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16 Coping Skills to Manage Depression

Are You CopingDo you feel persistently anxious, sad, or detached?

Is your sleep cycle off? Either too much of it, or too little? 

Have you lost interest or pleasure doing the things you normally love to do? 

Feel more irritable or restless? 

Do you find it more difficult to focus on tasks or to make decisions? 

Feel a loss of energy or a nagging fatigue?

Ever feel like you’re not good enough, or struggle with guilt about choices you’ve made in the past? 

Have you thought of committing suicide?

If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, you may well be suffering from depression.

If you have, or are, contemplating suicide, please reach out, now, to a suicide hotline, call 911, go to an emergency room, or call your doctor, immediately.

If your symptoms are milder, here are 16 coping skills to manage depression and turn your mental health around.

1. Learn About Depression

Congratulations! You are already doing this. You’ve taken the first step to educate yourself. It is not easy to admit how you are feeling. We found some additional resources that may be helpful for you to consider as well. 

Additional Article on Strategies to fight depression

Self-Help Solutions to consider

Natural Treatments to consider

Facts about Depression

2. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts

Depression comes with a load of negative thought patterns. The first step is to question those thoughts and assumptions. Is what I’m thinking actually the truth? Is it factual? Or is it just a thought? Notice the difference between your thoughts and feelings. 

3. Practice Awareness & Curiosity

Once you’ve identified those patterns, pay more attention to them. Become aware when they pop up. Instead of fear, try curiosity. 

“Hm, I wonder where that thought came from?” 

Don’t worry if the answer isn’t immediately apparent. Your curiosity will be rewarded.

4. Talk to Someone

Often when we’re feeling depressed, we insulate ourselves from others. It’s natural to do that, but it doesn’t help. Find someone to talk to: a friend, family member, co-worker, or neighbor, even if it’s not about your mental health. Talking about anything is good, if for no other reason than it gives your mind something other than your negative thoughts to focus upon.

5. Laugh

This one seems counterintuitive. 

“If I could laugh, I wouldn’t be depressed!”

You’re right. You can’t simultaneously hold a negative thought and a funny one in your mind. Watch your favorite funny video or movie, and see what happens. Didn’t work? Watch another one! Those cat videos tend to do the trick often.

6. Have Fun

Again, this seems impossible when we’re really down. But do your favorite things, even if you don’t think they will help. They will. If you think to yourself, “This isn’t working!,” just give it more time. Stick with it. 

Here’s some advice on doing the opposite of your feelings.

7. Journaling

Write your thoughts down: negative and positive. What did you do today? Try to find three good things you did or that happened during the day. They don’t have to be big things. It could just be that great cup of coffee you had, or that the sun came out.

When you write down your three items at the end of each day, it helps your mind relax before bed and makes you appreciate the small things in life. This activity also helps you find the positive aspects of your life with more ease.

8. Destress and Relax

This will be nearly impossible to do at first. 

Simply find things you love to do and do them. Maybe it’s art? Or music? Or watching a movie with a friend. Anything that can bring down your stress level is good.

But if stress–from work, home, or some other source–is bringing you down, do something about it. 

If there’s nothing you can do, discuss it with your doctor or therapist.

9. Sleep More 

The right amount of good sleep is one of the keys to all aspects of our health. If you’re struggling with this, here are some tips on how to sleep better.

10. Exercise and Get Outside

Physical activity is magical. Moving the body stimulates endorphins and other hormones that help with mood, as well as sleep. If you once had an exercise routine, get back to it. If you didn’t, find something easy to do at first. 

Go for a walk outdoors. Don’t overdo it. Try not to think of it as ‘exercise,’ just go for a peaceful walk. Over time you can increase the length of the walk, as well as the speed. 

Try five minutes in one direction; turn around and head back to where you started. Increase the time to seven minutes after four or five weeks. Then increase the time to 10 minutes after another four or five weeks. Repeat until you are doing 20 minutes out and 20 minutes back for a total of a 40-minute walk.

11. Eat Better

What we eat affects our mood, through the chemistry in our body. Don’t try to make huge changes when you’re feeling depressed, but do try to avoid eating things you know aren’t good for you in the long run: empty carbs, sugar, and junk food. 

Make a conscious choice to eat more fresh veggies and fruits. The nutrients will go a long way to helping your mental health.

Look for Farmers’ Markets on the weekends to find local, fresh produce to eat throughout the week.

12. Drink Your Water!

 A dehydrated brain is a dysfunctional brain. Drink actual water, not sugary, caffeinated sodas. You want to consume between 9 and 13 cups per day.

Some studies show that drinking 50 to 60% of your body weight in ounces is ideal, if that helps you figure out the best number of cups to drink daily.

13. Avoid Alcohol and Recreational Drugs

Resist the urge to drown your depression in chemical substances. While booze and recreational drugs may give you a temporary ‘high,’ when it dissipates, you’ll feel worse than before. 

