video gaming addiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is an addiction?

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

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

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

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

What’s the big deal?

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

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

Be mindful of addiction warning signs

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

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

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

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


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Mental health awareness can help you develop stress management skills and improve your overall sense of wellbeing. Did World Mental Health Day passed you by? Not to worry, because you don’t need to wait until next October 10th to start improving your mental health.

In fact, you can start implementing changes that can start helping your mood improve.

What mental health looks like

Individuals who might be considered to have “good” mental health share some common characteristics:

  • Self-confidence and high self-esteem
  • An overall  sense of contentment, satisfaction, and love for living
  • The flexibility to adapt to change and to learn new things
  • The ability to cope with and manage stress, and to bounce back from challenges
  • Good work/play/rest/life balance
  • A sense of meaning and purpose in activities and relationships
  • The ability to laugh easily and have fun
  • A healthy ability to build and nurture meaningful relationships

If any of these don’t sound recognizable to you, it’s OK. If you put some effort into it, you can learn to enjoy these same benefits.

Are you ready?

  1. What the heck are you eating? A brain-healthy diet is always good for your mental health.

Have you ever thought about the effects your diet has on the way you feel and think about life? Eating too much of the wrong things and not enough of the right ones can impacts your brain and your mood saps your energy, disrupts your sleep, and debilitates your immune system. So what to do? You need to change over to a healthy diet, low in sugar and rich in healthy fats.

Everyone is different and responds differently to foods. Genetics and other health factors come into play, so go ahead and experiment a little. First, get rid of your “bad fats,” the ones that can wreck your mood and optimism for life, and start consuming all the good fats that are healthy for your brain.

Foods/drinks that mess with your mood:

  • Fried foods
  • Sugary snacks and soft drinks
  • Trans fats/anything with “partially hydrogenated” oils
  • Refined carbs (e.g., white bread, white flour, white rice)
  • Foods with lots of chemical preservatives/hormones
  • Caffeine/soda/energy drinks
  • Alcohol

Foods that help your mood:

Fatty fish rich in Omega-3s such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, tuna

  • Avocados
  • Nuts (i.e., peanuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, almonds)
  • Flaxseed
  • Beans
  • Leafy greens such (i.e., spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale)
  • Fresh fruit (e.g., blueberries)
  1. Get moving!

Physical activity releases endorphins, which are mood-boosting chemicals that also give you energy. A regular exercise regimen (it doesn’t take a lot!) will also improve your memory, release stress, and improve your sleep. By getting on top of your physical health, you’ll start feeling better almost right away. Also, you can’t have a healthy mind without a healthy body.

How to get started

You can get away with as little as 30 minutes for your exercising to have a positive effect on your brain. Even broken up into three 10-minute blocks will work just as well.

  1. How about some rhythmic exercises that get your arms and legs moving? Walking, running, weights, swimming, dancing, martial arts, etc.
  2. Be mindful. Mindfulness can help enhance your exercise. Don’t let just let your mind run wildly and blindly, rather focus your thinking on your breathing, on how your body is feeling as you move, on the wind on your skin, on the way your feet feel as they touch the ground. This will help clear your mind, too.

So, take a walk at lunchtime and enjoy the fresh air. Play Frisbee with your dog. Dance to your favorite tunes. Play active video games with your family. Start cycling and walking more.

A little bit of exercise goes a long way and helps you get a sense of more vigor and control.

  1. Stress management

Stress will sap your mood as quickly as just about anything, leaving you feeling emotionally drained and bummed out. Life is always going to have some level of stress (if you had zero stress, you’d never be motivated to go to work, pay your bills, take care of yourself, etc.!), but it is unhealthy to have it in excess; fortunately, you can keep it controlled. Try some stress management activities and say “hello” again to a sense of balance in your life.

  • Learn to enjoy leisure time. Do plenty of things simply for the sake of doing them, and because they make you feel better. Watching funny movies, walking on the beach, diving into a good book, etc. And don’t feel guilty – you’re not being irresponsible. Your brain and body need to decompress from time to time.
  • Spend time with family and friends. Getting some face time in with someone who cares about you and your wellbeing is a surefire way to calm your nerves and insulate your stress. You’ll feel better quickly, even if you can’t change the stressful situation right away.
  • Be good to your senses. Big, scented candles. Soothing music. A hot bubble bath. The warmth and the scent of coffee in your favorite café. Do any of these things sound appealing? How about squeezing a stress ball? Opening the window and listening/smelling the rain? Start experimenting with some things that make your senses tingle to find out what you respond to best. You’ll always be able to get yourself to calm down and relax when you need to.
  • Gratitude. Nothing dissolves a bad mood quicker than being grateful. Pray and meditate on these things, keep a gratitude journal (write down at least three things daily you’re grateful for), remind yourself to be grateful more often. Your outlook on life will begin to improve drastically.

Bonus tip! Own your emotions

How well do you know yourself and what you’re feeling? How good are you at identifying and articulating those feelings for yourself and others? If you learn to be more aware of, identify, and take more responsibility for your emotions, you’ll be well on your way to better mental health management skills. Find an app or check out this free online pdf download that can walk you through some techniques.

When to seek professional help

If you’ve made honest and consistent efforts to get your mental and emotional health normalized where you’d like them to be and still aren’t functioning optimally at home, work, and in your relationships, it may be time to seek professional help. Input from a trusted mental health professional may be able to motivate you to do more for yourself than you’d otherwise do alone.

What is the latest regarding your mental health? Always remember that it is very 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.

anhedonia symptoms treatment

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Anhedonia has received an increasing amount of attention in the past few years. What exactly is it? A working definition of anhedonia would be that it is one of the primary symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD).

In Greek, anhedonia directly translates to “without pleasure.” Anhedonia is a symptom of other psychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia. Note that major depressive disorder/anhedonia are not the same thing as dysthymia, which is also known as a persistent depressive disorder.

Have you ever gone through a phase (perhaps you’re in the middle of one now) when you wake up in the morning without any emotion, opinion, or interest in life? Completely “blah” about everything? Caring about nothing? Emotionally flat?

Typically, when you experience something pleasurable, the “happy chemical” dopamine rushes through your brain’s reward mechanism. Some research indicates that anhedonic conditions might be caused by lower activity in a region of your brain called the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC).

Anhedonia inflicts a loss of interest in activities and hobbies that you once found pleasurable, such as eating, socializing, touching, friendships, relationships, music, events, conversations, and even sex. It’s as if the brain’s pleasure/satisfaction center shorts out or shuts down completely.

This inability to experience pleasure (or to maintain a good mood for very long) can severely impact the quality of your life.

Anhedonia symptoms and signs

How does anhedonia manifest? Following are some common symptoms/signs to be aware of:

  • Despondent and with feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Inconsolable, and non-respondent when comfort is offered
  • Practically impossible to smile or laugh at anything; mirthless
  • Unexplained paranoia, dread, fear, social/emotional withdrawal, and/or irritability
  • Frequently sick, with the flu, colds, etc.
  • Increased difficulty adjusting in social situations; intently observant of others, but without engaging socially, almost as if not present in the room
  • Severe difficulty following a conversation; lack of interest in listening
  • Refusal to seek support or assistance
  • Negative feelings about self and others
  • Significantly reduced emotional abilities, including difficulty articulating thoughts and feelings
  • Difficulty pinpointing exactly what you feel, if anything at all
  • “Going through the motions,” with a tendency to act out emotions, because that is “how you’re supposed to feel”
  • Decreased sex drive, and lack of interest in physical intimacy
  • Suicidal ideation, fixation with death

Anhedonia risk factors

Risk factors for anhedonia include a family history of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. Females are at a heightened risk of suffering from anhedonia.

