Self-Esteem: What You Can Do To Improve It

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Confidence is a precious psychological resource and usually has a highly crucial factor in one’s life. It is closely related to achievements, good relationships, and satisfaction. Having little self-regard can lead people to depression, fall short of their potential, or tolerate abusive relationships and situations. On the other hand, too much self-love can result in an off-putting sense of entitlement and inability to learn from your short-comings. It can also be a sign of clinical narcissism where people behave self-centered, arrogant, and manipulative.

What Can Impact Self-Worth
Everyone’s experience with self-esteem is different over the course of their lives. With rises and falls, self-esteem is like a roller coaster of emotions and will vary even into old age. People who have steady diets of disapproval from people who are important in their lives, like family members, supervisors, friends, or even teachers can develop low self-esteem. Feelings of self-worth, whether high or low, begin in childhood. Some causes could be constant dysfunction at home, work, or school.

What To do To Help Improve Self-Esteem
One important detail is that no one person is less worthy than the other or should be deemed more important. It can help to put aside your fears of being worth less than others. You can also check out this article on what most confident people try NOT to do in order to maintain their confidence. Realize that nobody is perfect, including you. Self-doubt is not always a bad thing. Fear is a signal that you have not prepared enough or possibly need to take a break. Here are a couple of other things you can do to try and improve self-esteem.

  1. Try not to hesitate too much. Don’t obsess over what MIGHT go wrong.
  2. Don’t wait for the “big” move. When you envision someone confident, you may think of someone who takes big, bold actions like running for office. Remember that boldness and bravery in small steps can build on yourself through your feelings of accomplishment and reinforcement from others.
  3. Don’t confuse confidence with arrogance. Some people may fear being overly confident, causing them to “step on people toes,” take up too much space, or being a jerk. Remember, confidence is NOT the same as arrogance or narcissism. When you feel more confident, you often become less self-absorbed. Stop worrying so much about how you’re coming across, so you can pay more attention to those around you.
  4. Don’t fear feedback or conflict. Try not to get defensive when you get helpful feedback. When you have a conflict with someone, do not automatically go into defense mode. It is possible to speak your mind without conviction and listen to someone else’s point of view to reach a compromise.
  5. Do NOT fear failure. Having confidence doesn’t mean you won’t fail. It doesn’t mean you will always be happy or never experience anxiety or self-doubt. It means you know how to handle those feelings and push through to conquer the next challenge.
  6. Everything does not have to be perfect. Perfectionism is considered a flawed way of thinking that contributes to low self-confidence. Thoughts of having to have something completely figured out before taking action can keep you from completing your task.
  7. Don’t believe everything you see in ads. Companies that want to sell their products will usually start by making you feel bad about yourself. For instance, they may state that there is a “problem” with your body that you would have never noticed otherwise.
  8. Don’t believe everything you see on social media. This point is the same as #7. It’s easy to believe that everyone has the “perfect” marriage, a dream job, or supermodel looks, but remember that you ONLY see what they WANT you to see, and a lot of it is heavily edited. Everyone struggles with self-doubt, bad days, and physical imperfections.
  9. Don’t avoid trying new things! New things might bring some failures, but that is OK. Failures and mistakes lead to growth, and being more willing to fail, in turn, may help you succeed more because you are not waiting for everything to be 100% perfect before you try. Taking more shots will mean making more successes.
  10. Try not to focus on yourself. What we mean by this is, when you develop more self-confidence, you are less focused on yourself. We have all thought, “they’re all looking at me. They all think I look dumpy and that every word I say is stupid!” The truth is, most people are wrapped up in their thoughts and worries. Getting out of your head will allow you to be able to engage with others.
  11. Do not allow others to determine your goals. You are the only one that knows what is most important to you. Society says that having a better job, a bigger house or a fancier car is what you need to be happy. It takes strength and conviction to not go along with society’s expectations. Have the confidence to say, ” No, this opportunity is not the right choice for me.”

Have the confidence in yourself to make your own choices. Some of our providers specialize in helping others improve their self-esteem and confidence. If you live around the Wichita, Kansas area, give us a call at 316-636-2888 or visit our website at http://afcwichita.com/ to request an appointment and one of our staff members will get in contact with you. 