Coping Strategies14. Work On/Set Goals

What were your life goals before you began feeling depressed? Did you have any? If so, get back to work on them. If not, set a goal. Try not to make it too big. If you have a big goal, make sure to break it down into tiny pieces and steps. 

Start with the smallest step in the direction of your goal, a step you’re guaranteed to achieve. Do that. Maybe it’s just researching ‘how to plant tomatoes,’ or ‘how to find a new job.’ Start there, and then move to the next step. 

Do one small thing each day. That’s all it takes.

15. Restart/Build a Routine

Do you have one? If not, it’s time to start one.

Make a daily list of things to get done: 

  • Make my bed
  • Eat breakfast and drink my coffee
  • Take a shower
  • Go to work
  • Etc…

If you have a routine but it’s become a rut, then shake it up! Do something different!

Help someone else. Help your neighbor with their yard-work. Make a dish and deliver it to your mom, aunt, or a friend.

Volunteer with a non-profit. Help people who really need it. Giving happiness will ensure it comes back to you.

16. Seek Professional Help

If these things don’t work for you, or you’re struggling to get started on any of them, don’t hesitate to seek professional counseling. 

If you live in the Raleigh or greater RDU-Wake County area, give us a call. 

We’re RDU Counseling for Change. We offer mental health counseling for individuals, couples, and families, in person or via Telehealth. 

Contact us, today, and let’s get started!

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Depression - You Don't Have to Suffer Anymore

Depression You may think of someone who is depressed as exhibiting symptoms of hopelessness, sad mood, loss of pleasure in everyday activities, isolating themselves from others, irritability, sleep disturbances, loss of energy, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, change in weight or appetite, and thoughts of death. Not all symptoms have to be present but they need to exist most of the day, nearly every day for at least two weeks. Recommended treatments for Depression include CBT, DBT, ACT, and EMDR.

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Dealing with Anxiety During A Pandemic


Dealing with anxiety during a pandemicHome has always been a place of respite from the anxiety and stress of living in the world. Whenever we felt sad, depressed, or heavy with the exhaustion of a long, stressful day at work, we would return to our homes. This was our safe haven, a place where we could cry our heart out to our loved ones, or sometimes, to our pillow.

Ironically, at the advent of the \coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is this very “safe haven” where we feel depressed, lonely, and anxious. Our lives have narrowed down to the four walls of our homes, and it seems claustrophobic to not be able to step out and meet our friends or travel. Our lives are now closeted in the small screens of our laptops and cell phones.
In fact, it is not that we are feeling more anxious these days, but rather that it had all been simmering underneath since the earliest news of the virus was made known. Life with masks, gloves, and PPE kits seemed unfamiliar and proved stressful to all of us. As the COVID-19 cases skyrocketed, so did anxiety.

In this blog, we are sharing a few tips that we hope will help you to deal with this pandemic-induced anxiety. But before that, let us first try to understand what anxiety really is.

Redefining Anxiety

Experiencing anxiety is part of being human. Sadly, anxiety never comes alone; it brings with itself feelings of restlessness, a lack of patience, trouble with sleeplessness, as well as constant worrying. When we speak of COVID-induced anxiety, we mainly speak from the base from the uncertainty that surrounds this pandemic.

No matter how well-prepared the government may try to be for what is coming next, no one can accurately predict when the pandemic will come to an end. No one knows when things will be back to normal, and a “maskless” life will resume. All of this uncertainty can quickly spiral out into overwhelming, almost incurable, panic.

But is anxiety that bad, after all?

As mentioned, experiencing anxiety is part of being human, but the emotions and feelings that it brings with itself are pretty unbearable. You would think it is really a beast within us that we must try to tame, but surprisingly, it is not. Our anxiety is like the male protagonist, the misunderstood beast from the movie Beauty and the Beast. It may look terrifying from the outside, but there is a sensitive soul behind the fearsome facade. Likewise, our anxiety is an unpleasant beast, but it's only motive is to protect us from forthcoming threats (or what we perceive as a threat). All of its intentions are right, but our perception of it is flawed. Anxiety is impatient and wants to know when all of this will come to an end. It seeks our welfare; therefore, it is desperately waiting on the complete cure for this virus.

How to manage Pandemic-Induced Anxiety

Listed below are many things that you can do to alleviate your anxiety.

1. Do NOT check the news obsessively
Yes, it is good to stay informed, but you have to understand that in such a time when people cannot witness things in person and are solely dependent on visual media, there is likely a lot of misinformation. On top of it, sensationalistic coverage only feeds into fear. Therefore, where COVID-related news is covered, it is crucial to tune in to genuine sources, such as WHO, CDC, and local health authorities.

2. Shift your focus to things you CAN control
This is a time when uncertainty is at its peak. If you ask questions that have no reliable answers, you will be further pulled into the sea of anxiety and may end up depressed and sad. Instead, shift your focus to things that are under your control. You can control what you do to steer clear of COVID - wash your hands, avoid touching your face, stay at home, avoid crowds, eat healthy meals, and get plenty of sleep to boost your immune system.

