Welcome to our blog page!

Welcome to our blog page! Here you are safe to share your thoughts and opinions with us. Our goal is to share motivating content that keeps our followers informed and to keep the conversation about mental health going and significant.

Welcome Natalie!

We would like to welcome Natalie Valle to the team! Natalie is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and specializes in providing therapy in trauma, depression, anxiety, EMDR trained, play therapy, life transitions, couples, family, individual, groups, and more. Check out her profile on our website at www.afcwichita.com or call us at 316-636-2888 to schedule an appointment.

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PTSD In Civilians

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur after a traumatic experience. Many people think of military combat and war veterans when they think about PTSD since PTSD has been portrayed as a combat issue from what we could find, dating back to ancient Greek warriors. Homer Iliad’s stories from the battles and events between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles are still used today for military men and women transitioning back into civilization. The truth is, PTSD is not only a military issue. PTSD can develop from experiences with natural disasters, serious accidents, life-threatening illnesses, physical abuse, and sexual assault during childhood or adulthood. Therapists and researchers have developed PTSD symptoms into four subgroups: intrusive symptoms, avoidance symptoms, negative alterations in cognition and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity. Most individuals with PTSD have reported experiencing at least one intrusion symptom, one avoidance symptom, two cognition and mood symptoms, and two arousal and reactivity symptoms. It is also common for people with PTSD to express symptoms of depression.

Intrusion Symptoms:

  • Unwanted, distressing memories of the traumatic event(s)
  • Recurring trauma-related nightmares
  • Flashbacks – involuntary and vivid re-experienceing of the traumatic experience(s)
  • Intense emotional distress and/or noticeable physiological reactions to trauma reminders

Avoidance Symptoms:

  • Persistent avoidance of thoughts and memories related to the trauma
  • Persistent avoidance of external reminders of the trauma (e.g. the location at which the trauma occurred or people that remind you of the trauma)

Negative Alterations in Cognitions and Mood:

  • A complete lapse in memory of or a feeling of blacking out for parts of the trauma
  • Perpetual negative expectations of the world
  • Continuous, misattributed blame of self or others about the traumatic event
  • Persistent negative emotional state and/or the inability to experience positive emotions
  • Loss of interest or participation in significant activities or activities once interested in
  • Feelings of detachment from others, as well as feeling like others cannot relate or understand the trauma and emotional burden

Alterations in Arousal and Reactivity

  • Easily irritable or angry
  • Reckless or self-destructive behavior
  • More alert
  • Easily startled
  • Problems with concentration
  • Difficulties sleeping, including falling asleep and/or staying asleep

Treating and coping with traumatic experiences is undoubtedly difficult. Talking about one of the most disturbing experiences of an individual’s past can be extremely difficult. Seeking help takes courage and willingness for them to vulnerable, which may be difficult for some. Three common types of therapy have proven to help with PTSD.

  1. Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) is the gold-standard for PTSD treatment. Generally it consists of 10-15 therapy sessions. The two core components are imaginal exposures (repeated confrontation with the traumatic memories) and vivo exposures (systematic confrontation with avoided trauma-related situations). Other components include processing of the imaginal exposure experience, education about common reactions to trauma, and anxiety management (controlled breathing).
  2. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) targets irrational thinking and cognitive distortions in therapy to help patients process their trauma memories. The four main components of CPT are learning about your PTSD symptoms, becoming aware of thoughts and feelings, learning skills to manage the thoughts and feelings, and understanding the changes in beliefs that occur because of the traumatic experience. Self-blame and feeling powerless against all danger are two common examples of distorted thinking. Patients will write out their trauma narrative and work with a therapist to uncover cognitive distortions.
  3. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EDMR) exposes an individual to traumatic memories with varying stimuli, such as eye movements.

There are other treatment options available, but these three are more frequently used for PTSD patients. Whether you are a veteran, military service member, elementary school student, or salesperson PTSD can develop in any of us. If it does please know that help is available and you don’t have to face it alone.

