8 Ways To Promote Social Skills And Mental Health For Home-bound Children

With school starting all over the U.S., most states are finding that the return to daily in-person learning isn’t a reality again just yet. Remote learning is becoming the “norm” as of now with school-aged children. When children and teens spend a lot of their time isolated at home, and their socialization consists of text and video, their social skills and self-esteem can suffer as they can become lonelier. Here are a few ways you can lower the risk of this happening if your child is taking part in remote learning.

  1. Practice paying attention to others
    An important skill is the ability to pay attention to others while you’re interacting with them. More than 300 teenagers with the highest screen use were more likely to focus on themselves instead of the people they were interacting with. Self-centered behavior can also lead to more social problems with friends. Daily activities that do not involve technology can help them focus and pay attention to others. When families do things together like cooking meals, gardening, or having a designated time when everyone reads at the same time, it can help children maintain the social skill of paying attention to others. Most kids find it easier to focus on friends when they play together in person. When they play outdoors, they can become more able to pay attention to their friends.
  2. Foster the give-and-take of conversation
    In-person interactions at school can help children learn to read facial expressions and body language, give-and-take conversations, and how to change or initiate topics. Having those encounters regularly is one way that they learn how to meet and greet people. Some activities online can help them practice reading others’ emotions by looking at their faces. Try the “Eyes In the Mind Test,” which is when people look at a picture of someone’s eyes and guesses the emotion the person is feeling. Family time can make the biggest contribution to conversation skills. Plan to eat dinner together with no distractions of screens or phones. Kids who eat dinner with their families will form stronger relationships with their peers.
  3. Maintaining friendships
    Parents of remote learning children may have to become creative in finding ways to keep school friendships going. Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime can be useful, but children can become bored with them. Remember that it is safer to connect with friends outdoors than it is indoors. Set up outdoor visits that keep children and teens six feet apart from their friends. Try having them play outdoor games that can keep the distancing at six feet.
  4. Connect mind and body: “What I need”
    Mental health is just as important as physical health. Physical activity, good nutrition, and adequate sleep are all crucial for both physical and psychological health. Children need a set bedtime routine and a consistent schedule, especially during these uncertain times. Children also need to go to bed and wake up as close to the same time each evening as possible. This goes for all ages. It is normal for sleep to shift in adolescence, but consistency is key. Poor sleep can be a sign of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
  5. Develop an identity: “Who I am”
    Children of all ages take in information from both family and friends and develop their sense of identity. School is how children get exposure to others who have similar and different viewpoints or backgrounds and let them confront social rules. Children who are homeschooled and interact with other homeschool kids have shown to be good for their mental health. Positive peer relationships throughout their childhood can make adjusting to the new form of schooling much smoother. Pro-social behaviors that are learned by family, like helping someone in need, help them build and maintain their friendships. Parents should ask open-ended questions and show curiosity about their child’s opinions and interests. Family rituals like special weekly dinner, family game night, or a bedtime ritual can help family bonding and gain a strong sense of self.
  6. Regulate emotions: “How I feel”
    Skills that allow children to understand their emotions and make their own choices on how they respond to them are crucial. Families can practice regulating emotions with their children by supporting strategies to understand and manage emotions like frustration, anger, and sadness. Supporting positive emotions is important, as well. With remote learning becoming a new “norm” for many children, complex emotions are likely to happen in the coming months. School-based risk factors like bullying can have a negative effect on their mental health, but children staying home may have different risk factors like picking up on stress related to work and income challenges, parental mental health issues, and family violence within the family. If you notice strange behaviors like sleeplessness or aggression, it may be a good idea to step in with emotion coaching. Parents should regularly check in with their children and take their “feelings temperature” and suggest ways to practice coping. Things like art, music, and dance can all be creative outlets and help make coping easier.
  7. Recognizing interdependence: “Who we are”
    Responses to the pandemic can threaten the sense of community. Whether due to remote learning or physical distancing measures, families can help make up for the isolation by providing opportunities for children to others’ feelings and practice giving and receiving emotional support. Parents need to attend to their own mental health first. If parents struggle with depression, then aspects of children’s social-emotional development can also suffer, such as building empathy skills and engaging socially.
  8. The challenges remain, but the tools are consistent
    Kids who were vulnerable before the pandemic remain vulnerable and remain the same for children who are both going to school and learning from home. All changes can create stress, regardless if they are happy changes. The ability to adapt is essential for good mental health. The previous strategies are a great toolkit to keep in mind when helping children adjust and cope with stress from the pandemic, economic inequities, racism, unaddressed special needs, or interpersonal problems. Some children need to be in school due to their complex learning needs, having unsafe home lives, and depending on school to buffer issues at home. Keep in mind that not all children need to attend school to avoid a mental health crisis. Wherever and however your child is learning this year, you can support them to continue developing as mentally healthy individuals. 

