief is not unlike a roller coaster. One day we feel pretty good, and the next we find ourselves in the depths of despair.

Just when we think we are getting over it, we may experience another devastating setback. This can be discouraging to those who do not know what is happening. Most have not learned that grief comes and goes and takes much longer than most people expect.

We need to realize that this is the way grief works itself out and trust that the process, difficult as it is, is helping us work towards reconciliation. With counseling, a therapist can help with the highs and lows as well as coping, in general.

Summary

Society has unrealistic expectations about mourning and often responds inappropriately. Most people do not understand what is normal in grief and loss experiences.

Our jobs, friends, and oftentimes, even our family members will expect us to get over it quickly and express these expectations in a way that seems less than sensitive. Many people mistakenly believe that grief is so personal we want to keep it to ourselves. Keeping all of the emotion inside without talking about it is also unhealthy and could provoke an even longer healing process.

Grieving people need to talk. Not everyone will be willing or even able to respond to you. In fairness, not everyone can. Accept that, and try to find a support group or a counselor who can help.

Grief is about coping with the loss of a relationship and often in a helping relationship, relief can be found.

If you are experiencing symptoms caused by grief and loss or for more information about the positive effects of counseling for grief and loss, please contact Foundations Counseling today.

Parents Coping with PTSD after a Child’s Illness or Surgery

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Parents may find coping with PTSD after a child’s serious illness which can cast a very long shadow across a family, often for years after the crisis has passed. Unknowingly, parents may begin to cry seemingly without any reason and only because any medical setting, with doctors and nurses and medical sights and smells, brought back intense emotions of their child’s illness or major surgery.

Parents can be haunted by a child’s illness or injury. At the time, they are faced with the terrifying truth that a child is in danger or in pain. When the normal stress responses of the parents play out in extreme cases — and when they continue well beyond the child’s illness — additional harm can come to the family. The emotional trauma of the experience, the parental equivalent of coming through the wars, can echo for years.

The experience of having a child diagnosed with an illness or injury that is potentially life-threatening or debilitating is highly distressing for parents. Parents of a child with a serious childhood illness or injury (SCII) must contend with the possibilities of their child’s death or lasting impairment, in the context of negotiating a path through complex diagnostic and treatment processes is an experience that can overwhelm even the most resilient parents.

Despite initial or recurrent periods of extreme distress, most parents of a child with a SCII are able to cope and adjust well over time but should still seek out counseling. However, some experience persistently elevated or escalating distress impacting on their functioning within the family unit, with adverse effects on themselves, their sick child and other family members.

Little is known about the factors that determine which parents show spontaneous recovery in their psychological wellbeing and whether there are differences in recovery trajectories according to the type of illness or age of the child. For the latter, it is imperative that parents seek out counseling for a variety of factors.

For example, parents of hospitalized children have been found to experience trauma symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of ASD. In a study of families of children admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), 32% of parents met criteria for ASD while their child was an inpatient.

Higher rates of ASD have been reported with a finding of over 63% of mothers and 60% of fathers of children newly diagnosed with cancer met criteria for ASD. Slightly lower rates of 51% of mothers and 40% of fathers were found in another study of parents of children newly diagnosed with cancer.

When dealing with major surgery, parents will suffer dozens of ups and downs prior to their child’s surgery and afterward. Typically, PTSD is only one of the byproducts of surviving your child’s medical ordeal.

Before approaching an employer, it is recommended to ease the workload as much as possible. By prioritizing exactly what accommodations you need to be productive on the job and keep living with your ill child on an even keel, you should begin speaking to a professional counselor as early as possible. There are so many questions to be answered.

Do you want to reduce the number of hours your work each week? Is it possible for you to work from home temporarily or longer-term? Do you need a leave of absence? Are you prepared to deal with the news throughout the entire process whether it be a shorter timeframe or longer terms? Flexible time generally will top the list of the accommodation wish list but it also depends on the severity of your child. A leave is usually a subsequent request and may be needed at the point you have received the initial diagnosis from your doctor, after hospitalization, or the ongoing treatment’s your child will need.

Consulting an expert therapist is the best possible solution to be prepared in advance or when coping with PTSD after your child’s major illness or surgery. A psychiatric rehabilitation and support program suggest that before requesting leave, parents should consult with a professional early on.

Research has found that at least 1 in 6 parents will suffer from PTSD after a child’s recovery. They may have intrusive and distressing memories and dreams, or continue to avoid people or places that evoke the circumstances of the injury or illness or struggle with mood problems, including depression. If untreated, this can damage both the parent’s emotional and physical recovery.

Cognitive restructuring techniques will help parents reinterpret and pay attention to the positive and not catastrophize, developing a trauma narrative of their experience, instead. It is imperative that parents who are struggling get referred to mental health professionals where therapists have experience with traumatic stress.

All parents want our children to be safe. Once you’ve been through this, you know that your child will never be 100 percent safe, and it’s can be extremely hard to stop thinking about it.

There are solutions. Seek them out today not only for yourself but for your family, and for your children.