Featured Image: LEPUSINENSIS VIA GETTY IMAGES

Original posts:

Anxiety And Your Loved Ones

Most people come wired to respond to situations with the fight, flight, or freeze response. By understanding and paying attention to how anxiety manifests itself in your loved one, you will learn their patterns and be able to help them. It is essential to listen to them non-judgmentally, and if they are wondering why you are inquiring about them, tell them you are concerned and what signs you have noticed. Usually, asking them what type of support they prefer is better than guessing. Two common ways can include displays of concrete practical support or emotional support depending on whether they prefer specific options for how to deal with difficult situations, or respond better knowing they are a part of a strong team. It is also important to make sure they are included in giving insight into their own anxiety. People suffering from anxiety often tend to think about worst-case scenarios. If this is the case, ask them these three questions:

  1. What’s the worst that could happen?
  2. What’s the best that could happen?
  3. What’s most realistic or likely?

Try not to overly reassure your loved one that their fears won’t come to pass, instead emphasize their coping ability. An excellent example from greatergood.berkeley.edu is “if they are worried about having a panic attack on a plane, you could say that would be extremely unpleasant and scary, but you’d deal with it.” If your loved one is anxious about someone being angry or disappointed in them, it is often useful to remind them that they can only choose their own actions and cannot control other people’s responses. Sometimes we feel the need to “help out” by doing things for our loved ones and feed their avoidance. Do not take over their feelings or actions; let them make their own choices and decide on how to proceed with a situation that is making them uncomfortable.

For those who suffer from more severe issues such as panic disorder, depression mixed with anxiety, post-traumatic stress, or obsessional thinking, you can still be supportive in many ways. It can be helpful to reassure them that your overall perception of them hasn’t changed, they are not broken, they’re still the same person, and the issue they are facing is just a temporary problem. Mental Health First Aid states to encourage them to try some self-help and other support strategies such as relaxation training, meditation, self-help books based on cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise.

Original articles: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/seven_ways_to_help_someone_with_anxiety
https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2018/12/how-to-help-someone-with-anxiety/
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/shyness-is-nice/201706/loving-someone-anxiety-disorder

Featured Image: Gemma Correll

Depression In Children

Is depression in children common?
Depression in children occurs in 1-2% of children before they reach puberty, including preschoolers, even though it is much less common. This usually only occurs when there is a strong family history of depression. After puberty, the rate for depression increases to about 3-8% and is often a higher rate in girls than boys. One in five teens has experienced a depressive disorder by the time they reach adulthood.

What can depression look like in children?
Depressive symptoms such as not having fun, difficulty concentrating, guilt, problems sleeping, and appetite are usually similar in children and adolescents. In pre-pubertal children, depression will often show in families with high adversity, and they will often have issues with conduct disorder. Children who suffer from depression have problems later in adulthood with criminality, substance abuse, and suicide. Depression in adolescence looks similar to adulthood, which in fact, can resurface sometime in their adult life. Adolescence who struggle with depression might often engage in risky behaviors, alcohol and drug use, non-suicidal self-harm, suicidal behavior, and having unprotected sex. According to Psychology Today, in the brain of depressed children and adolescents, researchers have found that they show less effective cognitive control of their emotions, higher emotional reactivity in response to emotional stimuli (like scary faces), and diminished response to rewarding situations.

Symptoms children could exhibit if they are suffering from depression are as follows:

  • Sleep Disturbance (Difficulty falling or staying asleep)
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Depressed or Irritable Mood
  • Refusing to go to school
  • Changes in grades or behavior at school
  • Frequent anger outbursts
  • Mood Swings
  • Feeling Worthless
  • Social Isolation
  • Feeling Restless
  • Loss of Energy
  • Psychosomatic complaints like frequent headaches or stomachaches or generally not feeling well
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Thoughts of Suicide or Suicide Plans

If untreated, they are more at risk for developing chronic depression later in life, if not sooner. The two most common forms of treatments are medication and psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is essential in treating children who suffer from depression, and there are two commonly used forms of psychotherapy:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps to identify and problem-solve around behaviors. This method is usually preferred for children who are facing a number of behavioral problems as well as depression but could not be as effective if they have a parent with depression or a history of child abuse.

Interpersonal Therapy looks at the child in the context of their social relationships. This method is used to help children with a lot of parent discord or other interpersonal problems.

It is essential to continue treatment even after the child is well, or there is a risk of relapse. Psychology Today says that usually, therapists will suggest that treatment should continue for around 6-12 months to prevent a recurrence of depression.

Original Post: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hope-through-research/201602/depression-in-children
List of common symptoms shown in children with depression: https://health.usnews.com/wellness/for-parents/articles/2018-04-25/6-things-to-know-about-childhood-depression

TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation)

The National Institute of Mental Health states that there are an estimated 46.6 million people in the United States are living with a mental health disorder. Serious mental illnesses can make it difficult for some people to complete simple tasks at work, home, and in the community. When you hear someone say they are getting help with a mental illness like depression, usually the first thing anyone thinks about is they are seeing a therapist or taking antidepressants. What about those that do take the help, but it doesn’t get any better with either of those treatment options? That is called treatment-resistant depression, and it is very common.