Other risk factors include eating disorders, a history of abuse and/or neglect, recent trauma and/or heightened stress, major illnesses, etc.

12 things you may not have known about anhedonia:

  • There are two types of anhedonia: Social Anhedonia and Physical Anhedonia. Social anhedonia is manifest by an overall disinterest in social situations and engagement. Physical anhedonia is a pronounced inability to feel pleasure from everyday activities.
  • Depression may reduce the brain’s hedonic (pleasure) capacity, but studies have led some researchers to formulate another theory: that anhedonia is not caused by an inability to feel pleasure so much as it is caused by difficulty sustaining positive feelings consistently.
  • Some people who suffer from anhedonia don’t have any mental illness at all.
  • Aside from MDD and schizophrenia, anhedonia can result from other conditions/illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, psychosis, anorexia nervosa, and substance abuse-related disorders.
  • Anhedonia may have a role in sparking a desire to take part in risky behaviors, such as bungee jumping or skydiving.
  • One of the reasons that anhedonia has received increased attention is the fact that it has come to be known as a good predictor of whether someone with depression will respond to treatment. Popular anti-depressants typically don’t work as well for people who have depression with anhedonia than for those with depression, without anhedonia. Research continues to demonstrate that common treatments for depression don’t help alleviate anhedonia and may even exacerbate the problem by inflicting sexual anhedonia, anorgasmia (the inability to orgasm), and what’s known as emotional “blunting” (feeling an utter lack of any kind of emotion).
  • Some evidence indicates that an anhedonic state can increase the risk of suicidal tendencies.
  • Some research shows that many individuals with anhedonia can experience pleasure along with the best of them. The problem is that there is something “off” in regard to the dynamics between motivation, anticipation, and reward.
  • Anhedonia may also sap your energy significantly.
  • Currently, there are no treatments specifically to treat anhedonia. It is usually treated in tandem with depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc.
  • Anhedonia may bring about thought disorder (TD) or formal thought disorder (FTD) which shows up as disorganized thinking and disorganized speech. Thought distortion includes such issues as: poverty of speech, tangentiality (tendency to speak about topics unrelated to the main topic of discussion), derailment (conversational narrative consisting of a sequence of unrelated or only remotely related ideas), illogicality (drawing conclusions that do not follow from the premises), perseveration (repetition of a particular response (such as a word, phrase, or gesture), and “thought blocking” (ceasing to speak suddenly and without explanation mid-sentence).
  • Anhedonia can cause emotional detachment, which can mean a couple of different things. It can mean an inability to connect with others on an emotional level, and it can also refer to a means of coping with anxiety by avoiding trigger situations (also known as dissociation, or “emotional numbing”).

As mentioned, anhedonia can bring about suicidal thoughts and intents and can be very dangerous. If you suspect that you or someone you love is experiencing anhedonia, contact your primary care physician or a mental health professional as soon as possible. Anhedonia tends to dissipate when depression is being managed properly.

Are you going through a phase experiencing anhedonia? It is very 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.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) (also known as seasonal depression) affects an estimated 10 million individuals in the United States every year, and another 10 to 20 percent show mild signs of SAD. The typical age of onset is somewhere between the ages of 18 and 30, and the disorder affects women four times more frequently than men. Some symptoms are severe enough to affect an individual’s quality of life, with more than five percent of those with SAD result in hospitalization. Regardless, SAD can make the normal changing of seasons extremely unpleasant and wreak havoc on an individual’s mental health.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) typically makes one think of the colder, wintry months of the year. You are most likely familiar with common slumps in mood due to fewer daylight hours and cold weather, but the truth is, SAD can affect different people at different transitional times of the year. Even autumn, a season we connect with pleasant things like beautiful colors, refreshingly crisp weather, etc. is no exception.

In most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. Less commonly, people with the opposite pattern have symptoms that begin in spring or summer. In either case, symptoms may start out mild, but then become more severe as the season progresses.

SAD, not Crazy                 

SAD is a type of recurring depression related to changes in seasons, and mood volatility sparked by shifts in the weather can really put you through the wringer. It is a major culprit when it comes to robbing someone of motivation and joie de vivre, and it typically begins and ends for an individual at about the same time every year.

The important thing is that you acknowledge it for what it is. Don’t write it off, and don’t let people tell you that it’s merely a “passing case of the blues” that you just have to push yourself through on your own. There are some key things you can do to manage this mental illness-related issue. Let’s discuss.

The Lowdown on SAD Symptoms

What does SAD look like?  If you suspect you suffer from seasonal affectation, you’re probably familiar with the most common symptoms. Here is a more inclusive (though not exhaustive) list:

  • Notably low energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and/or guilt
  • Feelings of sluggishness and/or spiked agitation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depressed mood throughout most of the day, just about every day
  • Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy
  • Sleep problems (particularly oversleeping in the autumn/winter)
  • Significant fluctuations in appetite and/or weight (often coupled with cravings for high-carbohydrate foods)
  • Frequent suicidal thoughts and/or fixation on death

Note that for individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder, spring/summer SAD can invoke manic episodes, or sometimes a less intense form of mania known as hypomania. Autumn/winter-onset SAD can mean long stretches of depressive episodes.


The specific cause(s) of SAD continue to remain a mystery. Some experts point to an excess of melatonin (a sleep-regulating hormone) in the body, and fewer daylight hours during winter are known to boost the production of melatonin.  More melatonin means less energy and more lethargic states. Reduced levels of sunlight can also disrupt the body’s internal clock, leading to heightened depression.

Another suspect in the prolonging of depressed moods is difficulty in regulating levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a major neurotransmitter directly related to regulating an individual’s mood. A significant lack of natural vitamin D, believed to play a role in serotonin activity, has also been labeled to be a cause of depressive symptoms.


Ultimately, SAD is not managed as a stand-alone disorder, but rather as a specific type of depression with a recurring seasonal pattern. For a reliable SAD diagnosis, an individual must show symptoms of major depression that coincide with specific seasons, for two consecutive years, at least. This seasonal depression should also be shown to be dominant over other types of depression.

Do You Need Medical Attention?

Days of “down” moods and feeling blue are normal, especially during the winter. If your depressed mood lasts for days at a time and you can’t seem to get enjoyment out of your regular activities and hobbies, you should definitely seek clinical help. It becomes even more critical that you get help if your appetite and sleep patterns are disrupted; turning to alcohol for comfort and relaxation instead of addressing the disorder can lead to feelings of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts.

Some Things You Can do to Help Yourself

  1. Just Breathe

An easy method to help keep yourself grounded is to practice mindful breathing. At your desk or while you’re driving, inhale slowly and deeply for a count of five, hold your breath for five, and then slowly exhale for another five counts. Yoga and mindfulness meditation can certainly keep you in practice with steady breathing, as you want to avoid shallow breathing which can make you hyperventilate.  And that will only kick your body into heightened alert “fight or flight” mode.

  1. Get Your Vitamin D and Magnesium

Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to anxiety and depression. After the Summer Solstice on June 21 in the northern hemisphere, daily doses of sunshine (natural Vitamin D) slowly begin to decline. There are Vitamin D receptors located all throughout your body (e.g., brain, heart, muscles, immune system, etc.), and when there is a shortage of it, your body will start to panic. Your body needs plenty of Vitamin D all throughout your system to function properly. You can also invest in a Seasonal Affective Disorder lamp, which simulates sunlight indoors.

