How Joining a Local Sports Club Could Support Your Mental Health

Whether you like to play soccer, basketball, or softball, joining a sports club is a great way to stay fit and make new friends. Not to mention, a sports club membership can also support your mental health beyond these benefits.

While exercise is known to improve cardio health and help you build strong muscles and bones, exercise can also alleviate symptoms of depression in the following ways.

Endorphins

You have probably heard of endorphins. They are the “feel-good” chemicals your body releases after exercise, among other times. These neurochemicals have been shown to help boost mood and give us a sense of well-being.

Increased Energy

One of the most common symptoms of depression is fatigue or a lack of energy. A person may feel tired and sluggish all the time, even unable to get out of bed. This can exacerbate the depression because there is now guilt and low self-esteem associated with not accomplishing enough.

Exercise rejuvenates the body and gives it energy to combat any fatigue you may have been feeling.

Improves Your Identity

When we commit to an exercise plan, we feel good about ourselves. According to James Blumenthal, a neuroscientist at Duke University who specializes in depression, “One of the positive psychological benefits of systematic exercise is the development of a sense of personal mastery and positive self–regard, which we believe is likely to play some role in the depression–reducing effects of exercise.

Why Joining a Sports Club is Better Than Joining a Gym

How many of us at some point in our life have bought a gym membership and then not gone to the gym? Plenty!

The great thing about joining a sports club is that it is incredibly fun and social, so we are more motivated to participate. This is the key when it comes to reaping the mental health benefits of exercise – sticking to it!

If you have been suffering with symptoms of depression and have been thinking about joining your local sports club, I encourage you to do so. Ask around town to see what groups may be available. You can also do a quick Google search to turn up clubs in your local area.

If you would like to explore treatment options for your depression, please get in touch with me. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

 

Sources:

https://psychcentral.com/blog/exercise-to-improve-your-mental-health/

https://psychcentral.com/blog/another-reason-why-exercise-benefits-your-mental-health/

The Benefits Of Exercise For Depression

5 Tips for Supporting a Depressed Parent

Dealing with a loved one who is depressed is always tough. When that loved one happens to be a parent, the roles flip and you become responsible for their mental health care. Older people get depressed for a variety of reasons such as declining physical ability, a chronic physical illness (e.g stroke), friends and family dying, history of anxiety/depression, and dissatisfaction with how they lived their life. For example, they may feel like they didn’t accomplish enough.

A lot of seniors are flippant about depression, equate it to weakness, and refuse to talk about their mental health for fear of burdening their loved ones. How can you support a depressed parent? Here are some helpful tips.

1.  Look out for the symptoms– Older people are unlikely to bring up their mental health struggles, so you need to be very observant. Look out for the following, they are signs that your parent might be depressed.

  • A sudden change in eating or sleeping habits
  • A visible struggle with getting older
  • A struggle with a physical illness
  • Frequent talks about death or an expressed desire to self-harm

2. Encourage them to see a therapist– Gently suggest that your parent see a therapist to discuss the symptoms they are experiencing. Make sure you suggest it in a way that doesn’t make them feel bad or weak. Schedule an appointment on their behalf and go with them the first time. Monitor them to make sure they attend sessions regularly and take their medication (if this applies). 

3. Offer your love and care- Make a greater effort to be there for them and do things that will make their lives easier. For example, you can help them get groceries and do laundry. Make sure you offer help in a way that doesn’t make them feel like they aren’t capable of taking care of themselves. For many elderly people, admitting that they’re depressed and need help can be difficult.

4. Talk to them about their feelings– Have open and honest conversations about how they’re feeling. Make sure you listen to them and honor their emotions. Listening offers direct support and comfort.

5. Watch out for suicidal signs– If your parent displays any sign of suicidal thinking such as talking about death often and giving away family heirlooms or other important possessions, you need to get them immediate help. Contact their therapist, call a suicide hotline, or take them to your local psychiatric emergency room to prevent tragedy.

Watching your parent suffer from depression can be heartbreaking. It’s natural to want to force them to get help, but being pushy can cause them to withdraw from you. Take a gentle approach that makes them feel respected and like a competent adult. Practice patience, offer emotional support and ensure that they follow their therapist’s advice.

If you have a depressed parent and you’re looking for a therapist who is experienced in geriatric issues, contact me to book a session.

Coping with Depression During the Holiday Season

During this time of year, radio and TV ads would have us believe we should all feel merry and bright. Sadly, that’s not always the case. According to the National Institute of Health, many people experience depression during the holiday season.

