Say Cheese! The Effect of Smiling at Others

You are probably familiar with the effects of smiling on your own mind and body. From living a better and longer life to appearing more approachable and confident, from reducing the risk of certain serious diseases to releasing hormones that help decrease stress levels, the benefits of smiling are plentiful.

But are you aware of the effect of a smile on others? Yes, when you smile, the people around you can benefit from it, too.

Let’s shed light on why you should smile for the sake of your own happiness as well as that of others. Are you ready to smile more often?

Triggering Positive Feelings

Countless studies have shown that the very act of seeing another person smile triggers an automatic muscular response that produces a smile on our face. Yes, smiling is contagious, and science has demonstrated that time and time again.

When someone else smiles at us, regardless of whether we know them or not, it automatically lifts our mood. We can’t help but smile back, in an act that is almost involuntary, but which releases a wealth of benefits that we might not even be aware of.

The main one? A waterfall of positive, happy feelings. If we felt like we started our day in the wrong way, seeing someone smile at us will inevitably make us feel better.

All of a sudden, our day won’t look that terrible anymore—thanks to the power of someone else’s smile.

Because smiling back at someone is an automatic act (if you don’t do it, it’s normally because you are actively choosing not to), we are now reaping all those great, feel-good benefits that we would if we were the ones initiating the smiling.

Promoting Better Health for Everyone

Smiling at and with other people — whether they be friends and family or complete strangers that we come across on the street — also releases a host of great hormones in our bodies, which enhance everyone’s health. Stress levels are lowered, thus reducing any related chance of inflammation and pain.

And did you know that by decreasing inflammation, you also help prevent some of the root causes of serious diseases, such as cancer and heart disease?

Smiling more and smiling at other people can have such an incredible ripple effect, helping to make you and others around you lead healthier and longer lives.

Making Others Feel Rewarded

What other emotion would you say you feel if someone smiles at you? Besides happiness, calmness, and improved mood, another feeling triggered by a smile is a sense of feeling fulfilled and content.

It turns out that this is not just the psychology of smiling, but it has some medical and physical cause. Several scientific studies have noticed that when someone smiles at us, the part of our brain that controls feelings of reward is activated.

Yes, you’ve read it right: if we receive a smile, we may feel like we have been given a beautiful prize. And, of course, this feeling generates other positive sensations, which in turn continue to produce positive effects on our minds and bodies.

Facilitating Good Relationships

Picture this scenario. You are a student, on their first day at a new school, feeling understandably nervous, shy, and a bit lonely. You sit at your desk and start looking around at your new school mates, who are sitting all around you.

Some of them are greeting you with a smile, others are ignoring you, and another group is staring at you without smiling. Which ones will you be speaking to first, hoping to create some new friendships?

Correct: the ones who are smiling at you. In any situation, but particularly in those that might make us feel uneasy and anxious, we are drawn to bond with people who show us that they are friendly, approachable, and interested in getting to know us.

In this specific example, the students who are smiling at you are also very likely to be the ones who start a conversation and end up involving you in their lives and wanting to become a part of your life. In a nutshell, they are the ones who are going to become your friends.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you won’t ever be able to make friends with people who don’t smile at you! It means that it might take a little bit longer, as your guard might be up and you might be feeling more uncertain if you were in a relationship with them.

The Effect of Smile on Others: A Powerful Tool for Greater Wellbeing

As we have discussed, smiling is not just a wonderful way to stay happy, positive, and healthy. It also creates a ripple effect on the people around you, who reap some pretty amazing benefits from such a simple and daily act.

The effect of a smile on others is so powerful that you should really consider smiling more, and at more people, regardless of whether you know them or not.

By smiling at others, you can contribute to their happiness and their health can make them feel rewarded and create strong and long-lasting bonds and relationships.

Are you feeling like you don’t have any reason to smile at the moment? This might be a symptom of something more serious going on. Why not get in touch with us and see if we can help you?

Wraparound Services in Mental Health

Mental health wraparound services are a wonderful way for the mental health care community to care for children who experience mental health or behavioral challenges and their families.

This innovative approach brings people together and provides all parties involved with the support they need and to ensure that all the needs of the family and child are met so that mental health and behavioral goals can be met, too.

In the past, mental health issues in children were traditionally treated using a science-based, counseling-focused approach only. This still works for some children in crisis, but it doesn’t work for everyone.

Wraparound services symbolize a movement towards a new kind of aid for youth. Through these methods, the focus is not only on the child but on the child’s entire family. It builds on the goals and strengths of the family unit to help the child and, in turn, the entire family.

Read on to learn more.

Families Need Wraparound Services

Many young people and their families today face countless challenges. Sadly, many homes and families in our country today experience issues like poverty, family disharmony, unemployment, illness and disease, lack of food, violence in neighborhoods, domestic violence, and so much more.

These challenges can be overwhelming when faced one at a time, but many families experience more than one simultaneously.

When, on top of that, a child experiences mental or behavioral health challenges as well, it may seem impossible to move forward. Facing and overcoming these difficulties may seem insurmountable for some.

Wraparound services recognize that families face many challenges every day. This method of care also recognizes that all families have their own goals and strengths.

These should be embraced and harnessed to help the family thrive together as one, which will help the child who experiences behavioral or mental health challenges in countless ways.

Who Is Eligible for Wraparound Services?

Participation in a wraparound services program is optional and voluntary. In most cases, a mental health professional who is already familiar with the child’s issues, family, and needs will identify the need for a wraparound services plan.

Families eligible for this type of program include a child who has mental health or behavioral issues that interfere with the functioning of the family or participation in school or community activities.

Often, the child is already at risk of being placed in a residential psychiatric treatment facility.

The goal of wraparound services is to keep the child in the home with his or her family.

How Wraparound Services Work

The process of engaging a family in a wraparound services program is simple. The length of time each family will use these services varies and will differ from family to family and situation to situation. However, the process is linear for all participants.

Step One: Determine Needs

Once it is apparent that a family could benefit from wraparound services and all parties agree to give it a try, a team is assembled to facilitate the delivery of services.