Magnesium is a mineral with a definite calming effect, and which helps the central nervous system. Calming your nervous system is a great way to reduce inclinations to anxiety and panic. Dark, leafy greens like spinach, chard, and kale are great ways to get your magnesium every day, as is dark chocolate (though careful not to get used to too much sugar!).

  1. Simplify

This one can be difficult to remember, especially for A-type personalities. Do not overextend yourself in regard to extracurricular activities! Pushing yourself harder while feeling a lack of energy will only exhaust your body, make you prone to illness, and drive your mood downward more.

When you recognize your SAD kicking in, eliminate every unnecessary activity, responsibility, or stressor that you can. Focus your energy on doing the things you must like work and/or school, and let go of the rest.

  1. Challenge Yourself (in Non-stressful Ways)

Setting goals and achieving them can be good for you mentally and psychologically. A brain that is used is a happy brain. Just make sure that those goals decrease your stress levels, rather than increase them.

Rather than getting involved in so many things and overcommitting yourself to too many activities, pick a goal such as working out for 30 minutes a day for the next month, practicing a musical instrument, or making time to read a good book every week. Learning how to cook some new meals for yourself can also be a boost, as you more mindfully get the nutrients you need. Cooking can be challenging and satisfying, just not mentally exhausting.

  1. Treating Allergies

Autumn and spring are very allergy-prone seasons for a significant number of people, and grappling with allergies on a regular basis can contribute to anxiety and depression. Being aware of this dynamic can go a long way to put your mind at ease because you’ll keep yourself from thinking that something is “wrong” with you.

Allergies can attack your immune system, and rightly so, as research has shown that the same biological processes involved in fighting off an infection are the same as for someone dealing with mania or depression. It has also been shown that volatile allergy symptoms during times of low and high pollen coincide with spikes in reports of anxiety and depression (did you know there is a spike in suicides during spring every year?).

Are you concerned about severe mood swings that come and go with the seasons? You’re not alone! 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.

Best Mental Health Apps

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Mental health apps? Just when you thought you’d seen an app for just about anything, now we have apps for mental health for both the Android and the iPhone.

Mental health apps can be very effective in making therapy portable, accessible, and efficient. What do “mental health” apps do, exactly? In short, they help you better manage your mental health by offering you reminders, tracking, remote counseling, etc.

If you’ve never used a mental health app, you may not know what kind of helpful resource you’re missing out on. Below are a few that have undergone independent review by Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) members unaffiliated with the apps’ development and promotion.

Live OCD Free
(Adults, teens, children)

Imagine a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy treatment of OCD that can help both children and adults. Live OCD Free features a cognitive toolkit, pre-programmed as well as exposures you can design yourself, entirely behavioral exposure response prevention (ERP) exercises, and an ERP guide offering preset and customized ERPs.

Another feature users enjoy is the support of direct as well as loop tape exposure via microphone. The duration of ERP exercises is defined by time-lapsed, rather than a decrease in your anxiety level.

(Adults, veterans, teens)


Are you familiar with panic attacks? Hyperventilation?

This mobile application was designed by the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (NCTT), and functions as an intuitive, simple, and aesthetically pleasing interface to help you manage your stress and learn breathing techniques.

Personalize Breathe2Relax to whatever non-intrusive pace you prefer. The app includes reading materials, a video demo, charts to track your progress — includes a video demo, reading materials, and graphs to track your personal progress. Whether you’re a self-starter or are already working with a therapist regarding an anxiety disorder, stress, and/or PTSD, you will benefit radically from the app’s consistent use.

MoodTools (Adults, veterans, teens)


MoodTools was specially created to help you cope with feelings of depression. It helps you get educated about risk factors and psychosocial approaches to treatment. The app also features a depression symptom questionnaire (PHQ-9), a suicide safety plan, a thought diary, and videos including meditation guides.

Talkspace (Adults, teens)


Talkspace offers counseling and therapy on the go to help you connect with an affordable, convenient, and confidential resource to help you deal with stress, depression, anxiety, chronic illness, and relationship issues.

Meet privately whenever you need to with your therapist when you upgrade, to get whatever you need to off of your chest. Pricing plans are as low as 20 percent of what traditional office visits would be.



SuperBetter is a game that rewards you for increasing your resilience and the ability to remain focused, optimistic, and motivated when confronted with challenges. The app will help you to improve your skills, strengthen relationships, implement new habits, and pursue and complete meaningful projects.

In case you needed an excuse to try it out, a University of Pennsylvania study indicated that 30 days of playing SuperBetter reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, improved users’ mood, and boosted their self-confidence in regard to achieving goals.

So, there you have it. Portable help for you to manage your mental health more effectively, at the tip of your fingers. Did we forget one of your favorite mental health management apps? We’d love to hear about it!

Are you feeling overwhelmed by issues arising from a mental illness? If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about managing mental health issues, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at
 Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.


Uplifting summer music

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Got the summertime blues? Is your sunny summer songs playlist ready? Eddie Cochran may be right about there being no cure for the summertime blues (yes, it’s a real thing!), but there is a remedy. It’s hard to keep a good song down, and a good summer song is practically impossible to ignore. No matter how you may feel, summer favorites are always capable of elevating your mood.

Can you think of any memory from any summer that isn’t somehow related to songs like “Forget You,” “Shut Up and Dance,” ‘Sugar,” and “Despacito?”

Just as the stifling heat and warm weather blues are getting ready to settle in (brace yourself for the days to start getting shorter come June 22… wait, didn’t summer just begin?), don’t despair. You may love what’s in the Popular Music Top 40, but you may also like to mix your summer sunny-ness with some bittersweet nostalgia.

Below is a timeless, surefire summer songs 2018 playlist, worthy of being blared at summer cookouts, blasting while you drive around and sing with the windows down, and kicking through the speakers while you kick back at the pool. Sunny and sure to make you smile.

  1. “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles (1969)

A great song inspired by hating your summer job. When Beatles manager Brian Epstein died in 1967, the band members had to handle more of their own paperwork, accounting, and business management. And one Beatle in particular (George Harrison) hated it. Harrison wrote the song after a long afternoon of business meetings while playing one of Eric Clapton’s guitars, in Clapton’s garden. The inspiration came from England’s long, dreary, and seemingly endless winters. “No piece of music can make you feel better than this,” said Tom Petty, one of Harrison’s good friends. “It’s such an optimistic song, with that little bit of ache in it that makes the happiness mean even more.”

  1. “Dancing Days” by Led Zeppelin (1973)

Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant is all about summer celebrations of getting down and cutting loose on long, hot evenings: “Dancing days are here again, as the summer evenings grow,” Plant enthusiastically wails. Led Zep recorded “Dancing Days” at Mick Jagger’s mansion, and following the session, the band was so stoked they went outside, blared it through the studio speakers, and danced to it in a carefree way that only summer can inspire. Just like you should do.

  1. “American Girl” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1976)

Only Tom Petty could take an urban legend from the 1960s about a University of Florida co-ed taking hallucinogens for the first time, thinking she could fly, and then tumbling face down on the concrete below her window (some versions of the tale maintain that she leaped from as high as the 13th floor). In a day of limitless possibilities, such an event represented the seeming end of innocence experienced by an entire generation later in the 70s. For his first album, Petty wrote an upbeat, engaging, and relevant song around this haunting sense of disillusion. “…It was the start of writing about people who are longing for something else in life, something better than they have,” said Petty. As morose as that may sound, as summer road trip songs go, there aren’t many that compare.

