Articles for the Month of January 2015

7 Depression Myths Exposed

By Cathy Neville, LPC

7 Depression Myths Exposed

7 Depression Myths Exposed

Depression doesn’t fade away on it’s own.

Yet, according to recent studies, half of Americans suffering from depression do not receive adequate care.

Men, women, children, teens, college students, and the elderly.

Across the country, depression is growing in numbers.

And still, vast numbers stay away from therapists’ doors.

Why? What keeps people away from help and hope?

It seems that misinformation and the stigma of mental health problems are getting in the way. Let’s look at the following 7 common myths about depression:

Myth #1. Depression is Just Sadness on Steroids. Sad people aren’t necessarily depressed people and vice versa. Deep sadness may very well be present in a depressed person, but so might apathy, anger, anxiety, and a mind-numbing emptiness.
Myth #2. Depression Stems From Mental Weakness. You may think a stronger person just “snaps out of it.” You may believe that depression is some sort of character flaw or spiritual void. Not true. Depression is not a contest of mental toughness. You can’t think depression away.
Myth #3. Depression isn’t Real. Depression shouldn’t be dismissed. Depression deserves your attention and then it needs to de dismantled. With appropriate therapies and the non-judgmental support of people who understand your suffering, you can manage your symptoms and receive treatment.
Myth #4. Depression Doesn’t Affect Real Men. While it’s true that women are twice as likely to suffer from depression, men are much more successful at committing suicide. Men hold depression in. Too often, they die, discouraged by society from sharing their pain, seeking out help, or receiving treatment.
Myth #5. Depression is Just for Grown-ups. Depression is no stranger to children. Unfortunately, child or adolescent depression may be mistaken for normal childhood moodiness. When moods change and persist, adults in a child’s life must investigate. The sobering truth is that 1 in 8 children suffer from depression.
Myth #6. Depression Treated with Drugs Never Ends. Pharmaceutical therapies are an important option for some depression sufferers. Antidepressants alleviate depression by altering problematic brain chemistry. The goal is to deal with the sufferer’s symptoms and restore them to a more normal mood. Antidepressant treatment varies. When meds are combined with psychotherapy, many patients find that increased coping skills reduce the need for medication.
Myth #7. Depression Treated with Talk Therapy Doesn’t Work. Depression wants to do all the talking. It tells you to withdraw. To isolate. It tells you that talking only exacerbates the pain and reinforces negativity. Actually, ruminating alone on negative thoughts just worsens depression. Sessions with a compassionate and experienced professional provides support and perspective.
Myth # 8. Depression Symptoms Stay in Your Head. Depression symptoms may be mental and physical. Sadness, irritability, disorder, emptiness, and even suicidal thoughts commonly affect the mind. But physical symptoms of depression can work their way into your body as well. Typical ailments include exhaustion, changes in sleeping patterns, disrupted appetite, fluctuations in weight, headaches, digestive trouble, and muscle aches. Prolonged symptoms lasting more than two weeks could signal depression.
Myth #9. Depression is a Result of Sad Circumstances. Depression needn’t always be triggered by a crisis or negative situation. While trying times can lead to psychological upheaval and a rollercoaster of emotional ups and downs, this does not necessarily culminate in depression. In fact, the telltale markers of depression, like inexplicable episodes of hopelessness, listlessness, and detachment, may occur during the most positive of times.
Enlist the help of a therapist soon if you or a loved one is depressed.

Reach out to someone who can help relieve you of persistent hopelessness, isolation, and anger.

Don’t let misconceptions about depression and therapies steal your joy.

I am a therapist in San Antonio, Texas, who can help you or a loved one with depression. Call or text for an appointment at 210-286-0810.

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Fighting Fair with Your Partner: How to Ensure You Both End Up Winners

Photo by istockphto

Photo by istockphto

By Cathy Neville, LPC
Sometimes things get heated and emotions are high.
You just want to make your point.You just want to make him or her listen.You just want to win.But wait a minute. Is that really the goal?

Yes, you’re angry. Maybe you’re even right.

Still, if you press your point by any means necessary, it’s likely that you and your partner both end up the losers.

There must be a better way.

Fighting Fair

You’ve heard it before. Fight fair.

But how?

When tensions mount, you need something in your arsenal of responses and reactions besides sarcastic barbs, a rising tone, or the silent treatment.

You need some ground rules and a way to communicate that says,

“Let’s have this out” and “I still love you.”

Let’s start with the ground rules:

Rule #1. Keep your cool. Calm, rational behavior lends itself to considerate conversation.

Rule #2. Be specific and focused. Discuss only the issue at hand. Keep your complaints clear and concise. Avoid implying that your partner “always” or “never” does this or that. Generalities usually feel like blame.

Rule #3. Stay away from accusations and embrace “I statements.”Express how you feel rather than putting your partner on guard.

Rule #4. Don’t accumulate complaints, exaggerate faults, or eliminate trust. Avoid tendencies to pile on emotional grievances and overreactions. Never use sensitive topics or areas of vulnerability against your partner.

