General

Trauma and Mental Health: 7 Facts You Should Know

What do you know about trauma? How would you define it if you had to? The best way to describe trauma is not so much by discussing the actual event that created the trauma, but by explaining that trauma is anything that overwhelms your ability to cope. In other words, you do not have the skills or abilities (at the time) to cope appropriately with the aftereffects of the trauma. This is why it is extremely important that families (friends, coworkers, and caregivers) have a keen eye on victims of trauma who may not have the appropriate coping skills to cope. When coping skills are lacking, including a clear understanding of why the trauma occurred, suicidal thoughts, homicidal thoughts, self-injurious behaviors, depression, anxiety, and sometimes even psychotic symptoms (delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized/confused thought patterns) occur. This article will discuss some of the facts we should all know and keep in mind about trauma.
Continue Reading

Adult Mental Health

9 Truths About Borderline Personality Disorder

Do you know someone who is struggling with intense emotions, rage or anger, emotional lability, interpersonal conflict, unstable social or family relationships, and poor self-image? If so, perhaps you are dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). BPD is a mental health condition that affects all facets of a sufferer's life. Sadly, although BPD has become less stigmatized over time (especially with Dr. Marsha Linehan and many other experts educating society, families, caregivers, and sufferers to what BPD actually is), it is still hard for people to accept. But as a mental health therapist I have evaluated, talked to, and counseled adolescent girls who stayed in multiple abusive and emotionally unstable relationships for the simple fact that "I cannot live without him. I will die." These intense emotions led to a cascade of other behaviors that were disturbing such as stalking, obsession, begging, and even sexual immorality. The intensity of the emotions of someone suffering from BPD may be disproportionate to the actual situation. My experience with clients has been that a diagnosis of BPD is like a death sentence due to stigma. This article will explain what a diagnosis of BPD can lead to and how to view the diagnosis in a healthier way. 
Continue Reading

Advocacy

8 Behaviors Often Mistaken For Depression

Do you know someone who looks and appears depressed but denies it when confronted? Do you believe their rejection of your assessment of them? Could it be that they are"hiding," covering their true emotions, or simply telling the truth? Even as a trained therapist I have seem my fair share of clients, primarily men and adolescent males, proclaim over and over that they are not depressed even when they appear that way. I ended up second guessing myself and desperately searching for a term, diagnosis, or phenomenon that could help me make sense out of what appeared to be depression. Little did I know, it was pretty simple. We live in a nation that fervently seeks for answers for behaviors that we do not understand or that do not meet a certain set criteria. For example, mental health professionals will often engage families in learning about depression when a adolescent exhibits traits and behaviors that seem to be depression. Rarely, if ever, will a trained mental health professional ignore other reasons for behaviors that seem like depression. We are all susceptible to mistaking certain behaviors for something way more serious than it actually is. This article will discuss "normal" behaviors, moods, and traits that can be mistaken for depression symptoms.
Continue Reading

Communication

Men and Depression: 7 Signs and How To Help

Do you know a man who seems depressed? What are his symptoms? Does he talk to you about it? Men and depression simply don't mix in a male-dominated world that is characterized by unrealistic displays of strength, power, and social prowess. For men, depression is simply a "female" thing that is often tied to estrogen and all the other female specific hormones and emotions. The reality is that men also suffer from depression although their symptoms may be a tad different. It is important that we understand how to identify the symptoms of male depression. Many people are familiar with what depression may look like in humans in general, but often become confused when depression symptoms are expressed in males as anger, rage, resentment, hostility, physical aggression, abusive behaviors, alcohol addiction, unexplained irritability, hopelessness, low self-esteem, poor sleep patterns, and feelings of confused identity. This article will discuss seven possible signs of male depression and what to do to help a depressed man cope.
Continue Reading

Communication

Male Borderline Personality Disorder: What You Should Know

Do you or someone you know exhibit the following characteristics: frequent self-injurious behaviors (SIB), suicidal ideations or suicide attempts, frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment, unstable and intense interpersonal relationships that include alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation, identity disturbance, impulsivity (acting before thinking), chronic feelings of emptiness, and inappropriate and intense emotions that are sometimes disproportional to the trigger? Many of these characteristics make up the term Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). BPD tends to be a frequent diagnosis for females, primarily those females who have many of the above symptoms including frequent SIB and suicidal thoughts. Sadly, many males (adolescents and adults) also exhibit symptoms of BPD but are often misdiagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder or oppositional defiant disorder. The key to identifying BPD in males is to look at the constellation of symptoms and the intensity of the emotions of the individual. This article will focus on highlighting male BPD symptoms and some of the red flags to look out for.
Continue Reading

General

5 Reasons Why Strong Emotions Can Heal

What has been your experience with suffering, pain, and sorrow? Did you sink under its pressure or become angry and fought back? Perhaps you did not come to the conclusion that you must fight back because the depression and the sorrow sucks every ounce of "fight back" you may have had. Believe it or not, if you feel this way that is because so many millions of other people feel the same. Sadly, we live in a society "controlled" by perceptions that are inaccurate. The perception that life is ALL about being happy and trying to achieve the "highest" level of happiness is one of the biggest and most negative misconceptions we have to deal with. This article will explore how negative emotions (i.e., pain, sorrow, rejection, resentment, depression, compassion fatigue,  etc.) can affect us and teach us a lot about ourselves and the life we live.
Continue Reading

General

6 Things Depression & Suicidal Thinking Can Make You Do

Do you have personal experience with depression? What about suicide? Do you (or someone you know) ever struggle with feeling overwhelmed by life's torrents and waves? Do you (or someone you know) struggle with feelings of guilt, lack of motivation, anhedonia (i.e., not enjoying things once enjoyed), insomnia, poor eating habits, and rumination (i.e., thinking of things repeatedly in a fashion that works against you and not for you)? If so, this article is for you. This article will discuss depression and suicidal thoughts and how these two things often occur simultaneously. This article will then explore 6 things, as a therapist and friend that I have come to recognize, that seems to occur in individuals who are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. 
Continue Reading

Advocacy

Understanding Suicide: 6 Questions to Ask

Have you ever thought of suicide? Have you ever considered what life might be like if you were not around anymore? What about having thoughts of dying after the loss of something important to you, such as a child, a spouse, a possession that meant a lot, or some kind of relationship that contributed positively to your life? If so, that is absolutely okay, as many people have "flirted" with the idea of ending the emotional and psychological (and sometimes physical) pain that feels imprisoning. Thankfully, we are living in an educated culture that seems to be more understanding of the topic of suicide. Sadly, for many years people have looked negatively upon those who bring up the topic of suicide and who have attempted it. But it is important to educate ourselves to what causes a person to feel so helpless that death appears to be the only remedy for the pain. Unfortunately, this topic is be far too entailed to write about here, but we will certainly discuss what signs and symptoms to look for, what six questions you should ask someone who is talking about suicide, and who to seek for help and why.
Continue Reading

General

Mental Health: 5 Things Alcohol Addiction Makes You Blind To

Do you know someone who seems to self medicate with alcohol to cope with life, symptoms of a mental health diagnosis, or simply to de-stress? It is a known fact that alcohol is often the "drug" of use for individuals suffering from a mental health condition. Alcohol is a substance that either works as a medication for symptoms that are becoming out of control or a way to increase the properties of a psychotropic drug. Either way, alcohol can be a dangerous substance if used unwisely and to self-medicate. As you know, alcohol is such a socially acceptable substance that many people won't suspect anything is wrong with someone who frequently drinks alcohol. Why would there be? Alcohol is found almost everywhere and almost in every restaurant across the nation. It isn't being sold in a variety of flavors at a restaurant, it can be found in a variety of foods. Alcohol is also culturally acceptable as many kids from higher socio-economic statuses tend to drink wine with dinner at various ages. It's no wonder so many people use and become addicted to alcohol. Unfortunately, out of control alcohol use can lead to a variety of challenges including increased depression. This article will highlight some of the ways that alcohol negatively affects those with mental health challenges. 
Continue Reading

Communication

Understanding Trauma and the Cycle of Abuse

Have you ever heard of the Cycle of Abuse? What about Traumatic Bonding? If not, this article is for you. One of the things I find myself doing in my practice with families is providing what mental health professionals call "psycho-education." Psycho-education is education about a topic related to psychology such as relationships, mental illness, diagnosis, trauma or abuse, etc. So many of us can easily become the victim of abuse, trauma, or unhealthy relationships and attachments. Sadly, if you are in a human relationship you are susceptible to the cycle of abuse or traumatic bonding. Both of these concepts will be discussed further in this article to highlight the importance of identifying and being open to the possibility that the cycle of abuse may be happening in your own life or someone you know. It is important to highlight that his article is certainly not specifically about romantic relationships. It is about any relationship that you may find yourself in (working, romantic, platonic, parent-child, etc). 
Continue Reading