Each team will have a coordinator to work with the child and the family to determine what the family needs. All family members will have a voice in the process. The coordinator will make sure all participants are on board with changes and decisions.

Step Two: Create a Plan

After discussing the family’s needs, the coordinator will reconvene with the support team to create a plan.

This plan will be based not only on the needs of the family but on the strengths of each member as well. It will also incorporate the use of community-based mental health services to offer support.

Step Three: Evaluate and Adjust the Plan as Needed

In order to reach the child’s goals, the plan will then be put into action. The family and the team will meet on a very regular basis to review the plan and to discover what is working well and what is not.

If the plan is not working, the team will develop new strategies to help the family and their child.

Step Four: Success and Transition

This process will continue until progress on the child’s goals is evident. Once the intended outcomes are reached on a regular and ongoing basis, the family can begin to transition out of the wraparound services program.

Benefits of Wraparound Service Programs

It’s clear that wraparound service programs can be a great help to families with children in behavioral or mental health crises. The benefits of this sort of comprehensive care are numerous and immense.

Many families embrace this type of program because it focuses on the strengths of the family and on the strengths of each individual family member.

It gives everyone in the family a voice and an opportunity to participate in finding solutions and in reaching both short and long-term goals.

Further, wraparound service programs are outcome-based. Although services like counseling and support groups are undoubtedly vital components in mental health treatment, the lack of clear, concrete, visible outcomes can be challenging for many.

On the other hand, wraparound service programs set solid, attainable, achievable goals, and when they are reached it is clear to everyone involved.

Most importantly, wraparound services are personalized. The administration of these services takes a big step away from the one-size-fits-all style of treatment. It takes into account the family’s needs, culture, resources, and preferences, and helps to create independence, confidence, and stability in the families that voluntarily choose to participate.

Wraparound Services Empower Families

As you can see, wraparound services can be very helpful and powerful to families who need them. No family wants to have to send their child away for inpatient care if it can be avoided.

Wraparound services are an intervention that, in many cases, keeps that from happening.

They allow families to play an active role in helping their children to overcome the mental health and behavioral obstacles they face. It’s likely that wraparound services will become more common and widespread moving forward from here.

If you believe your family may be one that is a candidate for wraparound services in San Diego, please contact us. The helpful staff at Solara can help lead you in the right direction to get the help that you need.

Blending Food With Mood: How Eating Right Affects Mental Health

eating right affects mental health

Mental health, particularly depression, is a global concern. Despite an increase in mental disorder treatment, the illness is increasing rather than decreasing, more common in young people. The 20th Century has witnessed a dietary shift globally. There’s an increase in the consumption of snacks, sugars, high-energy, and takeaway foods. On the other hand, the use of fiber-dense and nutrients foods is declining.

As we always say, what we eat affects not just our physical health but our mental health and wellbeing too. Our brain takes care of our thoughts, our physical movements, breathing, and senses. It works continuously 24/7, which means your mind requires premium fuel. Our food is fuel for our brain, and hence what we eat directly affects the function of our brain and, ultimately, our mood. Eating high-quality foods loaded with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants nourish our brain and protect from oxidative stress.

Food = Mood

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our appetite, sleep, moods, and inhibit pain. Fact, 95% of our serotonin is produced from our gastrointestinal tract, and it is lined with a million neurons or nerve cells. The inner workings don’t just help digest food but guide our emotions.

The billions of good bacteria influence the function of neurons and serotonin production. These good bacteria make up our intestinal microbiome. These bacteria protect our intestines lining and creates a strong barrier against toxins and limit inflammation, improve how well nutrients are absorbed and activate neural pathways that travel between the gut and the brain.

Studies reveal that when people intake probiotics, their stress perception, anxiety levels, and mental health improve as compared to people who did not take probiotics. Other studies have shown that traditional diets like the Japanese or Mediterranean diet have shown that the depression risk is 25% to 35% lower compared to the modern diet.

how eating right affects mental health

These traditional diets are high in fruits, vegetables, unprocessed grains, seafood, and fish and moderate amounts of lean meats and dairy. Sugar is considered a significant reason for inflammation and feeds harmful bacteria in the GI tract. It also causes a temporary spike in dopamine, a “feel good” neurotransmitters. This results in a fleeting sugar rush followed by a crash that breaks down your mood.

While sticking to healthy food, you face fewer mood fluctuations, a happier outlook, and an improved concentration. To sum up, good food = a good mood!

What type of food should you pick?

So, what should you put on your plate? Here’s a quick overview of what food you need to put in your cart.

  • Whole foods: Food colorings, preservatives, and other additives may induce or worsen hyperactivity and depression. Remember to eat real food or minimally process food. Think of fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • Fiber: Fiber helps your body absorb glucose or food sugars, helping you avoid sugar crashes. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans are rich in fiber.
  • Antioxidants: They are called inflammation fighters. They are commonly found in leafy green, vegetables, berries, turmeric, Omega-3 fatty acids, salmon, and black chia seeds. Dark chocolate is also rich in antioxidants but indulges in moderation.
  • Folate: Folate helps with dopamine production without forcing sugars in the body. You can find them in lentils, greens, and cantaloupes.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D is essential in the production of serotonin, and we get it from sunlight. However, reishi, cordyceps, and maitake mushrooms are a good source of Vitamin D.
  • Magnesium: They take care of everything from muscle and nerve function to keeping heartbeat steady. But it’s also essential for the food-mood connection. A magnesium deficiency can hurt your gut bacteria and cause depression. Find them in dark chocolate, almonds, cashews, spinach, leafy vegetables, beans, and bananas.
  • Fermented Foods: Fermented food are loaded with probiotics- live bacteria good for your GI tract. They are hidden in kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha. These foods are also high in sodium, so consume in moderation or avoid them if you have high blood pressure.

What do you need to do?