Articles used in this post:

Ashley Brooke Boyd | Cartoonist

Resources For Suicide Support

Featured Image: Ashley Brooke Boyd | Cartoonist

Since Affiliated Family Counselors is not a crisis center here are some resources for help after hours if you or someone you know is in a crisis situation.

Boys Town National Hotline
This is a hotline to help children, families, and communities who are experiencing addiction, abandonment, and violence.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The National Prevention Lifeline offers free 24 hour suicide prevention support across the United States. Including confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and the best practices for professionals.

ULifeline
Provides anonymous, confidential support to college students.

Asian American Suicide Prevention & Education
Offers support to the Asian American population during times of crisis.

  • Phone: 877-990-8525 (LifeNet Hotline in Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, and Fujianese)
  • Website: http://www.aaspe.net/#

Crisis Text Line
Connects you to a crisis counselor for free 24 hours a day.

Text: HOME to:

The Trevor Project
A LGBTQIA+ youth can access support from this organization through a hotline, online chat, and text service.

  • Phone: 866-488-7386 (24 hours a day)
  • Text START 678678 (Monday – Friday 3 P.M. – 10 P.M. EST or 12 P.M. – 7 P.M. PST)
  • Online Chat: TrevorCHAT (Monday – Friday 3 P.M. – 10 P.M. EST or 12 P.M. – 7 P.M. PST)
  • Website: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

The Veterans Crisis Line
Offers free 24 hour confidential support from qualified responders from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

These common misconceptions about suicide may only increase their pain, so do NOT believe these:

  • Talking to them about suicide will give them the idea to take their own life.
  • People who talk about suicide only want attention
  • There is nothing you can do to stop someone who has decided to take their own life.

A few tips for talking to loved ones about suicide:

  • Listen to their thoughts and feelings
  • Be sympathetic to their concerns and problems
  • Reassure them that they are not alone and that support is available
  • Take their concerns and feelings seriously
  • Do not argue with their outlook on life or their feelings
  • Do not make them feel guilty about their suicidal thoughts
  • Ask them if they have planned their suicide, if they have the means to carry it out, if they have a set date or time, and if they intend on carrying it out. (Please note that professionals have assessments they can ask these questions to assess their risk based on the responses, so it may be more useful if a professional asks them)
  • Remove potentially dangerous or lethal objects from the environment around them and do not leave them alone
  • If they are a high risk, immediately call a crisis center, 911, or take them to an emergency room.

Articles used in this post:

What Are Dissociative Disorders?

Dissociative disorders involve issues with emotion, identity, memory, perception, behavior, and sense of self. They can potentially disrupt every aspect of mental functioning.

Some examples of dissociative symptoms include experiencing or feeling as if one is outside of their body, loss of memory, or amnesia. They are frequently associated with previous experiences of trauma. There are three types of dissociative disorders:

  • Dissociative identity disorder
  • Dissociative amnesia
  • Depersonalization/derealization disorder

Dissociation means a disconnection between a person’s memories, feelings, actions, thoughts, or sense of who he or she is. It is a normal process that everyone has experienced. Common dissociation includes daydreaming, highway hypnosis, getting lost in a book or movie, and losing touch with their immediate surroundings. During traumatic experiences like accidents, disasters, or crime victimization, dissociation can help the person tolerate what may be too difficult to think about. In those situations, they may dissociate the memory of the place, circumstances, or feelings of the overwhelming event to mentally escape fear, pain, and horror. It can make it difficult to remember the details of the experience later on.

Dissociative Identity Disorder
Dissociative Identity Disorder associates with overwhelming experiences, traumatic events, and/or abuse that occurred in childhood. It was previously referred to as multiple personality disorder. Some symptoms of dissociative identity disorder include:

  • The existence of two or more distinct identities (“personality states”). The identities are accompanied by changes in behavior, memory, and thinking. Signs and symptoms may be observed by others or reported by the individual. They happen involuntarily, are unwanted, and can cause distress.
  • They may feel like they have suddenly become observers of their own speech, actions, and their bodies may feel different like a small child, the opposite gender, huge and muscular.
  • Ongoing gaps in memory about everyday events, personal information, and/or past traumatic events.
  • Symptoms cause significant distress or problems in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning.
  • Attitude and personal preferences (food, activities, clothes) may suddenly change and then shift back.

The disturbances can not be a normal part of a broadly accepted cultural or religious practice. As noted in the DSM-5, some cultures around the world, the experience of being possessed, is a normal part of spiritual practices and is NOT dissociative disorders.

Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder
Depersonalization/derealization disorder involves ongoing or recurring experience of one or both of these conditions:

  • Depersonalization- experiences of unreality or detachment from one’s mind, self or body. People may feel as though they are outside of their bodies and watching the events happening to them.
  • Derealization- experiences of unreality or detachment from one’s surroundings. People may feel as if things and people in the world around them are not real.

During the altered experiences, they are aware of the reality and that their experience is unusual. It can be very distressful, even though the person may be unreactive and/or lack emotion. It can begin in early childhood. The average age of a person who experiences the disorder is 16. Less than 20 percent of people with depersonalization/derealization disorder first experience symptoms after age 20.

Dissociative Amnesia

Dissociative amnesia involves not being able to recall information about oneself that is not considered normal forgetting. It is usually related to a traumatic or stressful event and may be:

  • Localized– unable to remember an event or period of time (most common)
  • Selective– Unable to remember a specific aspect of an event or some events within a period of time
  • Generalized– Complete loss of identity and life history (rare)

Dissociative amnesia is associated with childhood trauma and experiences of emotional abuse and neglect. They may not be aware of the memory loss, have only limited awareness, or minimize the importance of memory loss about a specific event or time.

SUICIDE PREVENTION

  • If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

Articles used in this post:

9/11/2001: How The Pain Stays With Generations

Featured Image: https://www.stjamesplantation.com/coastal-community/911-we-remember/

Check out We Shall Never Forget poem by Alan W Jankowski: https://www.stjamesplantation.com/coastal-community/911-we-remember/

Do you remember where you were when the terrorist attacks happened on September 11, 2001? The attacks were the worst acts of terrorism on American soil to date. Over 60% of Americans watched the attacks occur on live television or saw them replayed repeatedly in the following days, weeks, and even years after the attacks. As the anniversary of the tragic events is approaching, there is one question some people have: How has this event affected children who have grown up in a post 9/11 society? To meet the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, an individual must have been directly exposed to a traumatic event (assault, violence, accidental injury). Direct exposure can mean that an individual (or their loved one) was at or near the site of the event that took place. So those who were directly exposed to trauma like 9/11 might also suffer from associated physical and mental health problems.

People who are geographically distant from “Ground Zero” might have been impacted as well. Specifically, children and youth across America and many lived far from the actual attacks and were too young to have experienced or seen the attacks as they occurred. As we see in today’s age of technology, media reporting can cause trauma exposure. In the following weeks of the 9/11 attacks, media-based exposure was associated with psychological distress, including acute stress, post-traumatic stress, and ongoing fears and worries about future terrorist acts. Measurable impact was found on mental and physical health (like increased risk of heart disease). The findings closely resembled research led by psychologist William Schlenger that found Americans who reported watching more hours of 9/11 coverage on the immediate aftermath of 9/11 were more likely to report symptoms that resembled PTSD. Work conducted by Michael W. Otto also found that more hours of 9/11 related television watching were associated with higher post-traumatic stress symptoms in children under ten the first five years following the attacks. 

Children who reported longer-term distress symptoms is relatively low, but children whose parents had low coping abilities or themselves had learning disabilities or prior mental health problems tend to report higher distress. For example, Virginia Gil-Rivas said that most American adolescents exposed to 9/11 only through the media were found to have post-traumatic distress symptoms decrease at the one-year mark. The study also showed that parental coping abilities and the availability of parental discussion regarding the attacks made a difference. There has been no study on the long-term effects of 9/11 on children’s development and adjustment for those who lived through 9/11 vs. those who did not, since almost every American child is or was exposed to images of the attacks at some point in time. 

Nineteen years later, a better question is: How does the collective trauma of 9/11 affect people today? A study and surveys were done by E. Alison Holman, Dana Rose Garfin, and Roxane Cohen Silver regarding a sample from people who lived in New York and the Boston metropolitan area for comparison on direct and media-based exposure to the 9/11 attacks and the Boston Marathon bombing. Of course, those who lived in New York or Boston were more likely to meet the criteria for “trauma exposure” found that people who experienced direct exposure prior to collective trauma (9/11, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Hurricane Sandy) reported higher acute stress symptoms after the Boston Marathon bombing. Greater amounts of media-based live exposure (watched or listened to the event as it occurred on live television, radio, or online streaming) to prior collective trauma were associated with higher acute stress symptoms after the Boston bombing. So the greater direct and media-based exposure to previous collective trauma was linked with greater acute stress responses (anxiety, nightmares, issues concentrating) after a subsequent event.

In other words, the impact on children most likely extends beyond the physical and mental health effects of exposure, no matter if it was direct or media-based. Every tragic event that people witness, even through the media, likely has an impact. People should stay informed but limit repeated exposure to disturbing images that can negatively affect psychological and physical health outcomes.

What Defines A Hoarding Disorder?

People with hoarding disorders excessively save items or even animals that others may view as worthless or unhealthy. They have constant difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions, which will lead to clutter and disrupt their ability to use or function in their living or workspaces. Hoarding is not the same as collecting. Collectors look for specific items like model cars, stamps, quarters, and may organize or display them. Those who struggle with hoarding often save and store random items or animals haphazardly. Some cases, they keep items or animals that they feel they might need in the future, are valuable or have sentimental value. They may also feel safer being surrounded by those things they save. There is an estimated 2-6 percent of the population that struggles with hoarding and can lead to substantial distress and problems functioning. It is more common in adults age 55-94 than those aged 34-44 years old.

Hoarding can cause issues in relationships, social and work activities, and create an inability to perform daily tasks like cooking and bathing within the home. It can lead to family strain and conflicts, isolation, loneliness, and an unwillingness to have anyone else enter the house. Unlivable situations can lead to separation or divorce, eviction, and/or loss of child/animal custody. Some potential health and safety concerns can come with hoarding like fire hazards, tripping hazards, and health code violations.

What do symptoms of hoarding look like?

  • Inability to throw away possessions
  • Severe anxiety when attempting to discard items
  • Difficulty categorizing or organizing possessions
  • Indecision about what to keep or where to put things
  • Distress, such as feeling overwhelmed or embarrassed by possessions
  • Suspicion of others touching items
  • Obsessive thoughts and actions: fear of running out of an item or of needing it in the future; checking the trash for accidentally discarded items
  • Functional impairments, includes loss of living space, social isolation, family or marital discord, financial difficulties, health hazards

Mental health professionals may ask your permission to speak with friends and family members to help make a diagnosis or use questionnaires to assess the level of functioning. Some people may recognize and acknowledge that they have a problem with accumulating things, but others may not. Some people with a hoarding disorder can suffer from other issues like indecisiveness, perfectionism, procrastination, disorganization, and distractibility. They can suffer from other mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, ADHD, or alcohol use. An assessment for hoarding may ask questions like:

  • Do you have trouble discarding (or recycling, selling, or giving away) things that most people would get rid of?
  • Because of the clutter or the number of possessions, how difficult is it to use rooms and surfaces in your home?
  • To what extent do you buy items or acquire free things that you do not need or have enough space for?
  • To what extend do your hoarding, saving, acquisition, and clutter affect your daily functioning?
  • How much do these symptoms interfere with school, work, or your social or family life?
  • How much distress do these symptoms cause you?

Causes
There is no known cause for hoarding disorder, but there is research that suggests several risk factors. It is more common in individuals with family members who also have a problem with hoarding. Brain injuries have also been found to cause hoarding symptoms. It is associated with distinct abnormalities of brain function and neuropsychological performance, different from those seen in people with OCD or other disorders. A stressful life event like a death of a loved one can trigger or worsen symptoms of hoarding. Difficulty discarding things usually starts during the teen years. The average age for the onset of symptoms is around 13. If not treated, the disorder can be chronic and become more severe over time as more clutter accumulates. As with most disorders, early recognition, diagnosis, and treatment are vital to improving outcomes.

Treatment
Treatment can help those with hoarding disorder decrease saving, acquire, clutter, and live a safer and more enjoyable life. The two main treatment types for hoarding is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication. In CBT treatments, they will learn to discard unnecessary items with less distress and diminish the exaggeration need or desire to save those possessions. They will also learn to improve organization, decision-making, and relaxation skills. Medication can also be helpful to some. If you or someone you know is experiencing hoarding disorder symptoms, contact Affiliated Family Counselors at 316-636-2888 or http://www.afcwichita.com if you are in the Wichita, Kansas area. Otherwise, please contact your doctor or mental health professional. Public health agencies may be able to help address hoarding problems and getting help for those affected. It may also be necessary for public health or animal welfare agencies to intervene in some cases.

SUICIDE PREVENTION

  • If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

Articles used in this post:

What To Know About Personality Disorders

Your personality is the way you think, feel, and behave that makes you different from everyone else. A person’s personality is influenced by experiences, environment such as surroundings and life situations, and inherited characteristics that typically stays the same over time. A personality disorder is the way of thinking, feeling, and behaving that deviates from the expectations of their culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time. The pattern of behavior usually begins by late adolescence or early adulthood and can cause distress or problems in functioning. Personality disorders can be long-lasting if it continues without treatment. It can affect at least two of these areas:

  • Way of thinking about oneself and others
  • Way of responding emotionally
  • Way of relating to others
  • Way of controlling one’s behavior

There are 10 different types of personality disorders:

  • Antisocial personality disorder: Patterns of disregarding or violating the rights of others. A person with this disorder may not conform to social norms and may repeatedly lie, deceive others, or act impulsively.
  • Avoidant personality disorder: Patterns of extreme shyness, feelings of inadequacy and extreme sensitivity to criticism. Those with avoidant personality disorder may be unwilling to get involved with others unless they are certain of being liked, be preoccupied with being criticized or rejected, or view themselves as not being good enough or socially inept.
  • Borderline personality disorder: Patterns of instability in personal relationships, intense emotions, poor self-image and impulsivity. Someone with borderline personality disorder may go to great lengths to avoid being abandoned, have repeated suicide attempts, display inappropriate intense anger, or have ongoing feelings of emptiness.
  • Dependent personality disorder: Patterns of needing to be taken care of and have submissive and clingy behavior. Those with this disorder may have difficulty making daily decisions for themselves without reassurance from others. They may feel uncomfortable to helpless when alone out of fear of inability to take care of themselves.
  • Histrionic personality disorder: Patterns of excessive emotion and attention seeking. They may feel uncomfortable when they are not the center of attention and may use physical appearance to draw attention to themselves or have rapidly shifting or exaggerated emotions.
  • Narcissistic personality disorder: Patterns of a need for admiration and lack of empathy for others. They may have a grandiose sense of self-importance, a sense of entitlement, and/or take advantage of others.
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder: What makes this different from obsessive compulsive disorder is the pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfection, and control. They may be overly focused on details or schedules, work excessively and not allowing time for leisure or friends, or inflexible in their morality and values.
  • Paranoid personality disorder: Patterns of being suspicious of others and seeing them as mean or spiteful. They often assume people will harm or deceive them and do not confide in others or become close to them.
  • Schizoid personality disorder: Patterns of being detached from social relationships and expressing little emotion. They typically do not seek close relationships, chose to be alone, and seem to not care about praise or criticism from others.
  • Schizotypal personality disorder: Patterns of being very uncomfortable in close relationships, have distorted thinking and eccentric behavior. They may have odd beliefs, peculiar behavior or speech, and may have excessive social anxiety.

A mental health professional must look at long-term patterns of functioning and symptoms for someone to be diagnosed with a personality disorder. They are typically made in people aged 18 or older because those under 18 are still developing personalities. Some people may not realize a problem with their behaviors or patterns and some people may have more than one personality disorder.

Treatment

There are some types of psychotherapy that are effective for treating personality disorders. During psychotherapy, people can gain insight and knowledge about their disorder and what may be contributing to their symptoms. They can also talk about their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It can help them understand the effects of their behavior on others and learn to manage or cope with symptoms and reduce behaviors causing problems with functioning and relationships. Types of treatment will depend on their specific personality disorder, how severe it is, and the circumstances.

Here are some commonly used types of psychotherapy:

  • Psychoanalytic/psychodynamic therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Group therapy
  • psychoeducation (teaching the individual and their families about the illness, treatments, and ways of coping)

No specific medications can treat personality disorders, but medications such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety, or mood stabilizing medications can be helpful in treating some of their symptoms. The more severe or long lasting symptoms may require a team approach that may involve a primary care doctor, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker, and family members. The individual with the disorder can also do some self-care and coping strategies that may help, such as:

  • Learn about their condition to help empower and motivate them.
  • Be active and exercise to help manage some symptoms like depression, stress, and anxiety.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol while taking mental health medications. They can have adverse affects when interacting with medications.
  • Have routine medical care from their family doctor.
  • Join a support group for people with personality disorders.
  • Write in a journal to express their emotions
  • Try relaxation and stress management techniques like yoga or meditation.
  • Stay connected with family and friend. They should avoid isolating themselves. Family will be a very big support base for them.

SUICIDE PREVENTION

  • If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

Articles used in this blog:

High-Functioning Depression

Some experts say the term may come from a lack of clarity surrounding persistent depressive disorder (PDD) or dysthymia, an ongoing form of depression. The difference between PDD and major depressive disorder (MDD) is that the symptoms tend to be less severe but have longer duration with PDD. The World Health Organization reports that more than 264 million people of all ages may experience depression worldwide. High-functioning depression is not recognized as a clinical disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Most people consider “high-functioning” depression to be episodes of depression without showing diagnostic signs and symptoms. It may be less debilitating than other forms and allow a person to live relatively “normal” by maintaining relationships and coping at work and in social surroundings. 

Often people confuse high-functioning depression with PDD and involves low-grade depression with symptoms that persist for at least two years and more likely to develop MDD. The symptoms may last for most of each day and occur more often. Those who have low grad symptoms may not be aware that they have depression. Some signs, including low mood, may be:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Oversleeping or insomnia
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt

There can also be triggers to depression. Certain situations and factors may be more likely to trigger negative mindsets such as:

  • Financial problems
  • Extremely high levels of stress
  • The death of a loved one
  • Loneliness
  • Major life changes

Potential risk factors for dysthymia can include:

  • genetics
  • epigenetics
  • prior mental illness
  • neuroticism
  • high anxiety levels
  • low sense of self-worth
  • psychological health
  • trauma
  • life stressors
  • social factors

Treatment

Treatment can consist of both psychotherapy (talk therapy) and medication. For PDD, a doctor may prescribe various drugs, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Mental Health Medications and therapy can be a trial and error process, and everyone will react differently. Keep in mind that treatments are not one-size-fits-all. Keeping communication with your healthcare provider is vital, so they will know about any side effects or reactions you notice in response to specific medications. If necessary, your doctor may provide a referral to a mental health professional. Affiliated Family Counselors have professionals who specialize in a wide variety of mental health disorders. If you feel you are ready to reach out for help, please contact us at 316-636-2888, visit our website http://www.afcwichita.com, or locate a mental health professional close to you on your insurance website.

Here are some other resources:

SUICIDE PREVENTION

  • If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

Articles used in this post:

9 Ways To Support A Loved One With Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder affects a person’s mood, which means they will fluctuate from one extreme to another. There may be periods of mania, feeling very high and overactive, and then followed by periods of depression. Some might experience hallucinations or delusions, known as psychosis. Supporting a loved one with bipolar disorder can be a challenge. Emma Carrington, an advice and information manager at Rethink Mental Illness, says, “you may have their best interest at heart, but they might resist care because they do not feel ill or feel ashamed.” Every relationship will experience highs and lows, but bipolar disorder can add complexity to the mix. Here are a few things that have been suggested by mental health professionals:

  1. Look after yourself
    It is easy to forget about your own mental health when helping to take care of a loved one’s mental illness. You should always make sure you stay well mentally and physically to continue to offer your support. If you are feeling angry or alone because it can be difficult to separate the illness from your loved one, look for possible support groups in your local area. It is a chance for those experiencing similar situations to help support each other and de-stress for a while.
  2. Talk to them about their experiences
    There is a stigma and misrepresentation of bipolar disorder that can make people with the illness be reluctant or embarrassed to seek help. Being someone they trust, let them talk to you about their experiences. This can help them feel supported and accepted. Being open about your own mental health can help it feel like a safe space to talk. Patience is important. Having a manic or depressive episode can be scary, especially if the illness is new to them, and they have not accessed help yet. You may not understand what they are experiencing, but trying to understand can be helpful. It may sound weird, but ask them “what is the benefit of being bipolar?” Try to help them think of positive things in their life.
  3. Educate yourself on bipolar disorder
    Read about the experiences of your loved ones who have the diagnosis. Talk to people who have bipolar disorder and their families and friends.
  4. Learn their triggers
    Learn your loved ones warning signs and triggers. If you notice certain behaviors that usually happen before a manic episode, you can gently let them know. The most common warning signs of mania are increased energy, less sleep, and more money than usual. Some triggers could be physical illness, sleep disturbances, overwhelming problems in everyday life (money, work, or relationships), death of a loved one, relationship breakdowns, physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
  5. Prepare for manic episodes
    Have a plan for manic episodes. When your loved one is feeling well, try talking to them to develop a plan on how you can support them during these times. Some ideas could be being creative together, helping to reduce stress, relaxation exercises, helping to manage money while they are unwell, keeping a routine, and discussing how they can stay on top of regular meals and sleep patterns.
  6. Discuss challenging behavior
    Try not to be afraid to discuss behavior you find challenging. Your loved one may become disinhibited during a manic episode. This means they say or do things you do not agree with. They may seem rude or offensive. Timing is critical with this. DO NOT bring it up during an episode. It should be done when they are feeling more stable.
  7. Find a balance between support and control
    It can be challenging to find a balance between being supportive and not controlling when you are looking after a loved one. Keep communicating, and acceptance of each other’s feelings can help.
  8. Remain calm and provide comfort
    Seeing or hearing things can be scary and confusing. Let them know that you understand that it feels real to them. It can be helpful to focus on giving support to them on how they are feeling, rather than challenging or confirming their perception of reality because it will feel very real to them. Arguing and disagreeing can make them feel even more alienated.
  9. Seek professional help
    If you are worried about a loved one, it can help make a list of specific examples of behaviors you have noticed to become a concern. Early diagnosis and treatment is important. There are many different treatment options, and the best combination is known to be medication, therapy, and self-management. It would be good to start with their primary healthcare provider and be clear about your concerns.

Affiliated Family Counselors has many different providers who specialize in different areas of mental health. If you or a loved one are needing help, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 316-636-2888 or visit our website at www.afcwichita.com

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

Articles used in this post:
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/ways-to-support-someone-bipolar-disorder_l_5f1aeb0fc5b6128e6824d44b

Phobias And Their Meanings

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It can cause someone to experience debilitating fear of a situation or thing that usually does not pose any real danger. People who have phobias are typically aware that their fear is irrational, but they will experience severe anxiety upon exposure to their phobia. In severe cases, people may rearrange their lives to avoid a situation or thing that is causing them anxiety. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the United States alone has around 12.5% of adults experiencing a phobia of a specific situation or object at some point in their lives. We will outline some common and uncommon and different categories of phobias. There are also some ways a person can treat a phobia as well.

There are three broad phobia categories: specific phobias, social phobias, and agoraphobia.

Specific phobias
Specific or “simple” phobias are those that relate to particular objects or situations. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) classifies specific phobias as:

  • Animal type: Includes dogs, snakes, and spiders
  • Natural environment type: Includes storms, water, and heights
  • Blood, injection, and injury (BII) type: Includes needles, invasive medical procedures, and blood
  • Situational type: Includes fear of flying and fear of enclosed spaces
  • Other type: Characterized by any phobia that does not fit into the above categories.

Specific phobias are usually developed when people are younger. They may find that the phobias become less severe with age, but is not always the case.

Social phobias
Social phobias is the extreme fear of being in social situations that may cause embarrassment or humiliation. For example, fears of public speaking.

Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia is a fear of being in public spaces or crowded areas without an easy escape. In severe cases, people with this phobia become housebound because they are too afraid to leave their safe spaces.

Social phobias and agoraphobia are more likely to cause life impairments because the situations or things that cause the phobias are a lot more challenging to avoid.

Common phobias

  • Acrophobia is the fear of heights. According to the DSM-5 6.4 % of adults will experience acrophobia at some point in their lives.
  • Aerophobia is the fear of flying. This is the most common phobia. This can include odd sounds, turbulence, and terror attacks as some causes.
  • Agoraphobia is the fear of public spaces and/or crowds. This phobia can cause avoidance behaviors that significantly impact a person’s life. People with agoraphobia may avoid a variety of social situations.
  • Arachnophobia is a fear of spiders. Studies have found that spiders are amount the most common sources of phobias around the world.
  • Bll phobias includes Aichmophobia and hemophobia. Aichmophobia is the fear of needles or sharp-pointed objects. Hemophobia is the fear of blood. People with this kind of phobia may try to avoid certain medical appointments and procedures that can significantly affect their health.
  • Claustrophobia is the fear of tight or crowded spaces and between 7.7-12.5% of people will experience claustrophobia at some point in their lives. Some situations may cause anxiety for people with claustrophobia. For example, elevators and MRI machines pose a problem for people who are fearful of tight spaces.
  • Dentophobia is the fear of dentists and believe it or not can affect a lot of people. People with this fear will avoid the dentists for a variety of reasons and can include previous traumatic experineces at the dentist and learned fear through others. This can also cause poor oral health and can have direct impact on a person’s overrall health and quality of life.
  • Driving phobia is the fear of driving a car and can exists on a spectrum. Some people will be reluctant to drive, while others will avoid driving altogether. Studies have found that 6% of adults aged 55-70 years experience moderate-to-severe driving anxiety and can cause a lower quality of life.
  • Entomophobia is the fear of insects. Studies have shown that the increase of knowledge of insects helped reduce entomophobia.
  • Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking. This phobia falls under the social phobias category. People with glossophobia tend to avoid public speaking for fear of judgement, embarrassment, or humiliation.
  • Hypochondria is the fear of illness. It involves excessive worrying about medical conditions. Other names for this phobia can be “somatic symptom disorder” and/or “health anxiety.”
  • Mysophobia is the fear of dirt and germs. This phobia tends to be called germaphobia and is the fear of microorganisms like bacteria, parasites, or viruses. Usually this type of phobia often occurs alongside obsessive-compulsive disorder.
  • Sociophobia is the fear of social judgment and is a common type of anxiety disorder. It will affect more than 1 in 8 people at some point in their lives. Social fears vary from fear of speaking in public to fear of using a public restroom.
  • Zoophobia is the fear of animals. People who experience fear of animals will fear a specific type of animal like dogs, reptiles, or birds and start at an early age.

Other phobias
People may develop a phobia over any type of situation or thing and because of this, there are hundreds of different types of phobias that are experienced. Here is a list of other less common phobias.

  • Achluophobia or nyctophobia is the fear of darkness.
  • Androphobia is the fear of men.
  • Anginophobia is the fear of choking.
  • Arithmophobia refers to the fear of numbers.
  • Autophobia is the fear of being alone.
  • Bacteriophobia is the fear of bacteria.
  • Bathmophobia is the fear of steep slopes or stairs.
  • Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns.
  • Cyberphobia is the fear of computers.
  • Emetophobia is the fear of vomiting.
  • Escalophobia is the fear of escalators.
  • Gynophobia is the fear of women.
  • Hydrophobia or “aquaphobia” is the fear of water.
  • Latrophobia is the fear of doctors.
  • Lockiophobia is the fear of childbirth
  • Necrophobia is the fear of death or dead things.
  • Nosocomephobia is the fear of hospitals.
  • Obesophobia is the fear of gaining weight.
  • Pogonophobia is the fear of beards.
  • Pyrophobia is the fear of fire.
  • Somniphobia is the fear of sleep.

Most phobias are treatable, and many are curable. In some cases, avoiding the source of the phobia is relatively easy, but treatment may be necessary for those who cannot easily avoid the sources of the phobia.

Self-help techniques

  • Relaxation Techniques include breathing exercises that help a person relax during times of stress or anxiety.
  • Visualization Techniques are exercises that allow a person to mentally visualize how they will successfully cope with a situation that can trigger anxiety.
  • Slef-Help Groups that you meet with others that also have phobias and share coping strategies for dealing with phobias and anxiety that can help.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT is a talking therapy that has shown to be successful in treating phobias. It aims to help people identify irrational thinking patterns and behaviors that maintain or exacerbate their phobia and typically involves exposure therapy. The therapist will then teach a person some strategies for dealing with their phobia more rationally.

Exposure Therapy
Also known as “desensitization therapy,” involves gradually exposing a person to their fear until they learn to become less fearful of it. For instance, if someone has a phobia of spiders, the therapist may suggest reading a book about spiders, once comfortable with this, they may suggest holding a picture of a spider. Their therapist may arrange the person to view some spiders at a zoo. The ultimate goal of the exposure therapy may involve holding a spider.

Medications
Since talking therapies are usually effective in treating phobias, medications are rarely necessary. A healthcare provider may prescribe tranquilizers, beta-blockers, or antidepressants to help control the anxiety that comes with phobias. If you notice that the phobia has taken over everyday activities, it may be a good idea to seek treatment. Sometimes, a phobia may limit their ability to seek treatment like someone who is afraid to leave the house (agoraphobia) or is scared of healthcare providers and medical procedures. Talking over the phone is a great way to make them feel more comfortable reaching out for help. Affiliated Family Counselors does provide telehealth sessions depending on your insurance. If you feel you need talk therapy, please feel free to call us at 316-636-2888,check our website at http://www.afcwichita.com, or your insurance website to find a provider close to you.

Articles used:

5 Breathing Exercises to Use For Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal response to stress and is part of the fight-or-flight response when faced with physical or emotional threats. Anxiety can become overwhelming that can cause unease, distress, or dread. Experts recommend breathing exercises as a coping mechanism for anxiety. It will help slow heart rates and feel calm. We will go over five different breathing exercises and how to do them, as well as other ways to deal with anxiety.

  1. Deep breathing
    You can do this exercise while sitting, standing, or lying down. To deep breathe:
    1. Relax your tummy
    2. Place one hand just beneath the ribs
    3. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, notice your hand rising
    4. Breathe out through your mouth, notice your hand falling
  2. Quiet response
    This method combines deep breathing with visualization to help reduce stress and anxiety. Start by relaxing all of your muscles in your face and shoulders. Imagine having holes in the soles of your feet.
    1. Take a deep breath, visualize your breath as hot air entering your body through the holes in the soles of your feet
    2. Imagine the hot air flowing up your legs, through your tummy, and then filling your lungs
    3. Relax each muscle as the hot air passes it
    4. Breathe out slowly, imaging the air passing from your lungs back to the tummy, then the legs, before leaving your body through the holes in the soles of your feet.
    5. Repeat until calm
  3. Mindful breathing
    Mindful breathing helps people focus on the here and now. To practice mindful breathing, you should sit or lie in a comfortable position with your eyes open or closed.
    1. Inhale through your nose until the tummy expands
    2. Slowly let the breath out through the mouth
    3. Once settled into the patter, focus on the breath coming through your nose and our through your mouth
    4. Notice the rise and fall of your tummy as the breaths come in and out
    5. As thoughts come into your head, notice that they are there without judgment, then let them go and bring your attention back to your breathing
    6. Carry on until you feel calm, then start to be aware of how your body and mind feel
  4. Diaphragmatic breathing
    Doctors usually recommend using this breathing exercise to those with lung conditions called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Start by either sitting up or lying down.
    1. Place one hand on your tummy and the other on your upper chest
    2. Breath in through your nose and focus on your stomach rising
    3. Breathe out through pursed lips, focusing on your tummy lowering
    4. Repeat the cycle
  5. 4-7-8 breathing
    This is a simple way for you to relax anywhere. Start by sitting down with your back straight and the tip of your tongue on the back of your upper front teeth.
    1. Breathe out through your mouth, making a whooshing sound
    2. Close the mouth and count to 4 while breathing in your nose
    3. Count to 7 while holding your breath
    4. Count to 8 while breathing out through your mouth, making the whooshing sound
    5. Inhale and repeat three times

Other things you can do to reduce anxiety:

  • You can also try slowly counting to 10 or imagining a calming scene like a meadow or a beach
  • Seek out Psychiatric help
  • Accept that there are some things you cannot control
  • Do your best rather than aiming for perfection
  • Learn your triggers and the anxieties that come with them
  • Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Try only eating well-balanced meals
  • Try to get plenty of sleep
  • Get some exercise daily

You should seek a doctors help if you:

  • Find that your anxiety is becoming overwhelming to deal with
  • Have frequent or excessive anxiety that gets in the way of your daily activities
  • Deal with your anxiety by misusing drugs or alcohol
  • Notice changes in your sleeping, eating, or personal hygiene habits
  • Have irrational fears
  • Are self-harming or thinking about self-harming
  • Have suicidal thoughts
  • Feel out of control

Affiliated Family Counselors have multiple providers that specialize in anxiety and tools you can use to calm yourself down in situations where you feel out of control. If you or a loved one are in the Wichita, Kansas area, and need help, please feel free to give us a call at 316-636-2888 or visit our website at http://afcwichita.com/

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

Articles used in this post: