Most of us feel like we are plagued with a variety of stressors at all times. To a great extent, you are both correct and not alone. Despite what you may think as you walk by strangers in the grocery store thinking, “Gee, they all look happy and fine. What am I doing wrong?” Just because people don’t have their issues tattooed on their foreheads, don’t assume they aren’t dealing with their own stressors. For most of us, life is a revolving door of stressors. It seems like just as soon as we unload a few, we pick up some more. This is reality for most people. On that note, let’s try not to plunge into depression, apathy, and hopelessness. The thing that differentiates those who are overwhelmed by their stressors and those who simply manage them, are a set of skills and coping strategies. Let discuss a few of them and see if we can get you in the right camp.
The first thing we need to be able to do is identify the source of the stressor. With this we need more than a general area such as work. We need the specifics such as I am overworked, under staffed, being harassed, in conflict with a coworker, etc. To tackle a stressor, we want to be able to get at the heart of it. When the plumber comes to your house, he doesn’t say, “Looks like your sink is leaking.” You could have figured thatread more
Despite how the holidays are portrayed on television and in the movies, they often create a lot of stress for people. Research says that 8 out of 10 Americans are expected to feel stressed out by the holidays. Nearly two-thirds of people claim that the holidays create financial stress in their lives. Upwards of 40% report eating unhealthy during the holidays in large part due to stress. Spending time with family and relatives, although enjoyable on one hand, often fuels stress on the other hand as old family dynamics are recreated and played out. Almost 65% of people say that the lack of time to plan and prepare for the holidays is one of the top stressors during the holiday seasons. This year, try to take a proactive approach to keep your stress more manageable and in check. Talk with family members early on to coordinate dates, times, and locations. Start meal planning 2-3 weeks ahead of time so you have plenty of time to shop for food and get supplies. Consider splitting up the meal and have each family member bring a couple items. This will be much more affordable for everyone and you won’t have to try to prepare and cook so many dishes on the day of. Gift giving is a wonderful expression of love and appreciation, however, don’t feel obligated to out-do yourself from last year. Talk to family members, set a spending limit that everyone is comfortable with, read more
Description Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop after exposure to any number of traumatic events that can happen to people. Some common types of traumatic events that can result in PTSD include military combat, physical or sexual assaults, accidents, or natural disasters such as tornado, hurricanes, etc. Although PTSD has likely existed since humankind has been involved in traumatic situations, PTSD has only been recognized as a diagnosis since 1980. It should be noted that not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will end up with PTSD. Many people endure and recover from difficult life situations just fine. Others develop less severe problems such as depression or anxiety problems. Traumatic events that are enduring (military combat) or recurring (physical or sexual abuse) increase the likelihood of developing PTSD. Symptoms & Features A thorough mental health diagnostic evaluation should be sought if you suspect you might have PTSD. The diagnosis of PTSD can be difficult and complex. In response to a traumatic experience where real or perceived life threatening situations have occurred, people experience some of the follow symptoms. There are re-experiencing symptoms that include: 1) intrusive thoughts or images, 2) feeling like the event is recurring or reliving it, 3) dreams or nightmares, 4) read more
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
Description Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder. It manifests with two components: obsessions and compulsions. The obsessions are unwanted and recurring thoughts, images, beliefs, or impulses that are intrusive and upsetting for people. Common obsessions include fear of contamination, having things orderly or symmetrical, aggressive impulses, or sexual images or thoughts. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors people feel compelled to do in an attempt to reduce anxiety stemming from the obsessions. Examples of compulsions include washing, cleaning, counting, checking, orderliness, or hoarding things. An important qualifier for OCD is that it is interfering with a person’s ability to function. Many people have obsessive or compulsive “quirks”, tendencies, or traits, but they are not of the level or degree that it is causing them problems in their lives. Symptoms & Features A thorough mental health diagnostic evaluation should be sought if you believe you have OCD. Symptoms of OCD include either obsessions and/or compulsions. Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, images, or impulses that are intrusive and cause anxiety; are not just excessive worry about real life problems; attempts are made to suppress or ignore the thoughts; and are recognized to be a product of one’s own read more
Description Generalized Anxiety Disorder is the most common form of clinical anxiety and is different from normal everyday worry. Where most people report having some general and specific worries, they are capable of controlling it. People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) experience exaggerated worry and fears throughout the day with little or nothing provoking it. Their anxiety is intrusive, difficult to get off their mind, and often uncontrollable. They may be overly preoccupied with money, relationships, health issues, career, or ruminate about decisions and choices. GAD is twice as common in women as men. The disorder can occur at any age, but commonly manifests in adolescence to middle age. Untreated GAD is prone to the development of other issues such as depression or abuse of alcohol or drugs. Symptoms & Features A thorough mental health diagnostic evaluation should be sought if three of the following symptoms are persisting for six months or more in conjunction with excessive worry and preoccupation that is difficult to control. 1) muscle tension, 2) disturbed sleep (insomnia or excess sleep), 3) being easily fatigued, 4) restlessness or feeling on the edge, 5) irritability, 6) indecisiveness or lack of concentration. Unlike physical issues like strep throat there is no laboratory test to prove wh read more
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
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
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
- Remember that although your feelings and symptoms are frightening, they are neither dangerous nor harmful.
- Understand that what you are experiencing is merely an exaggeration of your normal reactions to stress. 3. Do not fight your feelings or try to wish them away. The more willing you are to face them, the less intense they will become. 4. Don’t add to your panic by thinking about what “might happen.” If you find yourself asking, “What if?” tell yourself “So what!” 5. Stay in the present. Be aware of what is happening to you rather than concern yourself with how much worse it might get. 6. Label your fear level from 0 to 10 and watch it go up and down. Notice that it doesn’t stay at a very high level for more than a few seconds. 7. When you find yourself thinking about fear, change your “what if” thinking. Focus on and perform some simple, manageable task. 8. Notice that when you stop thinking frightening thoughts your anxiety fades. 9. When fear comes, accept it, don’t fight it. Wait and give it time to pass. Don’t try to escape from it, and remember to breathe. 10. Be proud of the progress you’ve made. Think about how good you will feel when the anxiety has passed and you are in total control and at peace.
To learn other effective strategies for dealing with panic attacks, make an appointment today to meet with one of our therapists. To get more read more