Millennial Depression is Spiking, According to 2019 “International Journal of Epidemiology” Study

Depression and anxiety are on the rise among teens and millennials

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What percentage of millennials has a mental health issue? It may come as no surprise to anyone, but there is an upward trend in the incidence of reported mental-health related issues in the world today.

A February 2019 study published by the International Journal of Epidemiology shows that those from the millennial generation are more prone to depression and self-harming behaviors than they were a decade ago. This comes even in the wake of continuing reported declines in substance abuse rates and anti-social behavioral trends.

For as long as anyone can remember, teenagers and young adults have been considered to be self-centered, emotionally unstable, and irrational. Usually by those older than this age group. Adults have been known to gripe about how millennials are moody and unable to “leave their problems at the door,” and that it’s a problem for the workforce’s (and hence, society’s) stability in the future.

Depression levels among those born between the years 1990 and 2000 have risen up to almost 15 percent, and self-harm rates are up to 14 percent among this group. This is not only a problem for the individuals themselves, but also an increasing public health challenge.

What is causing this upswing? The reasons don’t seem readily clear. As some studies report on observable data, not all are designed to analyze the backstories behind the data. The next step is to figure out the “why” behind the increase.

Theories

The study indicates that obesity rates among this age group nearly doubled in the last 10 years (From less than 4 percent to more than 7 percent), and that that this increase in depression levels might be tied to the weight gain.

It’s also worth noting that 29 percent more of those born around the turn of the century thought they were overweight when compared to those born in the early 1990s.

The obesity concern, coupled with poor sleeping and eating habits, along with negative body image is being looked at as at least one of the source problems.

The interpretation of the data and the framing of it becomes more complicated, especially considering the decreases in youth substance abuse and anti-social behavior, which could understandably be considered to be good things. A better understanding regarding the nature of these dynamics could be very valuable in determining risk factors for mental illnesses, as well as developing effective ways to approach and deal with relevant core problems.

Despite all the good news regarding declining substance abuse and anti-social behavior rates, researchers are seeing that American youth are developing severe mental illnesses at an increasing rate.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that about three million teenagers (aged 12-18) showed at least one major depressive episode in 2015 alone, and that in excess of two million from the same group reported experiencing depression to a degree that interfered with their normal daily activities.

Possibly more unsettling is that these number are likely to continue on the upswing. According to a study published in Time magazine designed to track depression among young adults, the number of reported symptoms of low self-esteem and problems with concentration and sleep rose by 37 percent between 2015 and 2016.

Cases of anxiety have also spiked in the last few years.

  • The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), reports anxiety disorders as the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting just over 18 percent of youth annually.
  • The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) indicates that over six million American teens have some sort of anxiety disorder.

Anxiety has passed depression as the most common reason college students seek mental health consultation. The number of undergraduate college students claiming “overwhelming” levels of anxiety due to school work and college life rose from 50 percent to 62 percent between 2011 and 2016. It would appear that more pressure than ever before is being placed on kids to not just succeed, but to outperform everyone else.

The “Why?”

Though no one seems to be exactly sure what cause to pinpoint as the source of this increase in the levels of millennial mental illness, most camps can agree that it is probably a combination of many different dynamics factors.

Consider that anxiety and depression have recognized biological causes, including many that are not just genetic. For example, researchers have shown that human stomach bacteria may be influencing the functions of regions in the brain, like the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala (both have been causally tied to anxiety and depression).

A significant number of experts agree that environmental and societal changes are having a heavier impact on teens and young adult mental health than genetics or digestive bacteria, however.

Researchers have also blamed technology and social media. Everyone is connected on the internet, and it’s difficult for the youth to not be constantly worried about their digital image and to compare themselves with peers.

Ultimately, we have yet to determine how to address the problem. The increasing demand for mental health help reveals an increasing lack of available public resources to help.

Are you anxious about your lack of sleep? Is your lack of sleep making your depression and/or anxiety worse? Depression and anxiety are both treatable, and their treatment usually leads to a better night’s sleep. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

What if I Can’t Afford Mental Health Services? 7 Ways to Get Help on the Cheap

What if I can't afford mental health?

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What if you can’t afford mental health counseling? You read up on all the mental health blogs, you keep yourself informed, you study everything you can. But healthcare costs are so high, and if you don’t have insurance, it can be a huge challenge. Especially if you’re struggling with your mental health.

The demand for treatment of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to name a few, is increasingly on the rise. When demand for something goes up, so does its cost.

It’s estimated that around one in five adults experiences a serious mental illness in the United States, and that around 56 percent of them don’t get the mental health help they need. The percentage may be higher among teens-the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports an exponentially increasing suicide rate for teens.

More Problems

It’s not just about cost, either. Unfortunately, in our modern American society there’s an unfortunate negative stigma regarding mental illness that intimidates and therefore discourages those who would otherwise consult a mental health professional.

Another problem arises because our health care system today in the U.S. does not treat mental health as thoroughly as it does physical health. Insurance often doesn’t entirely cover mental health exams or therapy, and those professionals who accept insurance often have to jump through plenty of hoops to get reimbursed by insurance providers.

What’s the use? It’s enough to make anyone want to give up.

Not to worry, here are seven ways you can get the mental health help you need, at minimal to no out-of-pocket cost:

  1. Several private mental health care providers frequently determine their fees by a sliding scale.

Most mental health care providers are very understanding and empathetic. They really want to get you help, and will be willing to negotiate something that works for you.

Some therapists do not accept insurance coverage, but, again, depending on your income (don’t forget your tax return!), you can get quality mental health care for as little as $10 per hour.

It’s not uncommon for professional mental health offices to ask patients how much they can afford, and do their best to work something out. If the office employs has interns or medical student on staff, they may be able to charge even less.

  1. If you have healthcare, find a professional within your network; if not, find a federally-qualified health center near you.

Insurance providers typically have a pool of mental health care professionals they work with, but typically cover at least a significant portion of visits to professionals outside of the company’s local network.

If you don’t have insurance, you can get help at a local social services agency, a student health center if you’re a student, or at other federally-qualified and funded health centers in your community.

If you’re eligible for Medicaid, you might qualify for free therapy (being below a certain income level is what qualifies individuals, so be sure to have documentation from your previous year’s tax return.

Some people try to check themselves into an Emergency Room, but this isn’t the best idea, especially if you don’t have insurance, because you could get stuck with a huge tab. Also, ER’s typically aren’t equipped to counsel individuals and work with them to help improve a mental health situation over an extended period of time. Only look into an ER if you find yourself in the middle of a critical crisis.

States and local communities also may offer fully-, or at least partially-funded mental health services. At the writing of this article, Georgia had become the newest state offering some kind of mental health service for free, via a smart phone app.

And don’t forget about NAMI. The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) has a helpline offering free help 24 hours a day. Simply text NAMI to 741741.

  1. University hospitals employ and train medical students who can work for lower fees, and many of these hospitals are not-for-profit.

Most university medical programs have psychology/psychiatry programs, and most university hospitals offer on-the-job training to medical students, interns, and residents, based on an income-determined sliding scale.

Many state-funded non-profit agencies, and even private agencies offer top notch mental health consultations and therapy at reduced rates for those whose lower incomes qualify them.

  1. Local psychotherapeutic training organizations often provide free consultations for up to two years.

If you’re willing to commit to going to therapy three to five times weekly for up to two years, you can get high quality, thorough mental health treatment by a professional in training, closely supervised, and very focused/specific.

  1. Open Path Psychotherapy Collective is another available option.

Open Path Psychotherapy Collective (OPPC) is a not-for-profit organization that will match what lower- to middle-income individuals and families can pay to get mental health services.  Those who need it can get good care, without hanging their mental health professionals out to dry. Rates range from $35 to $55 dollars per hourly session.

  1. Finally, never give up on yourself. The resources you need are waiting for you.

It may take some patience and due diligence on your part to find the right mental health professional, and in the meantime, your smartphone may be of more benefit to you than you’d thought.

Putting technology to work for good, what’s known as tele-mental health has become an increasingly valuable resource for states and communities to provide mental health care.

Some obstacles exist for the providers in terms of licensing (a provider can’t live in California and consult with someone in Colorado, for example),  but tele-mental health is officially a growing thing, and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Check with your local healthcare network/hospital system to see if they have these services available.

  1. In case of emergency, get yourself to a clinic or call for help.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and if you are in mental health crisis and needing immediate assistance, get to your local community mental health clinic. Such clinics can often offer low-cost therapy, as they are funded from organizations like United Way.

Another available option is to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1.800.273.TALK) if you are prone to harm yourself or someone else. This is another free resource, 100 percent confidential, and available 24 hours a day.

Are you having a hard time finding a mental health professional that you’re comfortable with? Is the stress making your depression and/or anxiety worse? Depression and anxiety are both treatable, and their treatment usually leads to a better night’s sleep. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Can Cooking Help Your Mental Health? 9 Reasons to Try it Out

Can learning how to cook help your mental health?

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“Cooking can help your mental health?” you wonder. Can you really manage your anxiety and/or depression by simply preparing your own meals? After a long day, maybe the last thing you feel like doing is putting together a meal, then having to clean up. But let’s take a closer look at cooking and how it can help your mental health.

For one thing, the process of chopping, stirring, tasting, and even cleaning can be meditative, introspective, calming, and just what you need to clear your mind. Maybe you’ve heard the zen instructive: “When you cook, just cook. When you wash dishes, just wash the dishes.”

Cooking has been described by aficionados as “therapeutic, cleansing, nourishing, centering,” and as “nothing else you will do at any other time of your day.”

Preparing a meal as a therapeutic exercise is also known as culinary therapy, therapeutic cooking, and culinary mindfulness. But at the end of the day, can cooking really help your mental health?

 

 

 

Here are nine reasons you might want to give it a try:

  1. Developing patience.

Patience may or may not be a virtue, but in a world where everyone needs to have everything right this minute, patience can instill a refreshing sense of calm in you. Think of patience as a super power, if you will. It means emotional freedom, allowing you to calmly observe, pause, and know when the ideal time to act is.

  1. Getting organized

    You might start with simple recipes, but eventually, a sense of what flavors go well together will become second nature. You will also learn another level of organization–when you start planning your meals for the week and go to the store, you’ll better know what ingredients you already have in the pantry, which will help you with the grocery budget, eating healthier, and staying organized.

