If you believe the many rom-coms filmed throughout the years, singles are sad, miserable, and lonely people who sit around waiting for someone to come along and “complete them.” Why has this myth been perpetuated to such gargantuan proportions? Did you know that studies have found that single people usually have more active lives than […]
Our mental health significantly impacts our quality of life, so it makes sense that we would want to do all we can to improve it. This may include things like eating healthy foods, exercising, and getting enough quality sleep each night. But there is something else that greatly influences our mental health and that is […]
Our mental health significantly impacts our quality of life, so it makes sense that we would want to do all we can to improve it. This may include things like eating healthy foods, exercising, and getting enough quality sleep each night.
But there is something else that greatly influences our mental health and that is a community and a sense of belonging. Human beings are wired for connection. When we feel connected to others, we feel loved and supported. Friends can often help alleviate the stress in our life because our friends are there for us to lean on.
If you have been feeling alone and isolated, here are some ways you can find your own community and begin to connect with others:
Go with What Interests You
What activities and hobbies do you have? You may want to join a book club or take a painting lesson. If you’re athletic or used to playing a sport in school, maybe you could join a local team. You’ll no doubt find it easier to connect with others who enjoy doing the same things you do.
Being of service to others is highly rewarding, and volunteering is also a great way to connect with others who share similar values. What causes do you feel passionate about? What charities do you support? Check out their website or give them a call to see what volunteering opportunities they may have available.
Connect with Something Bigger Than Yourself
Do you have a particular religion or spiritual practice you connect with? Maybe it’s time to get back to your church or try taking that meditation class you’ve been thinking about. Is there a political cause that speaks to your heart? Helping others reach a meaningful goal can be a great way to find purpose in your own life.
Humans are not meant to be alone. We need to socialize. If you have been feeling down, now’s the time to go out and make some new connections.
And if you’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety for some time and could use someone to talk to, please give me a call.
When you boil life down to its very essence, you’ll find what’s left is a series of human emotions. All of the experiences in our life come with emotion, whether it’s joy, sadness, anger, or anxiety. That’s why so many people choose to do everything they can to avoid situations that bring pain and only […]
When you boil life down to its very essence, you’ll find what’s left is a series of human emotions. All of the experiences in our life come with emotion, whether it’s joy, sadness, anger, or anxiety. That’s why so many people choose to do everything they can to avoid situations that bring pain and only focus on those experiences that offer them pleasure.
How different life would be if we weren’t able to feel the pleasure that human experiences offer us. Some people, however, go through life not being able to feel pleasure. These people suffer from what’s called anhedonia.
What is Social Anhedonia?
Anhedonia is a term used to describe a condition where someone is unable to enjoy the good or pleasurable things in life. Physical anhedonia describes when someone cannot experience pleasure from physical sensations such as the taste of food or the loving caress of a partner.
Social anhedonia describes someone who cannot experience the joy of human companionship.
Of the two disorders, social anhedonia is far more common. Though having said that, it’s important to point out that social anhedonia is not the same as introversion, shyness, or social anxiety. Instead, social anhedonia describes a condition where the person’s ability to feel pleasure and enjoyment from social interactions is diminished or totally missing.
Some of the most common symptoms of social anhedonia are:
- Social withdrawal
- Lack of relationships
- Reduced emotional responses
- Poor social adjustment
- Decreased overall positivity
- Monotone or flat vocal expression
Causes and Treatment Options
At the root of anhedonia is often depression, though not everyone who experiences social anhedonia is depressed. Unfortunately, many prescription medications for depression can actually cause anhedonia.
Other risk factors for developing anhedonia include:
- A family history of schizophrenia or depression
- A traumatic or stressful event
- A history of neglect or abuse
- A chronic illness that impacts your quality of life
- A major and sudden illness
- Disordered eating
If you believe you or a loved one may be suffering from social anhedonia, it’s important to make an appointment with your healthcare provider to determine if your symptoms are the result of some type of vitamin deficiency or a thyroid disorder.
If everything checks out physically, then it’s important to begin working with a mental health therapist. He or she can develop a customized treatment plan that will focus on what is called “behavioral activation interventions.” I have found in my own practice that by prompting clients to take external actions and focus on savoring or noticing positive experiences, healing can occur, and it can become more commonplace to feel joy from social interactions. In addition, if you are suffering from depression and your social anhedonia is a result, that can be addressed through therapy as well.
If you or a loved one are not enjoying life to the fullest and would like to explore treatment options, please be in touch with me.
We’ve all had those days when the alarm goes off and we lie in bed, feeling depleted of our energy, and maybe even our good mood. We think to ourselves, “I’m not really sick, but I just need a break from real life today.” While taking a sick day is common when you are feeling […]
We’ve all had those days when the alarm goes off and we lie in bed, feeling depleted of our energy, and maybe even our good mood. We think to ourselves, “I’m not really sick, but I just need a break from real life today.” While taking a sick day is common when you are feeling physically unwell, what’s not as common – but perhaps should be – is taking a mental health day when you are feeling mentally and emotionally unwell.
Now many, if not most, companies do offer their employees personal days with no questions asked. But many people save these days for what seems like real-life emergencies. They feel guilty if they use one of these days to simply rest and relax their mind.
The truth is, taking a mental health day from work or school can be extremely important for your overall well-being. It can help you avoid burnout, improve your mood, help you get some much-needed rest, and rejuvenate you so you can tackle “real life” once again.
Signs It’s Time for a Mental Health Day
So how do you know when you are really in need of a mental health day and when you’re just feeling a bit lazy and unmotivated?
You’ve been feeling overwhelmed and irritable.
You Just Feel… Off
Sometimes we don’t feel like ourselves, but we can’t quite put our finger on what’s wrong. We know we feel anxious and like the world is a bit too much. This is a sure sign you need a break.
Getting Sick More Often
Are you dealing with a cold that “just won’t go away?” When we are stressed, our immune systems become compromised, and it’s harder for us to fight off the common cold.
The bottom line is you should never feel guilty for taking some time for your mental health. I encourage you to take a mental health day every once in a while. Sometimes it’s the absolute best thing we can do for ourselves.
And if you find a mental health day didn’t quite do the trick, you may have more going on in your life that requires more hands-on treatment. If you like the idea of speaking with someone about whatever is bothering you, please get in touch with me so we can discuss treatment options.
As our parents age, we want to treasure them for as long as we can, so we look for ways to help them stay healthy and active. But many older people suffer from depression, a condition that is not always easy to battle. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, depression affects more than 6.5 […]
As our parents age, we want to treasure them for as long as we can, so we look for ways to help them stay healthy and active. But many older people suffer from depression, a condition that is not always easy to battle.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, depression affects more than 6.5 million of the 35 million Americans aged 65 or older. Some have experienced episodes of depression throughout their life, while others may experience the first onset later in life, even well into their 80s and 90s.
What Causes Depression in Older People?
As mentioned, preexisting depression often leads to episodes later in life, particularly if the person has never been officially diagnosed or treated. Individuals with a history of anxiety often become more fearful as they age as well. As a result, they often isolate themselves, rarely participating in social activities, which, in turn, leads to depression.
Some older people have difficulty reviewing their lives. They may not feel proud of the life they’ve led and may get stuck dwelling on the more negative aspects. Perhaps they feel they did not accomplish enough, or they harbor resentment toward an old friend.
And of course, older people have to not only deal with declining abilities but also the loss of loved ones. A unique reality of aging is that your friends start to die, one by one. It is not uncommon for older people to go to several funerals in a single year.
How You Can Help
The very best thing you can do for your parent who you think may be suffering from depression is to offer your love and support. Let them know that you are there for them and happy to help with whatever they may need.
Having said this, it is equally important that you respect their needs for independence. Don’t try to take control of their life and act as if you know what’s best.
Also, consider visiting a therapist who can help your parent work through any unresolved issues and offer management strategies. A professional mental health professional can assess your parent to see if they are a good candidate for medication. Sometimes medication can help, other times, it can impair cognitive function. A therapist will know the right approach to take.
If you or someone you know has been watching their aging parent become more and more depressed, please get in touch with me. Let’s discuss treatment options and see how I may be able to help.
Dating is challenging for everyone. But when you suffer with depression, dating can feel scary and overwhelming. Not only do you feel particularly raw and vulnerable to possible rejection, but should a connection be made, you have the added burden of figuring out how and when to tell the person about your depression. Should people […]
Dating is challenging for everyone. But when you suffer with depression, dating can feel scary and overwhelming. Not only do you feel particularly raw and vulnerable to possible rejection, but should a connection be made, you have the added burden of figuring out how and when to tell the person about your depression.
Should people with depression date? If the person feels emotionally strong enough, then yes of course they should date. The real question is HOW should they date? If you are suffering with depression and are interested in dating, here are some things to consider when meeting new potential partners:
Take Things Slow
There is no need to open up to someone on a first date and let them know that you suffer with depression. You’ll want to invest a little bit of time to see if this person is someone you think you could get serious with.
If after a few dates you think he or she could be someone you’d like to go deeper with, then feel free to test the waters on the topic of depression. Don’t feel you have to get into nitty-gritty details; simply tell them that you live with depression and see how they react.
Your potential partner may have follow-up questions immediately or they may think about things for a while and then bring up some questions later. Whenever they do, be honest with your answers.
It will be tempting to want to downplay things in order to put your best self forward. But not being honest about your symptoms and reality will backfire eventually. Let them know you have good days and bad and if you are currently taking medications and/or seeing a therapist. Answer as many questions as you feel comfortable with, but when you do, just be sure to be honest and not pretend you are someone you’re not.
Learn from Your Past
Everyone has dating pitfalls and patterns, and people with depression are no different. It’s important that you respect past dating failures so you can prevent them from happening again. For instance, did you tend to date people who made you feel bad about yourself? If you find you’re doing it again, call things off and take some time to regroup.
Seeking the help from a licensed therapist can help you work out any issues you have that are hindering your relationships. If you notice you keep repeating past mistakes, try and talk with someone who can help you navigate your own behavior.
If you or a loved one suffers from depression and would like to explore treatment options, please be in touch. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.
People use different coping strategies when dealing with stress and other overwhelming emotions. Some people use substances such as drugs and alcohol, some smoke cigarettes, and some charge a lot of money to their credit card. And then there are those people who take comfort in their favorite foods. Emotional eating often leads to weight […]
People use different coping strategies when dealing with stress and other overwhelming emotions. Some people use substances such as drugs and alcohol, some smoke cigarettes, and some charge a lot of money to their credit card. And then there are those people who take comfort in their favorite foods.
Emotional eating often leads to weight gain and the development of health issues such as type two diabetes and high blood pressure. If left unchecked, emotional eating can lead to a life-long reliance on eating as a coping mechanism.
If you or someone you love is an emotional eater, becoming more mindful of eating is how you can manage your food issues. Here are some ways to become a more mindful eater:
Keep a Food Journal
Most emotional eaters are completely unaware of the kind or amount of food they eat on a daily or weekly basis. It’s important to start tracking what you consume as well as how much so you can recognize the real issue you may be having. This is not an exercise in harshly judging yourself, it’s simply so you can recognize the link between your emotions and eating habits.
For instance, you may see that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty okay days, but Thursday was when you got yelled at while you were at work and also got a speeding ticket, and ALSO ate fast food for lunch and dinner and ate almost a gallon of ice cream. Once you see this pattern over and over, that you tend to eat on those days you are stressed, angry, sad, etc., you will be able to start making positive changes.
When we eat emotionally, we don’t stop to think about the amount of food we are eating, we just shove it in as quickly as possible so those carbs can start making us feel better. The next time you find yourself eating based on your emotions, try and catch yourself and meter out a fair-sized portion. For instance, don’t sit in front of the TV with an entire bag of potato chips, take out a small bowl’s worth and put the rest away.
Try Not to Eat Alone
When we are alone, we can eat with abandon. But when we eat with others, we tend to have more awareness about what and how much we put in our mouths. When your day is stressful, instead of going out to lunch by yourself, where you’re apt to hit 2-3 drive-throughs, invite some other people out. This may help you to use more self-control.
These are just a few of the ways you can begin to recognize your emotional eating and gain control over your food choices. If you would like to speak to someone about the emotions you are dealing with and learn healthier coping strategies, please be in touch. I’d be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.
Valentine’s day is just around the corner. For many people that means celebrating with their spouse or partner and showing them extra love and attention. But for others, Valentine’s Day is a sad reminder that they are single or are perhaps grieving the recent loss of their significant other. If you are celebrating it alone […]
Valentine’s day is just around the corner. For many people that means celebrating with their spouse or partner and showing them extra love and attention. But for others, Valentine’s Day is a sad reminder that they are single or are perhaps grieving the recent loss of their significant other.
If you are celebrating it alone this year, here are a few ways you can alleviate your sadness this Valentine’s Day.
Give Yourself a Break
It’s bad enough to feel lonely, but it’s even worse to scold yourself for doing so. Loneliness is not an indication that you’re doing anything wrong or that there is something wrong and unlovable about you.
Even people that are in relationships can feel incredibly lonely. Loneliness affects everyone at some point in their life. It’s not a sin to feel this way, so stop scolding yourself.
Take Yourself on a Date
How many times during the year do you make a real effort to show yourself love? If you’re like most people, you don’t really think much about how you treat yourself.
This Valentine’s Day, if you find yourself a party of one, try and make the best of it by focusing all of your love and attention on yourself. Take yourself out to a nice dinner. Or, if you don’t like the idea of sitting at a table alone surrounded by couples, then order in your favorite food and watch your favorite movie.
Take a nice long bath. Listen to your favorite band. Buy yourself a little gift on the way home from work. Use this Valentine’s Day to commit to showing yourself more love and kindness throughout the year.
Show Your Love for Others
Valentine’s Day is a holiday to show love. No one says that love must be shown in a romantic way.
This is a great time to show your affection and appreciation for the wonderful people in your life. Get your best friend a box of chocolates or your mom a bouquet of flowers. Put a card on your neighbor’s windshield and your coworker’s computer monitor.
You can be filled with love by being loved, and you can be filled with love by loving others. The more love YOU show this holiday, the more love you will feel inside. And you would be amazed at how the loneliness quickly slips away when you are full of love.
Don’t let the commercialism of the holiday make you feel alone and isolated. You really can have a lovely Valentine’s day if you love yourself and others.