Some of the most common reasons people experience depression during this time of year are:

  • Financial hardship – ‘Tis the season to be jolly, unless your bank account is overdrawn and your credit cards maxed out. Not having a budget to buy loved ones presents, especially our children, can feel devastating.
  • Stress – It’s easy to become overwhelmed from the added stress of shopping, planning and travel. Studies have found this is particularly true for women.
  • Grief and loneliness – Many people feel incredibly lonely during the holidays. Whether it’s from being single, recently divorced, or having just lost a loved one, the holidays are often a reminder of what we don’t have but wish we did.

If you can relate and are looking for some relief, here are ways you can cope with your depression this holiday season:

Feel Your Feelings

If you are grieving a loss, it’s important that you’re honest about your feelings. Your instinct may be to put on a brave face for friends and family, but forcing yourself to be happy for the sake of others will only make matters worse. Sadness and grief are a part of life, no matter the season, and it is 100% okay for you to feel your feelings.

Give Something Besides Money

If a lack of finances is the primary source of your mood, look for other ways you can give to others. You can volunteer at a local charity. Are you a good cook? Offer to cook for friends and family. If your talent is writing, write your kids a bedtime story or, if it’s painting, paint a beautiful mural on their wall. At the end of the day, thoughtful gifts from your heart will leave the greatest lasting impression.

Focus on Self Care

It’s important that you care for yourself during the holiday season. Eat right, drink filtered water, exercise, and get plenty of rest. While these steps are important for everyone throughout the entire year, they are particularly important for those suffering from depression during the holidays.

Seek Help

Depression is nothing to take lightly. If your depression has lingered, is getting worse, or you’re having suicidal thoughts, it’s imperative that you seek help from a qualified mental health professional. They will be able to help you navigate your overwhelming emotions and offer tools to manage symptoms.

If you’d like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. You don’t have to suffer alone. I would be more than happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

A Parent’s Guide to Teen Depression and Suicide

The statistics on teen suicide are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year, an average of 8% of American teens will attempt suicide. This makes suicide the second leading cause of death for kids aged 10 to 24. In fact, it is believed that more teenagers die from suicide than from cancer, pneumonia, birth defects, AIDS, influenza and heart disease combined.

Studies have found that teens who have presented with a mood disorder or who abuse drugs are at the greatest risk of attempting suicide. While research suggests girls attempt suicide more often, boys more often die from it.

Unfortunately, there is still much stigma surrounding depression and suicide, and so often these kids keep their emotional pain to themselves.

What can parents of teenagers do to keep their children safe and healthy?

Speak with Your Kid

Many parents believe that trying to speak with their kids about their moods and feelings will only push them farther away. This is a dangerous misconception. In reality, teenagers need to know they are safe, loved and cared for.

You may want to begin your conversation by asking general questions about what’s going on in their life. When the time feels right, you can ask if they have ever had thoughts of self-harm. If their answer alarms you, ask specifically if they are planning on or intending to harm themselves.

Validate Their Feelings

Once you’ve begun this sensitive dialogue with your teen, it’s important to actively listen and validate their feelings. Your kid must really believe you are a) hearing what they’re telling you and b) recognizing the importance of it. Try and listen without judgement. This will help your child relax and open up, thereby giving you an opportunity to learn even more about their inner emotional life.

Clarify the Situation

If your teen confides they are having thoughts of suicide, it’s incredibly important that you remain calm and ask questions that will help you clarify the situation. You will want to determine if they are mentioning suicide because they:

  • Want to tell you just how bad they are feeling.
  • Alert you to something they need but are not getting.
  • Need to vocalize their desire to stop feeling so many emotions.
  • Have actually planned how and when they will take their life.

Seek Professional Guidance

Any talk of suicide is a serious matter and requires professional guidance by a trained therapist. It’s important not to force your teen into any treatment plan, but instead, allow them to help direct the course of their plan. Some of their depression might stem from an overall lack of control they feel they have in their own life, so it’s important you let them have a voice in the direction of treatment. You may also find that you will want to speak with someone through this difficult time.

If you or a loved one is seeking treatment options for a troubled teen, please be in touch. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help your family.

Why Someone Suffering From Depression Can’t Just ‘Get Over It’

When talking about depression, a lot of people forget that depression is an illness that requires proper attention and treatment. If you’re depressed, it can be incredibly frustrating to hear things like “Just get over it”, “You’re being really dramatic”, “You have to be strong”, “Learn to deal with it”, “Happiness is a choice”. You might start to think of things like ‘Why can’t I just get over it’? We can stop ourselves from doing destructive things like putting our hand in a fire, but when it comes to depression, it’s a bit difficult to just ‘stop’. There are a number of reasons why ‘get over it’ statements like this don’t help. Here are some of the best reasons why.

  1. It’s an illness– Depression is an illness, an illness that you have little control over, just like any other illness. Nobody tells people with broken bones to get over their pain. So why should depressed people be forced to ‘get over’ theirs? Always remember that your pain is valid, and as long as you’re getting help by speaking to a mental health professional, you’re on the path to healing.
  2. The brain is in control– Studies have shown that people experiencing depression have symptoms controlled by an unconscious emotional process that is usually beyond their control. Remember that depression is an incredibly complex disease caused by a combination of biological, psychological and sociological factors.
  3. The symptoms can be debilitating– Depressed people exhibit both physical and emotional symptoms. These symptoms include things like nausea, headaches, restlessness, fatigue and insomnia.
  4. You can’t wish it away– Nobody likes being depressed. Just because you want to feel better doesn’t mean you can wave a wand and get rid of it. You can desire to feel better, but until you work with a therapist, there is no magical route to getting better.
  5. You can’t always pretend– People always act like depressed people should plaster a huge smile on their face and pretend like everything is perfect. You can’t just shove your emotions down and pretend like they don’t exist. The mind keeps replaying them. This is its way of reminding you that you have an ongoing issue that needs to be handled by a professional.
  6. Depression isn’t ‘one size fits all’– People experience depression in different ways and exhibit different symptoms. Just because they can go about their daily activities efficiently doesn’t mean they’re not ill. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Depression changes everything and there’s no universal treatment. A therapist can help you find a treatment perfectly suited to you.

Depression is real and painful. Just because you can’t see or touch it doesn’t make it any less real. If you suffer from depression or know someone who does, working with a therapist is a good start to overcoming your depression. I am available to help. Contact me to book a therapy session.

Can Eating Fruits & Vegetables Boost Your Mood?

You know you’re supposed to eat more fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet, but did you know that the nutrients in fruits and veggies are essential for balancing your mood? It’s true and science is now proving it.

Researchers and economists from the University of Warwick in the UK, in conjunction with Dartmouth College in the US, studied the eating habits of 80,000 adults living in Britain. What they found was that the more fruits and veggies participants ate, the happier they reported feeling.

If you’re looking for a way to naturally boost your mood, start eating more fruits and veggies. Here are some to consider adding to your grocery list.

Bananas

Did you know that all of that potassium in a banana helps improve brain function? But beyond better cognition, the tryptophan in bananas eventually gets converted into serotonin, the “feel good” hormone.

Broccoli

Besides being responsible for cell growth and the production of healthy red blood cells, folic acid is essential for proper mood regulation. Folic acid is actually responsible for boosting serotonin levels and it just so happens that broccoli is a rich source of folic acid.

Spinach

And speaking of getting enough folic acid, spinach, as with most leafy veggies, boasts an impressive amount of the stuff. On top of that, spinach also contains a significant amount of magnesium. Magnesium is known to relax our muscles and calm anxiety. When you are deficient in magnesium, you may feel tired and irritable and find it hard to concentrate.

Olives

Olives: people tend to love them or hate them. If you’re someone who loves them, good news – olives contain “good fats” that are essential for lowering anger and anxiety levels. Don’t like olives? No worry, just start incorporating more olive oil into your diet. To receive all of the benefits, eat olive oil cold, as in a salad dressing.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are chock full of complex carbohydrates. Not only are these types of carbs better for glucose levels, they also increase our serotonin levels, making us feel calm and happy.

The even better news is, when you begin eating more fruits and vegetables to boost your mood, you’ll also increase your antioxidant intake. As you know, antioxidants are what fight the free radicals in our body that cause us to age and get sick. So, eating more produce is a significant win/win.

While nutrition can greatly impact your mood, if you think you may be suffering from depression, it’s best to seek guidance from a therapist who can help you manage your symptoms and work through any issues you may be having.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

How to Help a Loved One Suffering from Depression

Watching a loved one suffer from depression is incredibly difficult. All you want to do is help them feel better. But when it becomes obvious you can’t take their pain away, you can become frustrated.

As a friend or family member of someone suffering from depression, it’s important to remember that your loved one is dealing with a real medical condition and you are, most likely, not equipped to handle their recovery alone.

Having said that, there are things you can do to support your loved one and help them on their journey back toward health and happiness.

Understand Treatment is Key

As we mentioned, depression is a medical condition and it requires treatment from a professional therapist. Do not try and take on someone’s depression by yourself. Yes, lend support, care, and compassion, but understand that they will need medical treatment, just as they would if their leg was broken. If they themselves do not recognize how important treatment is, do your best to help them understand.

Be Vocal

Often loved ones suffering from depression are the topic of conversation, but not part of it. It’s not enough to talk to other family members and discuss how concerned you are about your sister or uncle, let your sister and uncle know you see them suffering and you’re there for support. Offer to drive them to therapy or simply lend an ear. Those suffering from depression often feel lonely and isolated, so reach out as best you can.

Help Them Stay Part of the World

Those suffering from depression typically lose interest in activities they once found enjoyable. You can help your loved one by getting them active and part of the world once more. The key here is to be patient and stay committed. You can’t force your loved one to take you up on an invitation. Don’t bully them, just encourage them as best you can. Should they say “no” to your invite 50 times, don’t give up on them. Be patient, stay committed, and continue to extend your hand. Through weekly treatment they will eventually come around and say “yes.”

Get Educated

One of the best things you can possibly do to support your loved one who is suffering from depression is to learn as much about the condition as you possibly can. It’s a good idea to speak with their therapist to get recommendations of resources that will help you learn more.

Watching a loved one suffer from depression is not easy, but knowing there are ways you can help them will lighten the load for you both.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

4 Ways to Change Your Thoughts and Relieve Depression

Did you know that on most days, the average person has between 25,000 and 50,000 thoughts? That’s an impressive amount of thoughts.

But when happens when the majority of these thoughts are negative? Imagine the impact on your psyche and your life if you had thousands and thousands of negative thoughts each day?

This amount of negative thinking is a hallmark of depression. Negative or pessimistic thinking is depression speaking for you. It is the voice of depression. What many people don’t realize is that depression is manifested in negative thinking before it ever creates a negative thought itself.

This is why it is imperative for those suffering from depression to become acutely aware of their thought patterns. If not checked, negative thinking becomes a habit, one that has the potential to completely shape your life.

Change How You Think

One of the most powerful ways people can lift themselves out of the darkness of depression is to change their thinking patterns. This is why cognitive therapy is such a profound change agent. The approach is based on the fact that thought-processing errors contribute to a depressed mood.

By changing how you think, you automatically change how you feel. Once you become aware that changing your thinking is important, you are presented with an active choice you can take to benefit your mental health.

You will no doubt find that changing your thought patterns can feel about as easy as changing a tire in the rain with nothing more than a hardboiled egg and a paper clip. But it can be done.

Here are some tips on how you can begin to change your negative thoughts:

Keep Track of Your Thoughts

Many people are in denial about their thought patterns. They don’t want to believe they are overly negative or pessimistic. Catching yourself and recording as many negative thoughts as you can will help you to see your own mental patterns.

What will these thoughts look like? You could write things like, “I hate my feet.” “My boss is an idiot.” “I hate spring.” “I hate getting up this early.” “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Be particularly mindful of making sweeping generalizations from one specific event so that your entire future looks doomed. For example, a generalized thought such as, “My girlfriend broke up with me so I’m doomed to spend the rest of my life alone.” This kind of extreme, black and white thinking is a sure sign of depression.

Identify Triggers

Once you get an idea for the frequency of your negative thoughts, try and pinpoint the triggers for them. Your journal will also come in handy here, because it will point out certain types of events that set off a chain of negative thoughts. Triggers can include being rejected or ignored, or having an unkind remark said about or to you.

Positive Conversion

You have so far learned that the human thinking process is habitual. But the good news is, you can create good thinking habits.

To do this you’ve got to start converting all of those negative thoughts into positive ones. It will be hard at first, and you will most likely feel as if you’re lying to yourself and pretending to be a glass-half-full Pollyanna.

But, as they say, “You’ve got to fake it until you make it.” Though thinking positively may feel foreign to you and like a waste of your time, you are retraining your brain to think (and feel) good.

Every time you have a negative thought, stop, recognize it as negative, and immediately flip the switch and create the positive opposite thought in its place. This could look like:

Negative thought: “I’ll never get this report done on time.”

Positive Switch: “I’m making great progress and being careful to always check my work.”

To get the hang of how to do this, go through your negativity journal and create a separate column in which you will write the positive opposites of your many negative thoughts.

If you feel too dark and down to complete these exercises, please consider reaching out to a trained therapist who can prescribe medication, should you require it, and help you work through your negativity.

If you or a loved one are suffering from depression and are interested in exploring treatment options, please contact me. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

3 Signs of Postpartum Depression You Should Be Aware Of

The birth of a child is a wondrous event that, along with some sleepless nights, brings joy into a family’s life. Unfortunately, this joy can be overshadowed with feelings of sadness and hopelessness for mothers experiencing postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a very serious illness that can occur in the first few months after the birth of a baby. It can also happen after a miscarriage and stillbirth as well. Beyond feeling sad and hopeless, the affliction can make it very difficult for a mother to bond with and care for her new baby.

It’s important to mention that postpartum depression is not the same thing as having, what is typically referred to as, the “baby blues.” These “blues” are milder and, more often than not, go away in a couple of weeks. The symptoms of postpartum depression, brought on it is thought by significant hormonal changes, can last for several months.

If left untreated, women experiencing postpartum depression are in danger of hurting their baby and themselves.

Signs of Postpartum Depression

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the following symptoms, please speak with your doctor who can connect you with a professional therapist. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Extreme Anxiety or Worry

All new mothers are nervous. After all, taking care of a newborn baby is a huge responsibility. But when fears become irrational and even increase in severity over time, this can be a sign of PPD. For instance, a mother who refuses to leave the house because she is convinced she and her child will get into a car accident. Or a mother who is terrified to bathe her baby because she believes her baby could drown.

Changes to Sleeping or Eating Habits

A change in eating or sleeping habits is always a sign that something may be going on with a new mother. For instance, if you or someone you know suddenly begins eating far more than you used to, or, stops eating altogether, this is a red flag that PPD may be the cause.

Also, new mothers are usually exhausted and should have little trouble falling asleep when given the opportunity to rest. If sleep cycles seem disrupted, it could be a sign of a bigger issue.

Feelings of Rage

New mothers who have PPD may find themselves with feelings of chronic irritability and even rage. Should a woman suddenly find herself flying off the handle or acting out in angry, aggressive ways, something she’s never done in the past, it could be a sign that something more may be going on.

Mothers experiencing PPD need a lot of support. This means asking not just how the baby is, but how she is and really listening to the answer. It also means helping take care of the baby so the new mother can rest and get the help she needs.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.

Why Most People Misunderstand Depression

Of all the words in the English language, depression must be one of the most misunderstood. Why does this term seem to confuse so many people? Why is its real meaning so hard to grasp? It is because the term has two starkly contrasting meanings, depending on who is using it.

Among clinicians, the term depression is used to describe a debilitating syndrome that robs people of their energy, memories, ability to concentrate, love and experience joy. This is not just an emotional state, but a physical one that impacts specific regions of the brain. Depression actually lights up the brain’s pain circuitry, inducing a state of suffering that can become debilitating.

Beyond this, depression is actually neurotoxic, meaning the disorder can eventually lead to the death of neurons in critical memory and reasoning areas of the brain, including the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Simply stated –  depression causes brain damage.

Colloqiual Usage

Confusion abounds when the term ‘depression’ is used by people in everyday conversation, however. In these instances, they usually are referring to something far less serious or clinical. In fact, most people use the term as a synonym for mere sadness or being slightly upset.

For instance, you will often here people make comments such as, “I was so depressed when Starbucks dropped its pumpkin spice latte,” or “Oh my God, I just ripped a whole in my favorite pair of jeans. I am like, so depressed right now.” No, you’re not, you’re bummed, pretty disappointed in fact, but you are certainly not depressed. These kinds of disappointments, while frustrating, are simply a part of life.

But ripped jeans and discontinued menu items have little effect on our ability to function, and the feelings of disappointment and annoyance rarely last for very long. A friendly word from a loved one or a hug is generally all that’s needed to get over the perceived “crisis.”

In contrast, clinical depression often persists for months, and no amount of friendly support from loved ones is enough to make it any less debilitating.

Time for New Language?

And that is where the confusion lies, and why many people simply don’t understand the true ramifications of clinical depression. It is also why those who suffer from depression are met with relative indifference when they open up to friends and family about their condition.

The sad reality is that, because of this profound confusion, many depressed patients are expected to simply “snap out of it” by their friends and family. No one would ever take this attitude with someone suffering from cancer or kidney disease; the admonition is equally offensive and inappropriate in the case of clinical depression.

Perhaps it is time to come up with a new term to describe the symptoms of clinical depression. By using new language, more people might understand the disease and show more compassion toward individuals suffering from it.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.