Moms and Depression (and 4 Things That Can Help)

mothers-and-depression

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Depression can take the wind out of anyone’s sails. And mothers can be particularly prone to it.

It’s been said that the loneliest feeling in the world is being around those you love…and still feeling alone. This is not a statement meant to be overly dramatic. This kind of depression, loneliness, existential dread, call it what you will, is the everyday reality for millions of women in the United States who stay home with their children. “Momming” can be extremely difficult, and can take not only a physical toll, but also be exacting both mentally and emotionally.

The worst part of it all is that it instills the desire in many dedicated mothers to run away and abandon those whom they could never live without, and it also instills the acute, unsettling feeling that one of life’s highest callings – motherhood – might slowly be killing them.

Stay-at-home moms suffer more
As it is, one in five women in the U.S. experiences depression at some point in her life.

You might think that career women would by far experience far greater stress and inclination for depression, but the opposite is true.

A 2012 poll shows stay-at-home mothers struggling with negative emotions (i.e., worry, sadness, stress, anger, and depression) by far outnumbering career moms and career women with no children. Perhaps not surprisingly, low-income stay-at-home mothers suffer the most.

Add to that feelings of shame and guilt when mothers experience signs of depression and anxiety. More often than not affected mothers do not treat it like the mental illness or ailment that it is, but rather they fear that others will see it as a sign of  failure or weakness. Many mothers indulge themselves in berating thoughts about themselves, otherwise known as negative self-talk. They promptly tell themselves that they are bad or incompetent mothers and that they will never “add up.”  They will likely be hard on themselves for not “finding the joy” in motherhood that they assume all other women are enjoying.

Why moms are more prone to depression
Depression is usually linked to a sense of hopelessness, of being overwhelmed, and dark feelings of not having any control over one’s own life. Imagine feeling like you have to be “on,” and energetic, and chipper. All. The. Time. Meanwhile, your reward all too often looks like:

  • The never-ending and often excruciating monotony of your day-to-day routine
  • Constant feelings of isolation
  • Little to no recognition for all your efforts
  • Little to no respect
  • No income of your own

In short, lots of work and effort day in and day out, with seemingly little to show for it. Add anxiety (a frequent bedfellow of depression) into the mix, often in the form of having to do everything “perfectly,” and it’s no wonder that the sense of being overwhelmed can be so suffocating for so many mothers.

What “Mom Depression” looks like
Depression attacks and undermines your ability to function from one day to the next. For mothers it may look like pronounced weight gain, fatigue/lack of energy, difficulty concentrating and with carrying on conversations with other adults, disrupted sleep, feelings of worthlessness and insignificance, lack of self-care because of putting everyone else’s needs before yours, and an increasingly unhealthy diet. Loneliness and despair can’t help but set in to stay for a while.

Many mothers, before seeking help, and rather than have a noisy emotional outburst, will go through a process of withdrawal and “emotional implosion.”

What to do

If you’re a mother yourself and any of this sounds familiar for you, start by reminding yourself that you’re not the only mom struggling. Here are a few things you can do in the name of self care:

Get Moving: Exercise!

You might not feel you have time for exercise, amid all the housework, cooking, laundry, taking care of the kids, getting errands done, etc. It is, however important that you carve out some time, even if it’s just 20-30 minutes (or even two to four 10-minute blocks spread out throughout the day) to get your blood flowing. Your mind will be more clear, and your body will feel better. Whether you decide to get up a little earlier, or ask for some help from your spouse or partner to watch the kids, the rewards will be worth the efforts.

Get Out: Sunshine and Fresh Air!

The day might slip by way too quickly, but weather permitting, be sure to get yourself out in the fresh air for a little while every day. You can walk with your kids to the park and let them burn off some energy, or even just walk around your back yard. Just stretch your legs, breathe deeply, and enjoy the sunshine.

Eat Better: A Healthier Diet!

Unhealthy junk food saps you of your energy. Consuming unhealthy food on a consistent basis can leave you feeling chronically awful. Be sure to include some things for yourself on your shopping list next time you’re at the store. You don’t have to be completely gung-ho about cooking a super gourmet meal for yourself three times a day, but you can stock up on yogurt, nuts, carrots, hummus, etc. Maybe you could try out a subscription meal delivery service like Blue Apron and make sure you’re nourishing yourself properly.

Find a friend: Venting!

It would behoove you to befriend other mothers in the same boat as you, either in your neighborhood, via social media, or perhaps in your congregation. Friends can be good sounding boards, and can help you find perspective amidst your own worries. It also feels good to be there for someone else and help them find their own perspective. Your own problems will seem less significant. You might even be able to find a new friend at the gym if you can get away now and then.

These tips will certainly help, but they will not solve your problems, especially if you’re going through a more serious case of depression. When all else fails, be sure to consult with a mental health professional.

Are you a mother struggling with negative feelings including feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, or depression? If you or someone close to you need to talk to a professional about depression and/or anxiety associated with being a parent, or about other mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Depression and Anxiety at Work: What They Are and What to do About Them

depression-and-anxiety-at-work

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Career depression is a thing. Work-related anxiety is also very real to those who experience it.

