Medication: One Possible Tool For Your Arsenal?

Many may be hesitant to take medication for depression; it is sometimes incorrectly perceived as a personal weakness. When we sprain an ankle or dislocate an arm, we require crutches or braces for support so that our bodies can heal. One may consider a similar attitude about the use of antidepressant medication.

It is very important to research the various types of medications that can be prescribed for depression, discuss these with your doctor and pharmacist and ask about side effects from various medications. Some side effects may include, yet are not limited to the following: nausea, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, irritability, restlessness, anxiety, decreased sex drive, weight gain, constipation, and headaches. Ultimately, it is your choice whether to use medications and for how long, however, it is important to work closely with your doctor to most effectively and safely use antidepressants.

A holistic approach to depression has shown to be the most effective treatment plan. Antipsychotic medications do not cure depression; they may reduce or eliminate symptoms which can help people address problematic areas of life. Pairing a medication plan with nutrition, exercise and counselling can help individuals suffering better cope with depression or possibly overcome depressive symptoms entiretly.

Counselling addresses factors medication cannot; helping people improve current relationships, heal past wounds, set healthy boundaries, reduce feeling overwhelmed by stress, and learn to cope with life’s challenges in a healthier and more effective manner.

As medication may improve the biochemistry factors associated with depression, counselling helps people resolve the psychosocial influences that heighten depressive symptoms. Essential life changes such as exercise, proper nutrition and healthy sleeping habits have shown to improve a person’s emotional state. Making significant lifestyle changes may be almost impossible without assistance, behavioural coaching and cognitive training. Cognitive-behavioural therapy, a well researched and evidence-based counselling approach, has been shown to be quite effective with helping those suffering from depression.

For effective assistance Book an appointment with us today!

or… Post-Traumatic Stress “Reaction” (PTSR)

“The anger, the rage, the hurt, and the cold loneliness that separates you from your family, friends, and society’s normal daily routine are so powerful that the option of destroying yourself is both real and attractive….It appears, it grows, it invades and it overpowers you….You cannot put these things behind you…And the more people advise you to do so, the more you get mad because you know these things will not disappear. Time does not help,” (from Lt-Gen. Dallaire; Davison, Neale, Blankstein & Flett, 2002, p. 197).

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is commonly known to be experienced by those who have fought in wars and experienced combat stress; however, it may also occur to individuals exposed to prolonged abuse, trauma, and victimization at home, school, work and in other social situations. Personal tragedy, natural disasters, or overwhelming life experiences also contribute to suffering and potentially being diagnosed with PTSD. The term “reaction” has been used increasingly over more recent years with symptoms following after trauma.

When we are exposed to difficult situations, it can sometimes feel unbearable to cope with. Excessive memory loss, increased doubt and insecurity, thoughts that bad things are inevitable, trouble sleeping and eating are just a few symptoms of excessive stress. At times, our family and friends may develop unrealistic expectations that we are “strong enough” to overcome life’s challenges. This may inhibit sufferers of PTSD from seeking help and being able to move forward. Living with untreated or under-treated PTSD, people may subsequently, over time, “experience problems with anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, substance abuse (as a means of self-medicating), marital problems, poor physical health, and occupational impairment” (Blankstein, et al.).

Feeling stuck in this dark place, as Lt-Gen. Dallaire describes above, can make us feel like there is no way out. We may be reliving traumatic experiences on a daily basis and not realize that there are ways to overcome the situation differently—ways to cope, ways to feel loved and supported (not shameful or guilty).

One-to-one therapy can help address the specific needs of an individual with PTSD. Group therapy may create a space of support for those also suffering with PTSD; being in the “same boat” with others who are able to relate to similar symptoms and experiences. Together, both individual counselling and support groups can help individuals overcome the symptoms and impact of severe trauma and regain a positive perspective on life. Call us today for an appointment and additional resources to assist you.

Actually… It’s Not a Competition

Research indicates depression occurs twice as often in women as in men. There are additional risk factors that account for the increased likelihood that females will suffer from depression over males. Some of these added risk factors for females include: variance in hormone changes, puberty and premenstrual problems (e.g. bloating, breast tenderness, cramping, headaches and irritability). Another factor which is quite different for adolescent girls and women over boys and men, at least in developed countries, is females experience significantly higher levels of dysphoria and vulnerability related to physical appearance and body image.

These gender differences do not appear in pre-adolescent children. Risk factors become more apparent when they interact with the challenges of adolescence (e.g., physical appearance, dating, sexual experience and expression, and academic performance).

Why the gender difference?

Some may attribute the difference to the different stressors that males and females experience (Davidson, Neale, Blankstein, & Flett, 2002):

  • Single, teenaged mothers report higher levels of depression than married ones.
  • Women suffering from obesity tend to show more depressive symptoms.
  • Females have been statistically shown to be exposed to various forms of victimization than males.
  • Societal conditions can create more stressors on women than males, making feelings of empowerment more difficult for women to achieve.

Does Gender Difference Matter?

Although research may present the differences of mental health among males and females rather than gender, our attention should focus on adolescent healthy development.

How are we rearing and “coaching” both males and females as they approach adolescence? Are we preparing our children for this new phase in their lives? Do we parents and caregivers know what these conversations should look like? Is the communication within the family open, engaging, and supportive? How aware are we about their social, intellectual, emotional, sexual, spiritual and physical developmental changes and the impact upon their confidence and performance?