Treatment-Resistant Disorders
It can be hard to accept the fact that other methods have not helped improve your depression. About one-third of adults with depression have a specific condition that does not improve with treatments like antidepressants and therapy alone. To be classified as treatment-resistant, a patient has to have not responded to two different antidepressants for roughly six weeks. This does not include other forms of treatment like talk therapy, holistic medicine, or non-invasive procedure. There are cases where psychiatrists might keep a patient on one medication for longer than six weeks to give it more time to work for certain people. It is also common for them to find a combination of drugs that work well together for a patient.

Why Treatment-Resistant Individuals Should Try TMS
Dealing with treatment-resistant depression can be exhausting and feel like you’re fighting a losing battle, which is why people often turn to Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). It is a non-invasive procedure that delivers electromagnetic pulses to different parts of the brain that are responsible for mood control. In people with depression, certain regions of the brain have less activity than in a healthy brain. TMS is still a relatively new form of treatment within the last 30 years.

A Common NeuroStar TMS Advanced Therapy Chair

In a typical TMS treatment session, the electromagnetic coil is placed in the forehead region. The coil delivers a painless pulse to stimulate the nerve cells in different areas of the brain. All TMS does is activate those sections of the brain to allow it to release healthy neurotransmitters. The procedure is short, completely safe, and does not require the patient to be under anesthesia. The side effects are generally mild, including headaches or lightheadedness after treatment.

TMS Treatment With Affiliated Family Counselors
At Affiliated Family Counselors, we offer FDA-approved TMS treatments for people suffering from major depression. You will start the process by meeting with one of our psychiatrists to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. When you are approved, the doctor will recommend a daily treatment schedule that will usually last around 6-8 weeks. Our psychiatrist will also go over additional treatments that may work in conjunction with TMS. The procedures are done in either our N Webb or N Rock office, and we accept most major insurance plans.

Call our office at 316-636-2888 or visit the NeuroStar website at www.neurostar.com to request a consult. For more information visit our website at www.afcwichita.com

7 Ways To Calm Down

Stress is just a part of life that comes and goes, but some people find it difficult to calm down in stressful situations. Here are seven ways to calm down based on evidence. Today’s blog is based on an article from the Medical News Today website as well as some help from one of our amazing LSCSW counselors who is trained in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Robert Funcheon.

  1. Diaphragmatic Breathing
    Deep breathing is the most commonly recommended ways that healthcare professionals suggest to calm yourself down. According to the authors of a study done in 2017, diaphragmatic breathing can help you relax your body. During this time, one group of participants participated in diaphragmatic breathing, and the other group did not receive any treatments. At the end of the study, the group that practiced the breathing technique had lower cortisol levels (a hormone liked to stress) and better attention levels. This method involves pushing your stomach out while inhaling, and your chest should not expand during the breathing. This method should only be used while you are calm, so you know how to do it when you are anxious, stressed, or upset.
  2. Chew Gum
    Chewing gum while multitasking may help reduce stress and improve mental clarity. People who chew gum while stressed experienced improved mood, reduced stress at work, reduced anxiety, and reduced symptoms of depression.
  3. Write things down
    Negative feeling are often toxic if you fixate on them, but recording your thought could help you process negative emotions. Some people find that writing in a journal can be helpful, and some take notes on their phones. Most people will write a letter to the person they are upset with but without sending it. It can help clarify feelings and help you calm down.
  4. Listen To Music
    Some people feel that listening to music can help calm them down when they feel stressed. Music can also be an effective way to reduce a person’s psychological response to stress.
  5. Practice Yoga
    Yoga’s popularity is thanks to its health benefits for the person practicing it. Yoga can help those who need help reducing stress, lowering anxiety, improving depression symptoms, lowering chronic pain, enhance strength, improve flexibility, promote cardiovascular health, improve well-being and quality of life, and improve sleep pattern.
  6. Body Scan/”Wet Noodle”
    This is when you relax each tense muscle for 5 seconds and then tighten the tense muscle for 5 seconds. Start head-to-toe by relaxing the tense muscles for 5 seconds, tighten the tense muscles for 5 seconds, then relax. Alternate back and forth from toe-to-head as well.
  7. Pelvic Floor Relaxation
    For this technique, you need to sit in a chair with your spine resting on the back of the chair, feet flat on the floor.
    Lengthen the spine up towards the ceiling in a gentle, unforced manner.
    Have your arms resting on your lap with the hands gently touching your abdominal wall. Put your attention to your pelvic floor muscles which will be resting down towards the seat of the chair.
    As you breathe in, notice the tummy wall expanding into your hands almost like a balloon softly inflating, and then as the air leaves the lungs, the tummy softly falls.
    Stay with your focus on the gentle flow of the breath while allowing the muscles of the pelvic to soften, lower, and lengthen down towards the seat of the chair.