Stress is a normal part of life, and in fact, any long-term “stress free” scenario would end up being counterproductive. What would motivate you to go to work and pay your bills? A base level of stress is normal in everyone’s life. The problem comes when it becomes overwhelming and induces debilitating depression and irrational anxiety (anxiety disorder) for someone.

Stressed at work

It should not come as a shock that most working Americans experience stress at work.

According to a Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) stress and anxiety disorders survey, the following is worth noting:

Among those surveyed, reported stress and anxiety was culprit to most often impact:

  • Quality of work (50 percent claimed)
  • Performance in the workplace (56 percent… this would be considered “performance anxiety”)
  • Working relationships with coworkers (51 percent)
  • Working relationships with supervisors/bosses (43 percent)
  • Personal life (75 percent: 83 percent men, 72 percent women)
  • Personal relationships with spouse or significant other (70 percent: 79 percent men, and 61 percent women)

Not surprisingly, the dominant “go-to” behavior for coping with work-related depression, stress, and anxiety? For 44 percent of both men and women, it’s to sleep more. Other stress “escapes” include: drinking more alcoholic beverages (20 percent), over-the-counter meds (23 percent), more frequent exercise (25 percent), smoking (27 percent), and more caffeine (31 percent).

Career depression (work-related depression, career disillusion, etc.) and anxiety at work

Have you ever been depressed at work? Had an anxiety attack or panic attack? Felt non-stop anxiety? Had difficulty concentrating on work, or maybe you’ve been exhausted and felt unable to keep up because you’re having trouble sleeping? Have you frequently felt on the verge of tears, or felt overwhelmed or like an “exposed nerve?” Have you ever felt like you just needed to “push yourself” through, and then you’ll feel OK later? Maybe some combination of the previously mentioned scenarios?  .

As we mentioned earlier, some level of stress at work is to be expected. Maybe you’ve upset a client, feel like you have more than your fair share of work, or have a big presentation coming up – Job burnout is very common. But depression and anxiety at work can develop into a serious problem.

To make matters worse, when you feel extremely uneasy, depressed, chronically stressed, or anxiety at work, you might begin to develop additional anxiety about your boss’ assessment of your work, or about your job’s stability.

More on depression and anxiety at work

One defining characteristic of depression and anxiety involves a distinct feeling of helplessness, like you have no control whatsoever over your situation.

You may feel like you need to speak with your boss, supervisor, or HR office, though many people are reluctant to because they don’t want to be viewed as “a problem,” or “incompetent,” or “weak.”

There are definitely some things you can do, some things that are within your control. Consider the following suggestions:

  • Get organized.It may seem like a waste of time when you feel you have so much to do, but tidying your desk and filing things away where you can easily find them later will end up saving you time, help you feel on top of your game, and even divert a catastrophe down the road.
  • Take control. Become acquainted with the symptoms of anxiety/anxiety disorder, and learn how to manage them when you experience them unexpectedly.
  • Manage your time effectively.Thoughtfully set goals, and get in the habit of creating and checking off to-do lists for every day and for every week overall. Learn to prioritize your tasks, and get yourself onto a disciplined schedule.
  • Prepare to plan, plan to prepare.Dive right in to big projects as early on as you can. Get ahead of your work schedule as much as possible. Set intermittent deadlines for yourself. Be proactive about identifying potential problems, and think through how to address them before they happen.
  • Get to work! Easier said than done, but diving in and pushing yourself to excel at work can help take some of the edge off, give you a sense of accomplishment, and improve your confidence and self esteem.
  • Set your own standards of excellence.Focus on the quality of your work so you don’t have to backtrack and redo anything if it can be avoided.
  • Be ambitious, be disciplined, but be gentle with yourself. Be realistic and avoid overcommitting and overextending yourself.
  • Don’t be shy about asking for help. Especially if you feel overwhelmed. You can always return favors later when someone else needs your help.
  • Speak your mind. Communicate, and articulate calmly and diplomatically when you feel overwhelmed. Most managers and supervisors are understanding and will do what they can to help you succeed.
  • Talk to a trusted peer/friend at work.It can be very therapeutic to get your worries and anxieties off your chest with someone you trust. Talking through your doubts, concerns, worries, etc. with someone can also give you some valuable perspective.
  • Avoid difficult coworkers. Does it stress you out thinking about how to deal with difficult people? Avoid negativity, gossip, backbiting, bad attitudes, etc. in the workplace. Just press on.
  • Take occasional breaks. About once an hour, take a breather. Walk around the block, enjoy the day, clear your head, breathe deeply. It will help you get refocused and improve your productivity.
  • Celebrate your successes. Never forget to give yourself credit (as well as to those who may have helped you along the way) when you accomplish something you feel good about, even small things.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat a balanced diet, mind that you get adequate sleep, get your regular exercise in, and as much as possible, avoid caffeine and alcohol. Your mind will remain sharp and limber, and you’ll always be ready to confront the next challenge.