3. Stay connected
Though you have to maintain physical distance, make sure to stay in touch with your friends and family to keep your anxiety from exacerbating. If you need, reach out to them for support and schedule regular phone or ZOOM calls so that you do not feel lonely and depressed. Most importantly, whenever talking to your friends or family, do not let the ongoing pandemic be the main topic of your conversations.

4. Practice self-care
Though it is easier said than done, try to maintain a routine as best as you can. Stick to your regular schedule whether it is for sleep, eating, or work. This will help you maintain a sense of normalcy and keep chaos at bay. Make some time for activities that you enjoy doing, and do not forget to exercise regularly, as staying active will help you to release anxiety, alleviate stress, and uplift your mood.

5. Help others
If you want to be happier and healthier, remember to help those in need, as all of us are in this crisis together. Not only will your help make others happy, but it will benefit your own mental well-being. Through helping others, you can regain a sense of control, and lessen those feelings of powerlessness. Did you know that helping others can also prolong your life?

6. Consider therapy
If you are feeling hopelessly anxious, we recommend that you consider mental health counseling. Although we know that the usual avenue towards counseling in Wake County - where you could physically meet the counselors - is not quite possible, help is available with RDU Counseling for Change.

RDU Counseling for Change is offering online therapy in Raleigh, NC, via telehealth. Be it individual, couples, or family therapy, our counselors are trained to deal with patients suffering from anxiety and depression. The Raleigh therapy provided by expert RDU counselors will surely help you alleviate this pandemic-induced anxiety. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at (919) 713-0260.

The Last Word

Follow all these tips to help you address pandemic-induced anxiety, and the next time anxiety does come your way, treat it with compassion. This is the only way to reduce your suffering.

 

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Types of Depression: Bipolar I and II Disorder

Bipolar I and II DisorderBipolar disorder is a very common mental disorder, with approximately 2.8% of U.S.adults (about 5 million people) being diagnosed with it. While many people are aware that bipolar disorder is characterized by mood and energy swings, there is much more to this mental disorder than most people are aware of.

Bipolar Disorder: Re-learning the Basics

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a chronic mental disorder that induces dramatic changes in an individual’s mood and energy levels.

An individual suffering from this mental illness may experience periods of elevated mood as well as episodes of depression. This condition is known as “bi-polar” disorder because the individual switches between two opposite emotions—these extreme emotional states are typically experienced over days to weeks and are referred to as mood episodes.

Despite experiencing periods of neutral mood, individuals with bipolar disorder are often either unnaturally happy—this mood episode is known as manic, or they experience depression—characterized by feeling anxious, depressed, lonely, and sad. Individuals who do not have bipolar disorder undergo mood fluctuations as well, but they return to their usual self within a few hours, while those who do have this psychiatric disorder do not.

Those who do not have bipolar disorder also do not exhibit an extreme degree of behavioral changes. Individuals with bipolar disorder, on the other hand, are driven by their impulses—their mood swings can cause them to think and behave impulsively, which can have an adverse impact on their personal and professional lives. For example—during manic episodes, they may experience extreme euphoria and make reckless purchases, quit their job, or even start abusing illicit substances. During a depressive episode, however, they may experience bouts of self-hatred, lethargy, and hopelessness.

Bipolar disorder usually runs in families and can be passed down from a parent to a child. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), if an individual’s parents and siblings have bipolar disorder, they are 4 to 6 times more likely to develop this mental condition. This means that genetics play a significant role in determining the inheritance of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar I vs. Bipolar IIBipolar I vs. Bipolar II

Bipolar disorder is typically classified into two groups: Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Though both groups are characterized by manic and depressive mood swings, the intensity of these mood swings separates them from each other.

While an individual with bipolar I goes through a full-blown manic episode, someone with bipolar II only has a hypomanic episode, which is far less severe. Furthermore, an individual with bipolar I is much more likely to have a minor depressive episode, while those with bipolar II may experience significant and lasting depressive episodes.

Bipolar I

An individual with bipolar I is likely to experience at least one manic episode in their life, which may be preceded by a depressive or hypomanic episode. There is often a pattern in which the patient experiences depression followed by mania—this cycle of episodes is known as “manic depression.” The manic episode typically lasts at least seven days, while the depressive episode can persist for as long as two weeks.

The mania that an individual may experience is far from a typical spike in energy and motivation levels. Their abnormal high-spiritedness is noticeable to family and friends who have seen them in their normal state. This ecstatic mental state may cause problems for the individual in school, college, work, and relationships, and in some extreme cases, they may even need to be hospitalized.

Typically, the signs of bipolar I manifest in individuals in their teens or early twenties. These signs include:

  • Restlessness
  • Talkativeness
  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Racing thoughts
  • Poor concentration
  • Grandiosity
  • Hyperactivity
  • Decreased need for sleep

Bipolar II

An individual with bipolar II experiences at least one hypomanic, or major depressive episode in their lifetime. Although the depressive episode typically lasts about two weeks, the individual does not experience intense manic episodes.

