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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.

Say Cheese! The Effect of Smiling at Others

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

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

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

Triggering Positive Feelings

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

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

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

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

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

Promoting Better Health for Everyone

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

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

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

Making Others Feel Rewarded

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

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

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

Facilitating Good Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Will Save Our Mental Health from Technology?

Saving our mental health

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

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.

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Journaling to Help Depression and Anxiety

Journaling can help depression and anxiety

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

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.

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

Depression and anxiety are on the rise among teens and millennials

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

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

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

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.

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Moms and Depression (and 4 Things That Can Help)

mothers-and-depression

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

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.

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

depression-and-anxiety-at-work

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

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.