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Who Will Save Our Mental Health from Technology?

Saving our mental health

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

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

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

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

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

Continuing the Crusade

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

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

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

Our Private Information Used as a Currency

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

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

The Unbearable Lightness of Technology

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

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

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

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

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

How Social Media Negatively Affects Us

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

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

Four Ways Technology is Hurting Us

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

Mental Health

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

Children

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

Relationships

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

Democracy

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

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

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

Curious to hear more?

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

Journaling to Help Depression and Anxiety

Journaling can help depression and anxiety

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Can journaling help depression and anxiety? You may have heard others talk about or counsel you to just take up a daily journaling habit to help you organize your thoughts, express gratitude in order to appease depressed feelings, or even just to give you a sense of accomplishment each day.

But you’re skeptical. How can something as simple as writing down your thoughts help you work through mental health issues. We’re going to walk through how it works, why it works, and why you should be journaling to help you “sort things out.” You’ll even get some of what is referred to as “depression journaling/writing prompts,” to help you get started.

What is depression/anxiety journaling?

A conservative estimate of 350 million people throughout the world deal with mental illness, or about 5 percent of the entire world’s population.

In contrast, in the United States, that percentage is significantly higher. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in five people in the U.S. struggles with depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, or some other mental affliction, though experts could say with the utmost confidence that the actual number is probably higher, due to underreporting.

How do many people who struggle with mental illness cope? Many of them employ journaling! If you’re not familiar with the practice, you might be wondering “Exactly what is depression journaling?” Depression is a daily (or it can be be-weekly, or even weekly) practice of getting your thoughts, ruminations, feelings down on paper. It can involve gripes, it can involve gratitude. It can be completely random, or more structured and systematic–whatever works best for you.

How journaling helps depression and anxiety

How does depression/anxiety journaling work? Not only can it help calm depressive and anxiety-driven symptoms, it can also help reduce stress, manage anxiety, help you routinely organize, prioritize, sift through exactly what’s bothering you, and it can bring new perspective, insights, and clarity you hadn’t considered.

Let’s take a closer look at how journaling helps.

Take the wheel
Sometimes brooding over things can feel overwhelming, and without any kind of outlet. Writing it all down can bring order to a seeming loss of control, and can make it seem more manageable.

It can make your concerns feel less daunting, and can make you feel more grounded and in control.  Talk about taking more proactive control of your mental health management.

It can help you feel better almost instantly, especially as you form a consistent habit of doing it, and can help you recognize when you’re down in the dumps enough that you need to talk to someone about it rather than keep it bottled in.

Enhanced awareness

 Have you ever thought that perhaps you feel like a stranger to yourself?

Journaling during depression and/or anxiety in real time as it comes to mind pulls your feelings and thoughts out into the light where they can be reviewed and considered. You may even surprise yourself with what surfaces, like realizing that something is making you apprehensive that you never noticed until writing it down.

Something else: Your journal may be very cathartic if you keep it private and to yourself, and it can also be something that you share with your counselor, to help you keep your inner musings documented and organized.  This can help improve the effectiveness of your therapy as your counselor helps you sort out what’s most important in terms of your goals, and helps you progress forward.

Finding patterns

Consistently writing about your conscious thinking and what you notice about what’s going on with you internally can help you keep track of recurring symptoms, and can help you identify those things that trigger your anxiety and depression.

Maybe symptoms spike at a certain time of day, or when you’re stressed at work, or when a certain topic of conversation comes up in your significant relationship. Knowing and recognizing your triggers is at least half the battle when it comes to avoiding them as you move forward.

As you journal, you may also more readily be able to recognize your own personal progress, and can help you gain insights into how you’re perceiving things differently (hopefully for the better!)  Reviewing past entries is almost like having an outsider’s perspective into your own world view. Are you feeling better? Worse? More or less the same?

Journaling can help you recognize when and where you might need more help and perspective, and can also help you find reassurance in the progress you’re making on your own path.

A different perspective

Journaling to beat depression and/or anxiety is a solid way to feed yourself positive self-affirmation.

Writing about the things you’re grateful for (gratitude journaling) and about the things you like about yourself and that you and others see in yourself (affirmation journaling) is a consistently beneficial way to reinforce and enjoy all the positive in your life.

Keeping happy memories at the forefront of your mind by far overpowers all the negative thinking that all too often surfaces, and helps you recondition your mind to always be looking for the positive, rather than relish in the less savory.

