Preparing Your Child For A Counseling Session

If you are in the process of getting divorced, and your school-aged child is having difficulty with the idea of the way of life they will be dealing with, you may have considered taking them for counseling to help in talking through their feelings about the matter. Your child may be quite anxious about the prospect in opening up to a stranger about their relationship with you and your soon to be ex-spouse. Here are some tips you can use to help your child relax and let the counselor know about their thoughts regarding your upcoming divorce.

Talk To Your Child About What A Session Entails

Fear or worry about the unknown is likely to be weighing heavily on your child’s mind if they are alerted about a session with a counselor. It is best, however, not to spring the meeting upon your child without telling them about it first. Explain to your child that you had scheduled an appointment for them to discuss the divorce with someone other than yourself or your spouse. Make sure they know the session is in confidence, meaning they can speak freely without worry that you or your spouse will find out what they had discussed.

Interview A Few Counselors With Your Child

One way to help your child relax with the prospect of counseling sessions is by having them get involved in finding the right person to talk to. Make a few appointments with different counselors in your area. Bring your child to meet these prospective counselors so they can talk with them with you in the room. Your child may take to one person a bit better than another. When they find a counselor they seem to have a rapport with, make an additional appointment for them to talk to this professional on their own. If your child feels uncomfortable with a specific counselor, do not make an additional appointment with this person as your child will be likely to clam up during an individual appointment.

Make The Day Of A Session Fun For The Child

Let your child know that after their appointment with the therapist is over, you will spend some one-on-one time with them doing an activity of their choosing. This “reward” will make the session a bit more tolerable for a child who is reluctant to discuss their feelings with a professional mental health provider. They will come to enjoy these special days, and will associate their sessions with something fun to do after they are over. To find out more, speak with someone like NeuroHealth Arlington Heights.

Vitamins You Should Take When Trying To Break A Drug Addiction

If you have an addiction to drugs and have made the decision to break this addiction, you may have an easier time doing so if you fill your body with the right vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. In addition, it’s easier to break an addiction if you seek professional help; however, you could always try to achieve this goal on your own before you look for a chemical dependency treatment facility. Here are some of the most important nutrients you will need to break a drug addiction and to help restore your body’s health.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is known best for its ability to strengthen the immune system, but this is not the only benefit this common vitamin offers. This vitamin is also called ascorbic acid and it is helpful for treating drug addictions in many ways. The first way is by helping to increase the body’s production of endorphins. Drug addiction interferes with this process, and a drug addict will continue wanting to feel the highs the drug offers. Endorphins can produce similar types of highs, and they are known for helping people feel happier and more content.

A second benefit of Vitamin C is its ability to help cleanse the body to eliminate toxins. Drugs contain many toxins and to break an addiction, the person must cleanse the drugs from their body. Vitamin C will help a person do this. Taking 10 grams of this vitamin per day could help you with breaking the addiction you have.

Potassium

The second nutrient that could be helpful for you is potassium. Drug addictions tend to decrease the potassium levels in a person’s body, yet it is vital for a person’s health. Potassium is extremely helpful for the heart, but it is also helpful for a person’s emotional state. Taking drugs is a habit that can lead to depression and other emotional issues, and you might be able to balance this out by increasing the amount of potassium you consume daily.

In addition, potassium can also help block pain, such as headaches. When you stop using the drug your body is used to, it can result in headaches and other types of withdrawal symptoms.  

You can take potassium supplements, if desired, or you can consume enough potassium each day just by eating bananas, potatoes, avocados, and green leafy vegetables. You should aim to consume at least 4,700 mg potassium each day.

Calcium

Finally, you should begin taking calcium tablets each day to help you break the addiction you have. Calcium is best known for helping to strengthen bones, but it is also something that is helpful for rebuilding and strengthening a person’s nervous system. A lot of hard drugs weaken the nervous system and skeletal system, which is why it is important to begin rebuilding these systems when breaking an addiction. Researchers actually believe that calcium found in certain drug treatment medications is the key to what helps addicts break their addictions.

Taking 1,000 mg each day is a good place to start with calcium, but you may want to take a little more than this. When taking this, you may want to combine it with Vitamin D, because this vitamin helps the body absorb the calcium it receives. Vitamin D is found in milk and other dairy products.

There are a lot of other natural vitamins and minerals that will also be important for your body as you break your addiction. If you would like to learn more about these, or if you are ready to seek professional help for your problem, contact a center that specializes in chemical dependency treatment today. Visit a site like http://www.olalla.org for more info.

3 Tips For Dealing With Family Members Who May Be Experiencing Suicidal Thoughts

It can be difficult dealing with a family member who is going through a bout of depression. However, it’s vitally important that you take steps early to avoid this depression spiralling into thoughts of suicide. To help you with this, below are three tips on how to deal with a family member who you suspect may be having (or is close to having) suicidal thoughts:

Notice the Warning Signs

Most people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts do not experience these thoughts on a whim. Rather, suicidal thoughts are usually the culmination of a number of different things, which can usually be detected in advance if you know what you are looking for. Therefore, it’s important to remain vigilant with family members who are upset or who have just experienced major trauma in their life. Often, these people will give off subconscious warning signs, which can let you know that they are considering suicide.

The most obvious warning sign is if your family member begins to talk about harming themselves. It may seem like they are speaking facetiously, but what starts off as a throwaway comment can soon escalate into something far more serious.

Some other, more subtle warning signs are:

  • Hopelessness: If your family member is talking about things as being “unbearable” or “too much”, they may be giving off a warning sign.

  • Mood swings: Dramatic personality changes or violent mood swings can often be an indication that a person is near the end of their tether. If these continue, their violence may turn inwards, leading to self-destructive thoughts.

  • Preparation: If your family member is going through a tough time and starts to get their affairs in order, they may be experiencing suicidal thoughts. Of course, getting their affairs in order isn’t a warning sign by itself, but if it is preceded by any of the above, it could be a subconscious cry for help.

Listen Intently

If you notice the warning signs mentioned above, it’s time to take an active approach to dealing with the problem. You may think that addressing the problem directly will push your family member over the edge; however, this usually isn’t the case. Rather, taking an active approach to help your loved one may stop their negative thoughts developing into something material.

Therefore, be prepared to confront your family member and be prepared to listen to their story intently. Give them ample opportunity to offload their troubles and always listen to the details. Don’t worry about saying the perfect thing, there are no magical words you can say to alleviate their troubles. Rather, give them a safe sounding board to unburden their pain and offer them relief from suffering alone.

Whilst you won’t be able to say the perfect thing, you could say the wrong thing. Tough love may seem like a good idea to help someone snap out of their frame of mind; however, this is the entirely wrong way to go with someone who is considering suicide. Do not tell them suicide is selfish or that other people have it worse than they do. These tough love tactics will only frustrate your family member and make them feel more isolated than ever before.

Get Them Professional Help

Suicide is an extremely sensitive subject and dealing with a suicidal family member can be overwhelming for someone who is inexperienced in this area. Therefore, it is extremely important to get your family member professional help as soon as possible. Speaking with a adult counseling professional will greatly alleviate their troubles and will get them on the road to recovery as soon as possible.

It’s important that you don’t force your family member into speaking with a counsellor. If you do so, they will only retreat back into their shell and will not feel like they can open up to you. Interventions are not a good idea for suicidal people; rather, spend time speaking with them and encouraging them to seek professional help. If they seek professional help on their own terms, it will be the first small battle that they will win and will give them the encouragement to continue moving forwards.

Hoarding Disorders: Signs, Causes And Treatments

Even though people who hoard things have received greater attention in the media due to certain reality shows and spotlights, there is still plenty of misinformation about this legitimate mental problem. Hoarding is a complex behavior and is usually evidence of deep trauma or imbalance that needs to be addressed with medical help and cognitive behavior therapy. If you are close to someone who has a tendency to hoard things, you should educate yourself on what behaviors indicate serious problems and what interventions are available to help prevent a hoarding problem from getting worse.

What are the symptoms of hoarding?

Because only extreme cases are brought to news outlets and television series, you may not think that your relative has a problem. However, hoarding usually begins small and starts to grow over time. In a course of years, those who allow hoarding behavior to continue unchecked will find themselves in extreme situations that are more difficult to remedy. Early signs of hoarding include:

  • obvious difficulty parting with personal belongings, even if the belonging has no understandable sentimental value. One or two instances of keeping things for irrational reasons is not something to worry about. This behavior must be consistent and pervasive. People who hoard may also have difficulty returning items they borrowed from others. 
  • a fixation on collecting particular items in order to fend off anxiety or self-harm. Collecting becomes a need instead of a hobby and discarding therefore leads to emotional distress. Your loved one may buy or accept free things in excess. 
  • increased difficulty in removing things from a cluttered space. Those who have a true hoarding disorder may begin with a logical method of storing hoarded items, but once storage space is expended, items may move into the living space in an unorganized fashion.
  • decreased ability to work or engage in social activities because of the hoarding lifestyle. For example, your loved one may feel stressed about leaving their things at home, or they may not want to leave the house.

What causes hoarding?

Unfortunately, there is no one cause that directly coincides with the onset of hoarding disorders. Sometimes, people may hoard as a defensive reaction to abuse or a past life trauma, like the death of a family member. Often, hoarding is used as an outlet to distract from deep emotional or mental wounds– a fixation on things allows the person relief from confronting pain from their experiences. In some cases, obsessive collecting can help a person to feel like they are expressing themselves through their surroundings; it’s a way of establishing an identity.

Common triggers for hoarding include depression, anxiety, moving frequently, having poor home life, or even guilt over wastefulness. Sometimes, hoarding can be genetic or learned from family members, as 50% of people who struggle with hoarding grew up in a home with another family member who hoards. 

It’s possible that a tendency to hoard things can be caused by other physical or mental problems. People with obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or who have brain trauma may exhibit hoarding tendencies as a secondary symptom of their condition. 

What interventions are available?

Like any addiction, hoarding takes extensive rehabilitation because the cause of the problem must be discovered and addressed. For some patients, this process can be long and painful, as it forces people to confront the deep attachment and security they get from this behavior pattern.

The most common method of treatment is cognitive behavior therapy. Most people know CBT as counseling. Counseling is one of the first interventions that hoarders need because it will help both the mental health professional and the person being treated to better understand the experiences and feelings that are triggering destructive hoarding behaviors. When family members still live with the individual, family counseling or marriage counseling can also help family members to know how to respond to hoarding and facilitate recovery. Of course, depression, anxiety, and other underlying conditions that lead to hoarding may also require medication.

With the combination or medical interventions, support groups, and counseling, the road to recovery–while long– is definitely possible for people who have hoarding disorders. 

For more information on counseling,click here.

5 Reasons To Seek Out Discernment Counseling For Your Marriage

No matter how committed or loving the couple, infidelity and resentment can turn any marriage sour over time. When the two parties are split on how to handle the situation, discernment counseling is a smarter alternative to traditional counseling visits. Find out how this type of therapy differs from other relationship counseling options to decide if it’s right for you.

Short-Term Commitment

Are you or your spouse afraid of spending months or years in endless therapy sessions? Unlike the usual arrangements made with counselors, discernment therapy is limited to a set number of visits. You, your spouse, and your therapist all agree to reach a concrete decision by the end of one to five visits. You can get all the appointments done in one month or take up to six to think over your dedication to the relationship.

Open Communication

Is your spouse avoiding all discussions about your relationship? Whether they have their heart set on divorce or try to ignore the idea of breaking up, a focused counseling visit is a good way to encourage open communication. The therapist can ask questions and offer writing assignments that reveal the truth lurking underneath your fights. If all your current attempts to talk honestly about divorce results in screaming matches, handling the discussions in a structured environment with a mediator keeps the communication channel open.

What you learn in discernment counseling will help you with relationships outside of your marriage as well. Communicating better with your children, friends, and new love interests is well-worth the expense of professional therapy even if you end up getting divorced. You can learn these skills in individual and traditional couples counseling too, but it’s crucial to polish up on your communication abilities during a divorce to work out the details without worsening the emotional effects.

Individual Discussion

Counseling for married couples developed out of therapy for the entire family as a complete unit, so it makes sense that traditional appointments focus on keeping the two working together during the entire session. In contrast, most of the pre-planned discernment counseling sessions include at least a little separate discussion time with each side. This helps you both by

  • Giving you a chance to express your emotions and plans honestly, without fear of judgement from your partner
  • Helping you prepare for your future, regardless of whether you divorce or stay together
  • Allowing you to focus on traumatic events from past relationships that are sabotaging your current marriage.

Further Help

Discernment therapy may only last a few months at the most, but you’re still working with a licensed and experience couple’s counselor. You can continue seeing the same therapist on your own after a divorce or if you stay together with your partner and need a little extra help staying committed. If you work with a therapist who prefers to end their engagement with a couple after a run of discernment counseling, they can still refer you to another service provider so you can get both individual and couple’s therapy from reliable sources.

Family Support

Don’t forget that your disagreement over divorce is affecting the children or other family members sharing your house. You might think staying together is necessary for raising healthy kids, but that plan can backfire if you’re fighting endlessly. Your discernment counselor can encourage both you and your spouse to treat each other with respect to limit the impact of your relationship troubles on the family’s stability.

If you have any doubts that marriage counseling could help but can’t commit to divorce either, take a short run of discernment therapy to work out your differences. You’ll emerge with a clearer idea of your relationship’s health and a game plan for facing the future, no matter what it holds.

Click here to learn more, or contact a local counseling clinic. 

What Causes Depression & How Can You Treat It?

If you suffer from depression, you are not alone. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 14.8 million adults in the United States suffer from this mental disorder. Depression can make you feel hopeless and even be disabling in some circumstances. There is some good news though. If you get the right treatment, you can recover from depression and live a normal life again. The first step is determining the root cause of your depression.

What Are Some of the Most Common Causes of Depression?

Genetics: If someone in your family has suffered from depression, you have a higher chance of developing the disease at some point. According to WebMD, if your parent had depression, you are three times more likely to suffer from this mental illness in the future. People with a family history of depression usually start having anxiety problems as children and develop depression between the ages 15 and 34.

Death of a Loved One: When you have recently lost someone close to you, it is perfectly normal to feel depressed. You still can’t believe that person is gone and are trying to figure out how you will live without him or her. It is definitely helpful to talk to someone, whether it is a family member or professional counselor, during this tough time.

Abuse: If you were physically, emotionally or sexually abused in the past, it is not uncommon to suffer from depression. You may think that you deserved to be abused and start to feel worthless. The first thing you have to do is realize that the abuse was not your fault. Talking to a therapist can help you come to terms with your abuse and understand that you did not cause it.

Major Events: Big life changes, such as losing a job or getting divorced, can lead to depression. Events like these can make your life so different that you do not know how to act. Do not keep your feelings bottled up inside. Sharing your feelings with someone you trust can help you feel better.

Winter Weather: It is possible for some people to experience depression during the colder months. According to WebMD, individuals who suffer from seasonal affective disorder are sensitive to light and feel the blues when the temperatures dip below freezing. An effective treatment for this type of depression is to expose yourself to bright artificial light in the morning.

How Is Depression Treated?

Talk Therapy: Whether it’s for a few months or several years, talking to a professional therapist can help improve your depression symptoms. He or she can help you determine the root cause of your depression and teach you healthy coping mechanisms.

It is important to be completely honest with your therapist. If you do not tell the whole truth, he or she can’t help you the right way. Counseling services will not judge you and will take you seriously, so you don’t have to worry about being embarrassed.

Medication: Antidepressant medications are one of the most common ways to treat depression. They can dramatically reduce your symptoms and help you have a more positive outlook on life. There are several types of antidepressants out there, so have your doctor help you choose the right one. If a particular antidepressant causes too many side effects, you can always try another medication.

Hospitalization: If your depression is very severe, hospitalization may be necessary. Psychiatric treatment in a hospital will prevent you from harming yourself and help you find relief from your depression. Someone will always be there to talk to you during your stay.

5 Signs Your Teen May Need Treatment For An Anxiety Disorder

With all the rapid hormonal changes and genuine difficulties of growing from a child into an adult, it’s often hard to tell if your teen is just going through a natural phase or struggling with a developing mental illness. It’s especially difficult to separate the two when you’re considering anxiety disorders. If your teen is starting to struggle with daily life and you’re concerned that they may not be able to pull it together with your help alone, check for these five signs of anxiety so you can make an appointment with a psychiatrist early in the process.

Breakdowns in High Stress Situations

It’s perfectly normal to feel nauseous or shaky when trying something new for the first time or preparing for a big exam. However, teens who completely breakdown in high stress situations might be suffering from panic attacks, a common component of numerous anxiety disorders. Symptoms of a panic attack include

  • Overwhelming dread and fear
  • A racing heart beat
  • Fainting or near fainting
  • Vomiting and diarrhea with no physical cause
  • The undeniable need to flee the situation, regardless of the consequences.

If your teen bolts out of an exam or faints while trying to give a book report, they need immediate screening for anxiety disorders because panic attacks can greatly interfere with their studies and social life.

Withdrawal from Usual Activities

You don’t need an in-depth report from your teen about how they feel to notice this sign of anxiety. Is your child canceling plans with friends and avoiding outings or events they used to look forward to for weeks? When anxiety interrupts the usual balance of emotions, the things a person once loved often become too painful to enjoy any longer. While it’s not entirely unusual for a teen to withdraw after an embarrassment or fight with friends, that withdrawal period shouldn’t last longer than a few weeks.

Trouble Focusing

Your A+ student suddenly falls behind on their homework and can’t seem to get above a C on tests. Unless they’re acting out in other ways, there’s a good chance the problem is due to anxiety interrupting their attempts to focus on studying. Many students working under a lot of pressure develop performance anxiety as their workload increases, sabotaging their best efforts to stay at the head of the class. Lecturing them about the problem only intensifies the feelings further, causing your attempt at motivation or tough love to backfire.

Difficulty Talking

Does your child clamp up completely and refuse to say a word in social settings with unfamiliar people? While it might just be shyness, selective mutism is an early indicator of social and generalized anxiety disorder. Many kids and teens with anxiety talk constantly with trusted friends and family members, then stay silent when exposed to any situation triggering their anxiety. The problem can keep your child from asking questions in class, standing up for themselves against a bully, or even getting a job if the problem continues into young adulthood.

Physical Complaints

Finally, pay close attention to complaints about feeling ill. Teens with anxiety often mistake their own anxiety issues for another health complaint due to physical symptoms that include

  • Unusual fatigue and sleepiness
  • Trouble sleeping, despite fatigue
  • Aching joints and muscle pains that come and go at random
  • Low appetite
  • Uncontrollable sweating
  • Headaches and upset stomachs, especially during situations that trigger high levels of anxiety.

With all the medications, types of therapy, and self-help techniques available to the anxious teen, there’s no need to let a mental health problem interrupt your child’s natural development. Of course, you must let a qualified psychiatrist or other health professional diagnose your teen instead of trying to decide what’s bothering them just with a list of symptoms, but looking for the early warning signs is a good way to know you need an appointment with an adolescent psychiatry specialist.

3 Myths About Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are not a single disorder, but a group of related disorders that involve unhealthy relationships with food and a negative body image. Although there is more awareness of eating disorders, there are many misconceptions that can prevent you from acknowledging there is a problem, or recognizing a disorder in someone else.

Eating Disorders Are Obvious

In many cases, it is much easier to assume that a person has an eating disorder if they are unusually thin, but this is not always true. Some people are naturally quite thin and do not have unhealthy relationships with food. Furthermore, you can be of average weight or overweight and have an eating disorder, which often makes the problem easier to hide from those around you.

Anorexia is typically associated with people who drop a significant amount of weight and become alarmingly thin. However, many people with bulimia never reach the point of being unhealthily thin, and maintain a healthy weight through unhealthy practices, such as purging. An often overlooked eating disorder is binge eating disorder, which can occur in people of any weight. When people who are overweight have binge eating disorder, it is often looked at as a problem of willpower rather than a genuine disorder.

Men Don’t Have Eating Disorders

Although eating disorders disproportionately affect girls and women, boys and men are not immune to all forms of eating disorders. Males can experience the same obsessions with their weight or uncontrollable binges of food. Another form of eating disorder that is more commonly seen in males than females is the obsession with gaining muscle mass. If you are obsessed with gaining muscle, you may be extremely restrictive of your diet and meticulously count calories and protein.

Much like a person who has anorexia may exercise to the point of exhaustion and weight themselves multiple times per day to see if they are losing weight, a person who is unusually focused on building muscle may spend excessive amounts of time lifting weights and weighing themselves to see if they are gaining mass.

Only Young Women Have Eating Disorders

You may think that eating disorders only affect females who are teenagers or young adults, but this is far from the truth. Many young girls and women who experienced eating disorders continue to experience the same destructive patterns of thought and behavior throughout their life. Even with successful treatment, they may find that staying healthy is a constant struggle.

Adult women who never had an eating disorder may suddenly develop problematic behaviors even into old age. In many cases, eating disorders later in life can be attributed to traumatic or stressful life events, or many of the criticisms that women face as they age. For example, some women may become extremely self-critical of their appearance after a divorce, especially if their partner cheated with someone who was younger or thinner.

Eating disorders that are the result of traumatic events, such as sexual assault, can also happen later in life. The obsession with an overly restrictive diet can provide an element of control in the life of a person who had no control during an attack. In contrast, binge eating may be used as a method of dealing with emotions related to the trauma, or in hopes of gaining weight and being viewed as less desirable to potentially avoid another attack. In many cases, the events or self-critical behavior that precipitate eating disorders at younger ages are the same or similar to the underlying cause of eating disorders later in life.

Eliminating many of the misconceptions that are associated with eating disorders can foster a better understanding of all types of eating disorders. Furthermore, more people can recognize unhealthy behaviors once they realize there is no specific group of people that are immune to any type of eating disorder.