  2. Helping you nurture a healthier relationship with food.

You might not have considered it, but learning how to prepare meals yourself can improve how you think about and approach food and eating. Teaching yourself how to cook not only boosts your confidence, but planning your meals in advance really gives you a victory over that feeling of not knowing what to do when it’s dinnertime.

  1. Exercising your creativity.

You may wonder what is so creative about cooking, but you’ll be surprised. Speaking of creativity, by getting your creative juices flowing, you not only refine those skills, you bolster your own mental health. Try it sometime. Drawing, singing, writing… cooking. You’ll see for yourself why creative people are happier people. As you prepare a meal, regardless of what recipe you’re using, try swapping out different ingredients, like substituting cauliflower for potatoes in this recipe for cauliflower mashed potatoes.

  1. Sparking that sense of accomplishment

Whenever you prepare a meal for yourself or someone else, you set a short-term achievable goal for yourself – then you accomplish it. This is otherwise known as behavioral activation, a method used to treat anxiety and depression by increasing a subject’s proximity to a “payoff” or reward.  Behavioral activation can also be implemented to overcome procrastination with reinforced goal-driven outcomes. You can try out whatever recipe or meal planner fits your skill level and voila! Dinner is served, and your self-esteem is boosted.

  1. Clean, healthy living.

Do you have health goals? Just start out cooking for yourself a couple of nights every week, then work your way up to more. Those who prepare their own meals tend to eat healthier than those who go out to eat more often. Keep in mind that 95 percent of your serotonin (the neurotransmitter that regulates your mood, your pain tolerance level, and your sleep) is generated in your gastrointestinal tract. Eating healthier also improves your mental health.

  1. Control over how you spend your time.

Nothing boosts your self-esteem more than feeling like you’re in control of things. Cooking for yourself will help you manage and allocate your time better, giving you a better sense of having a grip on your day rather than wandering without objectives through it.

  1. Sense of purpose.

You’re now on track to a feeling of purpose, direction, and determination, which is another way to feel more in control of your time and your day. No more wandering to the nearest fast food restaurant to get your dinner through the drive through. You know what you’re doing, and control how your meals come about.

  1. Better budget control.

Eating out less for dinner, and having leftovers ready to take to work the next day will help you keep more of a handle on your finances. It will also save you time and gas because you’ll be driving around less.

The truth is that culinary therapy is being used in treatment methodology for various mental illnesses, including anxiety, depression, ADHD, addiction, and eating disorders–the very process of mindfully preparing a good meal can nourish your psychological well-being.

Taking it a step further, preparing a meal with your partner can smooth communications and teamwork by setting aside differences in order to accomplish a mutual goal. It’s also a chance to work on conflict resolution skills when differences in taste and likes arise. Make it a date night!

Are you anxious about your lack of sleep? Is your lack of sleep making your depression and/or anxiety worse? Depression and anxiety are both treatable, and their treatment usually leads to a better night’s sleep. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

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Does My Bedtime Affect My Mental Health?

Does bedtime affect mental health

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Can your mental health be affected by your bedtime? We all know the age old mandate about “early to bed, early to rise,” and “get your 6-8 hours every night,” and so on, but how much does your bedtime matter?

Beware of sleep deprivation

First, let’s talk about not getting enough sleep and your mental health. It’s common knowledge that sleep deprivation can impact the quality of your mental health and psychological state, as sleep and mental well-being go hand in hand.

Experts will tell you that if you frequently feel sleepy throughout the day or experience what are known as “microsleeps” (i.e., briefly drifting off into a light doze throughout the day, even momentarily), then sleep-deprivation or a sleep disorder may be something you need to look into. Other signs that you’re not getting enough sleep include: trouble falling asleep (i.e., insomnia), not waking up feeling rested, pounding coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks to get through the day, fighting to stay awake while driving or during normal activities like watching a movie, trouble with your memory, waking up in the wee hours of the morning and then having trouble going back to sleep (a.k.a., terminal insomnia).

Some facts about problematic sleep and mental health follow.

  • Problematic sleeping is a sign of depression. Problematic sleep is a common symptom of depression, and it also contributes to it. From 65 to 90 percent of adults (and about 90 percent of children) in the U.S. with clinical depression are likely to have some degree of difficulty getting a good night’s sleep. Usually, the problem is insomnia, but about 20 percent of problematic sleepers have problems with sleep apnea. Hypersomnia (e.g., severe fatigue throughout the day) is also commonly reported by individuals with depression.
  • Concerns regarding sleep are more likely to affect individuals with mental health problems. Ongoing problematic sleep affects between 50 to 80 percent of those with mental disorders and from 10 to 18 percent of adults in the U.S. Treating a sleep disorder may help mitigate the effects of depressive symptoms, and vice versa.
  • Anxiety and problematic sleep are often co-occurring. Disordered sleep affects more than half of adults with generalized anxiety disorder and is also typical among those with bi-polar disorderpanic disorder, phobic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Anxiety can also fuel problematic sleep, taking the form of nightmares and/or insomnia, while sleep deprivation can increase the risk for the individual to develop an anxiety disorder.

Bigger answers for bigger bedtime questions

Now… Here’s a deeper question. If you get enough hours of sleep in, does it matter what time you go to bed?

