Overcoming Depression: Practical Steps

Overcoming Depression: Practical Steps

Do you experience persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt? Are you feeling fatigued, anxious, restless, or like you can’t focus? Have you lost interest in the activities you once enjoyed, or have your coworkers or loved ones noticed that you’ve been more irritable than usual?

If this sounds familiar, you might have depression, a common but serious mood disorder. You should schedule an appointment with a therapist as soon as possible, but in the meantime, here are some practical steps you can take to help manage your depression:

  • Eat a nutritious diet.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week (but be sure to consult with a doctor before beginning a new workout regimen).
  • Get at least seven hours of sleep each night and try to fall asleep and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Schedule time for a fun activity each day, even if it’s only for 30 minutes.
  • Spend time with loved ones and limit the amount of interaction you have with individuals who bring you down.
  • Give back to your community (for example, by volunteering at a local nonprofit organization).
  • Set attainable goals for yourself (for instance, rather than saying that you’ll clean the entire house, commit to washing the dishes in the sink).

Get Help Managing Your Depression

Are you having trouble overcoming sadness? We can help you take the first step toward conquering your depression and improving your quality of life. Contact us today to schedule a therapy session.

Cultivating Mindfulness in Daily Life

Have you heard about the concept of mindfulness? It involves being aware of the thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations that you’re experiencing at any given time (this is commonly referred to as “present moment awareness”). Practicing mindfulness offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Increased sense of well-being
  • Enhanced cognitive abilities
  • Slowed brain aging
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved sleep
  • Pain management
  • Improved quality of life for individuals with chronic conditions

Practicing Mindfulness Every Day

Many people meditate by focusing on their breath—pay attention to how it feels as you inhale and exhale, and whenever you notice that your mind has wandered, acknowledge the distraction as a passing thought and then refocus your attention on your breathing. When you first begin practicing mindfulness, you may be able to do this for only a few minutes, but your sessions will likely get longer over time.

You can incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily life by practicing present moment awareness when you’re:

  • Eating a meal
  • Taking a walk
  • Commuting to and from work
  • Coloring
  • Gardening
  • Showering
  • Lying in bed

If you’re having trouble, you may want to consider downloading an app that will guide you through the meditation process. Or, set some alarms on your phone that will remind you to meditate at certain times throughout the day.

Start Practicing Mindfulness

If you’d like to know more about mindfulness techniques and the benefits of present-moment awareness, contact us today. We’ll be happy to schedule a therapy session at a date and time that works for you.

Understanding Social Anxiety Disorder

Also known as “social phobia,” social anxiety disorder causes someone to intensely fear normal social interactions. This is more than shyness or a fear of public speaking—someone with social anxiety disorder excessively worries about being judged during everyday situations such as making eye contact with someone or talking to a stranger. They may be reluctant to attend school, work, a date, or a party, and they also may feel anxious about eating in front of others, using public restrooms, or returning items to stores.

Physical Signs of Social Anxiety Disorder

In addition to feeling anxiety, embarrassment, fear, humiliation, or self-consciousness, someone with social anxiety disorder may experience:

  • Blushing
  • Difficulty catching their breath
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Voice shakiness

If someone with social anxiety disorder experiences physical signs like the ones listed above, they may also worry that others will notice that they appear anxious.

How Is Social Anxiety Disorder Treated?

Treatment for social anxiety disorder varies depending on factors such as symptom severity. With that said, many people with this type of anxiety benefit from attending counseling and taking medication such as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), an anti-anxiety medication, or a beta blocker.

The Provider to Choose for Anxiety Disorder Treatment

If you’re worried that you have social anxiety disorder or another type of anxiety, you can rely on us for treatment. We regularly assist patients with managing anxiety, and we can do the same for you. Contact us today to request an appointment.

Nurturing Positive Relationships With Extended Family Members

Maintaining healthy relationships with extended family members—such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and in-laws—can be tough. According to an article published by YouGov, 46% of Americans don’t have any extended family members living in the same city or town as them. Unfortunately, for many people, this distance can make it difficult to nurture positive family relationships.

If you’re looking to create healthy relationships with extended family members, you may want to consider implementing one or more of the following tips:

  • Schedule times to catch up. When you don’t get to see your family members every day or even every week, it can be easy to lose touch, which can make you feel less like family and more like acquaintances. Plan regular visits, videochats, and telephone calls, and make an effort to remain free of distractions during those times.
  • Establish boundaries. It may seem counterintuitive, but setting boundaries can help families feel closer in the long run. For example, if you don’t feel comfortable having extended family members stay at your home for more than a few days, communicating that before their next visit can help prevent resentment from forming. 
  • Avoid taking sides. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try to keep the peace, it’s inevitable that family disputes will pop up from time to time. While you should certainly stand up for what you believe is right, in many cases, exercising empathy and remaining neutral can help prevent hurt feelings. You should also avoid talking about family members behind their back.