Start paying attention to your diet. What are you eating? How are different foods impacting your mood? Try switching to a clean diet for a few weeks—which means cutting out sugar and processed foods. You can add fermented foods or try going dairy-free or grain-free. See how you feel. You can slowly introduce new superfoods in your diet accordingly.

Incorporating functional foods in your diet can be a little challenging in the beginning, but you can prepare a week meal. Inrush, you can use frozen or canned vegetables minus the salt, whole-grain couscous, or quinoa. You can switch from white rice, bread, or pasta for whole-grain versions. And replace a bag of chips, pick a side salad packed with seeds, nuts, and colorful vegetables. It may take some adjustment but it is essential that you do whatever it takes to help your mental health so that you can live a healthy, happy, and productive life.

 

Inheriting Mental Disorders

In the research of finding causes of mental disorders, scientists are connecting the dots at genetic factors. Often, we get the compliment that we look like our parents. We might have their mannerisms, physique, cleverness, attitude, or physical features. But does it relate to the fact that my parents are the reason for my anger or anxiety? Is it because I suffered a tragic loss of my brother in the growing years? Or is it written into my DNA?

The fact is, if a family member has a mental disorder, the chance of an individual having a mental disorder is higher. Even though mental illness is inherited, there may be differences in the symptoms among family members sharing the disease.

One person might have a mild case, while others will have a severe case. However, mental illness does not follow a pattern of inheritance.

Mental health is sometimes a difficult topic to talk about. Those who deal with it always looks out for a reason to avoid the discussion. 

Mental illness is not about a single gene but a collection of genes. According to a recent study, the chances of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder being carried down through family members depend on the type of mental illness and severity. See the table below-

 

  Schizophrenia Bipolar
Lifetime chance (the chance of someone in the general population developing the condition during their lifetime) 1 in 100 Bipolar
If one of your biological parents has the condition 13 in 100 2-30 in 100
If both of your biological parents have the condition 45 in 100 15 in 100
If your brother or sister has the condition 9 in 100 50 in 100
If your identical twin has the condition 40-50 in 100 40 – 70 in 100
If your non-identical twin has the condition 10-15 in 100 20  in 100
If a second degree relative has the condition (for example, your aunt, uncle or grandparent) 3 in 100 5 in 100

 

Always remember the chances of not developing a mental illness even though it runs in your family is high, then chances of developing one. The table clarifies that the chances of not developing bipolar are 97 out of 100. That’s on the positive side.

Source: https://www.rethink.org/advice-and-information/carers-hub/does-mental-illness-run-in-families/

 

The Intersection Of Mental Illness And Inheritance

  • Epigenetic Regulation: This affects how a person perceives and reacts to environmental patterns and may contribute to mental disorder. Epigenetics is not a constant one. It goes on and off over time — a right combination of epigenetic regulation and environmental factors are responsible for a mental disorder to develop.
  • Genetic Polymorphisms: Polymorphisms found in our DNA make us unique as an individual. It alone may not lead you to mental illness. However, the combination of many specific polymorphisms and environmental factors can lead to the development of a mental disorder.

For example, in addiction, genetics plays a significant role in knowing whether someone is likely to develop an addiction or not. But there are a lot of other things that one should consider–like the environment, mental health history in your family, and complications you might have. Parents who have experiences with mental disorders in the past can help children equipped with solutions when they see the first symptoms. 

The Risk

The probability of developing a specific mental disease is high when a biological parent or other related family members have the same condition. Researchers are working extensively to find patterns in twins and adopted children. The risk of developing schizophrenia is 1% in the population, but the risk is ten times higher if a parent suffers from the illness. The chance increased to about 40% if both parents have schizophrenia.

San Diego Mental Health Facility

The lifetime risk of schizophrenia is correlated with the degree of relationship to the patient (first-degree relatives are at higher risk than second-degree relatives)

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2696847/

How Can Parents Work on Mental Health Challenges?                                                                                         

  • Talk to your child: You may feel a little anxious before taking this issue up. But speaking openly about mental health issues and your story is an invaluable way to reduce the risk of passing the illness to your child. Make your children aware of your behavior, how difficult you feel sometimes, and how they can help you overcome those challenges together as a family. There’s no shame in feeling depressed or anxious. Explain to them don’t blame anyone. Children often internalize their parent’s moods. This will lay a foundation for them to stand with strength when they walk down the same mental health path in their life.
  • Inculcate healthy exercise: Try and incorporate daily exercising and meditation sessions in your family wellness program. It helps to boost your therapy while improving your child’s concentration and memory. Explain to them how the treatment is helping you improve your disease. Your kids will learn at the early stage how it is essential to take care of mental and physical health equally.
  • Don’t fear but teach: It is common that those with mental health issues fear of passing the illness to their kids. There is a genetic element to many mental disorders. Please don’t shy away from the fact that there are chances that they might not inherit them. There are so many factors that you don’t have control over. Right now, you have the power to create the most supportive and nurturing environment for your kids, where they can talk openly to you and share their challenges.
  • Stop Punishing Yourself: You have both good and bad days while going through mental health issues. Honestly, parenting is challenging, and it can trigger mental health issues. Do not ignore these signs and, if possible, take a break and divert your energy on your mental condition. When your kids are aware of your situation, they will understand and help overcome those periods.  

There’s no hidden fact that mental health issue is a tough topic, and we all have a fear of passing them to our children. But believing in fear and creating an overprotective environment might pull your kids away, affecting your conditions. It’s better to talk about the situation with your doctor. Learn how you can bring this topic with your family and build a support team, not just for yourself but for your future generations. Unlike yesterday, we are having a healthy discussion on mental health. As we see, more solutions and support are coming forward to help people suffering from mental health disorders live a healthy and fuller life.

Is Your Boss Destroying Your Mental Health?

Toxic Workplace-two words define everything that might be going wrong in your life. We tend to spend a big chunk of our life in our workplace. We learn, share, and grow as an individual while climbing the career ladder. However, these winning moments also overshadows our efforts, mental stress, and ignorance that we take every day. Firstly, your job is your self-worth. You do what you love. Honestly, your job pays your bills. But can money drive your mental health?

That constant fear in your gut.

The constant pressure to impress your boss.

Those anxiety-fueled thoughts, restless nights, never-ending nightmare. Yes, you’re right. Your job is killing you.

Is your boss responsible for mental trauma? Do you enjoy your office environment? Ask yourself.

As “The Toxic Boss Survival Guide” says – It’s easy to spot a toxic leader. They’re controlling, egomaniacal, two-faced, and narcissistic.

But when you know your boss is killing your work culture and affecting your mental health, how do you cope up with such situations.

 

Work on Controllable Task

Working in fear is damaging your physical and mental health, according to health experts. A toxic boss brings worry into your life and work. You don’t enjoy your work because you have constant pressure to impress and deliver. This takes a toll on your skills and experience. The fear of losing a job, being bullied, or targeted for every silly mistake are some of the reasons for your mental fatigue.

In such a situation, you must stay calm. Pick things that make you feel positive, create a balance between work and personal life, and detach yourself from work in your free time. One of the best advice ever heard- work on your controllable task and stop worrying about uncontrollable things. You can control your work, next presentations, but people’s reaction, getting a raise is something beyond your control. This allows focusing on the happenings that you can control.  

San Diego Mental Health

Exercise, Food, Sleep and Repeat

I don’t have to emphasize on the benefits of exercise, food, and sleep. Kickstart your day with a power exercise and health-loaded breakfast. You can pick yoga, meditations, a brisk walking under the sun, or a Zumba training. Keep yourself active and nourish your body with a balanced diet.

Sleep deprivation can hinder your ability to react to complex challenges at a personal and professional level. When work is keeping you all night, try sleep hacks- read a book, pick a coloring book, use morning for your worry time, exercise for 20 minutes, practice sleep meditation before bed or set up a sleep routine.

 

Connect with your team/colleagues

A very early sign of toxic, dysfunctional workplace brings significant communication challenges and often between multiple departments, employees, supervisors, and management.

We’re a social animal by nature. Community is a baseline of our behavior. But you might shut yourself from co-workers because of the micro-management from your boss. You put yourself in a social isolation zone that can bring loneliness. Such isolation is linked to increasing levels of stress hormones, accelerated cognitive decline, and poor sleep patterns.

Cultivate healthy relationships with your colleagues, who plays a significant role in keeping your work environment stress-free. Treat them with humility and gratitude, become an observer, listener, and plan an informal dinner/meet-n-greet outside your office.

 

Say No

Never try to become a guy who know-it-all and do-it-all because in this situation, you work like crazy without getting recognition. Take projects where you can dedicate your energy and time, which is also beneficial to your company.

Don’t turn down a project on a whim. For example-

The project is challenging – if you have the skills, you can try to learn new skills and implement them quickly.

Different than your job description- if you have the skills to complete the projects, don’t turn down because it wasn’t part of your job description.

But say no because of the unrealistic deadline, too much on the plate, you lack the necessary skills. Explain your management about your current workload. Delegate your work and set realistic benchmarks and timeframe. But Say NO when needed. Don’t take projects to avoid a conversation with your boss.

boss contributing to mental illness

Address The elephant in the room

After all the tactics, you still feel pressured and bullied at your workplace. It’s time to have to talk to your boss about his treatment. Explain the A-Z of his behavior with you- how negative attitude is disturbing your mental health. It’s difficult to open to someone who has a history of being unnecessarily rude to you. But at times, you need to spot the elephant in the room. You can’t let him ruin your day, your health, and your life.

If you don’t feel comfortable, ask your human resource team to join the conversation. Don’t make yourself look weak, but don’t forget to point out flaws in your boss’ leadership. If they fail to find a solution that works for you, I believe it’s time to leave your current employer and look out for an environment where you are valued.

 

Be Honest and Make a Choice

The foremost important thing is to ask yourself – is your job killing you? Do you want to see your boss tomorrow again? Are you being ridiculed in front of your co-workers? Is he putting your confidence down every time you speak in the meeting? Think harder.

So, the job that is killing your will to live is not the right job for you. Do you agree? You can’t hang in the toxic workplace with a control-freak boss looking for hope. I know, quitting a job is a tough decision. But don’t take this decision hastily. But if you know, it’s the time to bid goodbye, plan your options and make the right move. You deserve to be respected and treated well for your ideas, your work, and your experience. 

 

Things aren’t perfect, and you can’t walk away from an opportunity without trying. You can decide to strike a balance and give your 100 percent to make things work for you and your boss. But you can’t pick your toxic job over your mental health. Don’t let a lousy history play with your confidence. Look out for new opportunity stored for you. Putting your health- physical and mental- will bring back strength in your life.

5 Movies That Best Portray Mental Illness

Cinema has always been a huge source of education. It is a fact that we can learn a lot by watching a movie. There have been, unarguably, tons of movies based on mental illnesses. However, very few films have managed to explore the subject with seriousness and incisiveness that is demanded. Some films breathe mediocrity by arousing strong emotional celebration amongst the viewers, which is a huge sign of failure. On the other side, some films deal with mental illness more maturely. The following are the movies that have been regarded as some of the most beautiful films on this subject.

 

Silver Lining Playbook

This comedy-drama film by David O ’Russel is about a young man named Pat portrayed by Bradley Cooper. Pat has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He is discharged from the psychiatric care after he got in a brutal fight with the man his wife cheated on him with. 

The film is shown from the pat’s point of view. It focuses on his mental health journey as he strives to get back his wife. The film circles around him and a young widow named Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence. Tiffany helps Pat with dance practice as he appears in a dance competition.

This film has been a subject of a lot of debates about if this movie is a precise exploration of the illness. No matter that these debates are constant, one thing is for sure that the film is genuinely optimistic and a hopeful view of life from someone who is stuck in the murkier and dark waters of bipolar disorder.

mental health treatment in san diego

Taxi Driver

The taxi driver is regarded as one of the brilliant movies made in the 20th century. The film follows Travis Bickle (played by Robert De Niro), who is a Vietnam War veteran. As he has insomnia, he takes up cab driving. Things take up a terrible turn when his attempts to reconcile his love for a woman named Betty fail.

The film has a lot of layers to it. Right from his inability to connect with his immediate surroundings to the degradation of modern culture, this film takes on a broad range of themes. However, at the center of this, we sense the real loneliness of this man. Regarded as one of the detailed explorations of loneliness and boredom, this film does not provide any easy answers but raises a lot of essential questions. 

 

Raging Bull

Raging bull has often been mistaken as a film about boxing. The movie is based on the true story of boxer Jake La Motta. This film explores his mental deride that is, in many ways, a consequence of what happens inside the ring. 

Jake La Motta is plagued by paralyzing jealousy and sexual insecurity that makes his life difficult. Once he loses grip from reality, he loses all his loved ones around him. Considered as one of the great classics of cinema, Scorsese makes no mistake here. There is more to this film, which makes it one of the most incisive character studies. It is one of the most influential and imperative movies that everyone should watch.

san diego psychiatric treatment facility

Aviator

The Aviator is a psychological biopic-drama based on the life of Howard Hughes (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). Howard Hughes was a famous businessman and one of the most influential movie directors. His life was a constant pendulum between cinema and aviation industry, further perplexed with his romantic affairs with some beautiful Hollywood actresses. His life goes on a negative spiral as his obsessive-compulsive disorder becomes more and more intense.

As his condition worsens and his life begins to crumble down, he gets completely detached from the outside world in the last decade of his experience. This is one of the best performances (often overlooked) by Leonardo DiCaprio. 

Yet another masterpiece by Scorsese, despite its grandiosity and glossiness, the film takes its viewers inside the mind of this genius creating a real portrait of Howard Hughes and his demons.  

 

Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting is centered around Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon. Will is a janitor at MIT University. He is a bright young man who can have a promising future. He solves incredibly complex puzzles in his spare time that the other college students find hard time-solving.

However, things are not easy for Will because he has experienced a harsh and abusive childhood. Even though he is incredibly gifted, his mind is a dark pool that makes his life difficult. His life begins to take shape when he meets his therapist (played by Robbie Williams). It’s only when he develops a strong bond with his therapist; he begins to look at life much differently. This helps him get over his depression and build up his life. Good Will Hunting is an instant classic and an essential watch for anyone who is going through a difficult time. 

mental health awareness

These five movies are highly essential for people going through a tough period in their lives because mainly, it imbues you with a sense of assurance that you are not the only one going through something like this. 

Films like Taxi Driver and Raging bull gives you a harsh look into the minds perplexed by its complexities. And movies like Good Will Hunting and Silver Lining Playbook are films with beautiful and uplifting messages that will help you see life from a different perspective.

Signs That You’ve Outgrown Your Partner

A recent study found that most people who remain in unhappy relationships do so for the sake of their partner. In other words, they’re not staying because they believe that things will improve but rather because they don’t think their partner could take the breakup. 

If there are red flags in a relationship but you continue to stick around, we understand that you feel like you’re doing the right thing. However, take into account the ways that your negative relationship could affect your health in the short and longterm.

Research has shown that people who stay in bad or unhealthy relationships not only have increased mental health issues but have a heightened risk of physical health problems. These include high blood pressure and even fatal heart conditions. 

If you’re wondering how to know when your relationship is over, read on. We’re going to talk about some of the red flags that indicate that it’s time to move on.

Your Goals in Life Are Different

At some point in your relationship, discussions of the future will arise. These tend to encompass big things like where you want to live, what job you want to pursue, and whether or not you want to have children. 

It’s okay and normal to have some disagreements and to make compromises for one another. However, everyone has a handful of goals in life that they shouldn’t have to compromise. In fact, you may have some goals that differ so much from your partner’s goals that a compromise simply can’t be reached.

Take, for example, the subject of having children. If one partner has always wanted children and one partner has never wanted children, how can this be resolved? No matter what, one person is going to be unhappy.

You’re Moving in Different Directions

The direction you’re moving in falls into a similar category as the goals you keep. The difference is that your direction correlates not just with what you hope to achieve, but what you’re actively achieving (or not achieving) in the present.

This applies to more than the concrete directions you’re moving in with, say, your career or your education. Consider the direction you’re moving in with your mental health. Perhaps you’ve been suffering from depression and have begun seeking therapy but your partner, also suffering from mental health problems, is not putting in the work to cope and heal.

When we move in different directions, it becomes harder to come together as a couple. What’s even more of a red flag in a relationship is when one partner’s direction is either harmful or inhibitive to the other’s.

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The Patterns in Your Relationship Aren’t Healthy

As relationships develop, we develop patterns with our partner that create a sense of unity and continuity. If these patterns are healthy, this is a great way to sustain the relationship. 

If the patterns are unhealthy, they’re going to cause harm to both partners. It may also be a lot harder to break those patterns for yourself when they’re reinforced by your partner’s desires or behavior.  

The “Bad Days” Are Becoming Bad Cycles

No relationship escapes a few bad days here and there. It’s normal to argue and even to fight, but only on occasion, especially if these fights are high-stakes. 

Perhaps your partner gets angry with you when they’re in a bad mood and apologizes later, rather than recognizing their behavior before it gets away from them. It happened from time to time in the past, but now you’re noticing that it’s happening more frequently or the bouts of anger are lasting for longer periods of time.

Bad cycles are an indication that your partner either doesn’t recognize that their behavior is harmful or that they do and simply won’t work on it. Either way, these bad cycles are exhausting, manipulative, and leave you on edge.  

You’ve Realized the Relationship is Codependent 

When it comes to codependency, it takes two to complete the cycle. Both partners have a role to play and both need to play it. Unlike dependence, where feelings are mutual and care is both given and received equally, codependency entails that one partner needs the other while the other partner needs to be needed.

This may not sound too bad, but it’s actually a huge red flag in a relationship.

Partner A cannot feel positive emotions or self-worth without the constant feedback and approval of Partner B. In order to fulfill these needs, Partner A will alter their behavior or make large sacrifices that attract the attention of Partner B.

Meanwhile, Partner B enjoys this role and may even take advantage of it. It makes them feel powerful or satisfied that they have the ability to both give and take away Partner A’s happiness, health, and safety.

If this sounds familiar, it is important that you leave your relationship. By the very nature of your codependent relationship, you cannot fix these personal issues together. This goes for both Partner A and Partner B. 

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Being Together is Draining

We’ve all heard the metaphor about introverts and extroverts that goes as follows: introverts are drained by interactions with others, while extroverts are recharged. That being said, even introverts should feel recharged (or at the very least, not drained) by the presence of certain people, including partners.

If you find that spending time with your partner leaves you feeling tired, unhappy, or frustrated, break down the reasoning. It might be that they treat you poorly or it might be that you’ve simply grown weary of their actions and mannerisms you once found endearing. Both are valid reasons to move on from the relationship.

Don’t Ignore Red Flags in a Relationship

When you start to see red flags in a relationship, pay attention to them. They may indicate small issues that can be addressed and overcome with proper communication, or they may indicate that your relationship is not going to work.

If you aren’t leaving a bad relationship out of a concern for your partner, ask yourself why you aren’t granting yourself the same care and consideration. You may find that you’re neglecting your own mental health issues.

Even if you are married, there is good news for people who are divorced. For whichever reason you have to stay in your relationship, you should be considering the grand scheme of how it may affect you, and even your partner or children.

We believe that taking care of your mental health is important, and we also believe that you shouldn’t have to do it alone. If you need help adjusting or managing your mental health, contact us today to find out what we can do for you.

Technology And Mental Illness: The Dark Side Of Social Media

Despite the overwhelming benefits that technological advances have brought us in the past few decades, the negative consequences of social media are now apparent. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram alike – all have the potential to cause some serious issues like depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.

Suicide rates are at an alarming high

Depression and anxiety are a natural part of morning talks over coffee. 

Antidepressants are prescribed seemingly as fast as babies are being born. 

(Okay, maybe not that last one. But you get what we’re saying).

Meanwhile, technology is booming, but it’s a double-edged sword. 

With sweeping and infinitely-expanding innovations in healthcare, business, retail, sustainable energy, and the overall lifestyle of ordinary, middle-class individuals in the United States, technology’s influence has reached astronomical proportions of 21st-century living.

With depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders statistically on the rise, scientists and common folk alike are asking the same question: why? 

Many are left to wonder whether the rate of mental illnesses is truly on the rise, or the stigma is lifting on mental disorders- or both.

However, today, we’re going to be focusing on only one small category of technology that has evident detrimental effects on mental health: social media.

Social Media And Young People

It started with myspace, then came Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For people of all ages, social media is a platform to network, share thoughts, photos, articles, support causes, lend opinions, and broadcast personal messages that can potentially reach millions. A new twist on advertising, social media marketing, is often a large (and profitable) part of both small and corporate business marketing strategies worldwide. 

Of course, social media is maybe best understood by the younger generations – referred to as the millennials and “generation Z.” 

Strangely enough, it is in these generations that mental illness rates have climbed highest.

In children, teens, and young adults, social media can be especially detrimental to proper brain development as well as self-esteem. Social media can also:

  • Encourage and enable online bullying
  • Stop children from physically playing with each other and participating in other healthy hobbies and activities
  • Promote body image issues, such as body dysmorphia and eating disorders

One study even found that “Young adults aged 18-25 years had the highest prevalence of [any mental illness] (25.8%) compared to adults aged 26-49 years (22.2%) and aged 50 and older (13.8%)”.

So, what’s going on, and where’s the connection?

A lack of these normal childhood activities can cause kids to feel isolated in technological interaction disguised as true quality time with friends.

Let’s start with what happens to naturally tag along with social media usage, do to the fact that it’s on phones and computers: blue light. 

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All About Blue Light

Perhaps you have heard the term “blue light” thrown around in conversations in the media, or with peers, but not many people actually understand its true definition and possible side effects.

Blue is shown to:

  • Disrupt Sleep
  • Encourage disease development
  • Encourage an inability to focus

Harvard Health even claims that people ought to stop looking at screens as early as three hours before bedtime.

Of course, blue light is also derived from natural sources. However, people nowadays are actually receiving more of it than ever before. Of course, too much of a good thing is, well, a bad thing.

Instagram Addiction

If ten years ago, people were asked to predict how entirely groundbreaking an effect Instagram would have on the world, most would probably have gravely underestimated in their response. Not many saw technology coming to the extent that it now has. 

Yet, here we all are, in the thick of perhaps one of the most innovative times on our planet. 

Instagram is a platform that remains booming, even almost ten years after its birth. Appealing to our innate love for visual learning, Instagram boasts one billion active users each month (yes, you heard that right: one billion users worldwide).

Over half of people aged 18-29 use Instagram. And, in a certain survey, Instagram was actually ranked the worst for mental health out of five social media platforms also including Snapchat, Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook. 

Some of the negative mental health side effects included a worse body image, loneliness, depression, anxiety, and something called “FOMO”, or the fear of missing out. 

Instagram is a platform that has a wild effect on our population in the past decade. Some of its effects are positive, while some of its aftermath is highly consequential. 

If someone doesn’t get enough likes on their photos, or as many as another peer, they may begin to feel inferior or even less loved. 

Comparison is also a prominent issue that platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter encourage. Most people only highlight the best part of their lives on social media, which gives everyone a bit of a warped view on how life should be.

Not only this, but the comparison of body image is also a prevalent issue among young adults. In fact, across the world, the rate of eating disorders continue to climb as young people continuously see photoshopped photos on Instagram. 

There’s no doubt that an unhealthy amount of time spent on Instagram can contribute to people everywhere feeling less happy about their own lives.

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False Connection

Human beings are social creatures; it’s how we’ve survived for so long. 

Some animals don’t need to run in packs, but it’s our tribalism that has protected us for hundreds of thousands of years. Without our power of numbers, we probably would have gone extinct by now.

Despite anyone claiming that they’ are a “loner,” practically everyone needs someone to fulfill the biologically-programmed brain spot in their brain for authentic human connections. 

Inadequate Socialization is a closely-related booming problem due to Instagram and other smartphone-related interactions. It seems that, in the age of social media, nearly everyone is substituting a large portion of necessary in-person contact for online “socialization.”

At first, this socialization might seem sufficient, but it simply is not. 

This socialization is not real- it’s more like “mock” socialization. 

In order for most people to feel fulfilled, they need a certain amount of socialization time that includes in-person observation of facial expressions and body language. 

Besides this, physical touch releases a ton of endorphins that we’re missing out on if we don’t get to physically give our friends those beloved welcoming hugs at a get-together.

Most people in the 21st-century (75% of millennials, in fact) report they’d rather text than call someone. 

No wonder there are rising rates of social anxiety – everyone is unlearning how to truly socialize with each other. However, texting and phone calls simply aren’t enough for our brains to function optimally.

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Staying In Solution

Listen, we’re in the year 2019. 

Technology can’t be completely avoided (and that’s not what we’re arguing, either), but it is possible to develop a healthier relationship with social media. 

There is a flip side to social media. Some of its benefits include:

  • The ability to spread information quickly
  • The ability to connect more with those who may live very far away from us
  • A quick, easy way to research businesses

Perhaps, there isn’t a black-and-white solution to what social media is doing to the mental health of people of all ages.

However, small things can help those who are interested in protecting themselves from the negative mental health repercussions of applications like Instagram and Facebook.

For example, to manifest a healthier, happier, and more responsible usage of social media (and technology in general), one might want to:

  • Limit their time on social media
  • Set their phone on “airplane mode” before going to sleep
  • Participate in activities that purposefully do not include phone use
  • Make it a point to put their phone away during social activities
  • Only subject themselves to healthy content, such as accounts that do not contribute to large amounts of comparison and thus make someone feel worse about themselves

All in all, social media isn’t the worst thing to happen to humanity. In fact, it’s got some serious perks. When used in moderation, social media can have an amazingly positive effect on individuals, but the key to this narrative is a balance.

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Should Mental Health Be A General Practitioner’s Job?

The landscape of healthcare has frequently been changing – especially in its mental health division. The rate of mental illnesses has reached an all-time high in recent times, putting pressure on the healthcare industry to deliver proper treatment to sufferers of these disorders.

For example, certain statistics explain that, as of 2019, over 43.8 million people will experience a mental illness in any given year. Luckily, awareness is also growing in mental health struggles. Therefore, reaching out for help without shame is becoming easier for those who would have previously struggled in silence with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or other mental health disorders. 

Under scrutinizing debate is the controversial topic of whether primary care physicians should be treating their patients for mental health concerns. It’s a fairly common phenomenon that, when people begin suffering from alarming mental health irregularities, their first course of action is to seek out a family care doctor. 

This decision is, perhaps, because people don’t know where to turn at first. This choice is likely the smartest and most proper course of action when someone is experiencing abnormal psychological symptoms. However, sometimes, patients make their stop at a family doctor and then go no further.

Psychiatrists Vs. Family Physicians

For multiple reasons, a specialized psychiatric medical doctor must be sought out for concerns specifically regarding mental health. Sometimes, it’s even necessary to seek a reputable in-residence mental health care center to stabilize a patient before they begin routinely visiting a psychiatrist.

General practitioners are trained excessively to treat a broad range of illnesses, but psychiatry is as delicate a branch of healthcare as any other specialty. Therefore, it requires a comprehensive initial assessment and thorough follow-ups. 

The human mind is complex and still being studied for all of its mysteries. Although family doctors are highly-trained professionals, MDs who are explicitly trained in psychiatry ought to be sought out for long-term treatment considering their career-long focus on the human brain. 

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What Exactly Makes Psychiatry Essential In Treating Mental Illness?

Doctors of psychiatry, or psychiatrists, have gotten some bad raps in the past. However, it’s important to remember that psychiatrists nowadays are regulated heavily by statewide professional entities called boards of psychiatry. 

The board of psychiatry in each state exists solely to monitor professionals that practice in the psychiatric industry heavily. They enforce proper ethics and ensure that no improper or illegal actions take place.

Psychiatrists are required to renew their licenses in psychiatry frequently. Besides this, these particular MDs devote their entire days and research time to the human mind. Often, they’re to work closely and in conjunction with clinical psychologists (therapists), thus providing a more specific and integrative treatment plan for clients seeking help for their mental illness.

Thorough Initial Examinations And Consistent, Specific Follow-ups

We encourage those who need mental health services to pursue assistance specifically from psychiatrists that will do a thorough initial assessment of a clients’ life and mind.

Initial psychiatric assessments serve a specific purpose: gather sufficient information to make an educated diagnosis. Initial psychiatric evaluations are typically:

  • Hour-long appointments used to collect well-rounded details of any particular client’s life and mental health history
  • The standard first step in establishing an outpatient treatment plan for psychiatric patients
  • An important way for a doctor to attain a much higher level of insight on a patient’s mental disorder than a quick check-in with a family physician

With an overall shorter amount of face-to-face time with patients, family care physicians and general practitioners are unable to draw extensively-accurate conclusions of a patient’s proper diagnosis (or diagnoses). Improper diagnoses have the potential to cause pervasive damage to those with mental disorders, considering that inadequate treatment may inevitably follow as a consequence. 

Individuals in need of mental health help deserve to have the proper time, diagnosis, and treatment provided to them so that they can reach a sustainable headspace.

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Expertise In Medication

Although many general practitioners are not hesitant to divvy out psychiatric medications, this is probably a better task to leave to a specialist. Sometimes patients visit general practitioners for immediate or urgent help, and it is necessary to treat them quickly with a temporary medication until they can make an appointment with a psychiatrist. However, even in these cases, it may be best to seek a reputable mental health treatment center instead.  

Psychiatrists spend lengthy amounts of time studying the effects of SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and other mental health medications that are frequently prescribed. These specialists have the most knowledge possible of any type of doctor, including general practitioners. 

Often, these medications are able to work wonders for patients who have been correctly diagnosed and who do not have any adverse side effects. Psychiatrists have the capabilities necessary to closely monitor their patients and watch for any negative reactions until optimal mental stabilization is achieved.

Although a quick visit to a general practitioner regarding mental health isn’t awful, it’s still necessary to follow up on this appointment with a visit to a psychiatric specialist. An ethical, professional, and comprehensive psychiatric treatment plan has the potential to change one’s quality of life entirely and indefinitely. With a proper diagnosis and a well-rounded treatment plan, patients who seek assistance for their mental illnesses are – more frequently than not – able to alter their lives and minds forever.

Who Will Save Our Mental Health from Technology?

Saving our mental health

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A Former Google Manager is Spearheading Efforts to Limit the Negative Effects of Technology and Social Media

What are the negative effects of technology and social media on us? We’re aware of its influences on our mental health, with studies linking excessive social media use to depression and anxiety. What other grips does cyber-reality have on us?

In 2012, a young manager at Google named Tristan Harris made an impassioned plea in a presentation for his bosses to attend to “[our] moral responsibility to create an attention economy that doesn’t weaken people’s relationships or distract people to death.”

His ideas for a more ethical digital world gained some traction for a time, and it even got him tapped to be the company’s design ethicist. The company lost focus, however, and shifted its attention to other priorities.

Harris left Google in 2015, and three years later, Google produced a screentime tracker known as Digital Wellbeing, so that Android users could see how much time they were spending each day on each application they tapped into. Apple followed suit with a counterpart app for iPhones.

Continuing the Crusade

Were the new screentime tracker apps enough of a leash? Not according to Harris. In Harris’ estimation, the “free” business model is the most expensive business model ever invented.

More recently, Harris started the Center for Humane Technology and has expanded his thinking to bring more awareness to the negative impacts of the internet on our lives. From misinformation/disinformation being proliferated on various social media platforms (e.g., Facebook and YouTube (owned by Google)), to election tampering and invaded privacy, and finally to political divisiveness in our country, the internet gets blamed for a lot. And probably with good reason. Just think about how much control we give our cyber lives over our actual lives.

Harris continues to grow his audience with various national media appearances, conferences, and additional presentations of his own. The biggest takeaway he wants his listeners to remember is the mistake it is to treat mobile technology drawbacks as mutually exclusive from those inflicted by social media. It’s all part of what he refers to as the “extractive attention economy (EAE).”

Our Private Information Used as a Currency

It’s been said that “money talks.” Well, so does information in the EAE. Its business model is driven by gathering and leveraging data about its users and what they like. In order to keep them engaged online, more and more of what users want to see is constantly being fed to them, faster and faster, by automated platforms. This may sound great and convenient, but it actually gives them more extreme, sensationalized content, which only feeds upon their frailties.

Without any thought, judgment, or intent, people dealing with mental health issues might be looking on YouTube for ways to improve their mental health, while being unwittingly steered via “recommendations” toward videos about suicide and death. The only thing the platforms care about is how the relationships between what users are searching for and what the algorithms calculate they like will keep users online, engaged and clicking.

The Unbearable Lightness of Technology

What happened to “fun” social media? Harris warns that our addiction to retweets, likes, comments, and reshares, is only keeping us distracted and depressed.

Steve Jobs spoke of technology as an “exercise bicycle for the mind.” Harris has responded that the exercise bike is taking us down dark, unfamiliar roads where we might not ever want to find ourselves.

Harris believes that language can help shape reality, but he had to work through a growing fear that the language we were using to define the real impact of cyber-reality on our lives was very much lacking. It wasn’t enough to describe what he warns as a coming hailstorm.

One of his epiphanies was the realization that the real danger we’re in isn’t technology overpowering our strengths (like the cliche science fiction bit when computers take over the world). The real danger is when technology learns to overwhelm and leverage our emotional weaknesses against us… for profit.

Harris and his cohorts brainstormed themselves to a point where they thought that what might be going on was a process of diminishing, of degrading human lives and humanity as a whole. Technology, as we give it more and more of our time and attention, is causing the downgrading of human relationships, of human attention, of our common sense of decency, of democracy itself.

How Social Media Negatively Affects Us

Harris has commented specifically about how various social media platforms negatively affect us:

  • Snapchat turns conversations into “streaks,” redefining how children value real friendship.
  • Instagram glamorizes the picture-perfect life, eroding our sense of gratitude for our real lives, along with diminishing our sense of self-worth.
  • Facebook puts us into separate echo chambers, dissolving our real communities.
  • YouTube auto-plays the one video after the next, within seconds, regardless of what it does to our sleep.

Four Ways Technology is Hurting Us

Harris shares the four main ways he sees our subservience to technology is taking its toll:

Mental Health

The rat race to keep us on screen 24/7 makes it harder to disconnect, increasing stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep deprivation.

Children

The rat race to keep children’s attention trains them to replace their sense of self-worth with the number of likes they get, encourages them to compare themselves with others, and creates a non-stop illusion of missing out…which can lead to coping problems and mental health challenges.

Relationships

The competition for attention forces social media users to prefer virtual interactions and rewards (likes, shares, etc.) on their screens vs. interaction in a real face-to-face community.

Democracy

Social media unwittingly rewards faux rage, sensational facts, while reducing the role of factual information. It’s dividing us and making it increasingly difficult to agree on what is “real.”

So, where does this leave us? Possibly with additional challenges for those coping with mental health issues brought on by extensive technology use.

The good news is that you can take back control of your life by better managing your social media use.

Curious to hear more?

Do you suspect that excessive technology use and social networking are having a negative effect on your mental health or on that of a loved one? If you or someone you love need to talk to someone about mental illness or feelings of being overwhelmed, we want to help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.