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.

Communication Styles: Which One Are You?

Communication is an important aspect of daily life. Every single day, you communicate with someone. Although everyone uses communication, not everyone uses the same communication style. In fact, there are four different styles of communication, which includes passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive.

If you often feel that communication is a problem for you, you might be using one of the less favored styles. Identifying which of the communication styles you use can help you work on your communication skills so you can communicate more effectively with others.


Passive communicators often go to great lengths to avoid expressing their feelings and opinions. As such, a passive communicator often fails to stand up for his or her rights. If you are a passive communicator, you might fail to meet your needs or the needs of others through communication.

You can usually identify a passive communicator through their posture. For instance, if you are a passive communicator, you may speak very softly. You may also often use apologetic phrases when speaking. Also, passive speakers often avoid making eye contact, and they tend to display a somewhat slumped or hunched over posture.

When it comes to communication styles, you will discover that a passive speaker often uses phrases such as:

“It really doesn’t matter to me. It’s whatever your prefer.’”

“I would much rather just maintain peace.”

Although maintaining peace is good, that does not mean you should let someone take advantage of you. It is also okay to consider what someone else wants to do, but you do not have to concede every single time a situation arises. Instead, you should work together to come up with an amicable agreement on a situation.


As far as communication styles, aggressive forms of communication are often harmful toward others. You can tell almost right away when a person is an aggressive communicator. You can hear it in the way they speak, see it in the way they act, and you may even feel it depending on the impact of their words and tone of their voice.

Aggressive communicators often speak loudly using an emphasized tone of voice. Furthermore, they are often demanding, caring more for their own needs rather than the needs of others. A person who uses aggressive communication has no trouble holding eye contact, though they often do so intensely as a way of dominating the conversation or intimidating the other person.

A person who speaks aggressively may use phrases such as,

“Everything is always your fault.”

“I am always right.”


Passive-aggressive communication is no better than either passive or aggressive communication. In fact, all three styles of communication can lead to difficulty. A person who uses passive-aggressive communication often appears passive on the surface, but they are often aggressive at their core.

Passive-aggressive speakers often feel a sense of powerlessness, which makes them feel weak. As a result, they develop a form of resentment, regret, and sometimes hatred. As such, they will indirectly act out aggressively. A passive-aggressive communicator may seem agreeable to you but will mutter quietly to themselves rather than speaking up and confronting people or issues.

A passive-aggressive speaker may say things like,

“I think your idea is fantastic!” (then proceeds to mumble to self “your idea is awful”)

“I think that is a good idea, but others may not feel that way.” (Others the person is referring to is his or her ownself).


Finally, of all the communication styles, you have assertive, which is by far the best of them all. Assertive speakers are able to communicate their thoughts and feelings openly and honestly. They are more than happy to speak up if there is something they do not like or agree with, but they take the thoughts and feeling of others into consideration.

Assertive speakers keep the lines of communication open. They are willing to convey their thoughts and feelings, but they are also willing to listen to the thoughts and feelings of others. They can speak without dominating the conversation or seeming overbearing. Assertive communicators often use “I” phrases, too, which allows for better communication overall.

Phrases commonly used by assertive speakers include,

“My choices are my own, and I accept that.”

“I respect your thoughts and feelings.”

“I believe we are each entititled to our own opinions.”

To ensure that you communicate assertively, make it a point to use “I” statements more frequently. You should own the statements you make and your strengths as well as your flaws. Also, make sure you maintain eye contact with the person you are speaking to. Ensure that your tone of voice expresses your desires in a confident manner. Finally, learn that saying “no” is okay.

Now that you understand the different methods of communication, can you identify which one you are? If you find that you are anything but an assertive communicator, you should consider seeking assistance from a therapist. A therapist can provide different ways to help you improve your communication skills.

Monica Ramunda is a cognitive behavioral therapist with offices located in Louisville and Denver, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).

DBT: How to Self-Soothe

A person who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), often has a hard time dealing with stress. As such, the person usually develops unhealthy habits. For instance, you might smoke, abuse drugs, drink alcohol or develop an eating disorder.

Fortunately, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can help. Many people turn to DBT for self-soothing skills. DBT teaches you how to improve your distress tolerance using self-soothing measures. With the right self-soothing measures, you can calm your mind and feel more at east in a stressful situation.

Train Your Senses

When a stressful situation arises, it often makes you feel as though you have no control. Rather than allowing stress to control you, you must learn to manage your stress. The best way to do that is to learn coping methods that self-soothe you into a calmer state of mind. Use your five senses to do that, which includes sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.


Start by using your eyes. When you feel stressed, look for something that is calming. Look around you and find something beautiful that is easy on the eyes. For instance, if there are flower nearby, admire them for a moment to help ease your stressed out mind.

Another idea is to surround yourself with colors that make you feel calm or happy. Keep in mind that blue and green are often calming colors. In fact, experts usually agree that blues and greens can help reduce a person’s heart rate. When you are stressed, your heart rate tends to rise, so bringing it back down with calming colors is a good idea.


When it comes to DBT for self-soothing skills, you will find that your hearing is just as important as your sight. Use your ears to help bring you back to a calmer state. If necessary, throw in some earbuds and listen to your favorite tunes.

If it is possible, go for a walk or drive until you find the soothing sounds of nature, such as water running, birds chirping, or the wind blowing. If you prefer quiet rather than noise, do your best to quiet any external noises using earplugs. Filter out sounds and allow your ears to enjoy the soothing sound of silence.


Your nose can be just as helpful as your eyes and ears, especially when it comes to using DBT for self-soothing skills. DBT focuses on all of your senses, which includes your sense of smell. Certain smells can have a calming effect on the mind and body.

If there is a particular scent you like, take it with you. Some necklaces allow you to always smell your favorite essential oils, perfumes, or colognes. Whenever you begin to feel stressed, grab for the small vial around your neck and breathe in your favorite scent until you start to feel calmer.

Another idea is to stretch your legs and take in deep breaths of fresh air. Fresh air can often help you clear your head so you can think more clearly. The clearer your mind, the better you will be at handling stressful situations.


Believe it or not, your mouth can be just as helpful as the rest of your body when it comes to self-soothing. When you are stressed and upset, you won’t consider the power your mouth has to help you. However, when you use your sense of taste properly, it can calm you.

To begin with, make sure you keep a stock of mints or gum on you. Chew the gum or suck on the mints and focus on it. The goal is to preoccupy your mind to take it off of whatever has you feeling stressed.

Another suggestion is to make sure you have a stock of herbal teas on hand at home or work. When you start to feel stressed out, warm up some tea for yourself. Choose soothing herbal remedies and mixtures to help relax you further.


Finally, as far as DBT for self-soothing skills, you will discover that your hands are just as important. Your sense of touch can significantly improve your mood. For instance, keep a bottle of lotion handy. Work the lotion onto your skin or into your hands when you feel stressed. Focus on how it feels on your skin to help soothe you.

You could also use your hands for various tasks, such as gardening. Digging in the dirt and gardening in general often have a calming effect on your mind and body. Feeling different textures can also help calm you. You could also try using your hands to massage your neck when you feel stressed, which helps relieve tension in your muscles.

If you find that despite your best efforts, you are still struggling with stress, it is best to speak to a therapist. A therapist can provide you with DBT exercises to help teach you how to self-soothe so you can better manage your reactions to stressful situations.

Monica Ramunda is a cognitive behavioral therapist with offices located in Louisville and Denver, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).

Are You Satisfied with Your Relationship? Take the Quiz to Find Out

Are you happy with the relationship you share with your significant other or spouse? Do the two of you bask in your strengths as a couple and successfully tackle weaknesses? If so, you might be well ahead of the game. In truth, many couples often face tons of issues that cause dissatisfaction. Of course, that does not mean your relationship is doomed to fail.

Determining if you are satisfied with your relationship can help you identify weaknesses and work on them together. Once you determine your satisfaction and areas of weakness, you and your partner can decide if it is something you want to work on, or if it is better to go your separate ways. A simple quiz can help you determine your level of satisfaction.

The Satisfaction Quiz

Use a scale between 0 and 6 to determine your level of satisfaction. The scale is as follows:

0 – Very Dissatisfied

1 – Moderately Dissatisfied

2 – Somewhat Dissatisfied

3 – Neutral

4 – Somewhat Satisfied

5 – Moderately Satisfied

6 – Very Satisfied

Using the scale above, rate the following as honestly as possible:

  • Willingness to communicate and be open with one another
  • Ability to resolve conflict and be open with one another
  • Level of affection and caring you offer to one another
  • Ability to share intimacy and closeness in a way that satisfies you both
  • Happiness with your current role in the relationship
  • Happiness with your partner’s current role in the relationship
  • Overall happiness and satisfaction with the relationship as a whole

When you are finished scoring the statements above, total them up. The total will provide you with a score that will determine if you are satisfied with your relationship or not. The scores are as follows:

0-10 – Extremely Dissatisfied with the Relationship

11-20 – Very Disssatisfied with the Relationship

21-25 – Moderately Dissatisfied with the Relationship

If you score above 25, then your relationship is average or above average, and any problems you experience are not beyond the realm of normalcy. In those instances, it should be reasonably simple for the two of you to find a workable solution to your problems. However, if you determine that you are dissatisfied with your relationship, the two of you will need to work on the problem areas.

If you find that you are not satisfied with your relationship and you need additional assistance, it is best to make an appointment with a therapist. A therapist can help you identify problem areas that are causing your dissatisfaction. Furthermore, a therapist can assist you in finding ways to work on those problem areas so you and your significant other can get back on track with a healthy relationship.

Monica Ramunda is a cognitive behavioral therapist with offices located in Louisville and Denver, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).

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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