Journaling prompts for depression and anxiety

How about some journaling prompts to get you started?

  1. When you look in the mirror, who do you see?
  2. If you could meet and speak to your 8-year-old self, what would you say? Write about mentoring a younger version of yourself.
  3. Summarize for yourself all the lessons you’ve learned about life. Share them with a younger version of yourself (see previous), and offer encouragement to yourself.
  4. What song lyrics, or movie quotes, or poems have served as a guiding light to you and why?
  5. What’s your favorite holiday, and why?
  6. Make 10 promises to yourself and write about them
  7. What is one time when you felt on top of the world? How did you feel about achieving a goal? Give that version of yourself a superhero name, and write all about it for future reference.
  8. What are some pressing questions that have been on your mind recently? Talk yourself through them to some sort of satisfactory answer.
  9. What’s the first thing you think about every morning upon awakening, and what’s the last thing that crosses your mind before you drift off to sleep?
  10. What is causing you pain and anxiety right now? Write about it and see if you can’t find a way to find some comfort and healing.

What prompts can you come up with? How would you like to know yourself better? Write about it!

Some final journaling tips

Journaling is never going to be perfect, and it’s going to take a while to get into the habit of doing it and to start recognizing the positive effects it’s having.

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you adjust to this new way of looking at and documenting your innermost feelings and thoughts and how you process them.

  • Free write without judgment (less editing, more writing)
  • Be consistent (about 20 minutes every day, or at least once a week)
  • Keep your writing notes handy (on your nightstand, in your backpack, in your car, etc.)
  • Get in the habit of always looking for the positive

Does journaling sound like it might interest you? Give it a try! If you are struggling with mental illness or low self-esteem, start organizing your thoughts, however awkward it may feel at first. 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.

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

Depression and anxiety are on the rise among teens and millennials

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

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

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

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

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

Theories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The “Why?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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8 Ways to Keep Family Members From Ruining Your Holidays

avoid family drama during the holidays

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

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

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

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

 

What Drives it All?

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

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

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

Mind your own boundaries

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

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

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

Holidays with the family got you down? It may not be just a case of the “holiday blues.” Depression and anxiety are treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about family dysfunction or other mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Moms and Depression (and 4 Things That Can Help)

mothers-and-depression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to do

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

Get Moving: Exercise!

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

Get Out: Sunshine and Fresh Air!

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

Eat Better: A Healthier Diet!

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

Find a friend: Venting!

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

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

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

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

depression-and-anxiety-at-work

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

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

Stressed at work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on depression and anxiety at work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are Video Games Really that Bad for You?

video gaming addiction

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

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

12 Things You Should Know About Anhedonia

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.

Diet And Depression

diet and depression

Image courtesy of U.S. Air Force

Diet and depression (mental illness, in general) are more closely related than you might have thought. If you’ve ever wondered why your mental health clinician is asking if you’ve tried the Mediterranean diet, this article may help you understand why.

Anyone can feel blue from time to time. Bad news happens, and it does so often. Bad news may come in the form of relationship problems, breakups, job loss, health problems, loss of loved ones or pets, etc. How long it takes to bounce back from a case of “the blues” varies from individual to individual, but if the blueness and sadness come to stay for an extended period of time, it’s time to look at some other factors.

How long has the depression/sadness lasted? Days? Months? Years? The amount of time the depression has lasted is significant when it comes to appropriate management, diagnosis, and treatment.

Brace Yourself: The Holidays Are Coming

Here’s something you may have never considered: The holidays are on their way. Are you prone to sink into a depressive funk during “the most wonderful time of the year?” What are you eating? If you’re like many people, you probably go on an annual diet healthy with sugary treats. Yes, they are delicious, but most of these treats, are devoid of many significant nutrients that can improve your mood, and help to manage depression effectively.

Most people are not sure whether or not unhealthy food can lead to depression or if it’s the other way around. To help you better with understanding nutrition and its impact on your mental health, know that what we consume every day affects our health in general. To take the nutrition topic a bit further, nutritional psychiatrists will tell you that there is a definitive link between food, mental health, and mental status, particularly when clinical depression is involved.

What’s the Deal with Depression?

Depression seems like one of those things that, even if you can’t clearly define it, you know it when you see it (or feel it, in this case). What is it, exactly?

