People come into counseling for a variety of reasons. It is possible that one or more of the following may contribute to your rationale for beginning individual counseling.
Depression And Anxiety
Depression commonly manifests physically, through stomach pains, headaches, disrupted or excessive sleep, and motor control difficulty. While the causes of depression are unknown, a predisposition for it runs in families and it can be triggered by trauma and adverse life circumstances. Depression is diagnosed more frequently in women and tends to display differently in women than in men.
People tend to suffer higher rates of depression after giving birth and in late fall. Depression and anxiety often exacerbate each other and people with depression commonly have difficulty concentrating on tasks and conversations. Some people abuse alcohol and drugs or overeat as a way of coping, causing them to develop other medical problems. Depressed people are also at increased risk for self-harm.
Depression is a mental illness which is characterized by prolonged emotional symptoms including:
Diagnosing depression involves a psychiatric evaluation and physical tests to determine whether a person’s symptoms are actually being caused by a different disorder. A person must have been experiencing symptoms for at least two weeks to be diagnosed with depression. Every case is unique and requires individual attention, but there are a number of effective complementary ways of treating depression, including:
- Talk therapy
- Adopting a healthier lifestyle
Body image is the mental representation that one creates in their mind, but it may or may not relate to how others see an individual. The skewed view that someone has of their body is a culprit affecting people across the globe, where ethnicity, culture, gender, and age may all fall prey to it. According to ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders), about 30 million Americans suffer from some sort of eating disorder. Eating disorders hold a record for having the highest mortality rate when compared to other mental illnesses; someone dies of an eating disorder every 62 minutes.
Types of Eating Disorders
There are copious numbers of eating disorders and, unfortunately, the statistics mentioned above don’t begin to scratch the surface. Here are few examples of eating disorders:
- Anorexia Nervosa: People reduce the amount of energy intake required for their weight, age, gender, development and physical health.
- Bulimia Nervosa: Individuals consume large amounts of food, and then induce themselves to vomit to stop weight gain.
- Binge Eating Disorder (BED): Eating large amounts of food in small periods of time.
- Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) 14: Children are not just finicky when it comes to this disorder, but they become malnourished because they restrict themselves from eating certain foods.
- Diabulimia: People with Type 1 diabetes purposely underuse insulin to control their weight.
Like other mental disorders and illnesses, care should involve a diverse team of experts. It’s recommended that professional caretakers include the following:
- Social worker
- Primary care physician
Due to the severe toll that eating disorders may have on an individual’s physical health, psychological therapy is not enough. It’s also important, if possible, to incorporate family therapy and support groups. Family-Based Treatment, according to NEDA, is a method used for patients who are minors.
In severe cases, inpatient care may be necessary; the person suffering from the eating disorder will be hospitalized or placed in residential care.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from an eating disorder, call the helpline now at 1-800-931-2237. An eating disorder is a serious medical and health concern that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Grief and Loss
Throughout the course of our years, we all experience a loss at some point in our lives. In fact, statistics show that 1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone close to them before 18 years of age. Feelings of grief and loss are not always associated with death, however, but commonly surface after a loss of some kind – whether it is the loss of a loved one, a severed relationship, a pregnancy, a pet, or a job.
When a person loses something or someone valuable to them, feelings of grief can be overbearing. Grief can leave a person feeling sad, hopeless, isolated, irritable, and numb by affecting them mentally, emotionally, and physically. It’s important to understand that healing from grief is a process and everyone copes with this emotion differently.
Many people don’t know what to say or do when a person is grieving, but be sure to have patience with the individual (including yourself) throughout the entire process.
An alternative treatment method includes psychotherapy. Through psychotherapy, a patient may:
- Improve coping skills
- Reduce feelings of blame and guilt
- Explore and process emotions
Consider seeking professional support if feelings of grief do not ease over time.
Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder
Panic attacks are brief episodes of extreme fear. They may be mistaken for heart attacks or strokes, but are actually psychological rather than physical. Panic attacks can occur suddenly and usually peak within ten minutes. Most panic attacks end within 20 to 30 minutes.
Some symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Feelings of suffocation
Sometimes panic attacks are isolated incidents, but if a person has had at least two panic attacks and lives in fear of having another, they may have panic disorder. A panic attack can happen without an obvious cause, but people with panic disorder may develop phobias related to something they associate with panic attacks, including open spaces, and large crowds.