The human body produces a wide range of molecular processes, including hormone levels and core body temperature, as well as sleeping and waking up. It is impacted by genes as well as many lifestyle factors including exposure to artificial light, jobs, activities, and diet.

A 2018 broad genetics study conducted by researchers at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom reports that individuals who are genetically inclined to wake up early are linked to a greater sense of being content with life, and with a lowered risk for depression and schizophrenia.

The researchers found results indicating that if you’re a “night owl,” chances are good that you could be at greater risk to develop some sort of mental health issue. Night owls have a tendency to constantly push back against their own bodies’ natural clock, which can be exhausting, especially for those who have to be at work or school early in the morning.

Good news for all the evening types out there, however. Though previous research linked poor sleeping habits to a higher risk for obesity and diabetes, this newest research did not find any links between these health issues and body clock genes.

It’s noteworthy that this new research underscores the need for further study of the link between someone’s genetic disposition to being an early versus a late riser and his or her mental health.

So I can just start going to bed earlier, right?

Can you just start going to bed and waking up earlier? Well, it’s not that simple. You have what’s known as a chronotype, also known as your tendency to fall asleep and rise at a certain time, and this is largely determined genetically.

Differences between early and late risers have to do with differences in the ways our brains react to external light signals as well as the normal functioning of our internal clocks. There’s not a lot to be done to change this.

There are some things you can do, however if you’re a night owl and want to get in the habit of hitting the sack earlier in order to arise earlier the next morning. It may take a week or two for your body clock to adapt to the change in schedule.

  • Be consistent. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every night and day.
  • Try going to bed an hour or two earlier, though this may not always be realistic.
  • Do something consistently every single night before bed, like taking a hot shower, brushing your teeth, reading with a dim light on, doing some gentle yoga stretches, or practicing some mindful breathing meditation.
  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine after about 4-6 p.m.
  • Get out into the natural light throughout the day, and get some exercise in (at least 30 minutes) at some point every day. Three 10-minute exercise sessions spread out through the day are just as effective as one 30-minute session.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep; avoid having a desk or keeping a laptop in your room, and avoid using your cellphone right before bed as much as possible.

Are you anxious about your lack of sleep? Is your lack of sleep making your depression and/or anxiety worse? Depression and anxiety are both treatable, and their treatment usually leads to a better night’s sleep. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Can You Treat Mental Illness with Psychedelics?

psychedelic drugs could well be the future of mental illness treatment

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Hallucinogens can provide a treatment solution for mental disorders?

Most people associate psychoactive drugs with hippies from the 60s, with all night rave party goers, perhaps with music festivals like Burning Man, or with burnout slacker cult heroes from TV shows and movies (Remember Jeff Bridges’ line from The Big Lebowski? When asked what he does for “recreation,” he mumbles something about how he likes to “Bowl… drive around..       . [and enjoy] the occasional acid flashback…”).

In the not too distant future, however, hallucinogenic substances may be a go-to method for mental health professionals as they help their patients working through mental health issues such as social anxiety and grief to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

Like the majority of antidepressant medications, hallucinogens affect how the brain utilizes serotonin, the brain chemical relevant to memory, sleep, and mood. Different from antidepressants, however, hallucinogens appear to change how different parts of the brain communicate with one other – that may be why many individuals who have taken hallucinogens take away a “significantly altered sense of self,” not to mention an increased degree of “open-mindedness.”

Powerful tools

Psychoactive drugs are among the most powerful substances known, and can have potent effects on the central nervous system. Like any powerful tool, they can be either hazardous or of benefit. If they are administered properly and monitored, they have shown potential to be extremely beneficial.

Research into psychedelics

According to researchers, when combined appropriately with psychotherapy, psychedelics such as MDMA (ecstasy), LSD, psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”), and ayahuasca have been known to improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Research continues to help us better understand the possible benefits of these substances, while psychologists help bring awareness to any possibly related cultural, ethical, and clinical questions associated with using them.

MDMA. Another study’s findings reflect that symptoms of social anxiety in autistic adults may be manageable with a combination of MDMA and psychotherapy. The results of the MDMA and psychotherapy treatments showed positive results for months, and even years in some cases, for the majority of the research subjects. Notably, social anxiety, which is common among autistic adults, has seen few if any effective treatment options.

LSD,  psilocybin, and ayahuasca. Research studies have also delved into how people coping with depression, anxiety, and eating disorders may benefit from psychotherapy coupled with monitored doses of LSD, psilocybin, and ayahuasca.

In one study, participants discussed past experiences with hallucinogens, in terms of their relationship with their emotions, and their spirituality. The use of psychedelics was reported by the vast majority of participants to be associated with greater levels of spirituality, leading to enhanced emotional stability, and subsequently fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, and disordered eating.

More on ayahuasca. Other research studies have indicated that the use of ayahuasca has shown increases in generosity, spiritual connection, and altruistic feelings; the use of ayahuasca has also been tied to the relief of depression along with mitigating addictive behaviors, as well as relieving stress for those dealing with trauma.