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How PTSD Can Affect Your Relationships

Image credit: Psych Scene Hub

To start, PTSD stands for Post-traumatic stress disorder and can develop after traumatic experiences such as assault or military combat. People who have PTSD may relive the traumatic experience, have intense anxiety, avoid things that remind them of the experience, and experience overwhelming emotions that may affect the way they relate to other people. Deteriorating relationships can harm a person’s recovery from PTSD. It can also change the way that their loved ones interact with them. This can add extra challenges like:

  • experiencing a loss of emotional regulation
  • losing interest in family activities
  • having no interest in sexual activity
  • feeling an increased dependency on a partner
  • experiencing excess anger, may come out as being distant, critical, or abusive
  • have a reduced ability to problem solve in instances they experiences anxiety or feels overwhelmed even in small conflicts
  • making the partner without PTSD feel like they have to be a caregiver
  • reducing the support that couples get from family members who do not understand the trauma or appreciate the severity of PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD
Here are a couple of warning signs to look out for:

  • Re-experiencing the trauma through nightmares, flashbacks, or intrusive thoughts.
  • Intentionally avoiding things that remind them of the traumatic event.
  • Easily startled.
  • Unusual angry outbursts.
  • Seem anxious or depressed, especially in ways that directly relate to the trauma. For instance, a survivor of sexual assault might be more anxious or depressed about sexual activity in the relationship.
  • Have a distorted sense of reality about the traumatic event and may feel guilty or ashamed.
  • Lose interest in activities they once enjoyed doing.
  • Struggle to remember parts of the traumatic event.

How to help a loved one with PTSD
Firstly, recognize the fact that PTSD is not a choice or something that another person can cure. Supporting a loved one may give them the confidence to pursue recovery, and reassurance can remind them that someone loves them and will be there for them. You can also help by:

  • Don’t blame them for their symptoms, minimize the severity of their trauma, or telling them to “snap out of it”
  • Encourage them to seek treatment and offer to help them do so
  • If your loved one has thoughts of suicide, find a therapist to work with to develop a suicide prevention plan. Remove any and all weapons from the house
  • Encourage them to talk about how they feel if they want, but try not to force them to do this
  • Do not tell them how they should fell or give unsolicited advice
  • Regocgnize the effect of PTSD on the relationship, but do not blame all of the problems on PTSD
  • Identify their triggers and work to minimize the exposure to them. For instance, if loud noises or voices are a trigger, avoid leaving the television on
  • Have a talk about ways to minimize the effect of PTSD on the relationship. For example, some people may fear abandonment, so making threats to leave may intensify the symptoms and make the conflict worse
  • Be sensitive and empathetic to their emotions and how they are feeling. Offer them comfort and warmth, especially during flashbacks or times of intense anxiety
  • Know that it is ok to walk away. Romantic partners and other loved ones are not trained therapists and are not equipped to deal with the issues that may come with PTSD. It is important for a partner to protect their own emotions in situations that may feel overwhelming or difficult.

Some people who have PTSD may become abusive, but most research that has been done has focused on combat veterans and is not the case for everyone in a particular group. People who are being abused should seek safety immediately. This includes leaving the relationship. Couples counseling may help with relationship conflict, but most counselors advise against counseling when domestic violence is involved. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

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NeuroStar TMS Therapy

TMS Therapy stands for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy, and it is used to help treat Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). NeuroStar TMS Therapy is something we offer at our offices. Take a look into the lives of a few patients who have undergone TMS Therapy and how it has helped them.

If you are in the Wichita, Kansas area, and are interested in more information or would like to schedule a consult with one of our psychiatrists to see if TMS Therapy is the right option for you, please follow one of the links below.

Featured Image: https://primebehavioralhealth.com/the-effectiveness-of-neurostar-tms-therapy/

20 Ways To Be Happier In 2020

With everything negative going on in the world, it can be a challenge trying to stay positive. It can be hard to prioritize your emotional wellness, and your mood can affect everything from relationships, work, and self-care. You may think it is an impossible task, but there are habits you can implement that can get you there. According to experts, here are the most common happiness tips some therapists recommend.