Take the First Step Toward Positive Family Relationships

If you’re interested in building healthy relationships with extended family members, one of the best things you can do is speak to a therapist. Contact us today and request an appointment at a date and time that’s convenient for you.

Nurturing Positive Relationships With Friends

The importance of having positive friendships in your life cannot be overstated. Healthy friendships can help you feel happier and more self-confident, reduce your stress levels, and prevent you from feeling lonely or isolated. When times are good, friends can help you celebrate. And when times are bad, they can help pick you up and provide a kind shoulder to lean on.

Unfortunately, for many adults, it can be tough to make new friends and even more difficult to ensure that those friendships enhance their lives. With that in mind, here are some tips for how to build healthy relationships with friends:

  • Be an active listener. Communication is key to a positive friendship, but many of us aren’t great at listening, which can leave our friends feeling ignored and unvalued. When talking with friends, make an effort to face them, focus on what they’re saying, and ask follow-up questions. You should also avoid interrupting them and zoning out as you plan what to say next.
  • Offer advice without judgment. At some point throughout the course of your relationship, your friend will likely come to you for help with a problem. While you should be honest about how you feel, you should also try to empathize with them and respect that that might have a different opinion.
  • Make time for each other. In today’s busy world, it can often be difficult to schedule time with friends, but getting together is crucial. If you live near each other, pencil in a weekly dinner or even a monthly coffee date. Or, if you live far apart, plan a time to talk on the phone or, better yet, videochat.

Start Building Healthy Relationships With Friends

If you struggle to maintain positive friendships, you’ve come to the right place. We have extensive experience helping patients nurture healthy relationships with friends, and we’d love to do the same for you. Contact us today to schedule a therapy session.

The Powerful Benefits of Forgiveness

There is a very old saying that says, “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.” This is a warning to people to not act out in anger or resentment because you only end up harming yourself. Over time, these feelings of resentment can build until the individual develops feelings of depression or anxiety.

While forgiving others who have hurt us isn’t always easy, in the end, it greatly benefits our mental health and overall well-being. To be clear, forgiving others does NOT mean you agree with or condor their poor behavior. And it doesn’t mean you are announcing that your feelings don’t matter. Forgiveness simply means letting go of the negative feelings that are holding you down and causing you prolonged distress.

Again, forgiving someone who has hurt you isn’t easy, but it will lead you to a sense of peace and joy. Here are some steps you can take to forgive others:

Process Your Pain

Have you really faced your pain and processed it? You’ll need to do this before you can let those feelings go. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings deeply and fully. Cry, yell, hit your pillow, do whatever it takes.

Forgive Yourself

It takes two to tango, as they say. While we can easily point to others and blame them for the breakup or ugly incident, the truth is, we were there also. We played some role. Even if it was to retaliate in the moment and to show our own ugliness. It’s time to forgive your own humanity and any wrongdoing to yourself or others.

Try to Understand

True forgiveness is impossible without a sense of understanding. You can try to forgive, claim you have forgiven, only to have those negative nagging feelings crop up again and again. When we try to understand why someone has acted the way they have, it can wipe out the negative feelings instantly, almost as if by magic. 

A critical parent acts the way they act because they, too, were the victim of a critical parent. An overbearing boss is dealing with a personal tragedy at home. Our cheating spouse is self-sabotaging his or her life because they have incredibly low self-esteem and do not feel they deserve happiness. Life is complicated and human beings are even more so. Try and understand why someone has hurt you. You will be amazed at what this magical A-ha moment can do for you.

And if you’d like to speak to someone and get some guidance and much-needed perspective, please reach out to me.






5 Ways to Stop Panic Attacks

If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know firsthand the name is apropos. Within seconds you can go from feeling quite well and “ordinary” to experiencing absolute dread and fear. And often with no obvious trigger. It’s a horrible way to live.

But you don’t have to live feeling like a helpless victim of these attacks. Here are some powerful ways you can stop panic attacks in their tracks:

1. Recognize What’s Happening

If, in the moment, you can recognize that you are having a panic attack and not a heart attack, you can begin to instantly calm yourself at the realization this is temporary. It will pass and you will be okay. And once you gain a little bit of calm, you can employ further techniques.

2. Deep Breathing

Hyperventilating is a common symptoms of a panic attack. Breathing in an erratic pattern tends to make the attack intensify.

Conversely, deep breathing can reduce the symptoms of a panic attack and bring you back to a state of calm. Breathing slowly and deeply signals to the rest of your body that the “threat” is gone and you can get out of “fight or flight” mode.

3. Close Your Eyes

Some people can become triggered by things in their environment. If this happens to you and you find yourself in a fast-paced environment with too much stimuli becoming overwhelmed, close your eyes while taking some deep, slow, full breaths.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Panic attacks tend to cause a feeling of detachment or separation from reality. Mindfulness meditation is powerful because it can help you stay fully present in the here and now. In addition, the practice of meditation has been shown to relieve stress and anxiety.

5. Get Help

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other mental health treatments have been shown to help people suffering with panic attacks. CBT sessions can happen in private, in groups, and even online.

If you are interested in exploring treatment options, please get in touch with me. I’m here to help and answer any questions you may have.





Family Issues Experienced by LGBTQ Individuals

Every family deals with challenges. But those families with either a parent or child who identifies as LGBTQ face particularly unique ones. Here are some of the most common challenges faced by LGBTQ families.

Parental Rights

When a married couple has a child, they automatically both become legal guardians of that child, right? This assumption is true for heterosexual couples in all 50 states, but same-sex couples do not have the same legal rights.

These inconsistent laws mean in some states married same-sex partners may not both be listed in the child’s birth certificate in cases of sperm donors or artificial insemination. Laws are outdated in many states. Connecticut has recently passed the Parentage Act, which gives same-sex parents the same automatic parentage rights as heterosexual parents, regardless if one of the parents is not biologically related. But many states need to catch up.

Paid Parental Leave

The United States is one of the few countries in the modern world that does not offer paid parental leave. When certain companies do offer guaranteed paid family leave, it is not always offered to LGBTQ individuals and their partners.

In addition, the Family Medical Leave Act, which requires companies to provide unpaid family leave, does not apply to parents who are not recognized as legal guardians. And as we just saw, there are plenty of states that do not recognize same-sex couples as legal guardians, and so this is another instance where same-sex couples are left out.

Schools and Education

Bullying is a real challenge for those kids who either identify as LGBTQ themselves or who have one or both parents that do. Only 21 states have included LGBTQ students in anti-bullying laws, but there are still more than half that have not.

This is not an exhaustive list of unique challenges LGBTQ families face, of course. While the saying, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” is true, sometimes, in order to survive and thrive amidst profound challenges, you need someone in your corner who can help you navigate troubled waters.

If you and your family are struggling with any issues, I am here to help. Please reach out to me.



Facts about LGBTQ+ Families


How to Tell When You’re Feeling Burned Out

Many people think of burnout as simply being incredibly tired after a long week or month of work or school studies. But burnout is much more than a physical exhaustion; it has in fact been called the “triad of depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and feelings of detachment.” 

Here are some additional signs of burnout:


Pessimism is a major red flag that someone is experiencing burnout. And they won’t just feel pessimistic about whatever it is that is causing them big stress (job, school, relationship), they will feel pessimistic about life and the world at large.

Sleep Issues

Burnout makes it incredibly hard to get a good night’s rest. Either a person finds it hard to fall asleep, lying there wide awake for hours, or they fall asleep but then wake up throughout the night. When we don’t get enough quality sleep, it makes it difficult to cope with stress, which makes it hard to sleep, and the vicious cycle continues.

Sudden Physical Ailments

A major sign of burnout is suddenly experiencing physical symptoms that you never have before. For instance, many of my clients, with no prior history of GI upset or headaches, will begin to have chronic issues. 

Is it Time to Speak with Someone?

Burnout shouldn’t be taken lightly. You shouldn’t try to ‘tough it out’ and get on with things. Now is the time to make your mental health a priority. If you would like to speak with someone about what has been bothering you, please reach out to me.





Am I Sad or Depressed?

Into each life a little rain must fall is a way of saying every one of us will experience sadness in our lifetime. It is completely normal and natural. But there are some people who feel something deeper and darker than sadness, and they may feel this way despite there being no triggering event such as the loss of a loved one. 

So how can we tell the difference between sadness and depression?

Sadness versus Depression: The Real Difference?

As I just mentioned, sadness is a normal reaction to a difficult event in our life. We may feel sad because of a breakup or from losing a loved one or from leaving our friends after graduation. In other words, we feel sadness about something.

Depression, on the other hand, affects not only our emotions but also how we act and perceive the world. Depression does not require a triggering event. In fact, when we’re depressed, we tend to feel upset about any- and everything.

Depression clouds our entire lives. When we’re depressed, nothing feels as enjoyable or worthwhile as it once did. In short, we simply feel less alive.

Symptoms of Depression

To be diagnosed with depression, an individual must be diagnosed with at least five of the following common symptoms for a continual duration of at least two weeks:

  • An irritable or depressed mood 
  • A decreased interest in once enjoyable activities
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Changes in our sleep patterns
  • Feeling sluggish most days; having a lack of energy and motivation
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Trouble focusing or concentrating
  • Suicidal ideation

If you or a loved one are experiencing depressed, it is very important to reach out for help from a trained mental health therapist. Depression robs you of your life, purpose and happiness, but there are strategies to break free and find joy once again.

I would be happy to discuss some treatment options with you. Please give my office a call.