Rule #5. Don’t shut down. It’s okay to take a break if the discussion is too much for either of you. Assure your partner you will resume the conversation later. When you’re less overwhelmed, come back together calmly.

With the ground rules set, it’s wise to closely consider the specific conflict and the end goal.

Is it worth the effort? Yes?

Then its time to communicate.

The following suggestions may help you employ the fair fighting ground rules and, hopefully, reach a mutually beneficial resolution:

  • Agree to prioritize time to talk. Considerately set a time to iron out issues in a safe, appropriate setting. Prepare to share your position and really listen to your partner’s concerns.
  • Set a conflict resolution goal. What do you want to see happen between you and your partner? How would you like to see your relationship or the situation improve when all is said and done?
  • Take responsibility for your part. Avoid insinuating that your partner “made” you do, think, or feel anything. Simply share how you felt when he or she behaved in a particular manner or responded to you in a certain way. Keep blame to a minimum.
  • Honor the person you know and love. Remember that you love your partner. You don’t really want to hurt him or her. It’s counterproductive to push your partner away. Try to walk in your partner’s shoes instead. Do all you can to see through the anger and disappointment of the moment to the genuine bond you share.
  • Ask yourself what a win/win looks like. Resist the urge to “defeat” your partner by really giving some thought to how compromise might help you solve your problem. Consider the cons of your viewpoint and the pros of your partner’s. Keep an open mind.

Okay, you’ve got ground rules and a plan. Now what?

Proceed to disagree!

It’s okay, as long as you honor your connection.

Keep your communication healthy to keep the battle localized and productive.

If you do find some conflicts are too emotional or require a third, objective perspective, don’t hesitate to call a counselor or therapist.

Learn to fight fair.

You can preserve your love and still have your say.

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Stress: 21 Effective Ways to Reduce It

photo by Dreamstime

Fighting Fair

Resolutions and goals are calling for completion.A world of possibilities lays ahead.All you have to do now is get to work:

  • You’ll need to join a gym and rework your schedule to “lose weight and exercise more.”
  • You’ll have to clear out some time for housework so that you can have people over and “spend more time with family and friends.”
  • You also need to schedule a few appointments with a doctor or a counselor to “break bad habits.”
  • And somewhere in there, you need to find ways to “reduce stress.”

Hmm.

Now that you think about it, your resolutions feel more like work than motivation.

Change is hard.

Maybe it’s best to start from the bottom and work up.

Reducing stress seems like a good place to start.

So. How do you do that?

Don’t worry.

With a few of these tried and tested stress relief tips, you’ll be well on your way to a less stressed future.

Begin your day as stress-free as possible.

1. Your best morning starts the night before. Wind down with a long bath or soothing music to ensure restful sleep.

2. Do what you can to ease into the morning. A little night-before prep work goes a long way. Lay out the next day’s clothes. Stash everything you need for the day by the door.

3. Get a slightly earlier start. Fifteen or twenty minutes can make all the difference on busy mornings.

Unburden your mind and body.

4. Empty your head of appointment times, chore lists, project dates, etc. Use a planner or wall calendar to ease the stress of trying to remember it all.

5. Release accumulated tension with yoga sessions or by simply getting away from your desk to stretch periodically.

6. Inhale, exhale. Shallow breathing accompanies stress. Breathe deeply to aid relaxation.

Manage your stuff.

7. Prevent stress by planning ahead. Maintain a sufficient level of daily supplies and provisions available to you and your family. Stock up for emergencies.

8. Don’t allow repair issues to sneak up on you or accumulate. Handle maintenance issues promptly.

9. Organize to alleviate panicked searches for “lost” items.

Value your own time.

10. Schedule your day sensibly.

11. Procrastination is a recipe for stress. Whatever it is; do it today, do it now.

12. Say “no” when you need to. Don’t pretend you have the time or energy for more activities or projects. Appreciate peace, quiet, and solitude.

13. Unplug. Media overload often steals time from more beneficial pursuits like quiet meditation, introspection, or uninterrupted sleep.

Pay attention to perspective.

14. Resist perfectionism. Attempts to be perfect are futile and exhausting.

15. Consider your “needs.” Ask yourself whether you really need to be stressed over something that really isn’t essential to your happiness.

16. Embrace gratitude. Count, journal, or meditate on your blessings.

17. Make self-compassion your goal. Shut down any self-talk that is destructive or discouraging.

Share your life.

18. Take good care of your relationships. Practice healthy communication and conflict resolution to prevent stressful breakdowns and breakups.

19. Build relationships with affirming people who aren’t prone to worry and negativity.

20. Forgive. Accept the imperfections of the world and the people in it.

21. Reap the benefits of giving, loving, sharing, collaborating, and engaging with people who need you.

Don’t wait. Take a few of these measures to de-stress.

Relax and enjoy the life you either resolved to live or never knew you could have.

Your peace of mind awaits.

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