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The Mental Health Danger of Dating Apps

Online dating can be an extremely efficient way to meet new people. However this convenience comes with pros and cons as using these apps takes up plenty space (both mental and physical) — so make sure before swiping away.

In recent years there has been an increase in the popularity of using technology for socializing purposes. Dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, PoF, or Grindr which allow someone to meet potential partners from the convenience of their phone.

This type of social media can be beneficial when used correctly but oftentimes may lead to negative outcomes in one’s life if not properly monitored or regulated.

Why People Use Dating Apps

There is no doubt that it works, as evidenced by the Stanford University study which found little difference in quality between those who met online and offline relationships despite there being an endless supply of potential partners at your fingertips on hookup sites like Tinder or Bumble for you swipe right!

People use dating apps for a variety of reasons. In some cases, they may be looking for a casual date or to meet new people, but in other cases it might reflect issues with their own social life.

People use dating apps as a way to find an answer to the age-old question “where are the good single men/women?”, and there is usually a reason why they have not had any luck within their group of friends or through a more traditional avenue.

Motivations

Did you know that the number one motivator for men on online dating sites is to find someone attractive? Women have many different objectives when browsing, with physical attributes being third behind conversation and location. In fact, studies show that physical attraction matters most for heterosexual women followed by having self-confidence and a kind personality.

Also, it is important to consider that men on dating sites tend to be less serious than women and there is a chance you could end up with someone who isn’t looking for a true relationship.

Meeting New People

Dating apps also offer the opportunity to meet people from all over the world as well as those profiles far outside of your normal social circles. This could be an advantage for some people who are looking to meet someone new, but also has the chance of building unrealistic expectations when you do not take into account that their values may be different than your own.

Hookup Culture

Even though there are many positive aspects of using dating apps, they can also offer an easy way for people to hook-up without much effort. The ease of this method may make it a casual decision and can cause you to meet up with many people who are not really interested in something serious.

Dating Apps have made it easy to connect with people across the world – this also means that you might be matched up with people who come from a completely different culture than your own. This could lead to unrealistic expectations and if both of you are looking for very different things, then both will feel mislead when they meet. If one person wanted something casual and the other wanted a serious relationship — that could cause issues within the relationship.

Lies and Exaggerations on Dating Apps

People tend to lie on dating profiles… a lot!

Studies showed that the most common things men and women lie about on their online dating profiles are their age, weight, and income. However, many people also lied about their physical appearance by using filters that could distort their photos.

Research has also shown that people often choose to use this method when they are not very happy with their real appearance or are trying to seek validation from strangers. Furthermore, men tended to lie by omitting their marital status whereas women were more inclined to make themselves seem younger to increase their chances of getting a response.

Many people stretch the truth about their social life or what they look like in order to sound better. This can lead to negative effects because internet dating has become more casual-making it easier for users to hook up with someone without really getting to know them.

In short, people often lie on their profiles and end up meeting someone who is either not serious about dating or does not maintain the same interests as them.

Online Dating Statistics

Let’s take a look at some statistics by Pew Research to consider:

  • 57% of online daters say they hve had a positive experience
  • 63% of online daters with a BA or higher degree reported positive experiences
  • 47% of online daters with a high school diploma or less reported positive experiences
  • 45% of online daters say dating apps have mad them feel frustrated
  • 28% of online daters say that dating apps have made them more hopeful
  • 71% of online daters say it was at least somewhat easy to find attractive people
  • 64% of online daters say it is at least somewhat easy to find people with shared hobbies and interests
  • 61% of online daters say it was at least somewhat easy to find someone looking for the same kind of relationship
  • Women are 58% more likely than men to find someone they were attracted to
  • 57% of men dating online said they didn’t receive enough messages
  • 71% of people think that people are lying online to make themselves more desirable
  • LGB online daters are more likely to be harassed on dating websites

How Dating Apps Can Affect One’s Mental Health

Dating apps offer the user a chance to meet people without any effort, which is why they are so great in theory. However, there have been many studies that have shown that dating apps can have an adverse effect on the mental health of their users.

One study examining social anxiety (SA) and depression in the use of mobile dating apps found that both conditions were associated with dating app use.

Furthermore, men with social anxiety and depression have been found to have a lower chance of “matching” with an online partner of desire — and women with similar symptoms were less likely to initiate conversation online. The same study notes past research that points to higher use of online social communication in women than in men.

Many people do not want to commit to a long-term relationship, which leads to hookups with several different partners, leading to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, it may be linked with feeling rejected by someone who was interested in you.

When someone is scrolling through, swiping left or right, they begin to notice way more often when people don’t approach them. It’s this constant rejection that may be a self-esteem killer and secondarily cause and agitate social anxiety and depression.

Avoid spending more than 15 to 20 minutes a day on an app swiping or looking for new matches. You might not be using the app in a healthy manner if the app is causing you anxiety or preventing you from doing other things that you enjoy.

Other ways to meet potential partners

You should use dating apps intentionally if you suffer from depression or social anxiety. Instead of using an app, you might consider going out to a bar to meet people. Nevertheless, you wouldn’t go to a bar every night — maybe once a week, or a few times a month. Treat your dating app use similarly.

One way to meet potential partners is by using dating apps in a more serious and committed way. Instead of just looking for hookups and casual relationships, try to find someone who may actually be a nice fit for you in a long-term relationship.

In the end, there is no reason to completely stop using dating apps-just put in a little effort and you might find someone worth your time. The trick is to make sure that you are doing this for the right reasons and not just to validate yourself by making yourself seem more attractive than you really are. The main key is finding balance and steering clear of hookups.

Get out in the world and do things you love. Chances are that the people you meet doing these activities or in places you enjoy are going to be a better match for you than someone you find online.

