Sadness and What to Do — 5 Simple Strategies.

   

                         

 

 This year has been emotionally hard for many people. The following strategies have been shown to help people keep their low moods from overwhelming them or turning into a major depression. The following suggestions are contained in a new article published recently.

 

           1. Reduce overthinking.

            2. Move around and socialize, even if you don’t feel like it.

             3. Increase self-compassion.

             4. Sideline thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness.

             5. Notice when you feel well and build on that.

“How to keep your sadness from turning into depression.” Washington Post (December 1, 2020).

                           

Emerging Teletherapy — Good for the Client and the Therapist.

                           

Good piece on the emerging field of teletherapy. Here’s three statements from it:

  • In addition to being driven by the pandemic and the availability of technology, the proliferation of teletherapy in recent months has been aided by policy changes that have increased accessibility to services in many areas of the country. One of the modifications to existing regulations is the expansion of insurance to better cover more methods of teletherapy, including phone sessions. 
  • Conducting teletherapy sessions from home can benefit providers as well as patients. One therapist says, “There were things that I learned about people that I had not known until I saw them in their home. It was amazing what insight I was able to gather just by looking inside their home as a session was conducted.”
  • The convenience of being able to hop on a video call with a therapist from home is one of the main reasons many are planning to continue with teletherapy, even if there is an option to be seen in person.

    Here’s the link to the full article. I highly recommend it. “Emerging Teletherapy.” Washington Post  (Nov. 19, 2020).

TeleCounseling — Here to Stay.

Good article discussing telemedicine –specifically,  virtual counseling. It concludes: “The coronavirus pandemic has forced medical centers around the world to  adopt telemedicine.  Some patients are not comfortable with the technology, or can’t afford it; others need services that cannot be provided entirely online.” But the conclusion is that this is generally good. Such counseling crosses state lines. But the federal government has changed its rule to allow it. My observation is that much of this is here to stay.

The Psychiatrist Will See You Online Now.” NEW YORK TIMES (Sept. 1, 2020).

Microaggression — Ready a Response.

 Good article in the New York Times today about how to respond to micro aggressions. Here are some observations from that article:

 

  • For many of us, microaggressions are so commonplace that it seems impossible to tackle them one at a time. Psychologists often compare them to death by a thousand cuts.

  • The first step to addressing a microaggression is to recognize that one has occurred and dissect what message it may be sending.

  • Discrimination — no matter how subtle — has consequences.

  • Even once you have decided that you can respond to a microaggression, knowing what to say or how to behave can be nerve-racking.

  • While your response will vary by situation, context and relationship, one recommendation is to memorize one tactic from a list of prepared statements. For example, ask for more clarification.  

  • Learning to draw boundaries and find support among allies is one of the most important steps in dealing with microaggressions.

My suggestion — In confronting microaggressions,remember it is the aggressor that has the problem, not you. Be prepared with a response beforehand. Unfortunately, some (many?) micro aggressors are serial aggressors. Just be prepared when you meet this person again. It’s not going to change, unfortunately.

 

“Microaggressions: Death by a Thousand Cuts.” New York Times (June 15, 2020).

Controlling Stress — 7 Suggestions.

Good piece in the New York Times today giving 7 suggestions on how to control your emotions during this time of stress.. “When Small Things Become Insurmountable.” Seems pretty simple but they are good suggestions.

 1. Breathe

  • As clichéd as it sounds, stopping to take a breath can snap you out of your mood. When you are feeling your worst, stop and take two minutes to inhale and exhale deeply. 

2. Apologize

  • If your blowup involved another person, simply apologize.
    And after apologizing, 

3. Exercise

  •  A single bout of exercise can boost positive feelings for a few hours afterward. 

4. Tackle a challenge

  • Sometimes you just need a distraction. A hard puzzle or game can be the perfect antidote.

5. Find a way to connect

  •  Most of us feel starved for that contact right now. Call a friend, do a video chat, or even just sit on your fire escape and wave at the person in the next building over.

6. But skip the punching bag or scream session

  • Venting your anger may actually make you feel worse. 

7. Find what you’re thankful for

  • A lot of things in the world are bad right now, but figuring out what you’re thankful for can help you bounce back.
    Expressing gratitude for the people or things in our lives “can help us feel more connected and inspired to help others.” 

 

Therapy and Pandemic — Seven Observations.

Therapist (women on couch)

Some good observations from a recent piece discussing therapy and the pandemic.  This is a starting point for many who are dealing with this difficult time.

• It is completely normal that Americans are feeling stressed, anxious, sad and irritable. But for people in an unprecedented situation dealing with unfamiliar emotions, it can be difficult.

• You should consider professional help if you are: feeling anxious, tense or angry all the time.

• Therapy offers a chance to speak confidentially to a professional about what you are dealing with.

• Psychiatric medications can be helpful with or without therapy. “There are both short-term and longer-term pharmacological solutions.

• When looking for a therapist who could be a good fit for you or your family member, consider asking your primary-care physician. Searching the Internet for therapists and reading their websites can be quite helpful.

• Most therapists have transitioned to teletherapy because of the coronavirus lockdown.

• Recent research has found that video-enabled teletherapy is effective and the therapeutic relationship and satisfaction with therapy do not suffer.

“Feeling Irritable in Pandemic?” Washington Post (May 26, 2020).

Mental-Health & the Pandemic: Four Helpful Hints.

From a recent post on CNBC (May 12th, 2020). ……………

We are in the middle of a mental-health crisis. Millions of Americans are suffering in silence. They are sad and alone. They feel scared and hopeless.

These feelings can become all-consuming and interfere with our lives in profound ways: disrupting our sleep, making it impossible to concentrate, putting stress on our relationships or making it feel like even getting out of bed is too much to handle.

It turns out that mental illness is normal.

To that point, many people were struggling to keep it together before the crisis. Some had never experienced a mental-health challenge before and are now suffering from anxiety and depression. Some are struggling to adjust to the direct health and economic consequences of the virus — job loss, financial stress, illness and/or the death of a loved one.

Stop beating yourself up. Yes, many people have it a lot worse than you. Yes, you have much to be grateful for. But that doesn’t mean you’re not suffering.

Stop comparing yourself to others.

Look for the opportunity. The pain is real. It is important for you to take time to honor reality. Spend time keeping a journal about your feelings and talking with a supportive other.

Ask for help. Social connection is critical to our mental health. Make it a point to connect with friends and family members daily using technology.

There is no reason you should be going through this alone and therapy can help. The great news is that there are more opportunities now than ever right to establish a relationship with a therapist using  tele-health services.

MENTAL HEALTH & THE VIRUS — We All Need Help.

Good article in the Washington Post on mental health illness, the virus, and lack of preparation. But mostly, it highlights the very great increase of mental health issues. It describes some of the basic issues. Below are various observations made in this article. Really outstanding ……………

And yet, out of the trillions of dollars Congress passed in emergency virus funding only a tiny portion is allocated for mental health.

Just as the country took drastic steps to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by infections, it needs to brace for the coming wave of behavioral health needs.

When diseases strike, experts say, they cast a shadow pandemic of psychological and societal injuries. The shadow often trails the disease by weeks, months, even years.

This approaching wave of mental injuries will be met in coming months by a severely broken system.

Parity and access problems may only worsen with the pandemic, which has upended the functions of hospitals, insurance companies and mental health centers.

A Congressional letter asked the government to lift reimbursement restrictions that have prevented therapists from using phone calls to treat patients. The Trump administration indicated it would do so.

While Congress recently authorized emergency funds for hospitals and medical providers, very little will go to mental health and addiction service providers

This virus is messing with everyone. The anxiety, isolation, uncertainty.. Everyone’s struggling with it in one way or another.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/05/04/mental-health-coronavirus/

Now, Therapists at the Office.

Companies say the benefit can be a tool for improving employee performance and, ultimately retention. Employees want mental-health care but often struggle to find the help they need that fits their schedule or is included in their insurance coverage, say executives at several companies. In-house counseling can save time and money and boost workers’ resilience and productivity, as well as their overall health and well-being, say health-care experts and human-resources executives.

 

In the past, discussion of mental-health issues at the office was uncommon. Workers were largely expected to leave their personal struggles at home. Crying was confined to the bathroom stall.

 

Today, that’s changing. One reason is a broadening of the popular understanding of “mental health” to encompass anxiety, stress and other widespread issues.

 

It’s also a reflection of a changing workplace. Younger workers are more comfortable talking about their struggles and expect their employers to take emotional distress seriously, says Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

 

From “The Therapist in the Next Cubicle. “Wall Street Journal (January 31, 2019). https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-latest-perk-for-stressed-out-office-workers-therapy-comes-to-you-11580486984

 

 

Why is Everyone So Depressed?

An excellent op-ed on depression and political events. Really outstanding statement as to role of therapists ……………….

Affording a therapist and finding the right therapist — it is rare: wisdom, empathy and kindness cannot be taught — they are the first obstacles to overcome. Then you might have to find the right and affordable psychiatrist, who will help you make an informed decision about whether to take psychiatric drugs that will or will not help, perhaps even saving your life.

Why is America So Depressed?” NEW YORK TIMES (January 3, 2020). https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/02/opinion/depression-america-trump.html