Original article: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326453.php

Robert Funcheon resources: Self-Regulation Skills Taken from “The 10 Core Competencies of Trauma, Grief & Loss” workshop
By: Robert Rhoton, PsyD, LPC, D.A.A.E.T.S
Eric Gentry, PhD., LMHC

Welcome Lyndsey!

Lyndsey Buseman, LMFT

We want to welcome Lyndsey Buseman to the AFC team. Lyndsey is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who works with an array of client topics, some of which include: empowerment, self-care, coping strategies, wellness, body image, self-discovery, disordered eating, stress, attachment, relationships, trauma, grief and loss, anxiety, maternal mental health, infertility, pregnancy loss, postpartum depression/OCD/anxiety, chronic pain and illnesses, and financial issues.

Finding Meaning in Grief

Loss is something we all experience at some point in our lives, and it is never easy. Finding meaning in your grief is a healthy way to begin healing. David Kessler, a grief expert says, “meaning comes through finding a way to sustain your love for the person after their death while you’re moving forward with life.” Some people find meaning in their belief in an afterlife, being able to donate organs of deceased loved ones to save the lives of others who are in need, and from recalling memories of the ones they lost. Others are reluctant to have another child or pet out of fear that pain and history will repeat itself.

For instance, Leslie Gerber of Woodstock, N.Y. found meaning by compiling a book of poems called “Losing Tara: An Alzheimer’s Journey” to immortalize his partner’s loss. Amy Cohen co-founded Families for Safe Streets to combat reckless driving on New York City streets after her 12-year-old son was struck and killed by a car in front of their house. Mrs. Cohen and her husband ended up adopting two boys from China a few years after their son’s death to give them a better life than what they had.

The best way it was put in this article is “Loss is simply what happens to you in life. Meaning is what you make happen.” Some may find that statement as insensitive, but unfortunately, loss is a part of life, and life will continue to go on. This is not to say that every person does not deserve to go through the grieving stages, or that finding meaning will erase grief. Losing a loved one can and will never be easy. We’re not going to go in too deep on the stages, but a good read on the stages of grief is “On Death and Dying” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. She goes over how to deal with the five stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

The point of the article is that everyone grieves in their own way. It is not fair for one person to say someone else’s grieving process is “abnormal” simply because you do not understand their process. It does not and should not look a certain way for everyone. If you know someone who is in the middle of grieving give them space and time to heal, be there for them when they need it, and do not judge their process. Help them find a healthy way to remember their loved one, no matter the circumstances of the loss.

Check out the original article by Jane E. Brody here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/04/well/mind/making-meaning-out-of-grief.html

Having Issues With Sleepiness?

Sleepiness from time to time is completely normal after a long day, but when does it become abnormal? An article by Jon Johnson on Medical New Today discusses how excessive sleepiness can make normal daily activities difficult for people. There are more common causes like not getting enough sleep or poor quality sleep, but in some cases, it may be due to a sleep disorder or another underlying health condition. A study done by Nature Communications in 2019 shows that 10-20% of people deal with excessive sleepiness. We will go over each cause and their symptoms. 

There are many signs that people may be experiencing excessive sleepiness, such as:

  • fatigue
  • mental fog
  • inability to focus
  • grogginess
  • difficulty waking up in the morning
  • feeling sluggish throughout the day
  • frequent napping throughout the day
  • falling asleep at inappropriate times like driving
  • lapses in attention
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty remembering events
  • irritation
  • poor performance at work or school

Cause # 1: Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation is when a person does not get enough sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says for adults to feel well-rested the following day, they need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night, but 20% of adults fail to get that amount. People who consistently fail to get enough sleep may constantly feel tired. This can be caused by excessive work hours, personal obligations, or an underlying medical condition.

Cause # 2: Insomnia
Insomnia is another condition in which people have difficulty getting sleep. They may constantly feel sleepy but are unable to sleep. Everyone experiences insomnia in different ways, such as:

  • being unable to get sleep
  • constantly waking up throughout the night
  • waking up early in the morning and unable to fall back to sleep

Insomnia can be difficult to diagnose, and according to the article, doctors will only diagnose insomnia if they have ruled out all other possible sleep disorders.