Since individuals with bipolar II go through major depressive episodes, their mental state is often misdiagnosed as depression. Bipolar II is also misunderstood as a milder form of bipolar I, but this is a false notion. And, while manic episodes can be dangerous and lead to hospitalization, depressive episodes in bipolar II are just as serious as they continue for more extended periods.

These major depressive episodes make it difficult for individuals to carry out day-to-day responsibilities. The following are some of the most common symptoms of bipolar II:

  • Loss of interest in almost all activities
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Restlessness or lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of inappropriate guilt
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Indecisiveness
  • Suicidal thoughts

Seek professional help

Though bipolar disorder is an incurable condition, the severity of its symptoms and manic and depressive episodes can be significantly reduced with the proper treatment.

However, people often disregard psychological assistance because they are unaware of the adverse effects of their emotional distress on their personal and professional relationships.

The problem becomes much more severe as people begin to embrace their bouts of mania, during which they experience previously undiscovered energy and enthusiasm. Most people do not realize that this euphoria is typically followed by an unwanted emotional crash that is highly unpleasant.
Therefore, it is of utmost importance to seek Evidence-Based Treatment (EBT)—such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)—in order to lower the impact of bipolar disorder and disempower it from influencing personal decisions.

Related Blog: What is Evidence-Based Treatment?

Reach Out to RDU Counseling for Change

If you are experiencing the lows of depression and the highs or irritability of mania or hypomania, you can seek professional telehealth mental health counseling sessions from RDU counselors in Wake County. Due to the current COVID situation, RDU Counseling for Change is offering online therapy in Raleigh, NC. From individuals and couples, to family therapy, our counselors are offering help to everyone suffering from Bipolar I and II Disorder.

If you have any questions or want to book your Raleigh therapy session, feel free to contact us at (919) 713 0260.

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What is Persistent Depressive Disorder?

Man with his hands on his headPersistent Depressive Disorder (PDD) is a type of chronic depression. It is characterized by feelings of deep-seated hopelessness and despair. Approximately 1.3% of adults in the United States experience PDD every year. PDD can have a negative effect on your mood, behavior, appetite, and sleeping patterns. People suffering from this condition may struggle with finishing tasks and finding pleasure in daily activities. At RDU Counseling for Change, we offer treatments for PDD in order to help you attain a better quality of life.

Symptoms of Persistent Depressive Disorder

Signs of PDD are similar to those of depression. However, the symptoms of PDD may be chronic and occur on most days for a minimum of two years. This condition can emerge in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood. Here are some tell-tale symptoms of the condition:

  • Feelings of deep sadness and hopelessness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Low self-esteem
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Change in appetite
  • Difficulty with concentration and decision-making
  • Escaping social activities

Treatment of Persistent Depressive Disorder

Treatments for PDD are similar to treatments of other forms of depression. A mixture of psychotherapy and medication is typically usually an effective treatment.

Psychotherapy

A wide range of methods come under the umbrella of psychotherapy. The two techniques most commonly used to treat PDD patients at RDU Counseling for Change in Raleigh, NC are:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is used to treat several mental illnesses. It is designed to help a patient understand that while they cannot control all the aspects that affect them, they can determine how to interpret and tackle issues in their environment. It is aimed to help you ditch negative thoughts and develop positive thinking patterns.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

This begins with your therapist talking with you. They listen as you describe and identify the core points in your personal relationships. After hearing your account, they form a customized treatment plan in line with your goals.

Medications

Your doctor or psychotherapist may prescribe some antidepressants to help you overcome depression. Here are some of the most common forms of medication for treating PDD:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
  • Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Atypical antidepressants
  • Modamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

Antidepressants are often taken along with therapy sessions. If one antidepressant does not work, your doctor or psychotherapist is likely to suggest another type. They will evaluate your condition and choose the medication that would suit your symptoms.

However, be wary of side effects when taking antidepressants. Some can cause weight gain, dry mouth, or sexual issues. Discuss the side effects with your doctor before starting the course. Moreover, some antidepressants may have dangerous reactions if taken in combination with other medicines. If you think you need help with persistent depressive disorder or any other psychological issues, such as social anxiety or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), reach out to our counselors at RDU Counseling for Change in Raleigh, NC.

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COVID-19 and Depression

A woman feeling upset, in Distress and dealing with depressionIn the middle of a pandemic where everyone has to stay at home and remain under strict lockdown conditions, it is natural to feel overwhelmed and be struck with feelings of helplessness and despair. Sometimes these feelings can go to the next level and turn into a state of depression. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 40.9% of people reported having at least one mental health condition such as anxiety or depression due to COVID-19.

