Suicide is for many an uncomfortable and taboo subject matter, which makes it no less of a problem around the world. Generally, happy people marvel at how someone could reach such a place of despair as to end their own life. As with any subject matter, the more we know about it, the greater our understanding and development of interventions can be. Knowledge is power. In this article, we will outline some of the grim facts about suicide and discuss some of the underlying causes and sources. In the next article, we will spend time talking about suicide prevention. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines suicide as “a suicidal act with a fatal outcome”. Suicide can be conceptualized on a spectrum of thoughts and behaviors. At one end can be risk-taking behavior, extending across varying degrees of ideation and thought, all the way over to suicide attempts and actual suicide. Suicidal thoughts cut across nearly all age groups, races, demographics, and orientations. In fact, it seems only pregnant women are more protected from suicidality, relative to all other groups. Even our youth are not protected. In a 1997 Youth Risk Surveillance Survey of 16,000 nineth to twelfth graders, 50% of New York high school students report that had “thought about killing themselves.” Suicide is in fact the third leading cause of death in the young. Overall, about 48,000 Americans commit read more
A study done by Harvard analyzed dozens of variables over a long-term study of people of all ages to determine which variables have the greatest impact on people’s overall happiness. As it turns out, the number one variable that creates the most happiness in people’s lives are friendships. If you are looking for more happiness in your life, a great investment will be in building strong and lasting friendships. In this two part article, we are going to discuss a number of surprising benefits that come with having friends and how many friends you actually need. In part two we will discuss how to best choose your friends, and how to nurture and maintain friendships.
Benefits of Friendships
Human beings are a naturally social species which comes with all sorts of benefits. Friendships help prevent loneliness, create a sense of belonging and help with our sense of identity, self-worth, and friends often function as a source of support. We use them as sounding boards to vent about stressors, bounce around ideas and brainstorm solutions, and possibly help you tackle tasks and projects. One of the great benefits of friends is having people to hang out with, have fun with, joke, laugh, and build memories with. Our friends make us smile and accept us for who we are and allow us to be ourselves. Good friends help us build confidence, give our lives purpose, and provide compan read more
In the last article, we talked about the physiological chain reaction that occurs with anxiety. As anxiety triggers the release of stress hormones into our bloodstream the body is switching from a state of relaxation to a state of arousal. For many people, this creates a rapid snowball effect that causes anxiety to spike quickly in the moment.
Principles of Reactive Tools
The primary goal with reactive tools is to try to reduce anxiety in the moment and prevent the cascading snowball effect and keep anxiety from building or triggering a full-blown panic attack. Unfortunately, we cannot control much in the physiological chain reaction in order to keep our body in a state of relaxation. The main objective of reactive tools is to try to get our body back into a state of relaxation. With some conscious effort, there are a couple of things we can control to try to force the body back to a relaxed state.
When we feel stressed and anxious, physical tension builds in your chest which causes chest muscles to contract. This causes breathing to become short, shallow, and choppy. This general lack of oxygen, in turn, causes your veins and arteries to constrict and the heart has to pump harder to circulate blood flow. All this facilitates increased arousal. For the most part, our breathing operates unconsciously. Fortunately, with a little conscious read more
Anxiety: A Three-Part Series
Part One: The Physiological Chain Reaction
Treating Anxiety in Therapy
Many people elect to treat their anxiety with anti-depressants and/or benzodiazepines such as Xanax when they are dealing with panic attacks. These can be very effective for many people. That said, we get an equal number of people who would prefer to treat their anxiety without medications or treat their anxiety with counseling in addition to medication. When treating anxiety in counseling there are two main ways to treat it therapeutically. There are reactive tools and proactive tools. Reactive tools are utilized when the anxiety flares up and is actively going on. The goal is to reduce the intensity of the anxiety and try to get it to dissipate. These are useful tools to have and can keep anxiety from escalating to the point of panic attacks for many people. As a precursor to discussing the reactive and proactive tools of anxiety, it is important to have a thorough understanding of the chain reaction that occurs with anxiety. In the next two articles, we will spend time talking about reactive tools that help mitigate anxiety and proactive tools, which are designed to keep anxiety from manifesting in the first place.
The Mechanics and Physiolo read more
ADHD is a complex issue to diagnose due to the number of symptoms that are shared by ADHD and other mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, behavioral disorders, and substance abuse issues. read more
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and has three different subtypes. The Inattentive subtype is characterized by symptoms of being easily distracted, difficulty sustaining attention, issues with organization and follow-through, and a tendency to be forgetful to name just a few. read more
Even during the best of times life is full of stressors and challenges. It is difficult dealing with the competing demands of work, finances, relationships, kids, parents, and trying to do a little something for yourself. Nearly 20% of American’s will be faced with a clinical depression or anxiety disorder at sometime in their lives. read more
In the fight against COVID-19 and its rapid spread, the human race is going to great lengths to ensure the safety and survival of ourselves and the ones we love. It seems that until we have an effective treatment or eventual vaccine, the best precaution and tool we have at our disposal is social distancing. Washing our hand and keeping a social distance is good common sense and pretty easy to implement in the name of safety. Because these measures are pretty simplistic, most of us have been dutifully complying. The worst we get from all the handwashing is some dry skin, which can be remedied with lotion. Social distancing, on the other hand, maybe having a negative cumulative impact that we are unaware of. Our species has evolved over a couple hundred thousand years to be a highly cooperative and social creature just like our primate cousins. We have an innate and hard-wired need to be with each other and engage in physical touch. An interesting experiment by Harlow done in 1965 drives this point home (Harlow, 1965). In the study, a rhesus monkey baby was presented with the choice of two artificial surrogate mothers in its cage. The first was a wire monkey mother that had a bottle that would supply milk to the baby. The other surrogate mother provided no nourishment but was designed to be soft and comfortable having been made from terry cloth. Researchers were amazed that the b read more
The COVID-19 crisis has affected life as we all know it. The entire world is hunkering down to do their best to slow the spread and impact of COVID-19. As a result of these extreme measures, everyone’s world and sense of normalcy has evaporated. Everyone is struggling to stay informed, engage in safe practices, figures out logistics of work and schedules, remain calm, and still try to be a good parent. Parenting is a difficult job under the best of circumstances, with these added stressors many parents are finding themselves with very little fuel left in the tank for parenting demands. Children and adolescents, just like adults, thrive on routine and schedules. Just as our lives have been upended, so has our kids. They are struggling to adapt as best they can, and some are doing it with more grace than others. Many parents are finding that they are at a loss for words when it comes to trying to explain this crisis to their children. It might not be quite as bad as talking to your kids about sex and drugs, but it is not much easier. What follows are some tips and suggestions for handling and talking to your kids about the COVID crisis.
- Normalize Feelings: It’s important to have our feelings validated by others. We all seek this out and it holds true for your children as well. Regardless of age, your children need to hear that it is normal and
In our first article on selecting a therapist, we talked about all the variables you need to be aware of before you even begin your search. Now that you have a good idea of what to inquire about, we will talk about how to conduct your search, what to expect in a first session, and red flags to watch for in evaluating if a therapist will be a good fit for you.
Performing the Search
Now that you know a bunch of the factors to be considering when scheduling, you should be ready to start the search. As noted, you can always contact your insurance carrier and they can filter a number of the things detailed above and provide you with a short list of counselors to try. Many people want something more than a random name, so they seek the suggestion of trusted people. This is typically their physician, a friend, or family member. If you know friends or family who may have had services in the past, you can certainly see if they liked their provider. Most physicians have a handful of trusted therapists that they refer to and have had experience with. New in the last 5-8 years are a variety of online provider search sites. Similar to an insurance carrier, you can put in a variety of search criteria for what you are looking for and the site will produce a list of providers for you. Keep in mind that this list is likely generated from counselors who are paying to advertise on that s read more