Meeting friends of friends is another great way to meet new people that are likely to share the same interests and morals as you. And spending time with friends is good for your mental well-being anyways. So, just let things happen naturally.

And remember, rejection hurts, but don’t let it steer you away from shooting your shot. You miss every chance you don’t take. Just remember not to take rejection from a stranger personally.

If dating apps are you thing, then get to swiping. If you have found them hurting your self-esteem, dial it back a bit and minimize your time swiping.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find someone right away. Finding the right person takes self-awareness, consistency, and positivity — whether online or offline.

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Strategies for Better Heart-Brain Communication

Your heart has a mind of its own… Kinda. While it may sound cliche to “follow your heart,” there may be truth in the phrase.

It turns out, according to recent research, that there is ongoing communication between the heart and brain that has a heavy influence on how we think and feel.

The Heart-Brain Connection

We’ve had proof that the heart communicates with the brain in significant ways as early as the 1960s. In 1991, Dr. J Andrew Armour coined the term “heart brain”, describing the heart as a complex intrinsic nervous system that is somewhat a brain of its own.

Research in the psychocardiology and neurocardiology field still has tons to learn, though consistencies in studies tell us quite a bit about the heart-brain connection.

Here’s what we currently know about the “heart brain”:

  • The heart starts beating before our brain has been formed
  • The emotional brain develops far before the logical brain
  • The heart has its own complex nervous system that is independent of the brain
  • The hearts nervous system is in constant communication with the brain
  • Signals from the heart synchronize with and direct many bodily systems
  • The heart makes many decisions on its own

Because of the early development of the heart and emotional brain, stress and emotions seem to have a strong connection.

This is to no surprise as we have known for decades that things like smoking, hypertension, PTSD, and emotional stress are closely linked risk factors for heart disease and strokes.

How the Heart Processes Emotions

In stressful situations, our bodies release adrenaline in a fight-or-flight response. This adrenaline increases heart rate and blood pressure and also signals blood platelets to release neuropeptide Y which can obstruct arteries in the heart.

Even emotional stress, such as a breakup, can cause abnormal contractions in the left ventricle of the heart — causing (quite literally) a broken heart.

Strategies for a healthy, happy “heart brain”

How do we leverage what we know about heart-brain communication? After all, controlling the thoughts of our minds can prove difficult enough. So, can you really control how your heart communicates with the rest of the body and mind?

To some extent yes. While the heart is an autonomous organ, we can take care of it in a number of ways.

It turns out, many things that make us smile and more appreciative of life also make our hearts happier.

Try the strategies below to make the best of your internal heart-brain communication.

Relaxation Practices

Relaxation techniques can have a surprising positive cardiovascular effect. There are a number of techniques that can achieve serotonin-boosted relaxation. A number of popular relaxation activities include mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises.

Yoga has actually proven to be a mood stabilizer and stress reducer by raising levels of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. And both Yoga and meditative practices have shown to increase serotonin — a crucial neurotransmitter in regulating mood.

Another technique is making a subtle change to the way you think about and talk to yourself. That internal monologue you hear all day makes a difference in how you feel.

Be mindful of negative thoughts and negative emotions; then channel positive energy to transform those thoughts into positive ones.

Comic Relief and Laughter

It doesn’t take a neurologist to know that happiness is a common result of laughter.

When we laugh, our body releases endorphins, which in turn releases nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is known to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Laughter also loosens blood vessels and can lower signs of aging within them.

Exercise is another great way to stimulate endorphin release, as well as other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. If you’re looking for stress relief, there are no better ways to cool down to exercise and crack a few jokes.

Listening to “Dope” Music

Ever listened to a song and got chills? That pleasurable feeling is a consequence of dopamine release when listening to or anticipating your favorite music.

Listening to music has been known to reduce anxiety. This may be linked to the nostalgic connection music often has in our lives. Our favorite songs are often neurologically linked to positive feelings from our younger years when our brains are still in rapid development.

There does seem to be a correlation between what type of music is more mood-boosting than others. Studies have shown that upbeat music is proven to improve happiness in as little as two weeks, whereas non-positive-sounding music does not have the same effect.

A hug a day

… Keeps the doctor away!

Physical encounters like hugging or other forms of touch are known to release the hormone and neurotransmitter oxytocin.

Oxytocin lowers blood pressure and heart rate. It has also been shown to directly prevent heart tissue death (which results in heart failure). Human studies have even shown intranasal oxytocin to stimulate the vagus nerve and improve mental stress test scores. It even showed to reduce chronic pain.

Taking Care of the Heart Brain

Taking care of the mind and body is always a good idea. We tend to either focus on either our mental health or our physical health, typically not both at the same time. And rather than react to a time of needed change, it’s always better to act proactively and preventatively.

Science has made it clear that taking care of the heart and brain are among the most important things we can do to prolong our lives and make for a happier self.

Sources

  1. Miller M. (2019). Emotional Rescue: The Heart-Brain Connection. Cerebrum: the Dana forum on brain science, 2019, cer-05-19.
  2. Armour, A. J., Dr. (n.d.). Chapter 01: Heart-Brain Communication. Retrieved August 29, 2021, from https://www.heartmath.org/research/science-of-the-heart/heart-brain-communication/
  3. HeartMath Institute. (2015, March 03). Heart Intelligence. Retrieved August 29, 2021, from https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/the-math-of-heartmath/heart-intelligence/
  4. Halaris, A., MD. (2018, September 20). Psychocardiology: Understanding the Heart-Brain Connection: Part 1. Retrieved from https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/psychocardiology-understanding-heart-brain-connection-part-1
  5. Silvani Alessandro, Calandra-Buonaura Giovanna, Dampney Roger A. L. and Cortelli Pietro 2016 Brain–heart interactions: physiology and clinical implications Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A.3742015018120150181
    http://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2015.0181
  6. Yuna L. Ferguson & Kennon M. Sheldon (2013) Trying to be happier really can work: Two experimental studies, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 8:1, 23-33, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2012.747000
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The Psychology Behind Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Theory and Happiness

There are many ways to describe the trance-like focus an athlete or an artist goes into during competition: fierce focus, in the zone, locked in, obsessed, complete immersion.