Other landmarks:

  • In December 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved plans for the third phase of a clinical trial testing MDMA in the treatment of PTSD. The study is expected to document the treatment experiences of over 200 people over the course of two to three years.
  • That same month, a research team at Johns Hopkins University released results of a study that tested psilocybin in a group of cancer patients who showed signs of depression and anxiety. High doses, around two to three times a typical recreational dosage, significantly reduced these symptoms, and four out of five continued on with significant overall decreases in depressed mood and anxiety six months later.
  • In studies of the effects of ketamine (also known as “Special K”) on severe depression, patients typically get ketamine either through an IV or a nasal mist about once a week, in a clinic under strict medical supervision. In some participants, ketamine can ease depressive symptoms in a matter of a few hours.

The times, they are a changin’

This new research coincides with a time when social and political attitudes toward drugs are shifting immensely.

The prevalent abuse of prescription opioid painkillers is framed more as a public health issue than as a law enforcement issue, and in the meantime, an increasing number of states are legalizing medical and even recreational marijuana.

Members of Congress asked the Drug Enforcement Administration to hold off on plans to make the herbal supplement kratom illegalscientists claim that kratom may be useful to treat addiction and chronic pain.

Researchers tell us that we are still “newcomers and amateurs” in our understanding of how hallucinogens may help. What all the studies are meant to help researchers understand is how permanent changes to the brain’s functioning may be, and how such changes might help those with depression, anxiety, and addiction.

There are currently hundreds of research projects underway, and to date, there is no known research that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has rejected or put the brakes on. Furthermore, the DEA has also been having talks with researchers and mental health professionals about streamlining the agency’s approval process.

Curious about better ways to address your own depression and/or anxiety? Both are treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

8 Things You Can Do to Boost Your Mental Health in 2019

8 things you can do to bolster your mental health in 2019

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Life changes are coming, as with every new year. Now with the holidays behind us, it’s time to take on 2019. Problems getting started? You want this year to be different, but you are not sure what to do? No worries.

Let’s get away from any nomenclature having to do with “resolutions” for the new year. Resolutions are easily forgotten, you get discouraged not too long after the new year, and then what? You’re going to wait until next January to start up with improving yourself? You can get a grip on your depression, anxiety, what have you.

Goals, not New Year’s Resolutions

You don’t need a new year, or a new week, even to start working on yourself. How about starting out by setting some short and long-term goals? It may seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to start big. Maybe you want to get better at stress management, or incorporate a more healthy lifestyle. Personal growth is the key, so remember, to just keep moving forward!

One of the best things you can do to help bolster your mental health is to be prepared for and to anticipate change. Our ability to cope with and deal with changes that life throws at us determines in large part how well-adjusted we are, and how proficient we are at problem solving.

Once you get rolling and in the habit of setting and accomplishing goals, you’ll be unstoppable. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t ever give up on yourself. One step at a time. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  1. Be ProactiveProactive is a bit of a buzzword, and it is usually associated with something positive. Think of proactive (ahead, in front) versus reactive (afterward). See where you can “work ahead” on things at home, at work/school. If you’re a procrastinator, practicing the art of proactivity can get you out of just about any funk. Set a goal to not just meet the bare minimum, just in the nick of time, but get as far ahead of the curve as you can. Get that assignment done a week early. File that paperwork before the deadline. Set up that appointment when you have an extra 5 minutes on your lunch break. You’ll feel better about life, about yourself, and about your abilities.
  2. Get Organized. Which brings us to getting organized. Entering a space that is organized and tidy has a much more positive effect on your mental health than walking in to a messy space has. One is inspiring, while the latter is depressing and unsettling. Watch some YouTube videos and read some books if you need to, but start working on the habit of staying organized. Ever seen Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix?
  3. Watch What You Eat, Exercise, and Get Your Sleep. Taking care of your body has a huge impact on your mental health, though healthy eating, getting exercise, and getting adequate sleep (healthy living) are often overlooked. Avoid junk food, eat only wholefoods, more protein, fewer carbs, and in smaller portions. Exercise for at least 20-30 minutes, five times weekly. Get 6-8 hours of sleep every night. Get these things down, and you’ll be well on your way to being better able to manage your mental health effectively.
  4. Pick up a New Hobby, Learn a New Skill, Improve One of Your Talents. Maybe you think hobbies are too “old school” for you. You can develop your mind, ease stress, learn to breathe meditatively, etc., when engaging yourself in some pastime that interests you. Do you have a creative side? Take a class in watercolor painting. Do you like music? Have you ever thought of taking up the guitar or piano? Developing a hobby, skill, or talent will help lift your mood, and increase your self-confidence.
  5. Reign in Your Use of Technology.Excessive time on electronic devices, chatting, posting, gaming, etc. has been shown to be tied in with feelings of depression, low self-esteem, suicidal ideation, negative self talk, etc. Have you ever thought of taking a break for a week or two from Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter? Why not give it a try? You may feel more liberated than you ever thought possible.
  6. Build Up a Reserve.  Research shows that investing time into quiet, introspective activities, like mindful meditation, can be a great help for mental health. Mindfulness practice also helps you build up a reserve of inner strength and groundedness to help you cope with any kind of future challenges you may find yourself facing.
  7. Get in the Habit of Telling Yourself Positive Things.It should come as no surprise that the way you think about yourself can have a huge effect on how you feel. Get in the habit of using words in your self-talk that reinforce feelings of self-worth and personal power. For instance, instead of saying: “I’m such a loser. I won’t get the award because I blew it writing my essay,” say something more like, “I didn’t do as well on my essay as I was hoping, but that doesn’t mean I won’t get the award.”
  8. Start a Gratitude Journal.Expressing gratitude and remembering the things you have to be thankful for have been unmistakably linked with a healthier sense of well-being, happiness, and mental health. Start a journal if you don’t already have one, and write down three things every day that you are grateful for. Think on them every day, and let them soak in. How does it feel?  Pretty good, right?

Now for a great year. Here’s to your mental health and winning 2019!

Gearing up for a great 2019? If you’ve ever struggled with mental illness or low self-esteem, now is the perfect time to address mental health issues. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

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A Surefire Remedy for Your Depression: 7 Things to look forward to in 2019

7 things to look forward to in 2019!

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Things to look forward to in 2019.  Depression is known to be so emotionally draining in part due to the fact that those who suffer from it feel permanently and chronically “stuck,” with nothing new to look forward to on the horizon. Sound familiar?

The late comedian George Burns once quipped that his secret to feeling young was to “have something to look forward to when he woke up every morning.” If you’ve been dealing with the holiday blues, or if you deal with mental illness issues like anxiety and/or depression regularly, perhaps you’ve been thinking that now that the holidays are over, that it’s January 2019, and that there’s nothing but grey days in store for the next couple of months. But think again.

It’s interesting to hear so many people diss on a year that’s coming to a close, without thinking about all the great things that happened. Think of all the people you know who have grumbled something along the lines of, “Wow, 2018 was terrible. I can’t wait for the new year!”

Remember that it’s always better to be grateful than to be a critic. Here are just a few of the great milestones we saw in 2018:

What’s to Look Forward to?

To help you keep some “big picture” perspective for the new year, from tech, science, movies, social change, following are some things we can all look forward to in 2019.

  1. The world is (most likely) not going to end. Hey, there’s a break! A few years ago it was predicted that an asteroid was going to pass by the Earth in 2019 with a minor chance of crashing into us (which would have been nothing short of utterly catastrophic). NASA, however, has officially declared that such a collision with earth will not occur, and that the asteroid will not fly by as closely as initially predicted. In fact, it will be pass by us over 2.5 million miles farther away. Sorry YouTube conspiracy-mongers.
  2. Five eclipses. Remember the 2017 eclipse that went all across North America? South America and South Asia will now have a turn at amazing eclipse views. July 2, 2019 will show us a complete solar eclipse over southern Chile and Argentina, as well as over parts of the South Pacific. On December 26, the day after Christmas, another total eclipse will head across the Arabian Peninsula and then over areas of South Asia. All in all, the world will enjoy five eclipses in 2019, some solar and some lunar.
  3. 2019 Women’s World Cup. The FIFA Women’s World Cup, will take place in June through July 2019 in France, whose men’s team happened to win the 2018 World Cup. The U.S. Women’s National Team returns as the event’s reigning champions from the 2015 World Cup in Canada. Not a soccer fan, but prefer rugby instead? The Men’s Rugby World Cup is set to happen in Japan in September.
  4. A world printed in 3D. 3D printing hit the stage as just a seemingly nerdy passing fad. 2019 is anticipated to be the year 3D printing really takes off. Think 3D bioprinting for medicine/healthcare, more precise, sophisticated 3D industrial metal printingwhich has the capacity to revolutionize manufacturing and more user-friendly 3D printing for hobbyists. Xerox is getting into 3D printing, developing a home 3D printer this year.
  5. A $100 million Fortnite gaming tournament. If you’ve never heard of the game called Fortnite, here is a great way to become better acquainted. There isa large Epic Games Fortnite tournament coming in 2019 with a winner’s pot of $100 million. Anyone with a gaming console, lots of attitude, and skills can join in. Qualifying brackets have already begun, but qualifications will go on through the better part of the year before the big tournament begins.
  6. Lots of highly anticipated movies! Get ready for the blockbusters you’ve been waiting for at the theaters, including “Avengers: Endgame,” “Captain Marvel,” “Joker,” “The Lion King,” “Aladdin,” “Dumbo,” “Frozen 2,” and of course, “Star Wars: Episode IX.”
  7. New Star Wars park at Disneyland and Disney World. Speaking of being strong with the Force,both Disney theme parks are opening the highly anticipated new Star Wars-themed areas of their parks in the fall of 2019. “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” will include 14 acres of all kinds of exciting activities, rides, and restaurants Star Wars fans of all ages. We’ll get a first in-person glimpse at the Star Wars galaxy’s planet Batuu, along with enough galactic riff-raff to make George Lucas himself proud.

So, there you have just a taste of what there is to be excited about coming your way next year. Which brings us back to George Burns. Another piece of sage advice he left behind for us involves an old saying, “Life begins at 40.” George Burns’ take? “…That’s silly. Life begins every morning you wake up.” Here’s wishing you a great 2019!

Concerned about your own depression and/or anxiety? Both are treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

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8 Ways to Keep Family Members From Ruining Your Holidays

avoid family drama during the holidays

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You can avoid family conflict during the holidays (or at least minimize it).  Avoiding family drama during the Christmas/holiday season can be a bit of an art, but it is certainly something you can manage. And well.

Imagine: One person (or one person’s wife) ends up resentfully doing most of the organizing, cooking, and work, while another relative imbibes too much and blurts out a dark secret, and then another relative’s child throws an unbearable tantrum. Any single one of these occurrences, not to mention a combination of several, can be all it takes to ruin yet another annual family holiday gathering.

The holidays tend to be stressful for just about anyone. Combine this stress with the fact that some individuals can be thoughtless, inconsiderate, nitpicky, irritating, and sometimes outright spiteful. Worse, many such individuals (yes, including your own family members) never own their own behavior, and really don’t care how hurtful, problematic, or careless with the feelings of others they may be. It is always “someone else’s fault.”

Holiday stress + wanton emotionally reckless behavior. It makes quite the combination, and it’s enough to make everyone else hate the holidays, hate getting the family together, and wish they could fast forward the clock past New Year’s.

 

What Drives it All?

What are some of the dynamics that create an atmosphere ripe for familial holiday conflict? Let’s look at a few:

  • “Short fuses.”A family member (or members) prone to angry outbursts that are typically disproportionate to the situation or to the initial trigger (“I said NO PECANS!! Why can’t you do ANYTHING right???”).
  • Opinionated individuals tend to be extremely rigid in their thinking, suspicious without reason, unwilling to concede anything, or seemingly just defiant and argumentative for the sake of it (“I know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t agree with me, you’re an idiot!”).
  • Attention hogs. You know him or her. The family member who needs to be the center of attention at all times, who sometimes acts out when offended at feeling left out of any conversations, outings, events, or what have you.
  • The buzzkills. Then there are the family members around whom you feel ever physically and emotionally drained, or worse yet, you feel agitated, anxious, unsettled, or upset.
  • The martyrs. A relative who loves to play the victim, or who feels entitled to receive special treatment. Vindication for perceived injustices and having unreasonable demands met are the sought-after prize for these individuals. All at the expense of others, of course. (“One day you’ll be sorry when I’m gone!”)
  • The wound collectors. Fixates on past offenses, slights, mistakes/flaws of others, and is ever ready to bring them back up at the drop of a hat. No forgiveness or forgetting. No peace.
  • Irresponsible speech and behavior. A family member who always seems to irritate or hurt others’ feelings, as if the negligent perpetrator feels no obligation whatsoever to “turn on the filter” (“I tell it like it is!”).
  • The never-ending family feud. Not nearly as fun as the game show, family feuds among your relatives may be brief outbursts that last a few minutes, or that maybe go on for hours, days, even weeks and months with minimal effort (or even desire) to reconcile or end them.
  • Feelings of unhappiness, of being emotionally drained, edginess, lack of fulfillment, worthlessness, etc.You “walk on eggshells,” around the family get-together, constantly on your toes to avoid the next incident that will embarrass you or leave you feeling hurt.

The first thing you should do is recognize that none of this is your imagination. Such individuals may act reasonably one day, but that doesn’t mean you should simply ignore such flagrantly bad habits and behaviors, especially when they hurt you or others. These people need help, and should seek out a professional who can help them become more aware of their behavior and manage it better. Meanwhile, you still have to protect yourself. Remember, such incidents can serve as a trigger to set off your own mental illness.

Mind your own boundaries

Here are some suggestions regarding what you can do when dealing with such bad behavior from family members and to help avoid family drama during Christmas break or any other time of year:

  1. This is no time for therapy. Remember that family time at the holidays is not the time for a therapy session. That is for professionals to handle in private at another appropriate time. Don’t let your holiday cheer be robbed by going for the bait and ending up being drawn into drama that you don’t want.
  2. Set boundaries. Without being too exacting, determine ahead of time what you will and won’t tolerate. You may have to separate yourself from the group or not attend at all if things start to head south. Do not ease up on your boundaries until inconsiderate behaviors change (e.g., if dinner is scheduled at 6, then start at 6. Latecomers will just be late. No attention hogs, no dramatic entrances, no shows of dominance, etc.). You are under no obligation whatsoever to be victimized.
  3. See reality for what it is. Words matter little if there is no action behind it to back it up. Don’t just write off hurtful behaviors.
  4. Taboo topics. Get a consensus up front regarding what everyone else is willing to discuss and not discuss (e.g., religion, politics). These discussions can tend to bring out the worst in people.
  5. Taboo behaviors. Some individuals revert to coping mechanisms/behaviors such as binge drinking in order to create a divide in the group, antagonize, or irritate others, and such antics should be squelched beforehand. You can set the rules in your house, but if you and your family are elsewhere, don’t join in to the discord.
  6. Call for help if you need to. If someone gets violent or draws a weapon (especially after drinking/drugging), don’t even hesitate to call the police.
  7. Safety is not a guarantee. Just because you are with family does not mean you are emotionally/physically/psychologically safe. Watch out for yourself and avoid/avert anything or anyone who might do you harm.
  8. Plan on having a good time together! Don’t give audience to someone in the group who insists on hijacking the rest of the group and “holding them hostage.” Don’t give something unsavory a life by giving it your attention. Focus on creating positive memories together with your loved ones.

Awkward and unhappy family moments do happen, even with the best intentions, so don’t feel like you’ve failed if a family holiday get-together goes awry. Be polite, be loving, but be firm in taking care of yourself.

Holidays with the family got you down? It may not be just a case of the “holiday blues.” Depression and anxiety are treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about family dysfunction or 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.

25 Quotes About Depression to Help You Through the Holidays

holiday-depression

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Depression during the holiday season is a very real thing. Though the holidays are thought of as a time of sharing, family, and celebration, for many individuals, the holidays can be emotionally exhausting.

Contrary to popular belief, the months of November and December sport the lowest suicide rates, and that’s a good thing, though depression may occur at any time of the year. Holiday depression and stress from November through New Year’s can bring back painful memories, reminders of feeling alone, not to mention the rest of the typical holiday rigmarole.

Some noteworthy statistics:

  • 56 percent of those surveyed reported increased stress at work, but only 29 percent experienced greater stress at home.
  • 38 percent said their stress levels inevitably spike during the holiday season, with the main suspects including: shortages of time and money, excessive commercialism, pressures of gift-giving, and the often stress that comes with family get-togethers.
  • Most individuals surveyed spoke of high spirits, love, togetherness, and happiness, though they also complained about fatigue, sadness, irritability, and eating and drinking too much, which causes bloating.

Do you get stressed during the holidays? Does it make your mental illness feel worse? Coping with mental health issues can be difficult enough in its own right, but keeping it all to yourself will only make it more difficult.  

With celebrities like comedian Pete Davidson and musician/actress Lady Gaga appearing in recent news about their open discussions related to their depression and other mental health issues, we hope you’ll enjoy some quotes by some famous (and also some by not-so-famous) individuals. These quotes offer thoughts and insights into facing and talking openly about mental illness to give you some perspective and help you through the holidays.

“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have the right to be here.” — Max Ehrmann from “Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life.”

“Even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there.” — Stephen Chbosky 

“Don’t let your struggle become your identity. Your illness does not define you. Your strength and courage do.” –Unknown

“This feeling will pass. The fear is real but the danger is not.”― Cammie McGovern

“Depression doesn’t take away your talents; it just makes them harder to find. But I always find it. I learned that my sadness never destroyed what was great about me. You just have to go back to that greatness, find that one little light that’s left.” — Lady Gaga

“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside — remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.”— Charles Bukowski

“Mental health…is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.” – Noam Shpancer

“Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.” –Unknown

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.” – Abraham Lincoln

“About a third of my cases are suffering from no clinically definable neurosis, but from the senselessness and emptiness of their lives. This can be defined as the general neurosis of our times.” – Carl Jung

“Remember that you were given this life because you’re strong enough to live it.” –– Unknown

“It’s never overreacting to ask for what you want and need.” ― Amy Poehler

“Now that I was famous, I was afraid I would never find somebody again to love me for me. I was afraid of making new friends. Then one day my mom said: ‘Why do you think a person wouldn’t love you? Don’t you know how smart and sweet and beautiful you are?’ That’s when I decided I only have two choices: I can give up, or I can go on.” Beyoncé

“Self-help gurus are constantly telling us that we can get anything we want through the ‘power of positive thinking.’ This is an unrealistic and potentially damaging message, I think. By contrast, meditation is a doable, realistic, scientifically researched way to get significantly happier, calmer, and nicer.” Dan Harris

“Normal is a setting on the washing machine.” — Unknown

“I have never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed. Never. What’s to be ashamed of? I went through a really rough time, and I am quite proud that I got out of that.”
J.K. Rowling

“I take medication daily and have for many years. I also try to exercise a lot, because there’s some evidence that exercise lessens the symptoms of anxiety, and I try to use the strategies that I’ve learned in cognitive behavioral therapy to cope with my illness. But it’s a chronic illness and it hasn’t, like, gone into remission or anything for me. It’s something I live with, something that I’ve integrated into my life. And we all have to integrate stuff into our lives, whether it’s mental illness or physical disability or whatever. There is hope. There is treatment. You are not alone, and while I know the struggle feels at times completely hopeless and futile, there is a far shore for the vast majority of people, and I wish you the best.” John Green

“You’re only given a spark of madness and you mustn’t lose it.” Robin Williams

“Every struggle in your life has shaped you into the person you are today. Be thankful for the hard times, they can only make you stronger.” Keanu Reeves

“My depression and my ego are two things that I treat equally, just like this, where I go, ‘{gentle parent voice} Oh, here you go, what do you want now? Alright, ok, I’m not gonna give you that, but we’ll do this, how about that? Is that reasonable?” George Saunders said when you deny a fault in yourself you’ve made it ten times more powerful. AND now you have two faults: the fault you had and the lie you’re telling yourself about it.” — Patton Oswalt

“The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die.”― Juliette Lewis

There’s no need to be perfect to inspire others. Let people get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections. Ziad K. Abdelnour

Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You can not withstand the storm.’
The warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.’ ” — Unknown

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow.” Vincent van Gogh  

Keep in mind that a “come-and-go” case of the holiday blues is not the same thing as a serious case of depression, which may require help with a certified mental health professional. If you’re having a hard time shaking off the holiday blues come January and February, seek help.

Is your depression turning out to be more than just a case of the “holiday blues?”Depression 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.

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.