  1. Conquer one anxiety
    Select an anxiety that is holding you back. Treat that fear as though it is an enemy. For instance, if you have been worried about signing up for a half-marathon, but you’re afraid of rejection, or you are afraid of having a difficult conversation with a toxic friend or family member, so you have been putting it off. Set the goal and pick a reward you will get when you complete it. It is helpful to remember that there is happiness on the other side of our guarded doorways by our anxieties.
  2. Figure out a sleep schedule that will work for you
    Take a good look at your schedule. Try to maintain the same bedtime every night. Get a consistent good night’s sleep; losing an hour or two consistently can have a significant impact on your well-being. If you are constantly depriving yourself of less than 8 hours of sleep, you should try to give yourself a reasonable bedtime. Start by going to bed half an hour earlier than your regular bedtime and stick to it. Evaluate the new habit every day by writing down your progress. This can also help improve your memory, reduce anxiety, and could potentially prevent chronic illnesses.
  3. Prioritize a self-care act that works for you
    Trying to balance workloads and responsibilities with activities that bring a sense of enjoyment can be difficult. Experts suggest starting each day with five minutes of mindfulness meditation, going to therapy to unravel a pattern, getting a personal trainer, or making time to read. The main goal is to prioritize something that makes you happy.
  4. Spend 10 minutes a day outside
    Spend a few minutes in the morning outside, go for a walk on your lunch break, or sit outside to watch the birds. It doesn’t have to be for an extended period of time. The goal is to spend less time cooped up indoors. Michael Brodsky, a psychiatrist, says, “research from multiple countries have shown that spending time in green spaces can lift your mood and relieve anxiety in as little as 10 minutes.”
  5. Practice a simple mindfulness exercise
    Most people worry too much about the future and not about the here-and-now. Being present in the now can increase the sense of well-being, promote vitality, heighten awareness, help train attention, improve the quality of work, and enhance interpersonal relationships. Here’s how you can do that: Spend five minutes of each day noticing your surroundings and how you feel. Name five things you see, four things you can physically feel, three different sounds you hear, two things you smell, and one thing you taste. It doesn’t have to be close to you. Then take a second to label your feelings at that moment (“I’m frustrated, I’m bored, or I’m excited”). This is known as grounding exercises
  6. Say nice things about yourself
    Instead of always focusing on the negative, try your dialogue in only positive outcomes. For example: instead of saying, “If I get the job,” try “When I get the job.” Subtle changes in using positive language can help change your mindset to a glass half full instead of a glass half empty. You can also increase those positive thoughts by stating one thing you like about yourself when you look in the mirror.
  7. Give up or cut back on a unhealthy habit
    We know the things that are bad for us that can cause stress. Reduce those things by giving up those unhealthy habits entirely. Getting things like consuming a lot of alcohol or caffeine in check can also help reduce stress levels.
  8. Find a physical activity you love
    Exercise plays a significant role in mental health, and just 30 minutes a day can help improve your mood and reduce stress levels. Finding something you enjoy can help excite you to exercise instead of dreading it. Things like Pilates, martial arts, spinning, running, dancing, or lifting weights are all good exercises.
  9. Try Meditating
    Yes, we are telling you to jump on the bandwagon with this one. Meditation can have long-term positive effects. Just like exercising, only allowing 30 minutes a day can help improve levels of stress, high cortisol, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, mental clarity and focus, improvement of memory, and an overall higher level of mental performance.
  10. Stop your negative thoughts in their tracks
    Thoughts are not always reality. A neuropsychologist by the name of Judy Ho suggests asking yourself a simple question when you start beating yourself up: “Does this completely and accurately capture what’s going on?” Try the “yes, but” or “labeling” methods. For example: (“yes, but”) “I did eat three cupcakes while trying to cut down on sugar, but I have been doing a great job with healthy eating and can start fresh tomorrow.” (“labeling”) acknowledge that the thought you are having is toxic. 
  11. Invest in a quality relationship
    According to clinical psychologist Kevin Gilliland ask yourself, “Who knows you better than anyone, and whom do you know better than anyone? Have you invested in that relationship by staying in touch? When was the last time you got together?” Pick someone close to you and plan on spending quality time together. Sometimes we give our best in places that are not necessarily good for our mental health. Meaningful relationships are good for our psychological and physical health.
  12. Read self-development books
    Find a book written by someone you admire about how they dealt with the struggles in their lives and mental health. There are ways to learn about your mental health from how others have dealt with the struggles of their mental health.
  13. Cut back on social media use
    Viewing people’s highlight reels on social media can lead to feelings of inadequacy in our own lives. Being on social media too much is linked to poor mental health. Cutting back makes you feel less pressured to chase likes.
  14. Set better boundaries
    Some people find themselves feeling very overwhelmed every year. Setting boundaries for things you do not want to do is essential. If you find yourself thinking about plans you have, and you simply do not want to go, then don’t go! Think of this: Is it something you think you “should/have” to do? If so, why?
  15. Make a progress list each week
    Expecting yourself to be perfect will guarantee you will feel like a failure part of the time and can lead to some anxiety. Remind yourself “progress, not perfection,” or you will continuously feel let down if you are trying to always be perfect. No one is perfect. Try writing down incremental improvements you made each week. Small successes will eventually lead to big ones.
  16. Allow yourself to be sad
    Emotions are necessary for our well-being. You are not going to always be happy. We experience a range of emotions for a reason, so stop chasing happiness. Embrace the times when you feel disappointed, angry, or sad instead of trying to brush them off.
  17. Get a therapist if you’re able to do it
    Mental health works in the same way that physical health does. If you are trying to lose weight or stay in shape and do not know where to start, you may turn to a coach or personal trainer. It is the same for mental health. There are many benefits to seeing a therapist, and there are affordable options like attending group therapy at a local mental health center, seek free options in your community, opt for a sliding-scale psychologist, find a provider through your health insurance, or try an app like Talkspace.
  18. Write in a gratitude journal
    Instead of allowing your brain to go to a place of anxiety and stress, remember grateful thoughts and write them down. When you wake up, think of what you are grateful for.
  19. Turn your phone off
    Becoming less available via text and email will help you feel less emotionally tethered to your phone. Opt for scree-free activities that help disconnect from specific social and work stressors.
  20. Reduce food shame and stress through mindful eating
    Stress hormones begin to fire when we feel nervous, scared, anxious, or Stress hormones begin to fire when we feel nervous, scared, anxious, or unsure of what to eat or how much. Take a deep breath. Your body knows what it wants and how much is enough. Take the cues your body is giving you when it is full or hungry.