Panic disorder is classified as an anxiety disorder, and like other forms of anxiety, it is commonly treated with a combination of therapy, medications, and healthy lifestyle changes. Anxiety patients are also encouraged to do breathing exercises, get regular exercise, and to avoid stimulants.
Encountering certain obstacles or situations may leave one frightened, such as being afraid of the dark, high heights, or animals. Most of us are able to remain calm, rationalize the situation, and find a way around it, but this doesn’t work everyone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 10 million adults live with some kind of phobia.
What is a phobia?
Phobias, according to the American Psychological Association, are intense fears that result in distress and can be intrusive. Individuals with this anxiety disorder have an irrational fear of things that don’t pose any real threat.
Here are a few examples of common phobias:
- Arachnophobia, which is the fear of spiders
- Acrophobia, this is the fear of heights
- Agoraphobia, which is the fear of being in a situation you can’t escape from
The American Psychiatric Association simplified the symptoms into two points:
- An out-of-proportion reaction, as well as the age playing a role in being inappropriate
- The individual’s capability to behave normally is compromised
Unlike anxiety disorders, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, there isn’t extensive research that has been completed on phobias, but that hasn’t stopped mental health professionals from finding ways to help patients.
- Therapists help treat phobias by using psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy. The patients receive CBT (cognitive behavior therapy), where they can learn how to think, react, and behave to whatever it is that they fear. It is meant to reduce the feeling of overwhelming anxiety.
- Medications, on the other hand, aren’t a cure but they help patients deal with symptoms.
- Individuals can also learn stress-management techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or other holistic approaches.
While one of these methods may work for some, professionals may provide their patients with a combination of these treatments and remedies. Unfortunately, the cause of anxiety disorder is unknown. It may be due to genetics, the environment, or even developmental. But until then, people dealing with phobias should seek help.
Everyone encounters stress during their lives at one point—never-ending bills, demanding schedules, work, and family responsibilities—and that can make stress seem inescapable and uncontrollable. Stress management skills are designed to help a person take control of their lifestyle, thoughts, and emotions and teach them healthy ways to cope with their problems.
Find the Cause
The first step in stress management is identifying your stressors. While this sounds fairly easy—it’s not hard to point to major changes or a lot of work piling up—chronic stress can be complicated, and most people don’t realize how their habits contribute to their stress. Maybe work piling up isn’t from the actual demands of your job, but more so from your procrastination. You have to claim responsibility for the role you play in creating your stress or you won’t be able to control it.
Strategies for Stress Management
Once you’ve found what causes your stress, focus on what you can control. Eliminate the realistic stressors and develop consistent de-stressing habits. Instead of watching TV or responding to texts in bed after work - take a walk, or read a book. Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough quality sleep, will ease feelings of stress and help you relax.
Also, make a conscious effort to set aside time for yourself and for relaxation. Alone time can be whatever you need it to be. Some people like doing activities such as tai chi, yoga, or meditation, but you can also treat yourself to something simple, like taking a bubble bath, listening to music, or watching a funny movie.
Finally, don’t feel like you have to solve your stress on your own. Reach out to your family and friends. Whether you need help with a problem or just need someone to listen, find a person who will be there to positively reinforce and support you. If stress becomes chronic, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a therapist.
Work and Career Issues
Most of us spend more time at work than at home, therefore the workplace should be an environment where we feel safe and comfortable. However, because work is where a bunch of different personalities, communication styles, and worldviews gather around, things don’t always go smoothly. In fact, workplace bullying is on the rise and though statistics vary, some studies reveal that nearly half of all American workers have been affected by this problem, either as a target or as a witness to abusive behavior against a co-worker.
Examples of common workplace issues include:
- Poor job fit
- Mental anguish
- Sexual or verbal harassment
- Low motivation and job dissatisfaction
How a Therapist Can Help
Therapy for work and career issues can help a person develop a better understanding of their wants and needs as well as approach alternative ways to handle tension while on the clock. Therapy is a neutral setting where patients can discuss their fears, worries, or stressors, and regain control of their happiness.
Psychotherapy tends to work well when addressing workplace issues because talk therapy such as this can effectively treat depression and anxiety that can stem from these conflicts. A mental health professional can also teach coping skills that will help a person manage work-related stress.