sleep and depression

When should you consider psychotherapy?

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Because of the many misconceptions about psychotherapy, you may be reluctant to seek help. It may be stigma, your own judgment, or you may feel nervous about trying it. Overcoming these blocks may be worth it because any time your quality of life isn’t what you want it to be, psychotherapy can help.

Some people seek psychotherapy because they have felt depressed, anxious, or angry for a long time. Others may want help for a chronic illness that is interfering with their emotional or physical well-being. Still, most people have short-term problems they need help navigating. They may be going through a divorce, having relationship concerns, feeling overwhelmed by a new job or grieving a family member's death.

You may benefit from therapy if you have any of the following concerns:

  • You feel an overwhelming, prolonged sense of helplessness and sadness.

  • Your problems don't seem to get better despite your efforts and help from family and friends.

  • You find it difficult to concentrate on work assignments or to carry out other everyday activities.

  • You worry excessively, expect the worst and are constantly on edge.

  • Your actions, such as drinking too much alcohol, using drugs or being aggressive, are harming you or others.

  • You have thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else.

The treatment you receive will depend on a variety of factors: current psychological research, your psychologist's theoretical orientation and what works best for your situation. 

The most important factor to consider is whether your psychologist has the expertise  when it comes to your specific needs and whether your psychologist feels he or she can help you. It is important you find someone not only you feel comfortable with but are able to get the help you need.

What Are Social Anxiety Symptoms?

Social anxiety disorder affects approximately 15 million American adults and is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder following specific phobia.

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The average age of onset for social anxiety disorder is during the teenage years. Some might dread meeting new people, dating, being on a job interview, answering a question in class, or having to talk to a cashier in a store, others might avoid only some of the scenarios above.

Most people with social anxiety do not talk about it and might not understand why they feel fine in certain situations but not in others. Some might feel physical symptoms of anxiety in situations such as giving a speech, playing a sports game, or dancing or playing a musical instrument on stage.

Here are some of the symptoms of social anxiety when performing in front of others:

  • Extreme fear of other people judging them

  • Staying away from places where there are other people they might feel judged by

  • Blush, sweat, tremble, or feel a rapid heart rate

  • Show a rigid body posture, make little eye contact, or speak with an overly soft voice

  • Find it scary and difficult to be with other people, especially those they don’t already know, and have a hard time talking to them even though they wish they could

  • Be very self-conscious in front of other people and feel embarrassed and awkward

The defining feature of social anxiety disorder is intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation. Because people with social anxiety disorder may worry about acting or appearing visibly anxious, they often avoid social or performance situations, and when a situation cannot be avoided, they experience significant anxiety and distress.

Although they recognize that their fear is excessive and unreasonable, they often feel powerless against their anxiety. The first step to effective treatment is to have a diagnosis made, usually by a mental health specialist. Without treatment, social anxiety disorder can prevent a person from reaching their full potential.

How to recognize signs of depression?

Depression is cruel and it can affect anyone. The symptoms might begin with some general worries, some guilt and very quickly can slide down a black hole where these thoughts spiral down and take over feeding depression and its severity.

1.     Feeling Hopeless

Major depression is a mood disorder that affects the way you feel about life in general. Having a hopeless or helpless outlook on your life is the most common symptom of depression. Other feelings may be worthlessness, self-hate, or inappropriate guilt.  Common, recurring thoughts of depression may be vocalized as, “It’s all my fault,” “I’m worthless “or “What’s the point?

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2.     Loss of Interest

Depression can take the pleasure or enjoyment out of the things you love. A loss of interest or withdrawal from activities that you once looked forward to — sports, hobbies, or going out with friends — is yet another telltale sign of major depression. Another area where you may lose interest is sex. Symptoms of major depression include decreased sex drive and impotence.

3.     Fatigue and Sleep Problems

Part of the reason you might stop doing things you enjoy is because you feel very tired. Depression often comes with a lack of energy and an overwhelming feeling of featigue which can be among the most debilitating symptoms of depression. This could lead to excessive sleeping. Depression is also linked with insomnia as one might lead to the other and vice versa. They can also make each other worse. The lack of quality, restful sleep can also lead to anxiety.

4.     Anxiety

If you’ve been feeling down and you just can’t seem to shake it off then it is not just sadness. While depression doesn’t cause anxiety, the two conditions often occur together. Symptoms of anxiety can include:

·        restlessness, nervousness, or feeling tense

·        dread, panic, fatigue

·        rapid breathing

·        feeling on edge

·        increased sweating

·        trembling or muscle twitching

·        trouble focusing

·        foggy thinking clearly

·        obsessing about things you’re worried about

5.     Irritability

Depression can affect irritability.  People suffering from depression may have symptoms of irritability, anger, risky behavior, and/or substance abuse. People are less likely to recognize it is depression causing these symptoms in order to seek treatment for it.

6.     Appetite changes

Weight and appetite can fluctuate for people with depression. This experience may be different for each person. Some people will have an increased appetite and gain weight, while others won’t be hungry and will lose weight. One indication of whether dietary changes are related to depression is if they’re intentional or not. If they’re not, it may mean that they’re caused by depression.

7.     Thinking of death

In 2013, more than 42,000 people died from suicide in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who die by suicide usually show symptoms first. Often people will talk about it or make a first attempt before succeeding in ending their life. If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:

·         Call 911 or your local emergency number.

·         Stay with the person until help arrives.

·         Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.

·         Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.

If you think someone is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

If you have had some of the previously mentioned symptoms for more than two weeks, you might be suffering from major depression disorder. Recognizing that you’re depressed is essential to getting the right help.

Depression affects millions of people, but there are treatments available, from lifestyle changes to medications. No matter the path of treatment you choose, asking for professional help is the first step to getting back to feeling like yourself again.

 

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How to Manage and Treat Anxiety?

Anxiety is defined by the dual characteristics of physiologic hyperarousal and excessive emotional fear. Biofeedback has demonstrated value for hyperarousal reduction and offers a non-pharmacological approach to direct symptom reduction tailored to the individual’s psycho-physiological profile.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is one type of biofeedback. It uses finger or earlobe with sensors to measure the functioning of the heart by diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing activates Vagal nerve, which descends from the brain in the carotid sheath all the way to you diaphragm. The vagal nerve slows your heart rate. A stress response to anything such as a difficult conversation, traffic, or studying changes your heart rate independently of the breathing-related variation to irregular changes. In contrast, when we breathe even, natural, and smooth, you get smooth heart rate waves which are associated with health and peak performance.

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Self-regulation is the primary goal of Biofeedback

When a person inhales, heart rate increases. When a person exhales, heart rate decreases. This is referred to as “heart rate variability.” Higher rate variability is associated with favorable holistic health. Clients are taught smooth diaphragmatic breathing, psychological mindfulness, and adaptive responsiveness.

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One of the main advantages of using biofeedback for anxiety is managing it without medication or its side effects. It eliminate health problems that are stress- related or that have psychosomatic components. Biofeedback teaches awareness, relaxation skills and ways to manage anxiety & recognize, reduce, and control stress responses by returning the body to a healthier physiological state.

Anxiety & Sleep Problems

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Is Anxiety Interfering With Your Sleep?

 

Over 18% of nation’s population experience anxiety disorders, and the majority of them have sleep –related problems. The lack of sleep can increase not only anxiety but other mood related issues such as depression, anger, irritability, and/or muscle pain. If anxiety or disrupted sleep crops up occasionally, these simple strategies may help you relax your body and mind so you can get the sleep that you need.

Sleep Hygiene

A healthy bedtime routine allows your body and mind to slow down. Take at least half an hour before bed to play quiet music, take a bath, or read a book. Deem the lights one hour before you go to sleep; Avoid electronics an hour or more before your sleep; Spend a few minutes before bed using diaphragmatic breathing to help relax.

Exercise

Regular exercisers fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. In fact, even a single moderate-intensity workout can improve sleep among people with chronic anxiety. Here are some recommendations for the ones who don’t enjoy going to the gym: Stretch often, simple yoga exercises throughout the day will do the trick; Go for a walk; Be active at home by using an indoor trampoline

Steer clear of stressful activities before bed.

Leave the bill paying for earlier in the day, stay away from heated social media exchanges, and skip the evening news.

Put your to-dos on paper.

Instead of letting your brain swirl with all the things that you don’t want to forget to take care of, write them down so your brain can relax and let go.

It’s not always easy to tell if your symptoms are an indication of an anxiety disorder or just the normal amount of worry. Certain situations, especially the ones we don’t like, can cause our anxiety symptoms to spike. Moving, changes in relationships, financial troubles, and speaking in public can all trigger these spikes. If your anxiety has spiked out of control, or has become debilitating to you by interfering with your daily life, it might be time to seek professional help.

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Making your first appointment when struggling with Anxiety

You may feel anxious about contacting a psychologist. That anxiety is perfectly normal. But having the courage to make a call is the first step in the process to empower yourself and bring a sense of relief to get the help you need.

Once you connect, they’ll lead a brief conversation to get a better sense of what you need and whether they are able to help and when you can make an appointment. Before you take the first available appointment here are some factors you should consider:

  • Know when you're at your best morning, afternoon, or evening, and schedule your appointment accordingly.
  • Consider work schedule and if you have to take time off from work, you might want to schedule your first appointment later in the day so you don't have to go back to work afterward. If you have an upsetting topic to discuss, you may be tired, emotionally spent, puffy-eyed or distracted after your first session.
  • Unless it is a family session, choose a time when you will have child care available.
  • Try to schedule your session at a time when you won't have to rush to your appointment or to your next commitment after the session. 

Hope this helps alleviate the anxiety of taking the first step. Best of luck!