Category Archives: Therapist Articles

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.

September is Suicide Prevention Month

September is Suicide Prevention Month


Should I shoot the baby too and take her with me, the distraught mother said to herself as she held the gun in her hand or should I leave the baby to be raised by relatives?  This young woman was in such heart-wrenching despair. Around two months prior to this moment, she found the body of her husband who completed suicide by means of a gun. She missed him so much, she saw this as a way to join him and be with him, by doing the same. So, she was contemplating should she take her 4-month-old baby too so they could all be together again or leave the baby to be raised by relatives?

I came across this post on a single/widowed parent’s message board back in the AOL message board days. I took a chance she may be online and sent her an instant message. She responded. And we began to message as she shared with me the anguish she was feeling. She felt hopeless, that her situation was hopeless. While chatting with her, I instant messaged a moderator who happened to be online and asked her to take a look at the message board, get this young mother’s contact information and call 911. In the meantime, I will try to keep her engaged and please let me know when they are on their way.

Each pause between her response seemed like an eternity as the thought ran through my mind, oh no, she did it, it’s too late….  The last message I received from her was first responders were at the door and she had to go.  I breathed a sigh of relief as I began to shake and cry.

Synchronicity? Perhaps, this was before smart phone days and all three of us, the distraught mother, the moderator and myself were online living in three different time zones. This young mother did not want her life to end or her baby’s life to end. She wanted the pain she was feeling to end.



When talking to a suicidal person:


Be yourself. Let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone. The right words are often unimportant. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.

Listen. Let the suicidal person unload despair, vent anger. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign.

Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting. Your friend or family member is doing the right thing by talking about his/her feelings.

Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Let the person know that his or her life is important to you.

Take the person seriously. If the person says things like, “I’m so depressed, I can’t go on,” ask the question: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” You are not putting ideas in their head, you are showing that you are concerned, that you take them seriously, and that it’s OK for them to share their pain with you.

But don’t:

Argue with the suicidal person. Avoid saying things like: “You have so much to live for,” “Your suicide will hurt your family,” or “Look on the bright side.”

Act shocked, lecture on the value of life, or say that suicide is wrong.

Promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy. A life is at stake and you may need to speak to a mental health professional in order to keep the suicidal person safe. If you promise to keep your discussions secret, you may have to break your word.

Offer ways to fix their problems, or give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their suicidal feelings. It is not about how bad the problem is, but how badly it’s hurting your friend or loved one.

Blame yourself. You can’t “fix” someone’s depression. Your loved one’s happiness, or lack thereof, is not your responsibility.


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:

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.


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.


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.

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Meditation for Lower Blood Pressure

This is no kidding! If you want to help lower your blood pressure then learn meditation techniques. It has been found those who practice meditation on a regular basis can lower their blood pressure and even lower the amount of medication they take. This interesting study was written in an article by Allison Aubrey, a correspondent for NPR news, called,?To Lower Blood Pressure Open Up and Say ?OM?.?

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Body Image Lies

In this world, there is always a shadow side to every glimpse of light. Nothing can ever be completely exposed or even true. Knowing what is true is very powerful because the truth is powerful. Along with this is also knowing what is not true. Knowing what the lie is and exposing it can always mean a sense of more power in life.

For instance, let?s apply this to women?s body image. Can you imagine already how healing it is to just go through and list what things are simply not true? Take a look at how our society exposes women. Through media publications and transmissions, we are set up to believe lies when it comes to what a woman should look like. We are blasted with images on a daily basis, of women who are touched up and altered so as not to expose the truth of what they really look like. We get to see airbrushed versions of who a person is. The images have the cellulite, stretch marks, wrinkles, bags, puffiness, and added pounds subtracted from the equation. I once saw an expose on how some photographers can actually make their models appear 10 pounds lighter. Let?s not even get into the new apps we hear about that can be used on a cell phone to create a slimmer image of us when we capture ourselves in a selfie.

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Online Cheating

Do I really want to talk about this one? Sometimes God nudges me in directions that I really don?t want to go but it is necessary. This morning it happens to be online cheating. It comes up so much more often than most of us realize. Our techie age has created wonderful ways to meet people we otherwise would not meet, but unfortunately, it is becoming the number one mode of marital/relationship infidelity. It is also becoming one of the foremost reasons for divorce in our country and others. After all, our country includes Canada, Mexico, and also the United States. Infidelity extends to the Philippines and other areas of the world. With the world at our fingertips, the possibilities are multiplied.

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Are Your Relationships Suffering Because of Your Phone?

No doubt our current technology is an amazing thing! Way back in what now seems like the stone age, we never imagined the freedom in technology we have these days. We see people while we talk on the phone or online. We transmit messages instantly and send at the touch of a button. Wow, who knew? May I add that energy makes this possible, but this blog post is not about energy, atoms, or even our personal chi. Although, I could go off on that tangent!

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Ever Wonder What Your “Self” Is?

I recall a pivotal moment when I heard the expression, ?Out of all the things you miss in life, do you miss your mind the most?? I?m not sure who first said that, but I would certainly give credit if I could. I only know it was years ago now and I had to stop and think about it. Do I miss my mind, and what does that really mean? If my mind is missing, does that mean I am out of my mind? So many questions, so little time, right?

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Life Can Turn On a Dime

For something to ?turn on a dime? actually refers to a vehicle or something turning quickly without expectation and with precision. When we apply this to life, it has come to refer to a sudden shift in direction without notice or warning.

I think it was at least a decade ago, or more, I received a late call from a woman I had never spoken to before. She must have seen my advertising for my counseling/coaching office and desperately needed to talk. I sat on the floor on the phone next to my bed just listening as she sobbed and explained how her husband had come to her all of a sudden and told her he had been seeing someone else. He not only wanted a divorce but he gave her papers that explained he had wanted her to move out of the house they had lived together in for almost 25 years. She was in her late 50?s and could not imagine what she would do with her life now.

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