This highly focused mental state is what Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow.” Thanks to his research and studies, we better understand what being in the zone does to our happiness and intrinsic motivation.

We all want to live a more fruitful, happier life — right?

So, let’s take a look at what Csikszentmihalyi’s theory of flow and happiness is, and how you can use it’s principles to hack your mind into a naturally more motivated state.

What is Flow?

According to distinguished Psychology Professor and management founder & co-director of the Quality of Life Research Center (QLRC) Mahily Csikszentmihalyi, “flow” is a joyful state of mind one enters when trying to reach a goal in a challenging activity that is well suited to our skills.

Cziksentmihalyi defines flow as “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”

In other words, flow is like the saying, “getting lost in one’s work.”

The joyful experience of being in flow leads to better performance, motivation towards long-term goals, and other overall positive effects.

Ever been so lost in an activity that you lost sense of time? You were so immersed in whatever you were doing at the moment that you didn’t notice the time passed.

People, such as athletes, who experience flow regularly are more likely to develop positive traits, including higher self-esteem, better concentration, and general performance. And, this seems to be correlated with the growing body of evidence that flow improves one’s subjective well-being and psychological well-being.

Tasks That Put You in Flow

To find yourself in flow, the task you are engaged in must be intentionally voluntary — it cannot feel like a meaningless chore. The task must be enjoyable to pique the interest of the person.

Now, this may be subjective. To one, sweeping may feel like a chore, but it may be soothing, almost therapeutic to another. Therefore, we all may have different tasks that may take us into the flow.

Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Theory involves specific criteria:

  1. Having a clear goal
  2. Receiving immediate feedback (in some form) from one’s input
  3. Having a balance between skill and challenge
  4. Merging awareness with action
  5. Excluding distractions from your consciousness
  6. No worrying of failure
  7. Abolishing self-consciousness
  8. Distorting one’s sense of time
  9. Engaging in the activity becoming an end in itself

The Autotelic Self

A person in flow feels well in control, though at the same time they are acting in an almost autonomous state. One’s subconscious cerebral thoughts have taken over. There is no need for emotion or consciousness when what you are doing is being calculated and carried out by “muscle memory.”

Some people are better at this than others.

Csikszentmihalyi would say that this person has found their “autotelic self,” — someone who is “never bored, seldom anxious, involved with what goes on and in flow most of the time.”

What is Happiness?

Everyone has a theory of what happiness is; money, possessions, experiences, value, power, etc. This too is subjective in that as individuals, different things make each and every one of us happy.

Professor Csikszentmihalyi tells of his 7 habits of happy people, and they range from:

  • Relationships — a network of people in your life in which they value
  • Acts of kindness — outward expression from one person to another
  • Exercise and physical wellbeing — the training of one’s body and mind to establish strength and endurance
  • Flow — submersion of oneself to obtain a goal
  • Spiritual engagement and meaning — engagement of spiritual and religious connection
  • Strength and virtues — discovery and reliance on one’s inner characteristics such as perseverance and resilience
  • Positive mindset — putting things into perspective and having a positive attitude to do better

Professor Csikszentmihalyi tells us that our happiness consists of three factors; genetic makeup, our environment, and our actions.

For example, a person may experience happiness through their accomplishments at work. They were probably raised to be successful, their friends and family were successful, and they applied themselves. Their habits may consist of their reliance on their strength and virtues of perseverance and resilience to get the job and make money.

One thing is sure; happiness is an inherent emotion that everyone deserves to experience.

Flow and Happiness

The notion of flow requires focus and determination, and happiness requires expression and actions. These two terms can co-exist to create happiness through the structure.

Here are seven steps to creating happiness through the state of flow.

  1. Identify Goals
    Find something you want to achieve that can spark happiness and creativity. This can also be a task at work that you want to complete that may be complex. This may also include situations that may manifest themselves as challenges, setbacks, or anything that requires you to plan the process to overcome methodically.
  2. Make a Plan
    Create a plan on how you can accomplish the goal and reach the desired end state. It is common practice to reverse plan; start from the end and work your way backward to the beginning. Set tasks as miles stones to allow you to go back to instead of starting all over.
  3. Be Present and Focused in the Moment
    Once you set your plan in place, be present and eliminate all distractions. This is where the concept of flow may begin, so remaining focused is essential. Remember that the attitude that we take when we do something affects the outcome.
  4. Establish an Inner Dialogue
    Talk to yourself and remind yourself of what you are doing and what you are doing it for. Do not be discouraged by what you might look like if someone sees you talking to yourself. Keep in mind that it is you and the goal.
  5. Establish Good Habits
    Make this a common practice of how you achieve your goals or accomplish your tasks. Create good patterns of work that support goal achievement and sparks creativity and happiness.
  6. Rest and Meditate
    Rest is the best form to decompress from the stresses of constant pressure. Meditation gives you the ability to reflect and refocus your mind. Studies support Csikszentmihalyi’s point of feedback in his criteria of flow in identifying blind sports. Meditation allows for one to remember blinds sports or things to improve, much like the purpose of feedback.
  7. Rejoice in Your Happiness
    Happiness is an emotion that is simple to achieve but is challenging to maintain. By applying the fierce focus of flow, one can foster happiness and find joy in their lives.

Mahily Csikszentmihalyi is a brilliant professor of psychology that tells us that happiness is not secured but can be harnessed through the mastering of flow.

The way we view challenges will determine the attitude we take toward the achievement of the task. This is why Csikszentmihalyi refers to mindfulness, being present, and acknowledging what is happening and what needs to be done.

Live present and positive, have dominion over your thoughts, and maintain a fierce focus.

Sources

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1996). Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York, NY: Harper and Row.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, & Csikzsentmihalyi, Isabella Selega (Eds.). (1988). Optimal Experience: Psychological studies of flow in consciousness. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Marr, A. J. (2001). In the zone: A biobehavioral theory of the flow experience. Athletic Insight,3(1).

Pursuit of Happiness. (n.d.). The Science of Happiness and Positive Psychology. Retrieved August 16, 2021, from https://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/science-of-happiness/

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Why Spending Time Alone Is Good For Your Mental Health

Did you know that spending time alone can help you improve your quality of life?

Alone time is something that people either enjoy or fear. Unfortunately, many people struggle with being alone because they’re unsure of what to do.

While being alone can seem daunting, alone time benefits people in many ways if they know how to take advantage of it.

Here at Solara Mental Health, we regularly help people turn their lives around by changing how they think about being alone. We’ll outline why spending time alone is essential so you can also live a better life.

Read on to learn about how to spend time alone and the benefits of doing so.

The Benefits of Alone Time

When spending time alone, many people find it difficult to see what the benefits are. However, you can reap the benefits of alone time if you know how to approach things.

One of the main things we want people to understand is that being alone isn’t the same as loneliness. Alone time is simply time spent away from others, whereas loneliness is the feeling of being without someone.

Voluntarily spending time away from others can allow you to do the following:

Self-Reflect

When you’re constantly interacting with others, it can be challenging to think about yourself. However, self-reflection is crucial if you want to live a healthy lifestyle, as it also comes with many benefits.

Alone time will make it much easier to self-reflect because you won’t be focusing on others. Approach self-reflection with a positive mindset and use the time to improve yourself as a person.

Become More Productive

Alone time benefits those that are looking to get things done. If you’re never alone, you’ll have a hard time doing anything productive (unless it requires others).

Spending time alone will give you the chance to complete that project you’ve been putting off. The sooner you get things done, the quicker you can go back to being social.

Focus on Health

Similar to self-reflection, spending time alone lets people focus on improving their health. Whether it’s physically or mentally, alone time will ensure you can eliminate toxicity in your life and allow yourself to “reset.”

During alone time, think about the foods and beverages you have when surrounded by others. Not only will an unhealthy diet negatively affect your physical health, but it can also affect your mental health. Things like depression caused by a poor diet can increase the likelihood of feeling lonely, even when around others.

Find Comfort

If you’re someone that struggles with loneliness, spending time alone can help you learn how to find comfort when away from others.

Those who are afraid of being alone often feel that way because they’re unsure how to use their time. If you can learn how to get the most out of being alone, you can have more control over your life. The comfort that comes with accepting alone time will increase your overall happiness.

How to Get the Most Out of Being Alone

Learning how to spend time alone isn’t difficult; you’ll just need to use that appropriately. If you find that being alone isn’t comforting, you can fill up that time with things to do. Whether it’s work or school obligations, exercise, or hobbies, doing activities will help.

Getting the most out of being alone can be done by planning your alone time and eliminating distractions. Here’s how to do that:

Plan Everything

It’s easy to feel lonely when you have nothing to do, and no one’s around. This can be prevented by thoroughly planning how your days will go.

From the moment you wake up until you go to bed, your entire day should be planned, including the time you’ll dedicate to doing nothing. While it may seem excessive, it’ll help you stay active, so you don’t end up feeling lonely.

Creating structure in your life will make the time spent alone more enjoyable, especially if you don’t go out much. If you’re someone that actively hangs out with others, you’ll eventually start cherishing the time you get to yourself.

Get Rid of Distractions

Aside from planning your day, you must eliminate distractions if you’d like to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Distractions can prevent you from getting things done, which will make you feel worse if you’re alone.

Whenever you’re working on something, you should never start browsing social media or random things on the internet. Instead, leave your phone in another room and consider getting something that’ll block certain websites so you can work productively.

Another type of distraction is thinking about negative things. For example, you may be watching TV, and a negative thought may cross your mind. Instantly you want to go down the rabbit hole; next thing you know, your upset with yourself because your thoughts took you to a dark place.

Reframe your thoughts and put your thoughts into perspective. Stop the train of thought you are going down and tell yourself out loud that what you’re doing is not right. This will strengthen your mind in order to take control of your thoughts.

It’s best to be engaged with something as often as possible. You’ll notice that relaxing after a long day of work is enjoyable, even if you’re by yourself. This is because you’ve gotten the most out of being alone.

Start Spending Time Alone More Often

With all of this information, you’re ready to reap the benefits of alone time. All you must do is start spending more time alone to get a better understanding of what exactly makes you feel lonely.

We encourage you to prioritize obligations to make your days more satisfying. If you still feel lonely after getting everything done, you can pick up some hobbies to keep your mind off things.

If you’re having a hard time in life, contact us to learn about how we can help you.

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Recognizing and Understanding the Cycle of Abuse

Abuse can be hard to understand and recognize, especially when you’re not familiar with the cycle of abuse and how it works. However, knowing this information could potentially save you or someone else’s life! 

If you’re struggling with abuse and mental health problems, then keep reading to learn more about this serious topic. 

Cycle of Abuse

This four-part cycle helps distinguish certain behaviors and patterns that abusive partners tend to have. By knowing these patterns of abuse, you can better protect yourself in future and current relationships. 

The four-part cycle starts with tension building, then an incident where abuse or violence takes place. After that, reconciliation is made, followed by a calm state. This tragic cycle repeats itself over and over again until the victim becomes worn down.

1. Tension Building

Tension building can be brought on by anything. Some of the triggers for an abusive partner are fatigue, overworking, being hungry, and other family issues.

The abusive partner will then begin to show signs of anger, fear, and feeling unempowered in the relationship. The tension that builds up as a result of these feelings can weigh heavily on you.

You might try to find a peaceful resolution. However, there may not be a solution until the abusive partner feels in control again.

Because of this, you might start feeling anxious and even scared. It is considered emotional abuse. Often, abusive partners use this tactic to inflict pain on others. 

2. Incidents of Abuse or Violence

Once the abuser has reached the breaking point, they will externalize these feelings. Abusers will use physical and verbal tactics to gain back control.

For example, they won’t allow you to wear certain clothes, or they’ll make you cut off communication with family and friends. Sometimes these tactics turn into sexual and physical aggressions. 

It is the most dangerous stage of the cycle. In fact, a recent report stated that six women die every hour as a result of domestic violence.

3. Reconciliation 

This stage in an abusive relationship can be very confusing. Often, the victim thinks that the abuse has stopped because the abuser has calmed down.

The abuser will start to show the victim their preferred love language like gift-giving or physical touch. Unfortunately, this “honeymoon” stage only lasts for a little bit.  

Often, those in a normal relationship don’t understand why the victim “doesn’t just leave.” For starters, the victim might not be physically or financially able to leave the relationship. 

The abuser might also hurt them for trying.

Most importantly, mental abuse causes a shift in a person’s brain chemistry. During the “honeymoon” stage, the victim’s brain releases oxytocin and dopamine.

Often, the victim is longing for this gratification, but the abusive partner will withhold affection to gain control. This causes the victim to stay and chase this feeling of “happiness.”

4. Calm State

During the calm state, the abuser will try and justify their abuse by apologizing. However, the apology is never sincere. It is really just a tactic to make the victim think the abuse won’t happen again.

The abuser will also blame their actions on others or sometimes the victim.

Here are some examples:

  • “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but you made me mad.”
  • “Sorry for snapping you earlier; it’s just my job has been stressing me out.”
  • “The only reason I hit you was because you were provoking me.”
  • “I didn’t even hit you that hard; you should get over it.”

After their apology, the abuser will convince the victim that it won’t happen again. They might try to manipulate you by making the situation seem smaller.

You might start doubting yourself and think that you were dramatic. And slowly, you start believing that your partner will change. 

How Does Abuse Affect Mental Health?

This cycle of abuse can leave someone with permanent damage. Many times battered women and men show symptoms of PTSD.

This mental disorder can bring on intense feelings of anxiety and paranoia, even if the victim has left the relationship. Over time, being in an abusive relationship can diminish someone’s self-worth and confidence.

It happens because the abuser is constantly attacking them and making them feel less than them. The abuser will use this tactic to wear down an individual not to seek happiness outside of the relationship.

Battered women and men are also likely to develop depression and suicidal ideations. Overall, being in an abusive relationship can deteriorate someone’s mental health. That’s why it’s essential to get help immediately!

Gaslighting and Manipulation 

Gaslighting and manipulation go hand in hand with the four stages of abuse. For starters, gaslighting is a form of lying by creating a false reality. 

For example, if a person finds their spouse cheating on them and the abuser outright denies the accusations, this is considered gaslighting. 

This tactic makes the victim’s reality and perception unclear. Often, the victim will feel “crazy,” but just because they don’t know what’s real and fake anymore. 

Manipulation is similar to gaslighting. For example, an abuser will try and control a situation by providing false information or showing empathy. Nevertheless, the abuser is doing this to establish control over a person.

Red Flags to Look Out For

All of the abuse mentioned doesn’t necessarily begin at the start of a relationship. Sometimes abusers will withhold these strong emotions and actions until they feel secure. 

However, there are minor signs that you should look out for during the start of a relationship. For example, love bombing is when a partner shows a lot of attention and affection during the first few weeks of being together.

It may seem normal at first, but this will progress at an unusual pace. The abuser might tell you they love you and that they want you to meet their family.

The problem with love bombing is that when the abuser has “locked” you down, they begin to withhold love. Love bombing eventually turns into a cycle of abuse.

Living Your Truth 

Abusive relationships can leave you feeling hopeless. But knowing the cycle of abuse can give you back some power! If you or a loved one is struggling with an abusive relationship, get help immediately!

If you have any more questions, contact us today to receive more information on our different services!

Advice on Supporting Family Members with Depression

Is someone you love living with depression?

If so, it can be hard to know how to support them. Should you hold space and listen or offer suggestions? Should you tell them that you’re feeling concerned, or instead try to cheer them up?

If these questions sound familiar, hang in there! It’s common for family members and loved ones to feel helpless in the face of the effects of depression – but you aren’t alone.

In this article, we’ll offer some expert advice on caring for your loved one and yourself. Keep reading for all the information!

Get Educated

Did you know that Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for people between 15 and 44? Yet, it’s a disease that most of us know surprisingly little about.

If someone you love has been diagnosed with depression, learning about their disorder can help you better understand how to help. These resources are a good starting point:

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness Family Support Group: A peer-led support resource for family members and loved ones of anyone suffering from mental illness
  • Families for Depression Awareness: Education, training, and support to bring families together and help them heal while coping with mood disorders

Learning more about your friend or family member’s depression does not make you an expert. Try to choose listening over lecturing. Remember to check in and find out how that person feels so you can properly support them.

In the future, you might also consider joint counseling sessions or other learning opportunities that you can engage in together. 

Listen and Ask Questions

The most powerful thing you can do to help someone who is depressed is to listen. People feel heard and understood when you listen. Take a few minutes to put down whatever you’re doing, suspend your judgments and suggestions, make good eye contact, and listen. It might help you in understanding depression.

You might be surprised by what you learn!

But, helping your loved one might not be so simple. If the conversation isn’t shedding much light on how they’re doing, any signs and symptoms aren’t being expressed, or they’re struggling to open up, try asking a few questions. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • When did you first start to feel depressed?
  • Can you think of something specific that might have triggered it?
  • Are you experiencing a lot of stress?
  • Are there triggers or situations that make you feel worse?
  • Are there moments when you feel better or cheered up?
  • Do you ever have suicidal thoughts?
  • Do you ever think about self-harm or suicide?

Remember, talk to the person, but it’s also important to be gentle while discussing these deeply personal and emotional situations. The last thing you want is for someone you care about to feel judged or interrogated.

Search for Solutions Together

One of the biggest parts of supporting family members with depression is problem-solving as a team. After all, you know them far better than any doctor, therapist, or mental health professional ever will.

Start by identifying some potential sources of stress in their life. Chronic feelings of anxiety can cause a decline in physical and mental health. They can also interrupt healthy coping strategies, making the person vulnerable to mood swings.

While the changes shouldn’t be dramatic, making some small tweaks to your loved one’s daily life could help take the edge off. Try subtle additions like a few calming breathing techniques or a meditation app for their phone at first.

It would help if you also encouraged them to get the help that they need. This could come in various forms, including support groups, therapy or counseling, and even FDA-approved & FDA-cleared medical techniques to treat depression

Remember, it’s ultimately their decision. Don’t be mean or bossy – you’ll just run the risk of pushing that person away. And, they’ll likely find comfort in knowing that you’re around to support them, no matter what they choose. 

The Power of Positivity

Sometimes, the best thing you can do to help a person living with depression is to let a little sunshine in. Laughter is healing and helpful to someone who spends most of their time feeling down or exhausted, and even if just for a moment, it can help replace feelings of sadness, anxiety, and panic.

It may also be helpful to reframe the conversation and look toward the future. No matter how hard today is, it won’t always feel this way. Things will eventually get better.

If your loved one has already tried medication and didn’t get the results they were hoping for, they might also want to hear positive affirmation that their condition could eventually improve. Today, more options exist than ever before for treating depression – and plenty of them aren’t pills.

With you standing by as their support, now could be the right time to try something different, like TMS therapy. This innovative technique may heal specific areas of the brain that are impaired by cellular dysfunction. The result is a significant improvement in mood, function, energy, focus, and overall well-being.

Coping With Depression

Now that you know a bit more about how to help your family and friends cope with their depression, you’re ready to engage them in a more meaningful way. 

Hold onto this article as a guide that you can refer back to if the going gets tough. Remember, it’s normal to feel frustrated or exhausted sometimes, so don’t be too hard on yourself.  

If your friend or family member is ready to take the next step in treating their symptoms, we’re here to help. We offer free consultations at our San Diego clinic, which you can schedule today.

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What We Can Learn From San Diego Depression Statistics

California’s a place known for its gorgeous beaches, sunny weather, and breezy attitudes. But that’s just how it looks from the outside.

Research has shown that there’s a darker reality for those who live in our West Coast state. Forty-four percent of Californians say they experience high levels of anxiety and depression.

But that’s taking a look at the statistics through a wider lens. What about San Diego?

As it turns out, San Diego depression statistics aren’t much better. Here’s what you need to know.

San Diego Depression Statistics: The Current Situation

Our city already has had a mental health crisis on its hands. For reference, 429 people committed suicide in 2019.

Those figures came in before the outbreak of COVID-19. Since then, mental health has gotten worse for many of us. This isn’t just a San Diego problem, either: worldwide, people have suffered from depression more than ever because of changes and closures caused by the pandemic.

That’s one way that experts have explained the rising suicide rates in San Diego. Gun-related suicides increased three-fold during the pandemic, so it’s easy to see a cause-and-effect relationship. People who felt lonely, isolated, or hopeless during lockdown could have felt like there was no escape.

A Look at the Statistics in the Past — and Across Demographics

This isn’t to say that mental health is a new issue in San Diego, though. Records from 2015 indicate that five percent of the city’s residents dealt with such issues in that year.

And it’s not an equal spread across all demographic groups, either. Low-income San Diegans tend to experience mental health issues more frequently than those with higher paychecks.

In San Diego, mental health and homelessness go hand in hand, too. Nearly 5,000 people in the city are homeless, and almost half of them have some sort of mental health diagnosis.

The San Diego veteran population accounts for some of the mental health diagnoses, as well. This group is more likely to suffer from PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

As our city’s number of elderly residents increases, then there will be more people with mental health needs within our borders, as well. These types of diagnoses are quite prevalent in older adults.

And then, there’s the teenage population to look at, too. As of 2016, more than 40 percent of students reported feeling overwhelmed by their day-to-day lives. They also have the stressors of their social lives — both in real life and online — with which to contend. So, that may be why more of today’s adolescent youth have depression and anxiety than before.

What These Mean and How to Move Forward

San Diego depression statistics may seem bleak. But there’s a light at the tunnel — and, if you’re feeling depressed, you aren’t alone.
At Solara Mental Health, we have an in-residence program for people who are dealing with depression. We’re here to help — call us today to learn more.

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What You Can Learn From Winston Churchill and His Black Dog

Winston Churchill is known for many things, but one thing that many don’t know about him is that he may have suffered from mental illness, which he often referred to as his “black dog”. Churchill was known for his determined nature, but he was also known to have bouts of unruliness in which he would often overindulge in alcohol and act erratically. 

Churchill’s “black dog” may have been the cause. To learn more about this side of Churchill, keep reading. 

Churchill’s “Black Dog”

For decades of his life, Churchill seems to have had some anxieties and fears that followed him, such as standing too close to balconies or train platforms. While this may have been a fear, it may have also been because Churchill did not always trust himself to act rationally when given a way to end his own life. Churchill may have suffered from manic depression, as he would often become paralyzed by despair. 

During these bouts, he was known to spend much time in bed with little energy, no interests, no appetite, and difficulty concentrating. This caused him to be minimally functional when it came to his duties and responsibilities. These periods of despair could last a few months, and after them, he would come out of it appear to be acting like his normal self again. 

In a letter to his wife from 1911, Churchill wrote that he may be in need of some kind of professional help for treating his “black dog”. When he was well, Churchill actually had tons of energy and was known to stay up late into the night reading and studying. When he was in a good place, he was known to come up with tons of new ideas. 

This manic behavior is typical of those that deal with manic depression and bipolar disorder. Additionally, these mood swings were likely heightened due to the amount of alcohol Churchill was indulging in. 

Churchill’s Treatment

With all the responsibility Churchill had to Britain, having depressive bouts was difficult and dangerous. Churchill sought treatment from a physician named Lord Moran, who prescribed medications to help him manage his depressive episodes. While Churchill’s exact diagnosis cannot be clear today, it is believed by many scholars and mental health professionals that Churchill suffered from either manic depressive disorder or bipolar disorder. 

Those that have these conditions and are not medicated often have a difficult time maintaining relationships and keeping employment which can lead to a chaotic, unproductive, and challenging life. Knowing when it’s time to seek help for a perceived mental illness, whether for yourself or for someone you love, can help to manage these disorders to decrease suffering and improve the quality of one’s life. 

What We Can Learn

Winston Churchill’s “black dog” was managed because he came to terms with the fact that he needed help and sought it out. Asking for the help you need can be difficult, but it can have great life-changing benefits. 

Are you ready to get the treatment you need? If so, contact us today to get started.

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Depression and Memory Loss: The Relationship Explained

Depression is one of the most crippling and pervasive diseases of modern life. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 250 million people worldwide experience depression. That figure is growing.

Scientists are discovering more about the mind every day and the cognitive problems associated with depression, but one of the most strongly linked features of depression is memory loss.

This article will explore the link between depression and memory loss and what symptoms you might experience.

We will examine the latest research into the relationship between mental health and memory to help answer the question: can depression cause memory loss?

The Impact of Depression on the Body

Most people think of depression as a disorder of the mind. But depression impacts the body too. Depression (and stress) is linked to the central nervous system, the digestive system, and the cardiovascular system.

When it comes to memory, there are two main areas where depression can impact your brain function.

The first is the direct impact that depression has on your cognitive health and cognitive skills. The second is indirect memory problems due to sleeplessness and insomnia, a common side effect of depression.

It’s important to understand that when you experience depression, it can profoundly affect your overall health. Tackling depression early on is essential; A long period of depression is more likely to impact your long-term wellbeing.

Types of Memory Loss

Some sufferers of mental health issues like depression have reported problems with their memory. They have experienced memory loss during and after depression.

Symptoms of Memory Loss

If you think that persistent depressive episodes have led to a decline in your memory aptitude, you should look out for some distinct characteristics.

Types of memory problems and symptoms of memory loss include:

  • Difficulty recalling the finer details of a recent event
  • Trouble locating objects in the home, such as your keys
  • Finding it difficult to learn new facts, such as remembering information you’ve read in a book or the news
  • A general feeling that you are more forgetful or disorganized lately
  • Forgetting something that is usually part of your daily routine, such as a phone call or taking medicine
  • You’ll find it easier to recall adverse events than positive ones

If you tick more than one symptom, it’s time to seek professional help. A mental health expert can diagnose potential memory loss.

Diagnosing Memory Loss

It is important to know some context behind your memory issues.

When it comes to diagnosing memory issues, here are some questions to ask:

  • How long have you noticed memory problems?
  • Have you recently experienced episodes of sadness, depression, or anxiety?
  • Have you had trouble sleeping lately?
  • Are you finding it a challenge to complete obligations at work or school
  • Do you find yourself missing important appointments or lacking basic organizational skills in your day-to-day routine?

If you answer yes to two or more of these, it is worth seeking medical advice. If your symptoms interfere with your life to the extent that you can’t carry out your everyday responsibilities, this is even more pressing.

Pay particular attention to these symptoms if you are over 60.

It is common for older people to assume any memory issues are mild signs of possible dementia, so it is crucial to determine if these symptoms could be pointing to undiagnosed depression instead.

The Latest Research Into Depression and Memory Loss

Research has proved that when you are suffering from depression, it can affect your brain’s ability to function and recall information.

In 2013 Brigham Young University discovered that people scoring highly for depressive symptoms also performed poorly in cognitive memory tests.

Research has also uncovered a long-term impact on memory from past episodes of depression.

In 2019, scientists working as part of the National Child Development Study found participants who experienced depression in their 20s had more memory problems 30 years later than participants who had no history of depression.

In 2007, scientists on behalf of the American Psychological Association found that depression interferes with our ability to recall happy events.

Those suffering from high levels of depression found it easier to recall negative events, suggesting a type of filter on memory that can make the experience of depression even worse for the sufferer.

The Link With Dementia

Another study by the Archives of General Psychiatry found a link between depression and dementia in later life. These findings suggest that memory problems from depression may have a longer-term impact on an individual.

The study found that those diagnosed with depression in middle age had an 80% higher chance of dementia.

Preventing Depression and Memory Loss

If you are concerned you may have experienced memory loss from depression, it is vital to seek professional help as soon as you notice any symptoms.

Do not wait for the problem to get worse before taking action.  Your first step is to book an appointment with a mental health specialist.

If you do not have a history of depression, you may be able to complete an assessment to form an initial diagnosis.

If you already have a diagnosis for depression and are on a treatment plan, let your practitioner know that you have concerns over your memory function. They may run some tests to assess your memory and cognitive skills.

This diagnosis is important because memory problems may be caused by an unrelated issue such as head trauma, so it is essential to give your doctor a chance to rule these out.

You may want to keep a diary of your sleep routine too. Sleep problems and insomnia are common with depression and may play a role in forgetfulness, so track your sleep and show your doctors your sleeping schedule.

Practical Steps to Take

In addition to medical support, you can also take practical steps to help support your memory function. Create a routine for your day and add that routine to a calendar with reminders.

Creating a functional storage area at home for essential belongings can also help support your routine and make it easier to remember essentials when leaving the house.

Taking the Next Step

The link between depression and memory loss may seem frightening and worrying. Thankfully, there is better support for depression now than there ever before.

It is important to check on your cognitive abilities and don’t brush off any problems with memory, as they could be pointing to a broader problem with depression — and potentially dementia later in life.

Always seek out help and support from a mental health professional as early as possible. Take a look at some of our successful results and get in contact to arrange your first appointment with one of our mental health professionals.

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Natural Supplements For Depression

Everybody Gets the Blues

Are you feeling blue? Are you down in the dumps, lacking energy, or sleeping all the time? Or, perhaps your motivation to accomplish your previously-longed-for dreams has suddenly vanished. Maybe your concentration is gone, or you don’t feel like eating. Or, maybe you suddenly want to eat all the time? Is self-worth an issue recently? Are you having thoughts of death or suicide, even passively?

All of these (slightly scary) symptoms are signs of depression. Having one, some, or all of these types of symptoms happens to everyone at one time or another. However, when it seems that “blue” is the only color you can use to describe how you are feeling, it’s time to do something more. When you feel depressed for two weeks or more, it is time to take action. 

The National Institute of Mental Health, in their 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, reports that approximately 17.3 million adults in the United States have had at least one major depressive episode. This number represents about 7.1 percent of all adults in the United States.

An occasional bout of the blues is not abnormal, but persistent depression is not something out of which you can talk yourself. Seeking the expertise of a healthcare professional is always the place for people with depression, or for people who have symptoms of depression, to begin. Getting a proper diagnosis can only occur by talking to a healthcare professional. Once correctly diagnosed, the course of treatment that you and your health care professional develop together may require a long-term approach, but it is entirely up to you what this approach will entail. Part of your treatment plan may include psychotherapy, along with FDA-approved prescription medications for treating your depression. Another avenue that you and your health care professional may discuss is the use of natural remedies for the treatment of depression. 

The Downside of Prescription Antidepressants

Common medications prescribed for people with depression are known as antidepressants. The Food and Drug Administration states that most prescription antidepressants fall into one of the following classifications: SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, TCAs (tricyclic antidepressants), and MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors).  

Prescribed antidepressants affect varying neurotransmitters in the brain in a few different ways, and many people who suffer from mild to moderate depression find antidepressants to be beneficial. However, many people do not want to be prescribed antidepressants.

There is a long list of possible side effects that come along with antidepressants; however, that can sometimes encourage people to choose a different route of treatment.  

Here are some of those:  

  • Feeling nauseous, dizzy, tired all the time
  • Having dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • A loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Experiencing nervousness
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Weight gain
  • A change in sexual function or sexual desire
  • Sleep disturbances 

 There are also more severe risks, such as developing high blood pressure, suicidal thinking, or the possibility of congenital disabilities in women who are pregnant. Another reason people may not want to be on a prescribed antidepressant is that there are, indeed, less drastic options. Or, their depression may not be severe enough to warrant the use of prescription antidepressants. For these candidates, there are other approaches. One alternative might be to try natural supplements for depression. There are many supplements available for use as a means to help depression.

San Diego Natural Depression Treatment

Enter: Natural Remedies

People with depression who might be interested in trying natural remedies have several choices. There are several dietary supplements available that may alleviate some of the symptoms of depression. 

Most nutritional supplements work by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that help your mind and body function. One of these neurotransmitters is serotonin. Dietary supplements include herbs, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids. 

St. John’s Wort 

The most commonly used supplement for depression is St. John’s Wort. St. John’s Wort, also known as Hypericum perforatum, is a plant. When used as a dietary supplement, it acts in a way similar to reuptake inhibitors, affecting neurotransmitters in the brain.  

Omega-3 fatty acids 

If you ask any dietician or psychiatrist, they’ll likely tell you that Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the essential vitamins for cognitive function. Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to help with depression. This fatty acid is found in fish oil and marine algae believed to be a brain-boosting over-the-counter dietary supplement that helps the serotonin in your brain work better. Serotonin helps regulate mood, social behavior, aid in appetite and digestion, and also helps with your sleep, your memory, and your sexual function.  

Ginkgo Biloba 

Ginkgo biloba helps reduce symptoms of depression by improving protect neurotransmitters. Another dietary supplement, chamomile, has tranquility-enhancing properties that help people with depression.

San Diego Depression Treatment

Having depression can be debilitating. Talking with your health care professional should be your first step in developing a plan to combat depression. Together with your doctor, you may develop a treatment plan that includes supplements as remedies for depression. Their medicinal qualities can help alleviate stress, enhance the effects of neurotransmitters, and work to decrease the symptoms of depression.

Talk to your doctor to see which supplement for depression is going to be your best option. You should not stop taking any current medications without talking to your health care professional. Also, keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate supplements for depression. Many dietary supplements may interact with other medications that you are taking, and many cause unwanted reactions or side effects.