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Feel Anxious About Supermarket Trips? Try These Tips

It is a strange time in our world due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Going to the supermarket may spark some severe anxiety for people, seeing customers wearing masks and gloves to buy food; nothing feels “normal” right now. As if that wasn’t enough to drive someone with anxiety to not wanting to leave their house for any essential errands, supermarkets are “potential hotspots” for the virus to spread. Nobody should feel silly about those worries of going into public grocery stores and supermarkets during a pandemic. Your fears are valid.

You cannot control what goes on outside of your body, but you can control what goes on inside of your body. Try thinking of it as “going to the supermarket/grocery store is a manageable risk.” Use the new measures at the grocery store or supermarket like following the tape on the ground and queuing at the checkout to make the trip as positive as possible. They are there to keep you and others safe. Remind yourself of the process you will take after your visit, such as washing your hands for 20 seconds. Remembering times when you have felt relaxed and in control at the supermarket/grocery store can be helpful as well. It can help prevent negative thoughts from spiraling out of control. Chloe Brotheridge, a hypnotherapist, suggested to “do a mental rehearsal of going to the supermarket/grocery store and imagine yourself feeling calm, grounded, and self-assured as you do your shopping. Imagine this with all your senses: see yourself looking relaxed, fee it in your body, notice your body posture, the sounds and smells – and imagine it going well.”

If you start to feel the panic start to rise as you approach the store she also suggests using positive affirmations like “I can’t control what happens outside of me, but I can control how I respond” or “I choose to hold on to my determined calm, all is well, I’ve got this.” Practicing controlled breathing can help reduce stress hormones from being released at the perceived threat. Stand still, fill your lungs fully by breathing through your mouth. Count to three while holding air in your lungs and breathe out while counting to four. Repeat the exercise for a few minutes until you feel calmer. You can also try counting to 60 while you are walking through aisles to help maintain your sense of calm, but try not to get too side-tracked from your shopping list. 

If you get panic attacks concerning weekly shopping, you are not alone. Social media is full of others sharing their experiences as well. Panic attacks are scary, but it may help remind yourself they aren’t dangerous. Writing in a journal every day to nurture resilience may reduce the frequency of attacks, according to psychologist Chloe Paidoussis-Mitchell. It is a way to declutter your negative and anxious thoughts and feelings that, in turn, can help you be less likely to be triggered. You should always journal positive experiences in your day to show gratitude and keep those at the forefront of your mind. 