When we consider these questions, we become in tune to helping our children through difficult times and new phases in their lives. A strong, consistent and caring family supportive system:

  • increases the chance adolescents can effectively cope with their stressors and crisis points,
  • helps teens focus on more positive thoughts about themselves, their family members and friends,
  • promotes healthier behavioural choices related to daily challenges and experiences teens face.

Male? Female? We all have “issues” and challenges! For further resources on how to help your family through different stages of development and your young people with depression, anxiety or other common mental health issues, call us today!

“I complained of a decline in vital energy; a weakened ability to enjoy the fulfillment of needs or of aesthetic desire. Even the most reasonable goals had become difficult or impossible to set, and when established, impossible to fulfill…I complained of sleep troubles, eating troubles. I found myself avoiding all but the most urgently necessary contact with other people. The ill feeling that, for some depressives, does not get much worse than a generalized unhappiness would in my case often degenerate into overwhelming self-loathing, climaxing in sudden, surprising relief, or thoughts or suicide,” (Mays, 1996, p. 64).

In Mays’ case, he did find some relief when prescribed Prozac; however this relief was only temporary.

This holiday season is upon us and some of us are listening to the 24-hour holiday playlists on the radio. Some of us have already decorated our homes to be in a constant reminder of the joy that this time brings. We anticipate the family visits and holiday traditions. With young children, we share stories of what this time was like when we were young. To some of us, the holiday season allows us to forget the difficulties we face day to day, and become grateful for the people in our lives; as well as the memories we get to share and create.

Unfortunately the joys, memories, and happiness is not experienced by all of us. Like Mays, people suffering from depression have an extremely difficult time participating in a festive spirit.

What is important to consider over the holidays is that individuals suffering from depression usually do not want to think and feel this way. The happiness and enjoyment seems unattainable.

Sharing time in such a joyous occasion comes easy when we are in the presence of those with the same joyful intentions. It can be difficult for families who have a member suffering from depression. Some families may feel guilty of feeling so happy around this time of year when they know that another member is suffering. Individuals with depression may withdraw from family traditions so that they do not “ruin” the holiday spirit.

There are ways for all family members to cope during the holiday season. Seeking support as a family increases cohesiveness, enhances your relationships and also provides insight into the impact that depression can have on the family. Call us today so you and your family can enjoy the New Year.

What I wouldn’t give to feel normal again!

Sometimes we lay in bed and as we awake to our alarm clock, before moving an inch, we think we are going to feel normal again, pain-free. We roll over and as we attempt to get up, BAM! We are reminded by the strike of pain sent to an area of our body like a lightening bolt strikes trees.

It is difficult to explain people’s experiences with chronic pain. Some are “lone”parents, some have to manage going to work, some become addicted to pain killers, and some have broken relationships due to the difficulty coping with their chronic pain. Each person suffering from chronic pain will have different experiences; however, some of the thoughts associated with chronic pain are still similar:

 

  • “Why me?”
  • “I can’t take it anymore!”
  • “I wish this never happened!”
  • “I will never feel normal again!”
  • “No one understands what I’m going through!”
  • “I feel alone. Just me and this pain.”
  • “How am I going to manage?”

 

These thoughts lead to feelings of worthlessness, exhaustion, stress, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. Without a consistent support system and appropriate coping strategies, the behaviours associated with dealing with chronic pain can be quite alarming: addiction (to prescribed medication or substance abuse/misuse), separation and divorce, suicidal ideations, unproductive behaviours (such as refusing to wake up or work), and anti-social behaviours such as shutting out family and friends.

It is very unfortunate that people endure chronic pain hardship for any length of time. However, there are resources available to help those suffering. Families and friends struggling due to another’s chronic pain experiences can also get help.

Call us today to find out how we can help you and your family cope more effectively with chronic pain.

Horrendous secrets many people carry for months, years, decades and maybe even to their grave can lead to debilitating stress. This can result in what many people call a “break-down”.  It was historically referred to as a “nervous breakdown”, “hysteria” and “shell shock”.

I like to call it a “letting out“, in what may appear like sudden release of the awful trauma from the past. The information may be considered held in the background of the mind until the person suffering is better equipped to deal with it. It can take years to reach the point of release. When the abuse and violence happens during childhood, it is quite common to keep it secret; possibly not wanting further upset in the family, because of embarrassment, confusion, shame and guilt or simply because the child has no way of dealing with this at their age and stage.

This is a very serious psychological dilemma, a catch twenty-two. Victims are caught between two very stressful choices: speak up or not?

Studies show as many as one in four girls and one in six boys experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of eighteen. Not only is the offending behaviour severely troubling at the time, in the years that follow there is usually increase in emotional upset and imbalance. Negative thoughts can gradually increase with one’s heightened awareness of the nature of such an offence, the stigma associated and throughout the subsequent stages of sexual development.  

Of course, with the negative thoughts, or what I reframe as “stinkin thinkin“, comes negative emotional states and the negative behavioural patterns are not far behind. Those suffering from what Judith Herman (Trauma and Recovery, 1992) first called post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (or reaction – PTSR) may display symptoms often related to depression or anxiety, may engage in harmful and hurtful “risk-taking” behaviours, substance misuse and experience severe and chronic difficulties with relationships.

If you have experienced such a trauma, and feel ready and able to work on this obstacle to growth, I encourage you to seek out a specialized professional counsellor for assistance. There are also good books and resources to use in combination with recovery and restorative therapy. For more information on this and other issues  Contact us today

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!