How COVID-19 Affects Depression

Here are some of the ways in which COVID-19 is affecting or triggering depression among many people:

  • Feeling isolated
  • Being in an abusive environment in which you cannot escape
  • Struggling with finances due to unemployment
  • Feeling bored
  • Being preoccupied with the news

Feeling Isolated

Humans are social creatures and cannot survive in isolation. If they are cut off from their friends and family or if they have to spend time alone during quarantine, it can easily trigger depression. Almost a year of social distancing and staying in the confines of your home can make anyone feel lonely and depressed. It’s not like you can go out with a friend to a movie and dinner anymore. Not to mention that everyone has different views of what is acceptable in terms of social distancing. You may be cautious while your friends and neighbors are not, making it harder to feel safe spending time with them in a socially distant manner..

Abusive Environment

Being surrounded by loving and caring people for your well-being is important. However, if someone is stuck in an abusive relationship at the time of COVID-19, everything can spiral out of control for them, making them feel anxious and trapped. This anxiety then can lead to further depression and isolation.

Financial Struggle

One of the most common causes of depression during COVID-19 is the loss of jobs and having financial difficulties. The implementation of lockdown has greatly hampered and prevented small businesses from meeting sales targets. Many small businesses and local restaurants have even gone out of business. The uncertainty of how you are going to provide for your family in the midst of a pandemic is stressful.

Feeling the Boredom

Everything from schools and offices to gyms and malls were initially sealed. Prior to COVID, a person who went to work every day, exercised regularly, and went out with friends suddenly is not able to do any of these things. Now that some of these restrictions have lifted, there may be some semblance of routine again. However, it is still not “the normal” to which we are accustomed. And there are many who choose not to go to the gym or eat out at restaurants due to fear of the illness. Because of restrictions and social distancing, we feel a sense of persistent boredom that can lead to depression.

Watching the News

Sometimes reading or watching negative news on a regular basis also can lead to depression. We might not even recognize the impact of scrolling down a newsfeed on Facebook or hearing the number of deaths caused by COVID-19.

What Can You Do?

Distract Yourself

There are many ways to deal with depression during COVID-19. Healthy distraction is one way. Find something that you enjoy doing, such as listening to music, playing a game with family, or learning a new skill. Even if you don’t feel like doing these things, it is important to push through and do the opposite of your feelings. If you know that exercise helps with depression, take a walk even if it is for five minutes. Then slowly build on this. There is a distinction to be made between healthy distraction and mindless, numbing distraction of binge-watching tv. Healthy distraction is used to help with emotion regulation or in times of distress. Mindless distraction can have a numbing effect that may compound depression.

Talk to Friends or Family

Try to talk with those you care about and are important to you. Don’t isolate. Even scheduling a Zoom or Facetime call with someone may help you feel better and not so alone in how you feel. Maybe even practice social distance by going for a walk with a friend or sitting outside on your patio.

Spend Time with a Pet

Pets are always a great source of joy and comforts. If you are a pet lover, consider spending time with your pet or adopting one. Spending 15 minutes a day petting an animal helps release the feel good hormones of serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin.

Seek Professional Help

If you still don’t feel better after trying these steps, you should seek professional help for depression. RDU Counseling for Change offers counseling sessions for depression. Please reach out to us here, and we will be happy to assist you.

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What is Anxiety and How to Treat it

 A woman holding a poster of a smiling face - anxietyExperiencing anxiety is part of life. While it’s okay to experience some anxiety or feel sad, excessive or high anxiety levels can interfere with your ability to perform everyday tasks. If left unaddressed, anxiety can affect your health and well-being, and prevent you from living your best life.

What is Anxiety?
Simply put, anxiety is your body’s response to a stressful or uncertain situation. It’s the feeling of fear, panic, or apprehension about past or future events. Anxiety makes individuals worry and overthink in certain situations. For example, some may feel embarrassed after fumbling a few words in a speech. They may ruminate on this to the point that they avoid public speaking at all costs. The risk of future embarrassment feels too costly. Others may become anxious thinking about possible future scenarios, such as what they are going to do if they lose their job or who will care for them when they are older.

Anxiety may first appear during childhood or adulthood with the following possible triggers:

  • Work or school-related stress
  • A job interview
  • Public speaking
  • Medical conditions
  • Financial issues
  • Trauma
  • Death in the family

Symptoms of Anxiety
While each person’s presentation of anxiety may be different, there are a common group of symptoms of which you should be aware. They include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Feeling of restlessness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Sweating
  • Lack of patience
  • Sleeplessness
  • Constant worrying

Anxiety Disorders

When someone has an anxiety disorder, the feeling of fear can stay with them for an extended time. This can prevent anxiety sufferers from doing the things they enjoy. In extreme cases like social anxiety, when anxiety kicks in, one might not even be able to leave their house or talk to others.

Treating Anxiety
If you are dealing with severe symptoms of anxiety, you may want to consider talking to your doctor about medication. While medication can help to take the edge off, it is also important to learn about your anxiety. Developing coping mechanisms to manage your anxiety and identifying the messages that anxiety has told you are just as helpful. This can give you the knowledge to challenge these messages while calming your physiological symptoms. Following are more details on effective treatments for anxiety. Let’s take a look at them:

EMDR Therapy:
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy helps clients to process different life events that have caused them to believe negative cognitions about themselves and the world. After identifying these cognitions and developing a targeted plan, the clinician uses rapid eye movements to reprocess the event and meaning while desensitizing any emotional reaction. Once the event is no longer disturbing, treatment moves to instill a positive belief. This can be a useful technique in breaking many patterns of anxiety.

CBT Therapy:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) also helps reduce anxiety levels. It works in the following ways:

  • Identify the negative thought. For example, “parties make me feel awkward.”
  • Recognize the impact the thought has on your emotions and behaviors.
  • Try challenging your thoughts with more positive and realistic ones.

CBT also teaches you to practice diaphragmatic breathing and progressive muscle relaxation to calm your muscles.

DBT Therapy:
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) focuses on improving your emotional and cognitive skills and later applying those skills in your practical life. This procedure helps you manage difficult emotions and emotions that cause stress, which will further improve your ability to control your feelings and how you would express them.

Exercise:
Regular exercise LAO can help divert your mind and ease your feelings of anxiety. It is important to choose activities that you enjoy so that you look forward to them.

Want more information related to managing anxiety and its treatments? Complete the RDU Counseling for Change contact form and we will respond to your inquiry within 1-2 business days. Or contact us directly at 919-713-0260.

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Mental Illness Awareness Week and OCD Awareness Week 2020

Mental Illness Awareness Week and OCD Awareness WeekOCD Awareness Week is an international effort taking place during the second week in October each year to raise awareness and understanding about obsessive compulsive disorder and related disorders, with the goal of helping more people to get timely access to appropriate and effective treatment.

 

 

 

 

 

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What We Tell Ourselves Matters: How to Construct Positive Stories in Your Mind

 

The narrative you build can define youWe’re taught to put so much thought and care into how we talk and treat others in order to avoid ”coming off as too strong” or hurting their feelings and yet, we rarely pay attention to how we address ourselves.

Too often, we analyze our appearance and think to ourselves, I don’t like how I look, or we evaluate our abilities and think, I’m not good enough. While some level of introspection and self-critique is important and even healthy, if you get too critical and harsh when reflecting on your actions and self, it can be a slippery slope. You may not realize it but being critical of yourself can result in a self-image that may be detrimental to your mental health and may not even be true, to begin with.

But it’s all in our head, right? Why does it even matter what we say, especially if it isn’t true?

Well, it matters because human beings are essentially the product of the stories they tell themselves. We all view our lives through our own unique lens. This lens includes everything from our personal experiences to our beliefs and emotions. How we construct situations and how we analyze, evaluate, and overcome them is all a culmination of how we see it.

This is where our personal stories matter. Imagine two struggling mothers of newborn babies; one of them constantly tells herself she is incapable of parenthood, that she made a mistake giving birth and she’s not equipped to deal with the growing needs of her child.

The other mother feels just as overwhelmed but constantly thinks of herself as someone who will be able to overcome the challenges she is facing, reminds herself she loves her child and that it’s natural to be confused, and is determined to see herself get through the troubles.

Put both of these mothers in identical situations and the one with a positive approach to her situation will be in a healthier state of mind despite going through the same hurdles and challenges the other mother is facing.

This is because negative emotions and thoughts can manifest into actual, crippling feelings of self-doubt, bitterness, and a kind of learned helplessness. We are a product of the narratives we construct. If you are constantly telling yourself a narrative that is colored by negativity then you will begin to lose sight of any positive outcomes. Over time, this can extend beyond you and color the way you see other people as well.

So where do you start? Follow these steps to get started in rewriting your narrative:

  • Be aware of the things you tell yourself. Notice when you call yourself a name or are hard on yourself.
  • Take a step back and give yourself grace. Would you talk to a friend the way you talk to yourself? If not, then ask what you would say to a friend in your situation and repeat it to yourself?
  • Check the facts. Is what you are telling yourself, really true? If not, then what is true? Even if you made a mistake, isn’t it true that we all make mistakes and learn from them.
  • Write down a list of daily affirmations about yourself, like “you are good enough, just as you are right now.” Practice writing the same ones down each day as a great way to start your day. Take them out and review throughout the day if you notice you are being hard on yourself again.
  • Be patient as you start this process. It takes time to change the way you think, but you can do it and, as a result, change the way you feel.

If you’re struggling with addressing yourself with kindness or battling a constant influx of overwhelming and negative emotions, we understand. And we’re here to help. RDU Counseling for Change aims to help individuals looking to better their mental health at any part of their journey. Get in touch with us today by visiting our website or call us at 919-713-0260 to schedule an appointment.

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Three Ways to Manage Your Anxiety When a Pandemic Occurs

Pandemic mask. The coronavirus is known for its potent viral nature, allowing it to spread quickly from person to person. As of right now, the world is suffering a terrible pandemic, the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Because of the rapid spread of this virus all over the globe, and with no vaccine in sight for the foreseeable future, it has left virtually all of us in a state of stress. 

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. However, such a condition can potentially weaken the immune system. Overcoming this stress is key to making ourselves less vulnerable to the virus. Here are three ways to manage your anxiety in the midst of this pandemic. 

1. Get More Physical 
Physical health has a clear link to your mental health. If you are not looking after yourself and eating unhealthy snack foods, you are more likely at risk of developing poor mental health conditions. While you need to be indoors, this is no reason to skip out on some exercise. Not only does being physically active help boost your mental health, including combating the risk of anxiety but it’s good for the body’s immune system as well. There are many types of exercises you can do at home and without needing any special equipment. You can go for a walk while maintaining your social distance. You also can do some calisthenics in your yard or family room. Many gyms or fitness studios are offering virtual workouts in which members can participate.

2. Have a Good Night's Sleep 
A well-rested body provides stronger protection against viruses. It is good for your mental health as well. Improper sleep can be extremely detrimental for the brain, impairing cognitive functions such as thinking and feeling. This can make you more easily stressed and thus vulnerable to anxiety. 

Of course, if you are already suffering from anxiety and stress, it can be difficult to get a good night's sleep. A good way to overcome trouble with sleep is through cognitive theory. Identify and write down the fears contributing to your anxiety and replace them with more positive and rational thoughts. In the midst of a pandemic, you may remind yourself that you are doing your best to keep yourself and others safe by staying home. Another way is to practice mindfulness or progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). When our bodies are stressed, they tend to tense. PMR helps us to focus on our muscles and intentionally tense and then relax them. Some helpful apps to walk you through these steps are CALM, iBreathe, PMR, and Superchill. 

3. Quarantine Your Mind
Protection against a physical illness requires you to isolate yourself from the outside world. In a similar way, to better protect yourself from anxiety and other negative mental conditions, it is important to quarantine your mind and unplug yourself from the constant doom and gloom you are exposed to on social media and on the news. It also is a good idea to schedule facetime or zoom meetings with friends and loved ones. This will allow you to not feel so isolated emotionally and socially, even if you are physically.  

RDU Counseling for Change helps people suffering from anxiety and stress-induced mental health conditions. Due to the Coronavirus, our counselors are only meeting with clients via telehealth for the foreseeable future. For any queries or further details, email us at or call us at 919-713-0260.

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Suicide and the Grieving Process

Death is not an easy topic to understand or talk about for many people. When someone dies by suicide, that difficulty is compounded. This is because suicide deaths are catastrophic losses that combine both grief and trauma.

Coping with a loved one’s suicide reaches the same levels of psychological trauma brought on by war and genocide. Survivors of such horrific events frequently reorganize their lives into two categories: before and after it happened. Often this is true for “suicide survivors” because they are the friends and family members who must cope with a sudden, tragic death that takes on such instant magnitude.

Before we delve more deeply into why grief for suicide is inherently different than dealing with other types of loss, let’s first establish a general understanding of the grieving process.

Overview of the grief process
The grieving process does not come to us in a one-size-fits-all form; resources vary widely as to which and how many phases a grieving person experiences. Many experts agree that it includes some combination of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Albert Hsu, the author of Grieving a Suicide, suggests that there are more emotions involved like shock, loneliness, panic, guilt, resentment, and hope or affirmation.

Personal grief takes its own path, so it is important to allow space and time for yourself or someone who is grieving to experience the process fully, however it manifests.

Grief process for suicide survivors
Now let’s consider three particular areas of the grieving process surrounding suicide. Before we do, please note that the descriptions and explanations below are offered as broad strokes to help gather perspective about suicide and grief. Each individual story and circumstance of suicide will have unique points of pain and importance that cannot be accounted for in this overview.

Many suicide survivors will ask themselves questions about “why” the death happened. They will experience intense emotional turmoil and will often face difficulties lamenting and remembering the loved one.

Why did this happen?
It’s natural for suicide survivors to become preoccupied by the question, “Why.” The struggle to answer this question can threaten to take over the entire grieving process. Asking “why” may connect to underlying fears in a survivor’s mind that they contributed to a loved one’s decision to die. It is critical that suicide survivors understand that suicidal acts develop over time, and a suicide decision cannot be attributed to a single event in anyone’s life.

Emotional turmoil
The trauma that complicates grieving a suicide stirs a range of emotions that can, at times, be confusing, overwhelming, or even debilitating. Losing someone to suicide can feel like the ultimate rejection or abandonment, an act of complete finality that does not offer a chance for response. It’s also common for survivors to experience feelings of relief, especially if a loved one’s suicide was preceded by lengthy bouts with mental illness or additional suicide attempts. Suicide survivors often struggle with intense rage and shame in the grieving process as well.

The possible range of emotions goes well beyond what is mentioned here. Conflicting and difficult emotions can be disorienting, and coping with them can consume a lot of energy.

Lamenting and remembering
The word “lament” is rarely used in regular conversation, but it basically means active practices that make sense of and articulate grief. These practices allow you to form a truthful, sensible account of how your loved one died, which can be harder to formulate due to the associated trauma.

Depending on cultural context, suicide deaths can also evoke euphemisms or carry stigmas that lead survivors to feel shame or denial about their circumstances. Grieving processes that become paralyzed by these feelings may never be fully resolved, but lamenting opens up very personal ways for suicide survivors to navigate toward the internal healing they need.

Remembering the friend or family member who died could initially be painful for suicide survivors. As a result, positive, healthy remembrance often comes later in the grief process than it would otherwise, so suicide survivors should remain patient with this step. The hope is for suicide survivors to eventually enjoy and honor the happy, fond memories they have of their loved one.

Resources
As noted, this overview is not exhaustive in describing the grief or experience of being a suicide survivor. If you need help with this kind of grief, please contact RDU Counseling for Change to schedule a time to speak with one of our professional counselors. (Email: or call: 919-713-0260).

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World Mental Health Day/ National Depression Screening Day

World Mental Health Day and National Depression Screening Day 

For more than two decades, Screening for Mental Health has developed programs to educate, raise awareness, and screen individuals for common behavioral and mental health disorders and suicide. We envision a world where mental health is viewed and treated with the same gravity as physical health, and the public’s participation in National Depression Screening Day helps make that vision a reality.

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National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month

National Depression and Mental Health Screening MonthWhether for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or depression, health screenings provide a quick and easy way to spot the first signs of serious illness and can reach people who might not otherwise seek professional medical advice. Major depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting 6.7% (more than 16 million) of American adults each year. Like screenings for other illnesses, depression screenings should be a routine part of healthcare.

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Emotions Aren’t Facts: How to Separate the Two

Woman wiping away her tears

What defines truth? Is it a subjective concept that is affected by your emotional intelligence or is it an objective assertion that holds true for everyone, regardless of what you feel about it? Well, the way we have been made to feel about it, truth is a matter of perspective. But perspectives vary. Don’t they?

Let’s put this in perspective through an example. It’s a typical Monday morning, and you don’t feel like heading to work because you were embarrassed the week before and felt like a failure. But if you don’t go to work, you’re committing the deadly mistake of confusing feelings for facts. Just because you were embarrassed and felt like a failure, it doesn’t make you one. Your emotions are just trying to convince you of that, and emotional impulses are strong. So how can you stop confusing feelings for facts? While this is a gradual process that will take practice and time, you can start by following some of the tips mentioned below. 

Walk the Line 

In a bid to help people, let’s implement a personal technique known as walking the line. Walking the line requires you to mentally accept the fact that what you feel is biased, and that the truth could have a whole different perspective--a perspective that appears out of reach. Recognize that what you imagine to be truth may not actually be what others see and think. For example, just because you felt embarrassed, it doesn’t mean that others are sitting around judging you or talking about you behind your back. Our interpretation of someone’s gesture, expression, or behavior can be completely different than what is actually going on. 

Whenever you feel a particular way about something happening in your life, try to look at it from a different perspective. Make sure that you have an educated perspective on things and that you are not jumping to conclusions.

Think of Emotional Consequences  

Whenever you feel like jumping to a conclusion based on your perspective, it is best to stop and consider the repercussions that this may carry. You may miss out on meaningful activities or interactions with others because you feel anxious or fear judgment. When giving into anxiety and emotional reasoning, you may end up feeling a slew of other emotions, such as disappointment, guilt, shame, fear, and loneliness. The path forward is not easy but by recognizing when you give into your emotions, you can challenge your response and do the opposite. The more frequently you stop giving in to your emotional mind, the closer you will be to a life worth living and not one driven by emotions. 

Be Patient 

The fascinating thing about the truth is that it cannot be kept hidden for long. The truth has a habit of coming out. It is only a matter of how long you are willing to wait for it. 

If you’re struggling with separating your feelings from the truth, we understand how you feel, and are here to help. RDU Counseling for Change aims to help individuals looking to better their mental health in any part of their journey. Get in touch with us today by visiting our website or call us at 919-713-0260 to schedule an appointment. 

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Our Team of Professionals

  • Kelly Harrison

    Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC)
  • Kelley Baughman

    Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate (LCMHCA)
  • Whitney Chambers

    Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate (LCMHCA)
  • Christy Douglas

    MA, LCMHC
    Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor
  • Hugo Izzo

    LCMHC
    Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor
  • Bryon Lawrence

    LCMHC
    Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor
  • Breanna Linn

    LCMHCA
    Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate
  • Sallie Ratcliffe

    LCMHCA
    Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate