shadow image

Depression: How it Affects Relationships

Did you know that depression affects about 7% of the adult population in the United States?
One of the most common mental disorders in the world, depression is characterized by persistent sadness, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, appetite changes, sleep changes, pessimism, constant fatigue, and drainage of both physical and mental energy.
It is needless to say that depression can make everything look bleak – the sufferer not only loses interest in his daily activities and hobbies but also in people around him.
Although some people still do not consider depression as a ‘real’ illness, thankfully mental awareness is on the rise. Less understood, however, is its disastrous effect on human relationships.
When it comes to depression and relationships, it is a two-way street – while depression does surely affect relationships, the quality of relationships also impact the depressive state of a person.
First, let us discuss the several ways in which depression can negatively affect a relationship.
1. Makes it difficult to share emotions
It is crucial to understand that depression is not only about feeling sad and low. It is also about suppressing all emotions – imagine the suffering of a person who has every negative feeling buried in his heart.
While communication and open sharing of emotions are major aspects of a relationship, depression can rob you of them. Not being able to share true feelings and thoughts with anyone makes the sufferer feel hopeless and push the people around him away, even if it is his partner.
With an increase in the communication gap between the two, it is easy to see how their relationship will suffer.
2. Reduces intimacy
Depression also attacks another important facet of relationships, intimacy. Closeness and affection between two people is definitely a mainstay of a healthy, happy relationship.
Depression sucks out all positive emotions and makes it difficult to experience intimacy. Not only this, it also decreases the level of libido, making the sexual activities of the sufferer come to a halt. And a relationship without intimacy, love, and affection is
3. Triggers anxiety
As if the symptoms of depression were not a lot to handle on their own, it tends to trigger the symptoms of other mental issues, such as anxiety. And a combination of depression and anxiety is deadly – it can cause the sufferer to blame everything on his partner and lash out at him.
4. Gives way to behavioral issues
Depression can manifest itself both internally as well as externally. Internal manifestation refers to keeping all emotions to oneself while external manifestation is about expressing depression externally. The sufferer is likely to show an inappropriate behavior pattern that may prove harmful for himself or for others around him. Common behavioral issues include violence, self-harm, substance abuse, and infidelity. All these behaviors can give rise to several other serious relationship issues, thus making it fail.
Posing the risk of the aforementioned issues, depression makes it difficult to maintain healthy, fulfilling relationships. If your partner or anyone you know of is suffering from depression, be empathetic and make them feel that they matter and are not a burden. Be patient with them and support them in their struggles.

Anxiety: The Difference between Normal Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders

Life, whether you are a working mother or a student in high school, has become extremely demanding and stressful. Intense global competition, managing expectations and general environment around us has increased the frequency of moments we feel anxious.

This is one reason why it can be hard to differentiate normal anxiety from clinical anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It is imperative that you know the difference between the two. This way if anxiety is affecting someone close to you, you can help them find a solution.

Anxiety VS Anxiety Disorders.

Generally, anxiety is your body’s reaction to stress resulting from difficult situations. This reaction is very normal and happens to many people. In fact, it can be a sign of a healthy mind as it gives your body the cue to work harder and act on a fight or flight reflex.

Anxiety disorders, however, take things to an extreme level and produce feelings of overwhelming and intense anxiousness. Not only that, but they also have other debilitating symptoms that can cause severe mental and physical ailments.

Following are some key differences between the two:
Triggers.

Any mental or physical illness is always triggered by some event or external cause. Usually, normal anxiety is a response to stressors like an upcoming exam, job interview, new work environment or misunderstanding with a partner. This anxiety is only temporary and goes away once the person gets through the event.

But when one is suffering from a disorder, they experience constant anxiousness for long stretches without even knowing what triggered it. It is an over-bearing feeling of impending doom making even menial tasks like getting out of bed or going to work difficult.

Intensity

As I mentioned above, anxiety disorders create incredibly intense and over-whelming emotional responses. Most of these responses are disproportionate to the trigger. For example, a person without an anxiety disorder will be slightly nervous before a date but relax after some time; while a person with a disorder will be anxious to the point where they might even cancel the date.

If they do make it to the date, they will remain anxious the entire time and even after. Their anxiety doesn’t hit them right before the date; it can begin right after they confirm it on the phone. Also, their anxiousness can last for days, weeks or even months, while normal anxiety is fleeting.

Impact

The symptoms of an anxiety disorder can be debilitating and affect your entire life, causing you to avoid many normal activities. For example, it can stop you from going to concerts, hang-out with friends, amusement parks, work, school and more. It interferes with their daily life, making it hard to take care of simple responsibilities.

Physical Symptoms

Besides the feeling of doom looming over their heads, anxiety disorders can cause physical symptoms like dizziness, trembling, hypertension, breathlessness, excessive sweating, headaches and more.

While it is normal to feel anxious before important events, overwhelming anxiety doesn’t need to debilitate you. If you can relate to any of the symptoms above, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Remember that you aren’t alone as 40 million American adults also suffer from at least one type of anxiety disorder. Most will improve as anxiety disorders are treatable. Getting help early and sticking with the treatment can help relieve some of the symptoms and change your life for the better.

Workplace Depression ? How to Help as a Manager

Workplace depression is one of the most common and overlooked mental health related problems that managers and employers try to avoid dealing with. According to several statistical reports, depression affects more than 8 percent of adults in the US and can cause a loss of billions of dollars. Besides work, this depression can damage their overall quality of life and cause several other mental and physical health issues if left unchecked.

Continue reading

Stress and Your Health

We all know stress can make us irritable, forgetful, and moody but did you know just how much stress can affect our health? I started having chest tightness and a bit of difficulty in taking deep breath’s.  There was no pain, it just felt like I had an ace bandage around my body.  As this continued I began questioning if this could be a cardiac issue and considered making an appointment for a cardiac work-up.  I was working in an office I couldn’t stand, I had constant issues with my boss, and I often burst into tears at work due to the constant tension.  I quit my job giving a four-week notice and my chest tightness lessened by half almost immediately. When I walked out for the final time, my cardiac and respiratory problems were gone.  I never dreamed the stress of work could cause these issues.

 

Hypertension, diabetes, back pain, stomach pain, headaches.  Sound familiar?  These are just a few of the physical symptoms that stress can cause or aggrevate.  Muscular tension from clenching your jaw or tightening neck or back can limit blood circulation through area and increase amounts of lactic acid in muscles causing muscle pain.  Clenching your jaw and grinding teeth can cause tooth breakdown and an increase in tooth injuries. Grinding teeth can also cause headaches.   Headaches can indicate higher blood pressure or can be from tension in neck. Increased stress can increase stomach issues due to increased stomach acid.  Blood sugar levels are more difficult to regulate and stabilize due to stress and the poor eating habits that accompany it.

 

Business experts place the cost of uncorrected medical issues in the billions. The exact cost of increased health premiums, lost work time and decreased productivity and increased use of negative coping such as using or increasing alcohol is impossible to estimate.

 

Unfortunately, when seeing a physician for one or more of these physical complaints rarely do they discuss coping skills or suggest counseling for assistance.  Anxiety and depression are on the most common causes for people to see their primary doctor. Ask your physician if an increase in stress could cause your current issues.  Discuss your concerns about the causes of stress with him/her.  Discuss the possibility of seeking counseling to help you develop more appropriate coping skills and to begin to manage your stress in a more positive manner.

When interviewed, 70%-90% of those who had sought counselilng stated their symptoms and their quality of life had improved after seeking treatment.  Counseling may help you to manage your stress without use of increased medications.  Always seek your doctors advice before changing any medications. Ask your doctor if relieving stress could have an impact on your symptoms.

 

As consumers, we need to be aware of the interaction between our physical and mental health and ask our health care providers for referrals and assistance.   Consider counseling if your health has changed.

 

Kim offers a free 10-minute consultation on her Virtual Therapist Network site. Kim accepts most major major insurance companies and even offers a sliding scale for those in lower-income households.

Kim works in Bradley, Illinois and as an On-line Therapist (Video over the Internet) to help her clients verbalize their issues, learn to view things differently, and feel comfortable with their decisions. Just as there is not one correct answer in life, there are multiple ways to find a solution in counseling. Kim will work with you to find the most appropriate solution for you. Please contact Kim at her Associated Counseling office in Bradley Illinois or on-line at the Virtual Therapist Network.

Avoiding Family Feuds

Avoiding Family Feuds

Have you ever wished parenting was easier?  Children struggling with classes, forgetting, or refusing to follow household rules and expected behaviors, and open disrespect  is frustrating for all parents.  We may feel this will never improve but often with some changes in the way we communicate we can change the situtation.

  • Avoid yelling and screaming.  Take a few seconds to regain control before you begin speaking with your kids.  If all discipline needed was screaming, things would have changed long ago.
  • Don’t assume your child understands your directions.  “Clean your room” often means different things to child and adult.  Break the job down into what needs to be done.
  • Kids don’t see work that should be done.
  • Make the punishment fit the crime.  Take away online time for the rest of the day, not for a week.  The reality is that few parents hold the kids accountable for more than one day, so make the punishment punish the child, not you.
  • Be consistent! Enforcing consequences sporadically is confusing for everyone and undermines future communication with your kids.
  • Don’t forget your kids need praise, recognition, and to feel certain you love them.

Parenting is constant work and worry about the most valuable relationships in our lives.  Making changes in the way we communicate can only help to improve this relationship.  And remember, childhood doesn’t last forever so enjoy the time while you can.  If you honestly evaluate things, there probably are more positive moments than problems.  Consider family counseling if you are concerned the problems are becomimng unmanageable.

Kim offers a free 10-minute consultation on her Virtual Therapist Network site. Kim accepts most major major insurance companies and even offers a sliding scale for those in lower-income households.

Kim works in Bradley, Illinois and as an On-line Therapist (Video over the Internet) to help her clients verbalize their issues, learn to view things differently, and feel comfortable with their decisions. Just as there is not one correct answer in life, there are multiple ways to find a solution in counseling. Kim will work with you to find the most appropriate solution for you. Please contact Kim at her Associated Counseling office in Bradley Illinois or on-line at the Virtual Therapist Network.

Communicating With Your Kid

Communicating with Your Kid

Teen and Parent Talking

I was chauffeuring my kids one day listening to radio news. The newscaster announced  the average American parent spends 3 minutes each day communicating with their kids.  I was horrified. 3 minutes? I knew I was doing a much better job than “THOSE” parents and decided to monitor our communication to prove this.  I paid close attention for the next week while I communicated with my kids. What I found was that I was talking to my kids more than 3 minutes each day, but it was focused on directions “hurry up and get in the car”, “do you have your homework done?” “stop aggravating her.”   So lots of talking and not much communication.  I wasn’t doing any better than THOSE parents, I was one of them.  I was shocked to learn that I spent so much time give directions and no clear time communicating.  So how can you actively communicate with your kids?

  • The time spent in the car driving to and from is not great communication time because it limits eye contact and face to face sharing.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell your kids you made a mistake or that you are sorry.
  • You don’t have to explain reasons for your decisions other than to say you are concerned about their safety. Some times the reason is “because I said so”.  Long winded explanations will not help your kids understand any better.
  • Always be as honest as possible. Tell them you don’t know everything but are doing best you can.
  • Make certain they hear that life is not fair, not everyone wins, things will make them angry throughout life and they will have their feelings hurt.
  • Most of all, take the time to listen.  Listen without electronics in place, TV on, or while trying to finish a task. Set a time with them to meet later in the day to sit and talk.
  • Humor is important in family life.  Laughing lessens tension, humanizes us, and helps lower blood pressure, improve our immune system, and lessens pain.
  • Admit your mistakes immediately. Kids need to see that parents can admit wrongs and not lose face over it.  Introduce the concept of learning from mistakes.
  • And cut yourself some slack, you are doing the best you can.

Kim offers a free 10-minute consultation on her Virtual Therapist Network site. Kim accepts most major major insurance companies and even offers a sliding scale for those in lower-income households.

Kim works in Bradley, Illinois and as an On-line Therapist (Video over the Internet) to help her clients verbalize their issues, learn to view things differently, and feel comfortable with their decisions. Just as there is not one correct answer in life, there are multiple ways to find a solution in counseling. Kim will work with you to find the most appropriate solution for you. Please contact Kim at her Associated Counseling office in Bradley Illinois or on-line at the Virtual Therapist Network.

Before the Wedding


We’re Engaged!

Holidays bring engagements and all the excitement they offer us, both now and in the future.  Initially discussions between fiance’s often consists only of details about the wedding, day, venue, wedding party, or type of service.  Before beginning these discussions the couple should consider what their future will look like.

  • Who is responsible for household duties? Will this change with a baby?
  • Who makes financial decisions? One checking account or two? What about credit cards?

How much money do each of you owe on credit cards, student loans, or any other outstanding loans? When do these need to be paid? What is your credit rating?  Can you balance a check book?

  • Cat or dog? No pet?
  • Do you want children? How many and how soon after the wedding?
  • Who will be writing the thank you notes for the gifts? When are they going out?
  • Mountains or oceans?
  • What did Santa bring? Did Santa bring every gift or just one?
  • What religious practices do you follow and will you continue them as a couple? What religion will any children practice?
  • Where do you want to live as a married couple?  House or condo? Buy or rent?
  • How much input should your parents have into your marriage and decisions?
  • How much time will you be spending with your family? Are you expected at certain events?
  • What about nights out with the boys/girls?  Stopping off after work?
  • Are each of you going to work? What about after children are born?
  • Is daycare and babysitters acceptable or will you want only family members to watch the children?
  • How often should parents visit? Where should they stay if traveling to see you?
  • Is birth control allowed and what types will you use?
  • Are there any friends that you don’t want your mate to continue relationships with? Are opposite sex relationships OK? What about staying in touch with old relationships on social media?
  • Is divorce an option?
  • Will there be a prenup?
  • How much time do you expect to spend on hobbies such as watching sports or going shopping?
  • Is infidelity a deal breaker?
  • How do you deal with the flu? Is someone supposed to take care of you?
  • Take out or home cooked? Who will do the cooking in your home? Do each of you know how to cook, do laundry, clean?
  • Does either persons job require traveling? Is one person engaged in seasonal business? How will these situations affect your marriage?
  • Who is supposed to pay bills?
  • Who will be #1-spouse or kids?

These are some general questions that hopefully will lead you into longer discussions about the life together you have  planned.  Differences  in beliefs and attitude are best known before the wedding.  Problems experienced during the engagement will not disappear after you are married and will increase risks for divorce.  Expectations for the marriage must be spelled out prior so each person enters marriage with clear ideas about your life together.  Irritating habits or behaviors now will only increase in intensity over time. Can you spend 5, 10, 15 years with this behavior? No one changes after marriage. If you are entering this marriage believing you can “change him/her”? This is a recipe for disaster as no one change someone’s behaviors.

Marriage has peaks and valleys. What are your expectations? How will you tolerate the valleys and difficult times?   Clear communication prior to marriage is essential to build a foundation for the future relationship.

Premarital counseling will help you to explore the differences and similarities you are experiencing and will help  navigate compromises and reach common ground.  Many clients enter counseling after the marriage stating “I never knew about …” and what impact that would have on their marriage.

Consider beginning counseling immediately after your engagement and prior to beginning wedding planning.  Would you be willing to cancel your wedding if you find you and your mate are not compatible? Entering into a marriage knowing you and your spouse have taken the time to explore each other’s attitude, beliefs, and habits will increase your feelings of security with your decision.

Kim offers a free 10-minute consultation on her Virtual Therapist Network site. Kim accepts most major major insurance companies and even offers a sliding scale for those in lower-income households.

Kim works in Bradley, Illinois and as an On-line Therapist (Video over the Internet) to help her clients verbalize their issues, learn to view things differently, and feel comfortable with their decisions. Just as there is not one correct answer in life, there are multiple ways to find a solution in counseling. Kim will work with you to find the most appropriate solution for you. Please contact Kim at her Associated Counseling office in Bradley Illinois or on-line at the Virtual Therapist Network.

Stress Free Holidays


The holidays are approaching and with them comes inevitable stress about gift buying, family celebrations, and the impact on our finances.  Many people plan the “perfect” holiday season: gifts purchased and wrapped early, the house decorated perfectly both inside and out, and all of your holiday baking will be delicious and phenomenal!  Then we find we are disappointed with the entire holiday season because we could not reach the level of perfection we imagined.   The reality is that gifts are expensive and we often don’t know what to purchase for someone, making those perfect cookies takes time we may not have, and we cannot compete with the picture we envisioned for our house and yard.

This year stop competing with yourself and develop  more realistic holiday plans.  How much money do you have for gifts and postage? Many people buy all gifts with credit cards delaying the awareness of how much was spent.  Communicating your financial abilities and resources with your family will help to offer a more realistic picture of your resources for family holidays.  Resources include our time. Take an honest look at your calendar and plan times for cookie baking and decorating.  Decorate once and leave everything alone! Get kids involved in cookie making and decorating.  Make holiday traditions instead of aiming for perfection.  Everyone loves sugar cookies decorated by children.

Consider some of these ideas to decrease your stress and increase you enjoyment during the holidays.

  • Consider a family vacation instead of gifts for everyone.  Get all the family involved in decision making.  A family trip eliminates purchase and wrapping of gifts and helps kids learn about importance of family and memories rather than material things.
  • Have a cookie exchange with family or neighbors.
  • Have a “decoration exchange” with someone and enjoy a different look this season.  This also allows you to have “new” decorations without cost of purchasing.
  • Utilize the gift wrapping services available at most malls.  Frequently non-profit groups will wrap gifts for donation. Help both of you this season!
  • Consider “adopting” a family in need instead of gifts for each other.  Consider working at a community holiday dinner for those who may not have had a dinner otherwise.
  • Use social media to send holiday greeting rather then holiday cards eliminating time and expense of postage.

Part of our role as parents is to teach our children responsible financial behaviors.  This may include setting limits on number or amount of money spent.  Discuss “sharing” a gift if it is too expensive for one child.  Help kids with a “secret Santa” or drawing names to further teach lessons on money, making choices, and developing skills in wrapping and keeping secrets.

The most important stress reliever will be to have realistic expectations; nothing will be perfect but will be enjoyed anyway.  Don’t plan on family members “getting along” at a holiday dinner if they usually argue at every opportunity.  Allow yourself to neglect something due to lack of time or money.  Remember the true purpose of the holidays and don’t let yourself become distracted by commercialism  or materialism.  Take time to celebrate the true meaning of the holidays and communicate this to your kids.

If you are feeling increasingly stressed or depressed, consider seeking help and talking with someone about how you feel.

Kim offers a free 10-minute consultation on her Virtual Therapist Network site. Kim accepts most major major insurance companies and even offers a sliding scale for those in lower-income households.

Kim works in Bradley, Illinois and as an On-line Therapist (Video over the Internet) to help her clients verbalize their issues, learn to view things differently, and feel comfortable with their decisions. Just as there is not one correct answer in life, there are multiple ways to find a solution in counseling. Kim will work with you to find the most appropriate solution for you. Please contact Kim at her Associated Counseling office in Bradley Illinois or on-line at the Virtual Therapist Network.

 

Suicide Facts

Suicide Facts

In 2014, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and was the 2nd leading cause of death for those ages 10-34. Men commit suicide four times as often as females, often using lethal methods such as firearms or hanging. 90% of those who have attempted suicide have a diagnosable mental illness.

Many myths surround suicide about the warning signs and interventions.

Continue reading