Depression is a mental illness driven by consistently negative thinking and behavior. It is also a problem all around the world, not just in the West. Mental illness can interfere with an individual’s capacity to undergo routine, daily activities, and to interact effectively with others. Studies show that feelings of being worthless and hopeless associated with mental illness are directly tied to suicide rates.

Depression, in particular, can become so debilitating that it impedes quality of life, and can be the catalyst for substance abuse, as well as for subpar work and school performance.

  • The National Institute of Mental Health indicates that one in four adults and one in ten children cope with mental illness in the United States.
  • In the U.S., suicide takes about 40,000 lives annually, ranking as the 10thleading cause of death.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that mental illness is the cause behind 40% of all disabilities worldwide.
  • By 2020, the major depressive disorder will dominate as the leading cause of disability for women and children around the world.

Trust Your Gut

Microorganisms produce countless neurochemicals (brain chemicals). These neurochemicals, generated by your stomach bacteria, have a significant impact on your mood and other neurologic functions. What you eat affects your mood, so be sure to consume plenty of foods that enhance your digestive health, such as Lactobaccilli (from the lactic acid bacteria group) and Bifidobacteria (some bifidobacteria are used as probiotics).

Speaking of mood, keep in mind that aspartame (used to sweeten diet beverages) is a toxicant that has been directly linked to depression. Aspartame breaks down into smaller molecules that deplete serotonin levels (the “feel good” hormone). Serotonin is a critical neurochemical “messenger” that regulates your appetite and mood.

Foods that Fight Depression

Your newest homework assignment is to start paying better attention to what you consume. Stick with foods that promote healthy sleep, foster a sense of wellness, and, well, that help boost your mood.

There are countless healthy foods that can function as natural antidepressants. As mentioned above, serotonin is a hormone that can have a significant impact on your health and mood. Foods such as chickpeas and turkey are rich in tryptophan which promotes serotonin production.

You should also consume:

  • Foods with Vitamin B12 and folate, to help prevent mood disorders and dementia (e.g., beetroot, lentils, almonds, spinach, chicken, fish (for B12), and liver (for folate))
  • Foods high in Vitamin D will help against mood disorders (e.g., sunlight, juices, bread, milk, breakfast cereal, high-quality supplements)
  • Foods with selenium to fight depression (e.g., cod, walnuts, poultry, Brazil nuts)
  • Don’t forget your Omega-3 fatty acids, critical for cognitive and behavioral function. Omega-3 fat deficiencies can pave the way for a number of health problems, including depression and mood swings (e.g., cod, salmon, haddock, halibut, nut oils, algae, high-quality supplements)
  • Dark chocolate! Dark chocolate can bolster your mood by increasing endorphins in the brain to promote a sense of overall health and well-being.

In addition to eating healthy and drinking plenty of water every day, you should also undertake regular physical activity/exercise. Exercise will boost your metabolism, soothe tension and anxiety, and enhance your overall mood.

Avoid these Foods

By now, you may be starting to figure out that while some foods are good for you and your mental health, others are … not so good.

To help keep your mood on the up and up, stay away from the following:

High-calorie/low nutrient foods. Processed, refined sugars will give you a short-lived, high-energy boost. Sweets raise the levels of sugar in your blood, increase your capacity for fat storage, and set you up for a jolt-now-crash-and-burn-later dynamic. Energy levels are best maintained when your blood sugar level as consistently as low as possible.

Caffeine. Not just diet beverages, but caffeinated beverages also are known to be serotonin killers. Caffeine puts you at a higher risk for disrupted sleep, depression, and anxiety. Go easy on your consumption of coffee, tea, and even hot cocoa, and get into the habit of drinking them without any sweeteners.

Alcohol. Imbibing the occasional drink is good (and can even be physiologically healthy for you), but you should carefully limit your intake of alcohol. Heavy alcohol consumption depletes serotonin levels and can lead to panic attacks, anxiety, and depression.

Diet and exercise alone are likely not enough for you to effectively manage a case of clinical depression, so be sure to consult with a mental health professional for lasting bouts of depression.

Do you deal with ongoing depressive moods and feelings of hopelessness? You’re not alone. You can treat and manage mental health disorders, and learn to live a healthy, productive life. But you need to take the first step. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Reach out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Depression and Anxiety: Diseases or Symptoms?

depression and anxiety symptoms

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Depression and anxiety. Are they diseases in and of themselves as they are popularly regarded, or are they disorders? What if they, in and of themselves, are merely emotional symptoms (indicators) of deeper, underlying issues? It’s worth noting that most people with some degree of depression also suffer from an anxiety disorder.

First, no one who deals with depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness should ever be made to feel that what he or she is experiencing is “all in [your] head.” Mental illness and its effects are all too (painfully) real for those experiencing them, and professional treatment can become a very real need.

But it matters how you frame mental illness. It can mean the difference between someone’s mindlessly and passively undergoing treatment and merely following a clinician’s “marching orders,” and that same individual’s taking a proactive and conscientious approach to acknowledging mental illness for what it is and confronting it effectively.

Now…

It will likely not come as a surprise to you, but diseases, by definition, are evidence of some abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function of the human body, not due to any external injury. Diseases may, however, be caused by other external factors such as pathogens or internal dysfunction. Empirical data can be gathered and analyzed (via a testing or imaging method of some sort), and the problem can be reliably identified. Sure, your brain is also an organ, but a very complex one, about which there still remain mysteries and unknowns. There is no definitively reliable “depression test” or “anxiety test” from which a clear diagnosis can be reviewed and addressed directly.

In the case of mental illness, depression, anxiety, and other symptoms can be described to a clinician, who then draws upon his or her knowledge, experience, and expertise in order to help the individual identify, manage, process, work through, and minimize said symptoms. Medication and psychotherapy are common components of a treatment program.

That’s not to say that mental health professionals are just guessing, but rather to recognize that clinical approaches to address mental illness are far from being a perfect science.

Here’s the thing…

It is one of life’s unavoidable givens that sometimes everyone gets sad, gets nervous, becomes troubled or anxious, etc. Many of us may even grapple with varying degrees of psychosis from time to time.

Becoming clinically depressed or suffering from chronic anxiety is more severe, and potentially debilitating, versions of normal, everyday emotional responses to life’s routine bumps and bruises. But it becomes confusing when the emotions associated with depression and anxiety cloud the true underlying problems at play. In other words, the emotions (emotional responses) are not the same thing as the actual problem.

Depression symptoms and anxiety symptoms are signals that you are not processing something effectively, or that some need of yours isn’t being met. It is critical to your healthy sense of self that you feel loved and important by the most important people in your life. And it is important for your overall well-being that you have respect and compassion for yourself.

Imagine feeling unfulfilled in your relationships with friends or family, or perhaps you may be temporarily at odds with someone important in your life. You may feel unfulfilled or lacking in your intimate relationships/involvements. You may feel like your life has little purpose or meaning, or that you don’t matter, or that you have nothing to contribute and add value to society. Perhaps you feel guilt or shame for something you have done or may continue to do. This may lead to feelings of worthlessness, and/or hopelessness, to dismal self-esteem, and even to substance abuse/dependence. And hence, feelings of depression and anxiety.

But the feelings themselves aren’t the problem, though they can feel as excruciating as physical pain. Your unfulfilled needs are the problem.

Note that feelings of depression and anxiety can lead to your further isolation and avoidance from others, and from effectively addressing the causes of your painful feelings – which can lead to more depressive and anxious feelings, reinforcing the already existing source of your crippling feelings.

Here is why this differentiation matters…

This may seem self-evident, but consider this: imagine how different an approach you would take to addressing your mental illness if you thought of it in terms of “I deal with a mental illness/disorder” as compared to “I am mentally ill.” This valuable shift in perspective can be enlightening and is a coping mechanism/skill known as “reframing.” Reframing can help you feel better more quickly, more in control of your situation, and can lessen the duration of you feeling hurt or confused.

So the trick is…

There are no “silver bullets” or magical methods to help you cope with depression and anxiety. But know that the better coping and management skills you can learn with the help of your mental health clinician, psychotherapy, and possibly medication, the more clearly you’ll be able to recognize underlying problems that are resulting in depressive/anxious emotions, and the better you’ll be able to nip them in the bud.

This may seem overly simplistic, but remember, through appropriate treatment, you can learn to recognize depression and anxiety for what they truly are: symptoms of problems rather than problems in and of themselves. It can make all the difference in your recovery.

Do you deal with depression and/or anxiety? You are not alone and we want you to know that you can pursue a happy, productive life even if you deal with mental health challenges. Mental illness is 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.