Keep in mind that, no matter how well you think you may be able to manage your stress, anxiety, and depression at work, you may at some point need to call on a professional to help. One way to know you might need to get help is a chronic painful, uneasy feeling (a.k.a., malaise) that you can’t seem to shake no matter what, and that crippling feeling has infiltrated not only the workplace, but all areas of your life.

It doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it just means you’re smart.

Is work leaving you feeling emotionally exhausted, beaten down, overwhelmed, in a panic, or helpless? If you feel you need some guidance to cope with stresses, depression, and/or anxiety at work, consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Are Video Games Really that Bad for You?

video gaming addiction

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Mental health advocates may now officially have something else to worry about. In the latest revision to its disease classification manual, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that compulsive video game playing now qualifies as a mental health condition.

By treating “gaming disorder” as its own separate addiction, WHO claims that it should serve as a help for families, friends, spouses, health care professionals, and governments to be more aware of the associated signs and risks involved. Don’t be too alarmed, however (at least not yet), as WHO and other professionals have clarified that incidence of the disorder are to date very rare, with the belief that less than 3 percent of all gamers are affected.

The trend seems to be on the rise, however, as the existing scientific evidence has been compelling enough to convince WHO to approach gaming disorder (also known as gaming addiction) as its own problem. There appears to be adequate demand for the disorder’s treatment in some parts of the world. You may already know someone or know of someone’s child who spends countless hours getting wrapped up and consumed playing violent role-playing games like “Fortnite.”

While there are those that express concern about the new classification being “something else to worry about,” a sizable contingent of interested parties welcome WHO’s assessment, claiming the critical necessity of identifying as soon as possible those who are addicted to video games, in order to get them help.

Should this be of concern? It’s been pointed out that compulsive gaming/gaming addiction could be a symptom of something deeper that needs to be addressed, such as depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Some studies suggest that when individuals are engaged in playing online or other video games, certain pathways in the brain are triggered in an intense and direct way, similar to the way that the brains of drug addicts are manipulated by their substance of choice – in other words, gaming can set off a neurological response that influences the mechanism of enticement, pleasure, and reward. In severe cases, this dynamic has manifested itself as strikingly similar to the uncanny pattern of addictive behavior.

What is an addiction?

For the vast majority of people, video games are more about entertainment and novelty. Take the fad game “Pokemon Go,” for example. Even if most people play games like “Pokemon Go” a lot, it’s just a passing “phase,” more than anything, and when they get bored with the trend, they’ll just get on with their lives. No addiction. Others are not so fortunate.

Most people associate addiction with substances (usually alcohol or drugs), and maybe with some behaviors, such as compulsive gambling and compulsive promiscuity. Here are a few possible criteria for what could be considered to be an “addiction” in the context of psychology, psychiatry, and mental health:

  1. An individual continues to need more and more of a substance (or behavior) to keep him or herself going/engaged/entertained.
  2. If the individual runs out of the substance/behavior, he or she becomes unhappy and irritable.
  3. When in doubt, the quick definition of an addiction is: When an individual continues to indulge him or herself with a substance or behavior, even when that person is aware that it is detrimental and harmful.

Gaming likely meets these criteria, with many reports of severe withdrawal symptoms in game addicts. Episodes of aggression, anger, depression, and even violence have been reported.

What’s the big deal?

Gaming addiction is typically associated with teenagers, but it can be just as harmful to adults. Compulsive gaming for adult video game addicts can hinder job or school performance, and can be harmful to relationships.

Many adult gamers often skip social engagements, work, meals, and sleep.

Be mindful of addiction warning signs

Remember that most people who play video games, even if they seem to play them a lot, don’t develop an addiction to them. Parents and friends of video gamers should be mindful and watchful for warning signs of potentially detrimental problems. Some warning signs of gaming addiction include:

  • Gaming for ever-increasing amounts of time
  • Declining performance at school or work
  • Playing video games to escape from real-time problems, depression, or anxiety
  • Thinking about and talking about gaming at other times throughout the day
  • Lying to friends and family to hide gaming
  • Becoming irritable when having to cut down on time playing video games

If someone’s gaming time appears to be taking over his or her life, when someone’s normal routine is consistently disrupted (e.g., schoolwork, socializing, work), then it may be time to seek professional help.

Do you or someone you know struggle with an addiction to video games? Behavioral addiction is treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about behavioral/compulsive addiction or mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Attachment and Psychopathology Workshop

We are excited to announce that we are co-sponsoring “Attachment and Psychopathology” a three-day continuing education training February 18-20, 2019.

This unique training focuses on the development, prevention and treatment of psychological disorder. It weaves together theory, human development, assessment, case examples and treatment applications to reframe maladaptive behavior in terms of strategies for self-protection. The course covers development from infancy to adulthood, emphasizing the process of adaptation and developmental pathways that carry risk for psychopathology.

Not only is this training of particular importance to the clinical community, but Solara staff members have a personal connection to the event. This event is being held in honor of Benjamin Inouye, a fellow clinician who passed unexpectedly this year. Ben was a dearly loved and respected member of the San Diego therapy community, and we feel privileged that Solara is able to support Ben’s passion for prevention of adult psychopathology.

To register for this event please go to trieft.org/attachment-crittenden