  1. “Summer Babe (Winter Version)” by Pavement (1992)

It’s too early to be thinking about summer winding down in a couple of months, too early to think about loading up the car after vacation and heading back to your day-to-day grind. Pavement, in this surprisingly upbeat tune, captures all the melancholy and anxiety of the end of a summer romance. “In an abandoned houseboat, I’ll wait there, I’ll be waiting forever…You’re my summer babe.” Too much fun NOT to enjoy in the sun.

  1. “Staring at the Sun” by U2, Live Acoustic Version (1997)

Though the album version fell short of expectations, the uplifting, summery live acoustic version of “Staring at the Sun” by Bono and the Edge is nothing other than charming. “I think it nails a certain mood, where you actually don’t want to know the truth because lies are more comforting,” said Bono about the tune. Fitting, since the first time the entire world-renowned band attempted to play this song live, they were all playing at different tempos, and it fell flat on its face in front of the Las Vegas crowd. A little bit of schadenfreude is good for the soul, no matter what time of year it is.

  1. “Drop it like it’s Hot” by Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell (2004)

No one does cool in the summer than Snoop Dogg. Drop it. Park it. Pop it. Straight from the ultimate timeless summertime dance party playlist, this 2004 hit featuring Pharrell dares you to NOT bump to it whenever it starts to play.  “Two!” “one!” “yep, three!” S-N double O-P, D-O double G…”

  1. “Walkin’ on the Sun” by Smash Mouth (1997)

This bouncy song about the 1992 Los Angeles Riots was written by Smashmouth’s guitarist, Greg Camp, in a tongue-in-cheek spirit of “can’t we all get along?” Camp wanted to capture how he felt about that time in U.S. history like things were spiralling out of control, and “like we might as well be walking around a planet on fire.”

  1. “Steal My Sunshine” by Len (1999)

Nothing screams late 90s like any number of the lighthearted hip-hop-alt-pop-influenced musical jaunts from that era (e.g., Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Beck). This trippy, catchy, bouncy summer song is all about baking in the sun atop your favorite park bench, sipping on frozen slushies, and wondering where your summer love all went wrong: “My mind was thugged, all laced and bugged, all twisted round and beat.” Though it’s about a bit of a downer, this tune still makes you feel great.

  1. “Heavy Metal Drummer” by Wilco (2002)

Remember going down to the river in the summer and listening to heavy metal cover bands with your special friend? Most of us don’t either. But Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy came up with the perfect song about rocking out in the summer on the river landing, “I miss the innocence I’ve known…playing KISS covers, beautiful and stoned.” Can such a fun summer song feel so sweetly nostalgic and achy at the same time? Hear for yourself.

  1. “A Little More Summertime” by Jason Aldean (2016)

Sadly, summer always comes to an end. But not without memories of all those unforgettable moments: long, sultry days on the beach, followed by warm, humid nights at the local carnival. Enough to make you wish you could stop time and savor it just a little bit longer. This summer song will make you feel warm, happy, and wistful, all at the same time. And you wouldn’t trade in those memories for anything.

Music really can make you feel better. What do you think about our playlist? Did we miss any of your favorites? We’d love to hear what songs keep you going in the summer!

Are you struggling with summertime blues? Not to worry, it is very common. If you or someone close to you needs 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.


mental illness conversation

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“Who can I talk to about my mental illness?”

So, you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness. You might be feeling like your world is coming to an end, but it’s not. Life goes on, and it’s up to you to “keep on keepin’ on.” And you are not alone.

There are things in everyone’s life that don’t make one eager to share with others: A break-up, job loss, loss of a pet or a significant person in one’s life, a mental illness diagnosis, etc. The list goes on.

Who can you talk to about your mental illness? Why would you want to? Whom can you trust? It’s easy for many people to shut down and turn inward at times when what they really should be doing is building a support system and getting buy-in, support, and understanding from others, especially those they feel closest to friends, family members, trusted members of the clergy, a trusted counselor.

The most important thing for you to remember is that you are NOT your mental illness, and you should never feel ashamed about being diagnosed with one. You’re not inferior to anyone because of your diagnosis. It’s not your fault and there’s nothing inherently “wrong” with you. You shouldn’t feel any more ashamed than if you were to have broken an arm, or caught a cold.

You have a condition, a mental illness, it is manageable, and it’s absolutely OK to talk about it.

The more you talk openly about your mental illness, the easier it will get. It’s just your “normal.” If you’ve decided to confide in someone you about your mental illness, you might feel anxious about how it will go, what the person may think, and what he or she may say.

Everyone’s different, and no two people will ever have the exact same response to a situation, but most human beings are rational and reasonable. Your odds are good that they won’t “flip out” or ostracize you from society, especially if they are someone who cares about you like a parent, sibling, significant other, or friend. Don’t let the fear of rejection control you.

What can you expect when it comes to this kind of conversation?

This conversation is merely the opening of an ongoing dialogue. No, talking about mental illness is not just a “one and done,” kind of scenario. There will be plenty of more interactions and conversations in the future. At least you’ve gotten much of the “heavy lifting” done by opening the doors for an honest prologue.

Though it might feel awkward at first, you’ll probably feel somewhat relieved to get this off of your chest. It might be tough to broach the subject, but remember that it’s always cathartic to be able to open up and share something that’s been weighing on you and that you have been guarded about. Chances are the person you’re sharing with has had similar personal experience, or knows someone who has received a similar diagnosis. This should help you feel not so alone.

Anticipate questions. For example, “How long have you known about this?” “Can you tell me what it’s like?” “Did something traumatic happen to trigger all this?” “How are you managing it?” You are under no obligation to have an appropriate response to every question. In fact, “I’m not sure how to respond to that” or “I’m not sure how to describe it for you” are perfectly acceptable and reasonable answers. The person probably isn’t “grilling you” or being nosey. He or she probably wants to understand what you’re experiencing and feeling in order to be able to help.

What if the person doesn’t understand? This may happen, and even though the person you’re sharing with may have some experience, they may not be able to relate to exactly what you’re struggling with. He or she may not know what it “looks like.” That’s also OK. You don’t need him or her to possess a full understanding of your plight in order to feel validated yourself.

The reaction you’re hoping for? Prepare yourself for the reality that you might not get it. It might feel frustrating to open up a dialogue that’s so meaningful to you only to be told “M’eh, it’s all in your head,” or “Everyone feels blue from time to time. It’ll pass,” or “You should think more positively,” or “Don’t be so dramatic; you’re fine!”   Though it’s often unpleasant to hear the things that people are “supposed to say” in such a situation, try to remember that it’s just social conditioning that prompts such responses. Be patient and make it clear that your mental illness is making it extremely difficult for you to live a happy and healthy life, and that you aren’t sure exactly how to proceed toward a resolution. If for whatever reason the individual doesn’t quite “get you,” don’t let it faze you, and don’t let it push you back into despair. Who else can you share with to open up a more constructive dialogue?

The journey ahead may seem long, but it’s worth it. Your mental health issues might be the result of a specific event or situation (e.g., mourning a loss), but once you’ve had time to process your thoughts and feelings, your condition may improve significantly. An adjustment or change may also be just what you need (like getting a transfer or a new job if you’ve been dealing with a bully at work). You may, however, have a long term illness. While mental illness is common and treatable, it might take a few different tactics and approaches before you find what works for you personally.

