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Compulsive Gambling

November 7, 2018

Description Where many people enjoy gambling as an occasional social or recreational activity, for others it becomes a real struggle. Problem gambling is an urge to gamble despite experiencing negative consequences or continuing to gamble despite a desire to stop. An estimated 15 million Americans have problem gambling with more than 3 million of them having severe problematic gambling. Problem gambling is not a bad habit or moral weakness, but a serious condition that is treatable. Although it is commonly referred to as gambling addiction, it is actually categorized as an impulse control disorder. However, like chemical addictions it is a progressive and chronic condition. Problem gambling tends to strain relationships, affect one’s ability to fulfill responsibilities at work, home, or school, and can lead to financial catastrophe. It can lead people to do things they never thought themselves capable of such as borrowing or stealing money from partners, employers, and even their children.   Symptoms & Features Pathological Gambling Disorder is a persistent and recurring maladaptive gambling pattern as evidenced by five or more of the following symptoms: 1) a mental preoccupation with gambling, 2) a need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement or effect, 3) repeated unsucce read more

September 11, 2018

Description One of the most common mental health issues that people are familiar with is depression. As many as 20-25% of people will experience depression at some time in their lives. There are actually a few different types of depression. Major Depression is the one most people think of when they think of depression. People will have many or most of the symptoms listed below consistently for at least a two week period of time, however many people will have been dealing with it for several months or longer before taking action. Persistent Depressive Disorder manifests fewer symptoms, but often lasts for two or more years. This is sometimes referred to as a functional depression in that it most people are still able to function in their daily lives, despite the bothersome symptoms. Substance Induced Depression is far less common and evolves from the abuse of chemicals such as alcohol or opiates (depressants). Often when the person stops abusing chemicals, the depression naturally lifts on its own in a few weeks.   Symptoms & Features A thorough mental health diagnostic evaluation should be sought if 4-5 of the following symptoms are persisting for two or more weeks. 1) depressed (sad or empty) mood most of the day, 2) loss of interest or pleasure in usually enjoyable activities, 3) appetite/weight ga read more

July 3, 2018

Description Bipolar disorder consists of cyclical changes from depressive states to manic states and is more than the usual ups and downs or mood swings that people experience. These recurring episodes of depression and mania cause extreme shifts in mood, energy, and behavior that interfere with normal functioning. These shifts in mood are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain as opposed to environmental events.   Symptoms & Features A thorough mental health diagnostic evaluation should be sought immediately if you suspect you are cycling between depression and mania. Depressive symptoms include: 1) depressed (sad or empty) mood most of the day, 2) loss of interest or pleasure in usually enjoyable activities, 3) appetite/weight gain or loss, 4) disturbed sleep (insomnia or excess sleep), 5) lowered energy level/fatigued, 6) Restlessness or feeling slowed down, 7) feelings of worthlessness or excess guilt, 8) indecisiveness or lack of concentration, 9) suicidal thoughts or feelings. Manic symptoms include: 1) inflated self-esteem or grandiosity, 2) decreased need for sleep (ability to go with little or no sleep for days without tiring), 3) pressured speech or being very talkative, 4) racing thoughts, 5) distractibility, 6) increased goal directed activity (being very productive), 7) engaging in risky be read more

June 24, 2018

What Is Anger?   Anger is an automatic reaction to a perception of injustice and is designed to energize people to take action and correct the wrong. For instance, if your neighbor stole your car stereo, you would become angry and the anger would cause you to want to confront your neighbor and seek justice. Most people are somewhat passive to mildly assertive and anger pushes them up the spectrum to become more assertive in handling problems. Anger gets a bad reputation when people behave in aggressive ways such as assaulting others. So long as anger can be controlled and channeled in productive ways, it is actually a constructive emotion. Managed poorly, it becomes destructive.   Poorly handled reactions of anger can result in a variety of consequences including: legal, financial (destroying property), occupational, relational, and physical (injury or long term effects). Many people struggle with anger for a variety of reasons. Some people have never really learned how to handle and manage emotions and continue to struggle into adulthood. Other people have been over-controlling emotion by suppressing it. Suppressed emotion builds internally and can result in explosive outbursts, which seem out of proportion to the event, but are really an accumulation of emotion that is discharged all at once. The intensity of that emotion makes it difficult to co read more

June 6, 2018

The use of alcohol in our culture is pervasive. For most people their use of alcohol is social or recreational and is secondary to the event and situations they are engaging in. For about 10% of the American population their use of alcohol becomes abusive or has already reached the level of dependence. There are four levels of alcohol use: abstinence, social use, abuse, and dependence. Social use pertains to people who drink for the taste rather than the effect (glass of wine with dinner or a dessert drink).  It can be difficult to differentiate between those who abuse and those who have crossed the line to dependence, both of which are problematic. One benchmark of problematic drinking stipulates that men who drink more than 4 drinks in one sitting or more than 14 drinks in a week and women who drink more than 3 drinks in one sitting or more than 7 drinks in a week, likely have abuse or dependence problems. Alcohol abuse and dependence fall on a spectrum. The more symptoms a person endorses, they can move from abuse to dependence. Alcohol abuse is suggested if a person endorses 2-3 of the symptoms, and alcohol dependence is likely present if a person endorses 4 or more of the following symptoms: 1) tolerance (a need for an increase in the amount of alcohol to get the same desired effect), 2) withdrawal (shakes, sweats, etc. in the absence of drinking, 3) drinking in larger am read more

May 8, 2018

Everyone attempts to cope with life’s stressors. Most people utilize a mixed bag of strategies, which could probably be put somewhere on a spectrum. Toward one end are healthier coping skills, and toward the other end are unhealthy coping skills. To be more effective in life and cope better, we encourage you to work on using coping skills that are on the healthier side of the spectrum, but provide you common strategies on both sides of the spectrum so you can see what you might be doing. Circle the ones you use routinely.   Healthier Coping Skills   I confront the situation head on I distance myself from the situation I control myself I use relaxation techniques I act to take care of things myself I learn or develop special skills I call a friend I call a supportive family member I keep on trying and trying I become very tolerant I try to get all the facts I debate things within myself I learn more about what happened I involve myself in daily tasks I try to see the situation as positive I accept responsibility when appropriate I set healthy boundaries with others I sleep or nap to build up my reserves I do something creative I pray and rely on my higher power I dream I make do with what I have I do art work I write in a journal I work at a hobby I find a mission I seek out social situations I talk with others about the event I find someone w read more

April 24, 2018

The period surrounding the birth of a child is a joy, but for many families it can also be a time of concern.  Changing roles and physical changes can leave both mothers and fathers feeling irritable, depressed, or unable to cope. Here are some things to know and watch for. Mood changes are the most common complications of pregnancy.  Most new mothers will experience a disruption in their mood.  The “baby blues” are very common with upwards of 80% of new mothers experience baby blues within the first week of delivery.  This condition is not a psychiatric disorder and it passes within a few weeks.  Mothers can become weepy, nervous, or dependent.  Baby blues have been described as a relatively normal part of a reaction to rapid lifestyle and hormonal changes. There are a number of risk factors for developing postpartum mood changes, or full post-partum depression, including a family history of depression. Any stressful situation during the perinatal period increases the incidence of mood reactions.  Stress reduces the body’s ability to cope with drastic change.  Typical stressors include: financial demands, marital discord, moving to a new home within several months of delivery, previous emotional instability of either parent or their families, changes in employment status, or the lack of support of the new parent’s employer(s), lack of social read more

April 7, 2018

Over the past 10-15 years, people have been hearing more and more about cognitive behavioral therapy and its effectiveness for treating anxiety in particular, but also depression; the two most common mental health issues. In reality, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been around since the 1950’s when its two biggest founders brought it to life: Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck. Over the decades countless studies and experiments have been conducted which is what has proven it to be one of the most effective forms of therapy. So what is it? Perhaps you recall the old saying; seeing the world through rose colored glasses. This of course means the tendency of someone to filter things through a bright and optimistic perception or lens. What we know is that many people, especially those with depression and anxiety, are not seeing things through rose colored glasses. In fact, their perceptual lens are rather warped and distorted when it comes to how they see themselves, others, or even the world. This is not to say they are paranoid or out of touch with reality, but that they have a lot of irrational thoughts and beliefs that are unfounded, yet nonetheless negatively impact their lives. CBT would suggest that these negative and distorted thoughts are often what is driving all sorts of negative feelings such as sadness, worry, anger, guilt and shame. CBT is designed to teach you how read more

March 13, 2018

The fine art of mastering emotions does not come easily or naturally, as you can see at your local grocery store where you can routinely find a two year kicking and screaming on the floor because they can’t get some gum at the checkout line. We certainly feel for the parents and thank god it’s not our kid, but quickly overlook how difficult it was for all of us at one time to manage and regulate our feelings. If you are still doubting, just ask your parents and I’m sure they will be delighted to recount the time you cried for 3 days when your goldfish died, how you were so mad at your brother when he won monopoly that you took a swing at him, or how you refused to sleep in your bed for a week because you were terrified of the boogeyman. If all goes well over the first 15-20 years of our life, you had good role models, and supportive family and friends; you slowly learned to regulate and manage your emotions, despite the gasoline that puberty dumps on our emotional fires. Unfortunately, for many of us, we may not have weathered the storm unscathed and continue to find ourselves wrestling to manage our feelings. When it comes to emotional regulation, it’s important to be able to both experience feelings internally as well as express them outwardly in a healthy controlled manner. This represents a nice healthy middle ground, however we certainly see people on both ends of read more

February 28, 2018

Self-care means taking care of yourself. Right? If you are defining this idea with the words themselves, it may mean you have a fuzzy idea about what self-care actually is and should look like. Let’s take a moment to try to better understand what this thing is so you stand a better chance of implementing it into your routine and can try to make your life better. With clients I often describe self-care as the counter balance to stress. Where stress will run you down and deplete you, good quality self-care should replenish and recharge your batteries. Self-care is actually made up of those activities people do when they need to relax and rejuvenate. There are three important parts to self-care in order to execute effectively on this tool. First, is having a well-tuned barometer. You need to know when the pressure is getting to you and it’s time to implement some self-care. Another metaphor is that self-care is like the fuel gauge on your car. You don’t want to break down on the highway before you realize that you have run out of gas. It’s important to have some internal awareness about how you are doing and how much reserves you have in the tank. Be sure to fill up some time before you wake up and realize you can’t get out bed. Second, you must be willing to give yourself permission to do self-care. This may seem a bit silly. Really? Do something fun and enjoyable? Boy, read more