Cause # 3: Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is when a person’s body becomes temporarily starved of oxygen and temporarily stops breathing during sleep. This is the most common cause of excessive daytime sleepiness. Very loud snoring and gasping for air throughout the night are both common signs of sleep apnea. There are also two different types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): when soft tissues in the back of the throat collapse, blocking airflow
  • Central sleep apnea (CSA): when the brain fails to signal the respiratory muscles to breathe.

Cause # 4: Narcolepsy
Narcolepsy is a neurological condition that can cause a person to fall asleep suddenly at inappropriate times and will experience constant sleepiness throughout the day. Most people with this condition will also experience the following:

  • sleep disturbances
  • sleep paralysis
  • hallucinations

Cause # 5: Depression 
Depression can cause sleep issues, including excessive daytime sleepiness and oversleeping. Other symptoms may include:

  • feelings of sadness
  • feelings of hopelessness or despair
  • feelings of anxiety
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty remembering details

Cause # 6: Certain Medications
Daytime sleepiness can also be a side effect of certain medications such as:

  • antihistamines
  • antipsychotics
  • antidepressants
  • anxiety medications
  • high blood pressure medications

If the side effects like sleepiness are too much to handle, it is a good idea to speak with your doctor about these issues before making any changes to your medications. Let us know your thoughts about this topic. 

Check out the original post for more detailed information and treatment common treatment options: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326807.php#causes

Original author: Jon Johnson
Original article medically reviewed by: Debra Rose Wilson Ph.D, MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT

Common Myths About Self-Injury

Today we are going to be talking about a pretty hard topic and we want to put a disclaimer that the topic will be about self-injury. If you have a hard time talking about this issue please do not read on. We will be going over the common myths that people believe about self-injury. According to an article written by Penelope Hasking and Stephen P. Lewis on theconversation.com, it is common among young people. Community samples show that 17% of adolescents and 13% of young adults had tried self-harm. There usually is psychological distress that goes hand in hand with self-injury, and people are generally engaging in the act to cope with intense emotions. As we all know, there is still a stigma around mental health in general, which can make people reluctant to seek out help or disclose that they are harming themselves and can leave many people feeling isolated from others. One way to squash the stigma is to debunk common myths about self-harm. Let’s move on to the myths.

Myth # 1: Self-injury is only a “teen fad,” specifically revolving around teen girls. While yes, self-injury usually starts around the adolescence age, people of all ages and genders suffer from self-injury. Studies also showed that the early 20’s age group is another common age to start self-injury, mostly university students. Although it is more common for females to report self-injury and seek out help, both males and females suffer from this issue.

Myth # 2: If you self-injure, then you are only seeking attention. Yet, it is a very secretive behavior, and people tend to hide their self-injury actions. The majority of people say they only self-injure to cope with intense/unwanted emotions. Other reasons that have been reported is to communicate distress, to punish themselves, and to stop a cycle of painful thoughts and/or feelings.

Myth # 3: People who self-injure are suicidal. The definition of non-suicidal self-injury is not motivated by a desire to end life. According to the article, suicide attempts are infrequent, and non-suicidal behaviors can occur more often. Everything about them differs from each other, including the methods used, the outcomes, and treatment responses. People at risk of suicide require more immediate and intensive attention. They both should be taken seriously and responded to compassionately. For those reasons, it’s essential to be clear if you are talking about self-injury or suicidal thoughts and behavior.

Myth # 4: There is a self-injury epidemic going on right now. This myth is not true. Very few people report repeated episodes of self-injury. Furthermore, there are no reports on increase rates of self-injury in recent years.

Myth # 5: Social media contributes to self-injury. In a technology-based society, the internet and social media are relevant to many people who self-injure as it offers a way to get support, share their experience with others who are going through similar issues, and getting coping and recovery-oriented resources. There is a positive and negative side of everything. Despite those benefits, there are graphic images and videos depicting self-injury, which may be a trigger for some.

If you know someone who self-injures, let them know you are there for support in a non-judgmental and compassionate way and try to encourage them to seek out help. It is crucial to keep in mind to not make it seem like you are barking orders. A listening ear and support can make all the difference in the world.

Original post: https://theconversation.com/its-not-only-teenage-girls-and-its-rarely-attention-seeking-debunking-the-myths-around-self-injury-120214

Original post authors: Penelope Hasking & Stephen P. Lewis