You may need to talk to a mental health professional next. Don’t put it off, and remember that your mental illness is NOT a reflection of your inherent value as a human being. Your mental health professional’s responsibility is to assist you in finding your way to a place where you feel confident at having the tools and coping skills to effectively manage your mental health going forward. A combination of appropriate medication and counseling can be very effective, and in many cases, it may not be an every week thing, necessarily.

Finally, yet another reminder: No matter how anyone responds to you sharing about your mental illness, you are NOT your mental illness, so never give up on yourself. You can do this.

Are you worried about not feeling confident talking to anyone about your mental illness? Remember that it’s 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.



Mental Health Recovery Journey

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What is mental health recovery and what does it entail? A true-to-life mental health recovery definition will cover not just getting back to the point of being able to function, but will include more of helping you achieve your best, most-satisfying life. You might have already questioned whether or not you can make the journey at all.

The recovery journey back to health has no ideal to strive for. Everyone’s looks different, custom-made for the traveler, if you will. Most people who have traveled the mental health journey will tell you that their path was rarely, if ever, a straight and steady one—more like a roller coaster or traveling over rolling hills, with plenty of hits and misses, plenty of ups and downs, with setbacks, insights, positive changes, and epiphanies along the way. Recovering your mental health in full will be a gradual process that takes time, and positive changes will happen so subtly, you won’t notice them other than in retrospect.

You may have already noticed that your mental health has had significant impact on your life in several ways regarding such aspects as normal and every day activities, once-familiar friendships, intimate relationships, and your ability to maintain employment and financial security, to name a few. To make matters worse, the more losses you incur, the more you will feel overwhelmed, like you are losing your grip on things.

What can you do to help yourself bounce back? Above all, remember that mental illness is manageable, no matter how bad it may seem at times. Here are some ways to manage your expectations.

  • You don’t have to do it ALL. There is no end of advice that you will receive from well-meaning friends and family, and it will likely all sound cliché’ish, like “fortune cookie wisdom.” And it can nudge you toward feeling hopeless and helpless. But you don’t have to do everything you’re told. Do what appeals to you, and what you think you might like, and ignore the rest. It is yourjourney, after all.
  • Adjust and adapt. You may find that some approach or other that you’ve found to you cope well, like a certain medication, is beginning to lose its effectiveness. You may find this frustrating. Don’t worry about it. You are the one supplying your own arsenal of tools, so if one stops working, or you can’t keep up with it, just let it go. You’ll find another to replace it.
  • This is going to drain you a bit. Managing your mental health can be demanding mentally, emotionally, and even physically, especially for the first few months. Changing negative beliefs and self-defeating talk takes quite a bit of effort, so don’t be surprised. Don’t feel guilty about asking a friend or family member to run an errand for you because you’re just feeling overwhelmed, or about taking a nap if you need to, or about going to bed early on a weekend. Moving in the right direction will take a lot out of you, and that’s OK.
  • Your “new normal” is normal.Roll with it. Whether it means regular medication, therapy, rehab, finding a more low-stress job, just roll with it. Your journey isn’t “supposed to look” any particular way. It just looks the way it does. Not better or worse than anyone else’s, because it’s uniquely yours.
  • Don’t ever give up on trying to solve the puzzle. If your mental illness ever felt overwhelming, trying to figure out how to manage it can feel even more so, like a puzzle or an equation that you just don’t get at times. Your medication may not be working like you think it should, your therapy sessions and/or rehab may not seem to be getting you anywhere, but don’t ever quit. You will figure the puzzle out eventually, so just learn to enjoy the process.

No matter how many stumbles and discouragements, it is one of those journeys where you will not see how far you’ve gone, until you stop for a rest and look back. As you go along the path of your mental health recovery journey, you will find slowly find pieces of yourself that you may feel you’ve lost. There will be times when you feel like you’re returning to the “you” you’ve come to know.

You got this. Enjoy the ride, and remember that you’re not alone, and that you are worth it.

How are you doing? How is your journey going so far? We’d love to hear from you, even just to talk! 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.

Negative social media effects on mental health

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Looking back in time, one might say that social media sites as we know them today crept up on modern society unawares. Those of all ages–ranging from the very young and impressionable, up through adolescence, young adulthood, and even mature adulthood–have come to follow social media apps consistently (and even obsessively, one might argue).

Over three-and-one-half billion people worldwide use the internet, and over three billion of them use social media regularly, amounting to about 40 percent of the earth’s population. It is certainly one of life’s more ever-present daily activities for a significant portion of humankind, whether for a few minutes daily, or for hours at a time. Some of social networking’s benefits include the ability to stay informed, self-educate, build and relationships with family and friends, professionally network, interact with another human being at any time of day or night, and share expertise. But have you ever wondered if you can use social media sites too much?

Unfortunately for those who love their social media time, there is enough evidence to argue to some degree or another that the downside of social media effects on mental health well outweigh its touted benefits.

Sources of lowered self-esteem, social anxiety, and moodiness in social networkers have been shown to include cyberbullying, heightened stress levels, unhealthy comparison of self with others, jealousy, depression, feelings of helplessness and/or hopelessness, impaired ability to manage emotions, disrupted sleep, and decreased productivity leading to a decreased sense of achievement.

According to a 2015 research study at the University of Missouri, researchers noted that regular Facebook use can lead to depressive symptoms if the interaction creates feelings of envy in the user. In a study conducted by the British disability charity known as Scope, 1500 Facebook and Twitter users were surveyed, and as high as 62 percent of them reported feeling “inadequate” and 60 percent reported feelings of “envy” caused by comparison of self to other users.

Think about it. It stands to reason that if you have a generally negative outlook on life, or are already feeling somewhat down, regularly scrolling through pictures of happy couples and other cheerful characters living what appears to be a “perfect” life, it can easily make you feel worse. Excessive online social networking and mental health are not always a harmonious combination.

What else do social media and mental health statistics have to teach us? Excessive social media use has been directly linked to less happiness overall. Other studies have shown that Facebook use was linked to less life satisfaction overall, as well as less moment-to-moment happiness. Another study suggests that social networking creates a heightened perception of social isolation in the user unlike other solitary activities, and this perceived sense of self-isolation is one of the most emotionally destructive dynamics humans can encounter.

While it still stands that social networking has some benefits, there are plenty of convincing reasons that factual data can show us how social media affects us negatively.

You don’t need to “swear off” social media cold turkey, but you can motivate yourself to use social media in moderation. Here are some ideas to help manage its effects in your life:

  • Choose to seek out the positive, and soak in the gratitude for your own victories as well as for those of others.
  • Remind yourself regularly that social media isn’t an accurate representation of real life.
  • Stop tormenting yourself with comparisons of yourself to others.
  • Don’t be afraid of missing out by unfollowing your most (seemingly) happy and successful friends (even if just for a while).
  • Give social media a rest by deactivating your account(s) (you can reactivate them later at any point).

The effects of social networking continue to be studied, but nothing we’ve learned so far has even remotely indicated that its effects are anything but detrimental to your mental well-being. You’re still on the computer? One final tip: go outside, face the world, and start creating your own realistic and successful, happy moments.

Do you suspect that excessive social networking is 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.

suicide attempt

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The suicide attempt of any individual creates an unsettling ripple effect on the lives of those close to him or her. Fortunately, he or she failed in the attempt, but in the mind of the suicidal individual, this failure only exacerbates problematic feelings of depression, incompetence, guilt, shame, low self-esteem, and worthlessness. You may feel overwhelmed and want to dissociate from the problem, or you may feel angry, or you may worry about a subsequent attempt by the individual. You may want to panic, criticize, or lecture the individual. None of these reactions will help the situation, however. The best thing you can do is show the suicidal individual understanding and that he or she has your moral support by being thoughtful, caring, kind toward your friend or loved one, and by handling the situation very delicately.


If you’re like most people close to someone who has attempted suicide, you may not know how to be supportive because you probably don’t know exactly what to say. When a friend or loved one attempts suicide your own emotional state may also be impeding you from knowing how to help.

Don’t be afraid, and don’t press the individual to answer questions. Making yourself available, gently asking open-ended questions, and actively listening to the responses can help keep communication lines open. Be enthusiastic and offer hope. You can create a “safe space” for the individual so that he or she feels understood, listened to, supported, and comfortable talking about any emotions being experienced.

The tone you use to help facilitate a dialogue should be reassuring to your friend or loved one should be reinforced by statements that help validate his or her inherent worth, the validity of his or her emotions and experiences, and the fact that you are available to listen. Some suggestions for what to say to help break the ice include:

  • You’re not alone in this. I hope you’ll talk to me whenever you feel the need to. Tell me what I can do to help. We can get through this. I believe in you.
  • Your feelings are valid and they are OK. You don’t have to feel guilty about anything you have felt or are feeling.
  • You’re important to me. You matter.
  • Don’t forget to take care of yourself and your feelings.
  • I’m sorry to hear you’ve been feeling so powerless and overwhelmed. I’m so grateful that you’re still with us.

Another show of support for your friend or loved one who has attempted suicide is to do everything you can to help keep him or her safe. Know ahead of time whom you can contact (trusted counselor, clergy member, or family member) for help if a situation with the suicidal individual begins to go south and you fear for his or her safety. Another way to show support is by gathering resources for him or her. There are several support hotlines available for someone who is feeling suicidal, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK (8255)) and the National Hopeline Network (1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)).

The most important thing you can remember is not to feel selfish about setting healthy boundaries and taking care of yourself. You can’t “save” or protect anyone all alone. Help create a support network of friends and/or family members that are willing to make themselves available for your friend or loved one to talk to and confide in.

The thought process and emotional turmoil that lead to a suicide attempt is a long and complicated one, and you should give your friend or loved one the needed time to heal. Be patient with the process. There are no quick fixes or shortcuts for helping the individual after the attempted suicide. Take things slowly and in small steps. The individual needs time to work through and process any emotions, and this is perfectly normal. Just don’t downplay, minimize, or oversimplify what your friend or loved one is going through.

Your loved one can bounce back given time and space. Slowly and surely.

Having trouble starting a hard conversation after a friend or loved one attempts suicide? If you or someone you love need to talk to someone about support for someone who may be suicidal or feelings of being overwhelmed, we’d like to help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Mental illness effect on relationships

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Mental illness in relationships is often a dynamic that gets marginalized and considered peripherally, at best. Every individual, and hence, every relationship is unique, so how mental illness affects relationships depends on many singular factors.

For the affected partner (or both partners), many questions loom: “What kinds of issues will arise because of my mental illness?” “When and how should I talk about it with my significant other?”  “Should I even be in a relationship?”  “Will she/he get tired and give up on me?”

As far as healthy relationship tips go, you should ever keep in mind that everyone deserves to be in a supportive, committed relationship. For the long haul.

A healthy relationship can provide much-needed emotional and social support, while an unhealthy relationship can only contribute to exacerbate the already daunting symptoms of a mental illness. But it’s important for both partners to develop reasonable expectations as well as an awareness of appropriate ways to manage issues that arise due to mental illness.

Following are three common ways that mental illness affects relationships.


One common dynamic seen in couple relationships where at least one partner has a mental illness is that the “healthier” partner will spend a lot of time taking care of the ill partner, especially early in the relationship, and sometimes for several years. Problems arise when the caregiving partner neglects his or her own needs and begins to feel the effects of burnout (not unlike those that affect nursing staff in psychiatric hospitals). Burnout can result in resentment, irritability, angry outbursts, and infidelity.

Another problem occurs when the affected partner develops a perceived sense of helplessness without the caregiver partner. A counterproductive codependency can fester and undermine the relationship.

It’s important for you and your partner to develop some reasonable, healthy boundaries in order to avoid someone getting resentful and burnt out.

Disrupted communication

Someone with a mental illness not only has the illness to cope with, but also overwhelming waves of emotions to address. Often, it is difficult for the affected partner to articulate how he or she is feeling, or may downplay what is really going on out of fear of being abandoned and feelings of guilt.

For the partner of an individual affected by mental illness, communication can become strained and superficial, and as he or she realizes that the effects of the mental illness are not the affected significant other’s fault, feelings of guilt can develop and fester.

It’s important for you and your significant other to communicate openly and to keep everything as transparent as possible. There’s nothing worse for a relationship than one or both partners not having a sense of “what is really going on.”  

Disrupted Intimacy

There are several ways in which mental illness can negatively impact a couple’s sex life.

Side effects from medication can inhibit libido, disrupt arousal, and prevent orgasm.

Such symptoms should be discussed with your partner, as well as with your physician. Discussing the issue openly and working on an optimal medication and dosage can help mitigate adverse side effects.

Remember that it is critical you do not stop taking your medication. A psychotic or manic episode can do far more extensive, lasting damage to your relationship than side effects that hamper things in the bedroom.

Approaching a solution

Individual counseling for one or both partners may be what your relationship needs to stay healthy. Medication can be a huge help. Couples therapy is an option for many relationships.

As you and your partner work on the best approach to managing issues caused by a mental illness, you both should be sure to show support, appreciation, and affection for one another. The effects of a mental illness on a relationship don’t have to be permanent.

Having trouble starting a hard conversation about a mental illness condition? If you or someone you love need to talk to someone about mental illness or feelings of being overwhelmed, we’d like to help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

mental health services 4 Things Not to Say to Someone with a Mental IllnessEver have one of those moments when a friend or family member starts talking about a mental illness that he or she deals with? And you find you don’t know exactly what to say, so you quickly shift to canned, “fallback” statements?

Even your most well-intentioned comments can come across as insensitive and “tone deaf,” and can hurt your loved one more than help. Here are four common conversation blunders followed by suggestions for something a little better you might say.


#1 “You don’t look depressed.”

It can be argued that there is no medical condition that brings with it any specific way to “look.” What should someone with cancer look like? How about someone with diabetes? Mental illness will not leave everyone it affects feeling exactly the same. Forget about the stereotype of someone who is depressed sobbing uncontrollably or unable to muster the energy to shower in the morning.

The fact is that most people who suffer from a mental illness go to great lengths to look like nothing is wrong.
What you might say: “Talk to me and help me understand better what you’re experiencing.”


#2 “It’s all in your head.”

Few things could feel more diminishing or dehumanizing than being told that what is emotionally very real to your loved one is little more than an insignificant construct of an overly-active imagination. It also downplays actual physiological symptoms such as disturbed sleep, fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, weight fluctuation, and other body aches and pains.

Remember that a mental illness affects all aspects of a human being, and is not merely in “the head.” What you might say: “You seem to be going through something difficult and I’m proud of you for having the guts to work through it.”


#3 “A lot of people would love to have your life.”

This may very well be true, but changes nothing about the emotionally-draining experience that the person you’re talking to is trying to cope with. Telling someone with a mental illness that other people have it much worse can only make him or her feel guilty about the associated feelings.

What you might say : “What you’re trying to cope with is real, and you shouldn’t ever feel guilty about it.”


#4 “Hey, just stay positive!”

Optimism is a great concept, but being told that an attitude adjustment is all that’s needed to deal with life’s challenges can come across as very trite and ineffectual to someone with a mental illness. Would you tell a friend with a broken arm to try to heal it with positive thoughts? Mental illness can be very serious, requiring professional treatment.

What you might say: “This sounds like a difficult situation for anyone to handle, but you’re going to get through it. What can I do to help?”

Long story short: when in doubt, empathy and real listening are always better than rehearsed platitudes, as well-intentioned as the latter may be. Don’t talk to the person any differently than you normally would, and this will go a long way to establishing consistency in the relationship, and to making him or her feel more valued, supported, and secure.

Having trouble starting a hard conversation about a mental illness condition? If you or someone you love need to talk to someone about mental illness or feelings of being overwhelmed, we’d like to help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Mental Illness Stigma

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Myths about mental illness are all too common, and can be burdensome for those who cope with such debilitating mental health concerns. Most individuals have had some experience or other with mental illness, either firsthand themselves or with other people in their lives.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Approximately one in five adults in the U.S. (43.8 million, or 18.5 percent) experiences mental illness in a given year, and one in five youth aged 13 to 18 experiences a severe mental disorder at some point in their life. Regardless, common myths about mental illness create unnecessary misperceptions and stigma, and needless obstacles in interpersonal relationships.

The National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), reports that some of the most popular myths in circulation today as reported by mental health professionals include: propagating the false notion that depression and other mental illnesses are a result of some kind of character flaw; or the false belief that those with mental illnesses are volatile, irrational, and dangerous; or that mental illnesses can be “willed away” with positive thinking.

Let’s debunk some of the more popular mental illness myths.

Myth #1: There is no hope for someone with mental health problems; he or she will never recover. Actually, people frequently can and do recover from mental illnesses of all kinds. With the increasing discovery of new types of treatments and with the wide availability of services and resources, no one ever has to live with the mental anguish, doubt, and confusion brought on by mental illness. People with mental illnesses that continue for long periods of time can learn how to manage their symptoms so they are not impeded from reaching their goals. It is extremely common for those with mental illnesses to function normally, contribute at work, school, or by volunteering, and to be productive and happy. Those who continue to struggle with challenges may require a different approach, treatment, or forms of emotional support.

Myth #2: Mental illness isn’t really an illness in the traditional sense.
The reality is that a mental illness is no less real than having the flu, breaking a leg, or suffering from cancer. While we all go through normal ups and downs as a normal, expected part of life, mental illnesses can create ongoing and sometimes debilitating stress in an individual’s life. Mental illnesses can’t just be “walked off,” and in many instances, require professional treatment, just like a serious case of the flu, a broken bone, or a case of cancer.

Myth #3: People with mental illnesses are violent, unpredictable, and dangerous. The truth is that a majority of researchers agree that a mental illness does not necessarily predict violence, but rather that individuals who live with mental illness are no more violent than those without a mental illness. You might be surprised to learn that people with mental illnesses are more often victims of violence than they are perpetrators.

Myth #4: Individuals who suffer from mental illness are fragile, timid, and can’t hold down a job or cope well with stress. Knowing how to take care of oneself and having the humility to ask for help when needed are indicators of strength and maturity.  While it’s true that stress can have an adverse effect on normal daily functioning, it is worthy to note that this is true for everyone, not just those with mental illnesses. Treatment for mental illness may involve learning coping skills like problem-solving and stress management, and for this reason, those with mental illnesses may be more adept at managing stress levels than many people who have never had to grapple with mental health challenges.

There are countless more myths about people affected by mental illness, many of which may have discouraged you or someone you love from seeking proper treatment needed to learn how to manage and recover. The individual person is more than any mental health disorder he or she may have. The right guidance and help can help anyone get back to enjoying and living life to the fullest.

Are myths about mental illness preventing you from seeking help you may need? 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.

Movies about mental illness

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Movies about mental illness have a way of sparking our interest and getting us to ponder on issues related to mental health. Every now and then a film comes along that you feel really speaks to you and that really seems to “get” you. Suddenly the world doesn’t feel as lonely, and you get the feeling that somebody somewhere understands you and what you’re going through. This positive lift may even be described as therapeutic.

If you live with a mental illness, one thing is to understand intellectually that you don’t have any reason to feel ashamed. Another is to really understand and grasp that things are never as bad as they may seem. That feeling of being OK with having to cope with your disorder can go a long way in encouraging you and helping you manage it.

Another benefit of movies about mental illness realistically is to counter any public mental health stigma and general lack of knowledge — they help humanize people that live with mental illness. Though not always easy to watch, and to help you get ready for Mental Health Awareness Month (observed annually in May), below are some of the best movies about mental illness that capture life as seen through the eyes of individuals whom many of us can easily relate to.

“The Hours,” 2002 (Depression)

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Michael Cunningham, “The Hours” is a bold, tangible sojourn through common human experiences such as mental anguish, alienation, and the complex interconnectedness between ourselves and others. We follow writer Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) as she delves into the writing of her novel “Mrs. Dalloway,” Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) as a floundering post-World War II housewife as she reads Woolf’s novel and rapidly approaches her own inner collapse.

We also watch Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) in 2001 New York City plan a party for her friend who is suffering from AIDS along with another writer. Depression, suicide, and their effects touch and pull all three of the women together along with the viewer into a mutual understanding of what these things are, what they mean, and how they affect all of us in some way or other.

“Donnie Darko,” 2001 (Paranoid Schizophrenia)

This science-fiction film has become a cult classic. Donnie Darko, played by a young Jake Gyllenhaal, tries to keep it together amid an ongoing flow of daytime hallucinations that explore the nature of living and loving. Donnie often speaks candidly with his therapist about these perceived visions (often featuring a large and unsettlingly haunting bunny known as Frank), and she subsequently informs his parents that he seems to be manifesting symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia.

The movie, shown through Donnie’s perceptive standpoint, never distinguishes between what is real and what are merely figments of the imagination, which helps drive home the point that those with mental illnesses often can’t make that differentiation. We feel frustrated, confused, and diminished as the protagonist must feel as he experiences this dreamscape life where no one ever believes his warnings and descriptions of what is going on all around him. Though the media typically portrays paranoid schizophrenia as something dangerous, eventually, we the viewers stop having to figure everything out, learn to let go, and surrender to things as they are.

“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” 2004 (Mental illness and forgetting about trauma)

“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” blurs the line between romantic comedy/drama and science fiction while telling the story of the relationship between Joel (Jim Carrey) and free-spirited Clementine (Kate Winslet). The central storyline revolves around a fictional procedure that can erase memories. Clementine undergoes the procedure in order to forget about Joel after things start to go awry between them.

Traces of psychosis, depression, bipolar disorder, and the importance of remembering as a component of recovery all emerge for Joel as he desperately continues trying to get Clementine to remember him. The film is an emotive story that you may find very relatable in terms of coming to terms with mental illness.

Say what you will about remembering and forgetting, eventually Joel and Clementine come to the realization they really don’t want to forget one another. Some may advocate for blotting out traumatic memories and “getting on with life,” but “Eternal Sunshine” suggests that remembering the negative is also a surefire way to highlight the positive aspects of our past.

“Melancholia,” 2011 (Depression)

“Melancholia,” an artistically enticing film that gives us a glimpse into depression at a most visceral level. The title makes reference to a newly discovered planet that is deemed to be on a collision course with Earth. Two of the main characters, sisters Justine and Claire, each deal with the news differently.

Justine shows outward signs of depression on her wedding day as her family shows itself to be one big dysfunctional mess. Claire, on the other hand, internalizes all her misgivings about her family and their mass of problems. The planet shows itself to be an outward reflection of Claire’s depression and anxiety over her family and personal life. Claire’s introspection is driven by a growing fear that the planet Melancholia is going to end all life on Earth as we know it.

This visually captivating film speaks not only to mental illness but also to familial relationships and how we cope with life itself.

“Silver Linings Playbook,” 2012 (Bipolar Disorder)

“Silver Linings Playbook” is about Pat (Bradley Cooper), a man compelled to spend some time in a mental hospital after a violent rage-driven outburst sparked by his finding his wife in bed with another man. It turns out he has a serious case of bipolar disorder, and upon his release, he moves back in with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) as he continues to recover. Though his wife has betrayed him and their marriage, he is determined to win back her affections and go back to “the way things once were,” during which time he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Tiffany offers to help Pat in his efforts to win over his wife, as long as he agrees to be her ballroom dance partner for a competition. The film very realistically depicts the wide spectrum of emotions experienced by those with bipolar disorder.

Other honorable mentions include “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975), “Fight Club” (1999), and “Shutter Island” (2010) So now you have some binge-worthy movies for this weekend! Did we miss any personal favorites of yours?  Let us know!

Do you or someone you love need help in managing a mental illness? If so, 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.

Parent with mental illness

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Having a parent with mental illness can be challenging for anyone. If you have a parent with a mental illness, you might have a different sense of what “normal” life at home means, and you’ve most likely already experienced enough to know that life with a mentally ill parent can be filled with anxiety and a heightened sense of vigilance.

You may have grown up becoming used to having some of your needs neglected — you may have had experiences where you felt you needed to compete with your parent’s symptoms to receive needed care. Living with a parent with mental illness can indeed be difficult.

Such dynamics, among others, can exacerbate the risk of issues emerging later in life, including emotional and psychological disturbances, learning challenges, and impaired overall functioning.  Other challenges you may find yourself dealing with might include troubled relationships and marital problems. You may resent, or have other bitter or hard feelings toward your parent.

As an adult, addressing the parent’s mental illness with siblings and other family members can be awkward, at best. Some people prefer to remain quiet about a parent’s diagnosis, while others may need to share their thoughts and experiences more openly.

The following are some suggestions for approaching the situation along with siblings and other family members.

  • Don’t reinforce the stigma with your silence. Remember that the stigma of mental illness is only perpetuated if you choose to avoid discussion of the illness. By openly discussing the illness’ occurrences and influence in your family, you and your siblings are helping yourselves find new creative strategies to cope with the past and to prepare for what the future may bring.
  • Research any relevant diagnoses and share what you know with your siblings. A factual explanation for upsetting behaviors can help you put things in a clearer perspective, and help you better to forgive your parent and let go of any ill feelings you might still harbor.
  • Share your personal story of growing up. Encourage your siblings to share their own story of growing up, and be sure to share your own. Be as objective as possible, and speak in terms of “I used to feel like…,” “It seemed to me that…,” and “this is how I remember it….” Your story is valid, as is your siblings’.  Speaking from your own perspective, and listening to one another’s, can help to piece together the family story more clearly, and make better sense of the overall “profile” of the parent in question.
  • Deepen your relationship with siblings or other family members. Nurturing this kind of open exchange can provide a supportive environment when talking about developing the same or a similar diagnosis through genetics.
  • Help nurture your relationship with your parents. If your parent is still alive and still mentally ill, openly sharing with your siblings or other family members can help you establish a healthier relationship with your still-living parents.

Refusal to acknowledge a parent’s mental illness or pretending that it did/does not affect your adult life will not make lingering issues go away by themselves. Being brutally honest about realities you have faced and may face in the future is uncomfortable and difficult, but it can open up communications, more authenticity, and healthier relationships within your family circle.

You may also find it might be helpful to seek professional help. Your feelings and experience are all valid and real, and a mental health professional and/or a support group can be very helpful in guiding you to seek resolution and peace of mind.

Are you and other family members struggling to come to terms with past or present dynamics dealing with a parent who has a mental illness? Is the stress preventing you from moving forward to manage the challenge? If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about a parent or other family member with 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 is depersonalization (derealization) disorder? Have you ever experienced segments of time when the world around you felt distinctly surreal? Or detached from your surroundings? Maybe you often find yourself “outside of yourself” and “looking in from outside to observe your own life?” You’re not alone; it very well may not be your imagination. This phenomenon really “is a thing.”

Depersonalization disorder is a type of dissociative disorder that characteristically manifests itself through persistent/recurring feelings of detachment (dissociation) from one’s body and/or cognitive processes, not unlike a psychotic episode.

While that may not seem like the worst thing that could happen to you, some patients find the experience nothing short of terrifying. One such notable case is Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows, who deals with depersonalization disorder on a regular, daily basis.

It’s common for those with the disorder to feel as if the world were lifeless, colorless, and even “fake.” They may feel as though they were dreaming, in a fog, or as though a veil or glass wall separated them from their immediate surroundings. A subjective sense of distortion may also occur, e.g. unusually blurry or sharply clear objects, objects that may seem smaller, larger, or visibly “flat.” Often time may seem to be going much slower or faster than usual, and sounds and noises may seem unbearably louder or softer than they actually are.

Such symptoms of depersonalization disorder can typically be distressing, and some patients feel as though they may have irreversible cerebral damage, or even that they are losing their minds. Some patients may obsess over whether or not they really exist, or may compulsively check over and over to verify whether or not their perceptions are for real. Most patients, however, are able to maintain an awareness of the fact that these experiences are unreal, and this is what differentiates the disorder from a psychotic episode, where such awareness is absent. A memory may frequently lapse, and patients may not be able to feel, identify, or express their emotions.

What are the causes of depersonalization disorder? The disorder is typically triggered by acute stress and may be accompanied by depression and/or anxiety. Driving stress factors often involve one or more of the following:

  • Losing a close a family member or friend unexpectedly
  • Having a severely impaired or mentally ill parent
  • Emotional or physical abuse or being neglected as a child (probably the most common cause)
  • Exposure to domestic violence

Other triggers include financial, relationship, or job-related stress, and the use of illegal drugs such as hallucinogens, marijuana, and ketamine.

A proper diagnosis is driven by certain symptoms, but only after other possible causes are ruled out.

Three of the dynamics that may lead to a clinical diagnosis include persistent or recurring experiences with depersonalization, an awareness that the depersonalization episodes are only a subjective experience and not real, and symptoms that cause the patient acute distress, or that may greatly impair occupational/social functioning.

If all this seems relatable to you or someone you care about, there is treatment and help. Treatment of depersonalization disorder will typically involve psychotherapy, and possibly medication. Treatment for depression and/or anxiety may also be administered concurrently.

One thing to keep in mind is that depersonalization disorder, though stressful at times, is manageable, and you will still be able to live a normal life.

Are you struggling with feelings of life being surreal? Not to worry, you’re not going crazy, and it is treatable. 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.