Keep in mind that these tips were designed by professionals to make panic and anxiety more manageable, but feeling nervous is almost inevitable. Do not judge yourself for it. Reassuring yourself and staying positive can make all the difference in taking control of your anxiety in order to moderate and process it.

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How To Cope With Eating Disorders During COVID-19

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Copyright: ©Des – stock.adobe.com

According to the American Psychiatric Association, someone with an Eating Disorder (ED) will experience disturbances in their eating habits. The disorders will also affect how people think and feel about eating, food, and spend a lot of time and energy thinking about food and how much they weigh. They usually have a complicated relationship with food and only eat certain types or brands of food. They might only eat at a particular time of the day with a strict routine. Social isolation and increased anxiety are also some factors that may interrupt recovery.

There are three main EDs:

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Binge Eating Disorder

There are many more types of EDs and disordered eating tendencies but may not always fit into specific categories. EDs are mental health conditions, and people who suffer from them also suffer from other mental health issues like anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or drug and alcohol use disorders. However, this is not always the case.

How COVID-19 affects people with an ED
Some people may feel isolated due to social distancing, which can lead to a range of emotions. The most common effects of social distancing are anxiety, depression, and loneliness. A common reaction to a trigger for someone who suffers from an ED can be binge eating, purging, taking laxatives, or excessive exercise. Some people with EDs can also experience social anxiety, and physical distancing measures can make it harder for them to manage that symptom.

With the current situation in our world, routines have been interrupted, and that can throw anybody’s day off. Routines can be an essential part of recovery. It can outline when and what to eat, as well as when and how to exercise. Visiting friends and attending healthcare appointments may be essential parts of the routine as well.

Making a plan
When someone with an ED experiences a trigger, there are some techniques they can use to help minimize their likelihood of engaging in harmful behaviors. Making an action plan based on the level of distress is a great idea. For example, if the measure of distress is at a 3 out of 10, then the person could call a friend for a chat, take a bath, or write in a journal. If the level of distress is at a 6 out of 10, the person could ask an ED organization, trusted healthcare professional, or a close family member for support.

Communicate
Someone suffering with an ED may want to share what they are feeling with a trusted friend and/or family member and want to keep in touch Someone suffering from an ED may want to share what they are feeling with a trusted friend and/or family member and want to keep in touch during lockdown measures. Video, telephone calls, and social media are all great ways to stay in touch. Talking with a therapist may be beneficial as well. Therapists and mental health professionals may offer video or telephone call appointments.

Setting a routine, and sticking to it
Some people have found that setting a routine has helped. It may include a regular meal plan, exercise schedule, and set times for work and/or hobbies.

Writting it down
Many people with an ED find it helpful to write down a list of reasons why they want to stay in recovery. They can keep it somewhere easy to see, like a noticeboard or the fridge door.

Self Soothing
The things people find comforting will vary among individuals, but some ways to self-soothe may include:

  • listening to music
  • taking a warm bath
  • speaking to a friend
  • limiting social media intake
  • going for a walk, if possible
  • spending time with a companion animal, such as a dog or cat
  • reading a chapter of a book

Where to find support
There are many different organizations offering support to people with EDs during the COVID-19 crisis. Check out this list:

How to help someone else
A person with an ED may find it hard to talk about their feelings or how the People with an ED may find it hard to talk about their feelings or how the lockdown or other corona-virus safety measures have affected them. Friends and family members who want to help can try giving their loved one that is struggling with an ED, opportunities to open up. They can also work with their loved ones on how to avoid triggers. It may mean finding an acceptable alternative to an unavailable food product or avoiding stockpiling food at home.

This help guide has a couple of recommendations on how families can help.

  • Setting a positive example by eating nutritious, balanced meals and avoiding some language such as “diet/dieting”
  • Encouraging the whole family – even if the person with an ED is not eating – to sit down and enjoy a meal together
  • Avoiding attempts to force them to eat
  • Promoting self-esteem with encouragement and compliments that DO NOT focus on a person’s weight

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Can Isolation Affect Your Mental Health?

It has been proven that social distancing is effective in slowing down the spread of viruses. It can also lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially in older adults. With the pandemic that is going on, people are practicing social distancing and isolating themselves to contribute to their part of keeping people safe and healthy. However, isolation can have a significant impact on your mental health, contributing to conditions like anxiety, depression, and dementia. For this reason, The World Health Organization (WHO) encourages others to keep socializing, but at a distance by phone or online platforms. 

Effects of Isolation
Social support networks have a positive effect on mental health. Many countries are treating loneliness as a health priority at this time. Social connection is important for both physical and psychological health. Research has even shown that relationships are a biological need and vital to our well-being and survival. Some of the risks associated with loneliness and isolation can include:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • schizophrenia
  • suicide
  • dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Some researchers have identified links between loneliness and some physical conditions such as heart disease and breast cancer.

Who is at risk?

With the world currently dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, health organizations (like WHO) around the globe are urging people to continue to practice social distancing. Older adults are the leading age group to likely to the effects of isolation. Before the pandemic, researchers estimated that more than 8 million older adults were affected by isolation. One of the reasonings that older adults are more at risk of loneliness is that they experience the most life changes that can break social ties and make it more difficult to socialize, such as:

  • Retirement
  • Widowhood
  • Children leaving home
  • Age-related health problems

People with health conditions or disabilities that limit physical activity may find it challenging to socialize outside the home. Age and underlying health conditions are both risk factors as well for developing severe COVID-19 symptoms. Other nations — including Germany, Australia, and the United Kingdom — say that they are also facing a loneliness epidemic. Societal trends may also cause social disconnection. For instance, the average household size has decreased, more couples are deciding not to have children, lower attendance in social groups, lower participation in religious groups, and a decline in the average size of social groups in the U.S.. Some other factors that may make it more likely that someone would experience loneliness include:

  • divorce
  • living alone
  • being single

Some signs and symptoms to look for

Signs and symptoms that suggest isolation is affecting a person’s mental health can include:

  • feelings of depression and anxiety
  • aggressive behavior
  • passive attitude
  • poor sleep quality
  • cognitive decline
  • altered memory
  • poor self-care or self-neglect

Researchers believe that loneliness and isolation can have different consequences depending on a person’s age. For example, someone aged 18-49 years old may struggle to focus or eat more frequently, while children and young adolescents may experience more cognitive, behavioral, and emotional difficulties.

Finding ways to stay connected

There are many different ways to reach out to loved ones, friends, and those in need in today’s world. We have many different platforms you can choose from to connect with others, such as:

  • mail
  • phone and text
  • email
  • social media
  • video chat platforms

With the pandemic going on worldwide, it is a good idea to keep in contact with others in the community that may be at risk of isolation, loneliness, and health complications. Some good ways to remind them that there is always nearby support are:

  • Calling them on the phone
  • Knocking on their door and staying a safe distance away
  • Setting up regular phone calls or video chats
  • Sending care packages (groceries or medication drop offs)

When to seek help

People who are experiencing loneliness should seek help from their doctor or a therapist if they have noticed any of these signs of anxiety or depression:

  • restlessness or irritability
  • persistent worry
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • an inability to concentrate
  • suicidal thoughts

Suicide Prevention
If you or someone you know is at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgement
  • Call 911 or your local emergency number, or you can text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or any other potentially harmful objects.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 1-800-273-8255, people who are hard of hearing can call 1-800-799-4889.

Here is another helpful suicide prevention link: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327007#hotlines

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What To Know About Telehealth Appointments

With the recent closing down of public buildings and institutions, restaurants, gyms, museums, and more to slow down the spread of COVID-19 it has increased some people to feel isolated and anxiety stemming from the situation we are currently in. Telehealth can offer several benefits like convenience and better accessibility. Telemedicine uses technology during your appointment times instead of an in-person appointment to provide a range of healthcare services, including:

  • Psychiatric evaluations and diagnoses
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Client education
  • Medication Management

Psychiatrists can interact directly with clients via telephone or video conferencing by using telepsychiatry. It can be a good option for many people who do not necessarily like being in public, people in rural and isolated areas, unable to travel, or have the time for traditional in-person psychiatric services. It can also be a useful method of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, and schizophrenia.

Who can provide teletherapy?
Therapists that hold a license in the state where they treat the client can provide teletherapy. For instance:

  • Licensed professional counselors
  • Licensed marriage and family therapist
  • Licensed clinical social workers
  • Licensed psychologists
  • Licensed psychiatrists

The recent COVID-19 health crisis showed that being able to have access to medical care at home can slow the spread of illness and protect others that are more vulnerable. Telehealth allows people to get mental health treatment at home and not have to risk the spread of infection during epidemics and pandemics. In-person therapy sessions do not require physical contact and make it possible to replicate most therapies virtually with video chat and telephone. Video sessions would require you to log on from a private network, keep your computer locked to prevent others from viewing the session, and to access the session on an encrypted therapy platform to protect your privacy.

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How To Cope With OCD During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Those with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) experience constant or recurring thoughts that can cause anxiety and may try to cope with those thoughts through compulsions. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that a person feels that they must perform. With what is going on right now in the world with COVID-19, some aspects of the virus can trigger anxiety and OCD behaviors like frequent handwashing and constantly checking the news. Here are some ways to take precautions and other coping techniques for OCD tendencies during the pandemic.

Contamination
Contamination is one of the most common fears among those with OCD. It can be difficult for someone to cope with under normal circumstances, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can become even more of a challenge.

The real possibility of illness for people with OCD can cause them to take extreme measures to keep themselves and their families safe, like repetitive handwashing, cleaning, or being afraid to even leave their homes.

Harming Others
The worry of possibly harming others, either by accident or on purpose, is a common fear of OCD. During the pandemic, people with OCD may worry that they will transmit the virus to another person, and may go to extremes to try avoid doing so.

Hoarding
Researchers consider hoarding as a separate disorder from OCD, but many people with OCD also struggle with hoarding. People who hoarder usually collect things that are not useful, however during a pandemic, they may hoard things like medications, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and toilet paper.

OCD Triggers During A Pandemic
There are many aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic that may trigger OCD-related fears and behaviors like:

  • The advice to wash hands more often
  • The emphasis on proper handwashing techniques
  • The need to clean hands every time a person returns home
  • The advice to only leave the home for food and necessities

Those triggers can contribute to behaviors like:

  • Widespread panic-shopping that can trigger hoarding (which we have seen with the toilet paper and cleaning supplies shortage)
  • Frequent reminding family members to wash their hands
  • Searching for information on how long the virus stays active on certain surfaces
  • Normalizing frequent washing and/or bathing

Sensible Precautions to Take
Most people with anxiety feel pressure to follow rules to the T, and as a result of this, someone with OCD may find it difficult to tell the difference between sensible precautions against COVID-19 and excessive or perfectionistic behavior. Many therapists suggest that those with OCD have a safety plan in place for themselves based on official public health guidelines. By following that plan, people with OCD will know if they are taking reasonable steps.

Therapists also encourage people to think about their cleaning and hygiene habits. If they did not go outside and no one came into their home, then they do not need to disinfect anything. However, disinfecting commonly used surfaces once a day is a reasonable plan.

When washing your hands try limiting your handwashing to 20 seconds each time and only wash them:

  • After going outside
  • Before eating
  • After going to the bathroom
  • After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose

If you have OCD and find yourself adding extra steps to your plan and find it difficult to stop, you may consider seeking support.

Limit News and Social Media
Many news outlets offer free live streaming during the COVID-19 pandemic and publish news updated frequently. The American Psychological Association (APA) advise that people that notice they are checking the news more than usual set a limit on how many time a day you check the news updates or watch the live streams.

Seek Online Support and Teletherapy
To limit the virus from spreading, many therapists have stopped offering in-person sessions and allow access for people to have teletherapy online or over the phone. Online support groups, such as the International OCD Foundation’s My OCD Community, may also help others cope with OCD during a pandemic.

When To Seek Help
Pandemics do not have biological or medical implications. They also impact many people psychologically and socially, including people with mental health conditions. During a pandemic, those with preexisting mental health conditions are at higher risk of experiencing a relapse, stopping their medication, not engaging in self-care, or having suicidal thoughts. If you or a person you know with OCD is struggling with their symptoms during this pandemic encourage them to call us or:

  • Their doctor or therapist
  • A mental health helpline (Suicide Prevention Lifeline has talk and text options)
  • Their local public health center

Suicide Prevention
If you or someone you know is at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgement
  • Call 911 or your local emergency number, or you can text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or any other potentially harmful objects.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 1-800-273-8255, people who are hard of hearing can call 1-800-799-4889.

Here is another helpful suicide prevention link: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327007#hotlines

Featured Image: PONOMARIOVA_MARIA/GETTY

Articles / Research:

Pica And Other Types Of Eating Disorders

Pica is when a person craves or eats nonfood items like sand, ice chips, dirt, clay, hair, burnt matches, chalk, soap, coins, or paint chips. Most medical guides consider pica as an eating disorder. Some pregnant women will develop pica during pregnancy. We will discuss what pica is and other types of eating disorders and what you can do to treat them.

Pica will usually develop in people with mental health conditions, but not all people who suffer from pica have a mental health condition. Pica is more common to show in children and pregnant women. Children will often hide the behavior from their parents or caregivers. Other groups that are a high risk for developing pica include autistic people, people with other developmental conditions, pregnant women, people from nations where dirt-eating is common. Pica is different from healthy behaviors of babies and young children who put objects in their mouths, and they will persistently try to eat nonfood items. They will also develop other symptoms, including broken or damaged teeth, stomach pains, bloody stool, nutrient deficits (low iron, hematocrit, or hemoglobin), and/or lead poisoning.

There are also other types of eating disorders such as:
Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia nervosa is a condition that typically develops during adolescence or early adulthood. Studies show it is more common in women than men. They tend to devour large quantities of food very quickly, and then takes steps to purge their body of the extra calories. Standard purging methods include self-induced vomiting, taking diuretics, taking laxatives, or excessive amounts of exercise. Signs and symptoms of bulimia can include:

  • obsession with body weight and size
  • repeat binging episodes that accompany a sense of loss of control
  • purging episodes to prevent weight gain
  • a general fear of gaining weight
  • acid reflux
  • a sore or inflamed throat
  • tooth decay
  • severe dehydration
  • electrolyte imbalance that can lead to stroke or heart attack

Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia is one of the more well-known eating disorders that tend to develop in adolescence or early adulthood and is more common in women than men. There are two subtypes of anorexia:

  • Binge Eating and Purging Type: An individual with this type usually purges after eating. They will consume large amounts of food and might try to excessively exercise to burn off the calories they consumed.
  • Restricting Type: People with this type do not binge eat. They will turn to dieting, fasting, or overexercising in an effort to lose weight.
    Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia:
  • Abnormal restricted eating habits
  • being underweight compared with others of similar height and age
  • a fear of gaining weight, even if they are already underweight
  • obsession with being thinner
  • distorted view of their body
  • basing their self-esteem on body weight or shap
  • avoid eating in public or around others
  • obsessive-compulsive tendencies (in some people)

Rumination Disorder
A condition in which a person regurgitates partially digested food, chews it again, and will either swallow it or spit it out. Unlike self-induced purging, rumination is involuntary. The first episode usually is in response to illness, physical injury, or psychological distress, and regurgitation may provide some relief. This disorder can develop as early as infancy and will get better without treatment. However, persistent rumination could lead to fatal malnourishment. Rumination in older children and adults usually requires psychological treatment.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • A need to burp
  • Feeling of pressure or discomfort
  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Electrolyte Imbalance
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Sleeping Difficulties
  • Weight Loss
  • Malnourishment

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
ARFID used to be called selective eating disorder and is similar to anorexia in that it is restricting calorie consumption. However, a person with ARFIT does not obsess about their body size or weight gain and can occur due to a lack of interest in eating, or they may avoid eating because of the sensory characteristics of feed. This disorder can occur at any age and could be more challenging to detect in children who are fussy eaters.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Significant weight loss
  • Stunted Growth (in children)
  • Severe nutrient deficiencies
  • A dependence on oral nutritional supplements
  • Considerable interference with social functioning

Other Eating Disorders:
Orthorexia: This eating disturbance is an obsession with eating healthful foods. Healthcare professionals do not recognize it as an official condition.
Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED): A person with OSFED may show signs and symptoms of bulimia or anorexia but does not meet the diagnostic criteria for either condition.
Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED): When a person does not meet the criteria for any particular eating disorder but will present with similar symptoms and psychological distress.
Laxative Abuse: This is not technically an eating disorder, but laxative abuse involves excessive use of laxatives in order to lose weight and become thinner.
Excessive Exercise: When someone does an excessive amount of exercising in order to burn calories and achieve unhealthy weight loss.

Treatment options for all of these could include:

  • Psychotherapy (Family Counseling or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
  • Medications (Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, Mood Stabilizers)
  • Nutritional Counseling
  • Medical Care and Monitoring

If you suspect that a loved one has a eating disorder you should encourage them to speak to their doctor. Doctors may refer the person for psychotherapy, psychiatric treatment, or for care at a specialist center for eating disorders.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326266.php#anorexia
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326751.php