The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) identifies specific signs and symptoms required to be diagnosed with a major depressive disorder. However, there are many faces to depression, and one should not wait to meet all the criteria from the DSM to get help.

Helpless and hopeless thoughts can consume us. They can take over all other thoughts. Thoughts that may help us complete daily tasks, engage in positive relationships and/or participate in physical activity. Our negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves will inhibit positive self development and growth.

How do we get out of these depressive thoughts? How is it possible to start believing in ourselves again? We may assume that no one will understand; that no one has the same thoughts. We may even think we are being very hard on ourselves or that we shouldn’t be feeling depressed because other people have it so much “worse” than we do.

Depressive thoughts and self-doubt have or will run through ALL of our minds. We question whether we will be successful; whether we will be good parents; or whether we will be good partners.  Sometimes these questions lead us to not believing in ourselves and what we are capable of.

With intentional cognitive effort, we have the ability to change our thoughts, which will thus change our feelings, and eventually will allow us to complete daily tasks, engage in positive relationships, and/or participate in physical activity again.

Intentional cognitive effort first requires us to take a look at the negative thoughts that we succumb to. Then we discover the underlying explanations to these thoughts (i.e., when did these thoughts first appear to us?). With an understanding of where our thoughts come from, we can successfully change them into encouraging, motivating and positive patterns of thinking.

To kiss your negative thoughts goodbye, call us today!

“Mental health concerns are dirty little secrets that should not be spoken about. They are problems that no one should know about except the immediate people that are affected. Mental health concerns show weakness and shame towards the family name. “

With thoughts like these rummaging through the family, no wonder difficulties with mental health go untreated. The socially constructed stigmas of mental illness can be suffocating. However, bottled up, negative thoughts about impaired mental health can do more harm than good:

We may come to believe those negative thoughts associated with mental health concerns. These thoughts lead to feelings of worthlessness, shame, low self-esteem, withdrawal from relationships, and depression.

Secrets regarding your mental health inhibit family members from understanding your symptoms and your needs to overcome it.

Keeping any impaired mental health information can prevent future generations from understanding your family’s mental health background.

The Canadian Mental Health Association states that 20% of Canadians will personally experience mental health concerns (or illnesses) in their lifetime. 10-20% of Canadian youth are affected by disordered mental health. And, in Canada, only 1 of 5 children who need mental health services receives them.

So, why the BIG SECRET?

Whether you term it mental health concerns, mental illnesses, or psychological disorders, they can ALL be treated effectively.

At Jeff Packer & Associates, we assess your thoughts and feelings associated with your mental health concerns. Together, we help you create coping thoughts and strategies to overcome the barriers that you face with your mental health. We also help you establish healthy and effective ways of communicating your concerns with loved ones, so that they can support you in your process of recovery.

Call us today and overcome the stumbling blocks that prevent you from achieving positive mental health.

People express emotions and concerns so many different ways. Some lean toward expressing themselves verbally and others more nonverbally. Most draw upon one style or the other to a greater or lesser extent. Some vent softly and quietly while others shout out and bellow. Still others may choose to use art and music to express thoughts and feelings.

The picture above is one sixteen year old’s self portrait of her pain and sorrow, sketched out onto a plain piece of paper during a meeting. Sadness, depression, pain, sorrow and grief are a few emotions that we might think are bad or negative, however, all emotions are valuable. How we express these feelings, and indeed all emotions, can be either positive or negative; helpful or hurtful.

We may witness how other people express themselves and, at times, compare or even judge.  Are they “over dramatizing”, “coping well”, “too emotional” or “holding in too much”?  How should somebody react to abuse? What is the proper way to show emotions after the death of a loved one, the loss of a precious pet or after hearing the news your spouse or romantic partner is leaving you?

Could it be we are simply so uncomfortable with the expression of certain emotions, like sadness, depression, pain, sorrow and grief, we are also unsure how to react when others express these feelings? Emotions are valuable tools that signal us when something is wrong, alert us to the safety levels in various situations. They remind us of the quality and qualities in our relationships, point to areas for personal improvement and even refine and accentuate our communication.

There is a time and place for every emotion. Discovering how to express ourselves more fully and effectively is an art. Validating the expressions of others and providing an empathetic response is also an art requiring study (e.g. mentoring, coaching, observation and reading) and practice.  With time and effort we can develop and improve the art of expressing ourselves fully.

I’m quite tired now and becoming more uncertain about this post. Guess I’d better get some rest.

How easy is it to feel all alone, isolated and abandoned even though we’re surrounded by people?  When we are treated poorly by those closest to us, when we don’t feel heard and when our own friends “bail on us” it is really easy to feel down . We can become resentful, negative about them, the situation and even about ourselves. We may even feel like we are the only one who has been rejected like this, convinced we live in a cold and heartless world.

The image above seems to capture this reality.   (photo compliments of Jan M.)  We can feel small, unimportant and worthless when people don’t want to hang out with us. One young lady discovered a few solutions after friends “bailed” on her.  Interesting how some of our most valuable lessons come out of our deepest struggles.

She wrote the following for this post;

“Build Friendship Assertiveness”

“Sometimes being too available for friends can hurt you more than benefit you. Being too easygoing can harm you as well; don’t go with the flow. Know what you want. Don’t be a pushover and allow others to make all the decisions. Your own indecision can make you feel dismissed and under-appreciated. It’s your life so speak up, voice your thoughts, and ensure that you are being heard. If it’s what you want then real friends will respect it.”

She’s right… know what you want and expect friends to respect this. Of course, you may have to choose new friends that do respect your wishes, limits, boundaries; friends who also share the work involved in keeping a friendship strong.

Develop ways to better communicate your thoughts and feelings, skills for building relationships and conflict resolution because lasting, quality relationships are work and are well worth the effort.