You or a loved one just received a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder (AD) from a behavioral health professional. What does it mean? And how is AD different from Anxiety Disorder or Depression?
Definition of Adjustment Disorder
Adjustment Disorder is a condition that can occur when you have difficulty coping with a specific, stressful life event - for example, a death or illness in the family, getting fired or laid off from a job, significant relationship issues like break-ups or divorce, or sudden change in social settings (more isolation, for example) due to the pandemic. Because of this, Adjustment Disorder can also be referred to as “situational depression.” The inability to adjust to stressful events like these can cause one or more severe psychological and/or physical symptoms.
According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), in order to be diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder, individuals must have emotional or behavioral symptoms within 3 months of having been exposed to a stressor (like those mentioned above), and symptoms must be clinically significant as shown by one or more of the following:
Marked distress that is out of proportion to the stressor
The symptoms significantly impair social or occupational functioning.
Stressors that cause AD can even reoccur over time, for example, seasonal business crises, or recurrent hospitalizations for an illness or disability.
Adjustment disorders can affect both adults and children. It’s estimated that each year, almost 7% of adults in the US are diagnosed with AD. These disorders typically resolve over time and with treatment by a behavioral health professional.
Symptoms of Adjustment Disorder
Symptoms vary depending on how the disorder manifests. Adjustment Disorder can be present with these symptoms:
Depressed mood, sadness
Feelings of hopelessness
Severe changes in emotions manifesting in things like frequent crying
Feeling or acting unusually argumentative
Changes in conduct (i.e., acting up in school or work)
Worry, nervousness, jitteriness
While the symptoms of Adjustment Disorder can be short-term and usually improve over time, they may resemble other psychiatric conditions, such as Major Depression or Anxiety Disorders. So, how can you tell the difference?
How to tell the difference between Adjustment Disorder, Depression and Anxiety Disorder
Individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder often have a lengthy and consistent history of anxiety and excessive worry, whereas individuals with Adjustment Disorder only experience their symptoms in times of or in response to stress or change.
You can have both disorders, and Anxiety Disorder can be made worse by stressors such as change or adjusting to new routines. But if you have Adjustment Disorder, you’ll typically see a reduction in your anxiety as you adapt to the change or learn to cope with the stressor, while anxiety and related symptoms are continual for those with GAD.
Similarly, there are key differences between Adjustment Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder, with the two differentiating factors being duration and cause. While Adjustment Disorder traditionally resolves within a matter of months, Major Depression tends to last much longer and only resolves with professional treatment. And while AD is triggered by a specific event, Depression seems to be caused by genetic and psychological factors, and cannot be attributed to a specific event.
Summary of the differences between Adjustment Disorder, Depression and Anxiety Disorder
Regardless of whether you have symptoms of Adjustment Disorder, GAD, or Depression, it is important to know that treatment is available and feeling better is possible. It’s important to start by having a behavioral health professional diagnose your condition, they can then help to manage your symptoms and learn coping skills. Like GAD and Depression, treatment for Adjustment Disorder is typically a combination of individual therapy, family therapy or group therapy, and to a lesser extent, medication.
Has a recent stressful event caused you or a loved one to have symptoms of Adjustment Disorder?
Telemynd is a national telebehavioral health provider covered with many insurers. You can access licensed psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and therapists from the convenience of your home. Click here to find your current insurance provider and request an appointment today!
Johns Hopkins Medicine: Adjustment Disorders
Merck Manual 2020: Adjustment Disorders
We focus so often on the treatment of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in children, that tend to overlook the fact that just as many adults are living with the condition; experts suggest even more remain undiagnosed. While some children outgrow their ADHD symptoms, up to 70% will continue being treated into adulthood.
ADHD in adults follows a slightly different pattern than in children, as symptoms tend to evolve and may become more subtle over time. For example, adults with ADHD tend to have more problems with memory and attention rather than with hyperactivity.
Adult Symptoms Of ADHD & The Impact On Daily Life
In order for an adult to be diagnosed with ADHD, the must meet the following criteria in accordance to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV): six or more symptoms of inattention that have lasted at least six months, or six or more symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity that have persisted at least six months.
Specific Symptoms Of ADHD In Adults May Include:
Forgetting names and dates
Missing deadlines and leaving projects unfinished
Chronically late for work or important events
Becoming easily distracted and disorganized
Low frustration tolerance
Putting off boring tasks in favor of more enjoyable activities
Executive function deficits
Excessive activity or restlessness
Extreme emotionality and rejection sensitivity
Generalized anxiety and mood disorders
Blurting out inappropriate or hurtful thoughts
The effects of adult ADHD are an overall inability to remain focused to follow through with responsibilities and an overwhelming accumulation of incomplete tasks — impacting careers and relationships over time.
Adults With ADHD Often Remain Undiagnosed
There is an abundance of materials focused on the general education of signs to look for in children with ADHD, but not nearly as much on awareness for similar symptoms and diagnosis in adults. That’s why some experts believe up to 75% of adults who have ADHD don’t know they have it. Without knowledge or outreach for treatment, day to day life can be much more challenging and lead to false feelings of inferiority. In fact, studies show that substance abuse as well as other compulsive bad habits impact a far higher percentage of adults with undiagnosed ADHD than the general population.
So What Can Be Done?
We need to better inform the public and broaden the conversation surrounding ADHD to include the adult population and eliminate common misconceptions & stereotypes that surround ADHD as “only a childhood condition affecting hyperactive kids”.
If you are able to recognize these symptoms in yourself or someone you know, consider checking in with a mental health specialist who can conduct a clinical assessment to diagnose ADHD. Neuropsychological tests are often used for diagnosis. These can include timed, computer-based tests to measure attention and problem-solving skills. Neuropsych testing is not essential to making a diagnosis, but it can help shed light on how ADHD can be affects your daily life. It can also uncover potential coexisting conditions.
Once Diagnosed, Adult ADHD Is Highly Treatable
Getting the right diagnosis and proper treatment can be life-changing. Adults with ADHD don’t outgrow the condition, but most learn to manage it to great success. Standard treatments for ADHD in adults usually involve a combination of medication, education, skills training and psychological counseling. As with most treatments, it may take some time to determine what works best for each person, so stick with it.
Considering A Career In Telebehavioral Health Or Know Someone Who Could Benefit From Virtual Access To Licensed Behavioral Health Professionals?
Telemynd offers patients the ability to connect with providers from the safety and convenience of their homes. Providers can join our network by applying online. If you’re a patient, choose your current insurance provider to request an appointment or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today!
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD): Diagnosis of ADHD in Adults
American Family Physician: Diagnosis and Management of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Adults
Harvard Medical School - Harvard Health Letter: Recognizing and managing ADHD in adults
Controlled substances are used to treat many common mental health conditions, like anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and more. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and national health emergency, federal rules regulated how these meds were prescribed and dispensed - including a requirement for an in-person health evaluation prior to a prescription being written. However, during the pandemic, federal regulators temporarily waived these regulations to permit patients the ability to manage their medication and access to prescriptions, including controlled substances via telehealth visits.
With the national health emergency waivers expected to expire soon, some states have stepped in to draft their own medication management legislation; the result has been growing confusion over which rules apply and where. In this article, we attempt to answer all your questions about prescribing controlled substances, and have included resources to find out more.
Why are Some Medications Deemed Controlled Substances?
Controlled substances by definition are medications with a likelihood for physical or mental dependence. Many of the more common drugs for ADHD, anxiety, sleep disorders, depression, and more, such as Xanax, Klonopin, Lunesta, and Adderall are listed as ‘controlled substances”. The U.S. Controlled Substances Act (1970) puts all substances which were in some manner regulated under existing federal law into one of five schedules. This placement is based on the substance’s medical use, its potential for abuse, and safety or dependence liability. Medications listed as Schedule I have the tightest controls, and those listed as Schedule V have the least restrictive controls. These controls are mandated by the federal government.
This may all sound complicated - but it boils down to prescribers and pharmacies taking extra precaution to ensure these medications are prescribed for and delivered to the right individuals, for the right reasons.
What Are the Extra Steps Clinicians Must Take to Prescribe Meds that are Deemed Controlled Substances?
In general, to prescribe a controlled substance, a clinician must have a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) license, and to fill a prescription, a pharmacist must also have a controlled substance license. Further, for a pharmacist to dispense a controlled substance, the prescription must include specific information such as date of issue, patient’s name, address, and DoB, clinician name, address and DEA number, drug strength, number of refills, and the signature of the prescriber. For these kinds of medications, there are also legal limits on the number of refills and the amount that a prescription may contain. Some drugs have zero refills, and the maximum quantity dispensed is 30 days - meaning patients must contact their clinician each month a refill is needed.
In addition, the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 specified that “any practitioner issuing a prescription for a controlled substance must conduct an in-person medical evaluation. A conservative recommendation to support compliance with the act is to conduct an in-person exam at least once every 24 months.”
How did the COVID-19 Pandemic Impact Prescriptions of Controlled Substances?
The unprecedented public health emergency created by COVID-19 caused action by state and federal regulators to ensure greater access to health care, while simultaneously limiting the spread of the virus. Therefore, as of March 2020, the DEA declared that practitioners “may issue prescriptions for controlled substances to patients via telemedicine, even for patients for whom they have not conducted an in-person medical evaluation, provided the prescription is issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a practitioner acting in the usual course of their professional practice, the telemedicine communication is conducted using an audiovisual, real-time, two-way interactive communication system, and the practitioner is acting in accordance with applicable federal and state laws.” At that time, the DEA also ruled it was “permissible to write controlled substance prescriptions to cover a 90-day supply.”
However, depending on where you live or who prescribes your meds, you may have had a different experience as certain states and practitioners elected to retain pre-COVID protocols of in-person evaluations given the sensitivity of the medication being administered.
What is the Current Status of Controlled Substances Prescriptions?
As we move through 2022 and the threat of COVID-19 has lessened, requirements for prescribing and dispensing controlled substances in some states have begun making permanent changes to expand policies implemented under the public health emergency, while others have passed laws restricting them. This website has made an attempt to track these ongoing changes - but to be safe, always check with your own state’s official website, or contact your state or federal representatives.
The DEA at the federal level said in a March press release, that it “wants medication-assisted treatment to be readily and safely available to anyone in the country who needs it." However, in the end it is up to each state and provider to do what they feel is best for the safety of constituents and/or patients. Therefore, check with your provider or prescriber to find out if you will need an in-person visit to continue receiving prescriptions of controlled substances or if telehealth visits are an option for you. Telemynd operates as a national practice, meaning that our national network of licensed providers may prescribe many types of medications, they follow federal regulation which prevents the prescribing of controlled-substances via our virtual telemedicine environment.
DEA.gov: Rules for Control Substances
NIH | National Library of Medicine: Pharmacy Prescription Requirements
A few months ago, we wrote about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly known as PTSD, a mental health disorder that occurs after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, accident, assault, terroristic act, or military combat.
Common symptoms of PTSD involve re-experiencing the trauma (e.g., nightmares, flashbacks, or emotional flooding), attempts to avoid reminders of the event, hyperarousal (e.g., feeling constantly on edge), and distressing thoughts or emotional reactions. In order to be diagnosed with PTSD, symptoms need to last for at least two weeks and interfere with daily functioning. It’s estimated that almost 4% of the general US population is affected by PTSD — a number that rises to 55% of those who are serving or have served in the military.
For those experiencing, living with, or treating someone with PTSD, it may be helpful to learn how trauma affects specific parts of the brain in order to better understand the symptoms and treatment options.
PTSD Is Unique Among Psychiatric Diagnoses
First, it's important to note that PTSD is unique among psychiatric diagnoses because of the significance placed on the cause of the condition (i.e., the trauma itself - more on that below), rather than merely the condition. In fact, with the advent of DSM-5, PTSD is no longer classified as a type of Anxiety Disorder but its own designation: Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders — which acknowledges that its onset is preceded by “exposure to a traumatic or otherwise catastrophic, adverse environmental event”.
Start By Understanding How Trauma Affects The Brain
Over the past several decades, research using neuroimaging has enabled scientists to see that PTSD causes distinct biological changes in the brain; and in fact, functioning is impaired in areas responsible for threat detection and response, and emotion regulation — which accounts for most outward PTSD symptoms. Not everybody with PTSD has exactly the same symptoms or same brain changes, but there are definite “typical” observable patterns that can be seen and treated.
To put it simply, when trauma first occurs, our “reptilian brain” takes over — that part of the brain known as the brain stem which is responsible for the most vital functions of life (breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, etc.). The brain stem kicks in the “fight or flight" response and all nonessential body and mind functions are shut down so that we can focus only on what we need to survive. Then, when the threat ceases, the parasympathetic nervous system steps in again and resumes those higher functions that were recently shut down.
However, for some trauma survivors, after effects remain, which we now know is PTSD. In these people, the brain’s “threat and alarm system” becomes overly sensitive and triggers easily, which in turn causes the parts of the brain responsible for thinking and memory to stop functioning correctly. When this occurs, it’s hard to separate safe and “normal” events happening in the present from dangerous events that happened in the past.
PTSD Impacts Three Parts Of The Brain Significantly, Causing Disruption To Normal Life
Research shows PTSD mostly impacts three parts of the brain: the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Here’s how these three parts of the brain work (or don’t work) together to cause symptoms of PTSD:
Amygdala: a collection of nuclei located deep within the temporal lobe (the lobe of the brain closest to the ear). The amygdala is designed to detect threats in the environment and activate the “fight or flight” response, and then activate the sympathetic nervous system to help deal with the threat. Those with PTSD tend to have an overactive amygdala, causing irrational thoughts and primal reactions. For example, a harmless loud noise could instantly trigger panic.
Prefrontal Cortex: covers the front part of the frontal lobe located just behind the forehead. The PFC is designed to regulate attention and awareness, make decisions about the best response to a situation, determine the meaning and emotional significance of events, regulate emotions, and inhibit dysfunctional reactions. In those with PTSD, the PFC is underactive, meaning that regulation of emotion and dysfunctional reactions does not occur when it should. An overactive amygdala combined with an underactive prefrontal cortex creates a perfect storm, causing those with PTSD to feel anxious around anything even slightly related to the original trauma, and/or have strong physical reactions to situations that shouldn’t provoke a fear reaction.
Hippocampus: a complex brain structure also located deep in the temporal lobe. The hippocampus regulates the storage and retrieval of memories, as well as differentiating between past and present experiences. After a trauma, the hippocampus works to remember the event accurately and make sense of it. But because trauma is typically overwhelming, all the information doesn't get coded correctly, meaning that someone with PTSD may have trouble remembering important details of the event and/or find themselves overthinking a lot about what happened because the hippocampus is working so hard to try to make sense of it.
Consequences Of PTSD Brain Dysfunction On Quality Of Life
Understanding how the after-effects of trauma impact the brain so significantly helps explain why PTSD causes such serious disruption in daily functioning. PTSD often affects the ability to have healthy, satisfying relationships or tolerate uncertainty and rejections without excess distress. It causes sleep disturbances, negative mood, anxiety, and attention/concentration difficulties that often interfere with academic or career success.
Other Disruptive Symptoms Of PTSD Include:
Extreme startle response
Decreased Positive Emotions
Detachment From Others
PTSD also often occurs with other related mental and physical health conditions, such as depression, substance use, and memory problems.
PTSD Is Treatable
The good news is that PTSD is treatable by trained behavioral health professionals. Treatment may include a combination of medications and behavioral therapies which have been proven effective on those with PTSD. And it goes without saying that each PTSD treatment and management plan should be tailored to meet an individual's specific needs since everyone is impacted differently.
The important thing to take away is that PTSD is real, it is explained by highly-studied changes in the brain, and that millions suffer from it.
Considering A Career In Telebehavioral Health Or Know Someone Who Could Benefit From Virtual Access To Licensed Behavioral Health Professionals
Telemynd offers patients the ability to connect with providers from the safety and convenience of their homes. Providers can join our network by applying online. If you’re a patient, choose your current insurance provider to request an appointment or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today!
National Center for Biotechnology Information - National Institutes of Health (NCBI - NIH): Traumatic stress: effects on the brain
American Psychiatric Association: What is PTSD?
US Dept. of Veterans Affairs: PTSD History and Overview
Mental health care is critical to maintaining overall wellness - just as important as caring for your physical health. And as we noted in a recent article, 1 in 5 of us live with mental health issues on a daily basis. As many as 30% of those with a mental health issue don’t seek treatment, and a common obstacle to that care is cost.
The good news is that you can pay for some mental health treatments and services with your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or your Health Savings Account (HSA), to offset out-of-pocket expenses. This week’s article summarizes what mental health services qualify for coverage with FSA and HSA funds and how to use these accounts for mental health care. Be sure to click on the links included in this article, as we’ve referenced the original IRS and government sources for further information.
What’s the difference between an FSA and an HSA?
FSAs are an arrangement through your employer that lets you pay for many out-of-pocket medical expenses with tax-free dollars. You decide how much to put in an FSA, up to a limit set by your employer. Employers may make contributions to your FSA, but aren’t required to.
An HSA is a type of savings account that lets you set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. HSA funds generally may not be used to pay premiums. While you can use the funds in an HSA at any time to pay for qualified medical expenses, you may contribute to an HSA only if you have a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) — generally a health plan that only covers preventive services before the deductible.
It may sound complicated - but FSAs and HSAs are often a win-win for many people, as they allow you to reduce your tax liability and pay for your mental health care expenses, using pre-tax funds.
Is mental health treatment eligible for HSA or FSA funds?
According to the IRS, mental health therapy and treatment that is deemed ‘medically necessary’ is eligible for reimbursement with an FSA or an HSA - things like psychiatric care, and treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. So therapy such as marriage or family counseling - that is not required for a medical or mental purpose - may not qualify. The actual wording from the IRS is this: “treatment provided by a psychologist or psychiatrist is eligible for FSA or HSA reimbursement if the purpose of the treatment is for medical care and not for the general improvement of mental health”. Sound a bit murky? The best thing to do is to speak with your your health insurance directly to understand how to approach the situation first.
Regardless of the kind of health care services you are getting, an administrator may require you to get a ‘Letter of Medical Necessity’ in order to get coverage. This is a letter written by your doctor that verifies the services you are purchasing are for the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of a disease or medical condition.
Make the most of your HSA to cover mental health expenses
The IRS-approved list of mental health care expenses on which you can use your HSA includes services like psychologist visits (including online therapy), psychiatric care, alcoholism and drug treatment, and prescription drugs related to psychiatric care. You can pay for these with an HSA card or by getting reimbursed, but either way, always save your receipts. You’ll need these when you file your tax return each year. You can ask your health care provider for itemized receipts after each service, or a total record of all services at the end of the year.
If you have health insurance (and remember, it must be a High Deductible Health Plan in order to be allowed to contribute to an HSA), you can use your HSA funds for any qualified expense that’s not paid directly to the provider or for which you’re not reimbursed by your insurance company. This includes co-pays and expenses to meet your deductible, as well as any uncovered medical expense.
Using an FSA to cover mental health expenses
Eligible mental health care expenses for which you can use your FSA account include alcoholism and drug treatment, psychiatric care (including online therapy), and prescription drugs related to psychiatric care. You use your FSA by submitting a claim to the FSA (through your employer) with proof of the medical expense and a statement that it has not been covered by your plan. You will then receive reimbursement for your costs. In addition, according to the IRS, you can use FSA funds to pay deductibles and copayments, but not for insurance premiums.
In summary, understanding how to use FSAs and HSAs to help offset the cost of behavioral health may feel confusing or overwhelming - but it's worth digging into, as these accounts may save you money. For more help, you can ask your employer, an accountant, reference IRS Publication 969, or research online yourself. Here’s a good article that goes into more detail - in an understandable way - about the differences between HSAs and FSAs.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy has been around since the 1980s, and recent stories featuring several well-known media personalities have credited the technique with helping them heal from past trauma. In the news or out, EMDR is an evidence-based, extensively researched therapeutic modality that is commonly used by behavioral health specialists to help support clients’ recovery from past trauma. EMDR has proven particularly effective for those living with PTSD, and as the date draws nearer for US troops to pull out from Afghanistan, we’re focused on sharing vital resources and techniques that can help military families and their loved ones cope with the transition.
What Is EMDR?
In plain language, EMDR is an individual therapy technique aimed at helping people process trauma during therapy in a more detached way than talking about the event (which can be emotionally intense and often lead them to shut down). It had been thought that emotional pain from past trauma required a long time to heal. But studies have shown that our minds can mend from psychological trauma in a similar way that our bodies recover from physical trauma - and often in as little as 6 to 8 weeks, depending on the individual and their engagement in the program. In fact, one of the important benefits of EMDR is that by using this therapy, people can experience progress that normally can take years. In one study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD symptoms in only 12 therapy sessions.
EMDR works in eight phases. The clinician first learns about the client’s history, while also helping them to create a sense of safety and awareness in the body. Key traumatic memories are identified and reprocessed. After the clinician has determined which memory to target first, they ask the client to hold different aspects of that memory in their mind while using their eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth. As this happens, internal associations arise and the client starts processing the memory and associated disruptive feelings. Once the memories are reprocessed in this way, the brain develops new neural pathways free from the associated negative emotion so that the traumatic memories do not cause the same repeated “fight, flight or freeze” survival response.
As the psychologist who originated EMDR, Dr. Francine Shapiro said, “unlike straight talk therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR therapy result not so much from clinician’s interpretation, but from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes.” The EMDR International Association has a more specific description of the eight phases here.
How Does EMDR Help Veterans Recover From PTSD?
It’s estimated that almost 4% of the general US population is affected by PTSD — a number that rises to 55% of those who have served in the military. A few months ago, we wrote about PTSD and how it negatively impacts the lives of those suffering from it. For example, remembering and reliving the initial trauma may cause problems at work or at home – triggering an out-of-perspective or inappropriate emotional response to everyday experiences. Individuals who have PTSD avoidance symptoms may do things like avoiding driving a car or visiting certain locations. Others may feel stressed and angry all the time and isolated from friends and family. Left untreated, PTSD can cause adverse impacts on relationships and work, and even dependence on drugs or alcohol.
EMDR therapy has been recognized as effective for PTSD in the treatment guidelines of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). EMDR treatment options for veterans range from intensive daily therapy sessions to weekly sessions. In multiple research studies, both frequencies were found to be equally effective, with a substantial decrease in PTSD symptoms ranging between 36% and 95%, depending on the framework of the study. As well, studies show that EMDR therapy can produce stable long-term effects for PTSD sufferers.
But how exactly does EMDR therapy reduce the symptoms of PTSD? As we wrote a few months ago in How Trauma Changes the Brain, stress responses are a protective part of our natural instincts. But in those diagnosed with PTSD, the distress from the trauma remains in the memory, and those upsetting thoughts and emotions can create an overwhelming feeling of being “back in that moment” - even if you are sitting safely at home.
EMDR therapy is thought to help improve the way the mind processes these memories, which can sometimes be too difficult to do by just talking about them. EMDR allows guided self-healing to happen in a natural way that has long-term benefits. Moving your eyes in a rhythmic back-and-forth motion in EMDR therapy, while recalling the trauma, causes shifts in the way that you experience that memory, and information from the past is allowed to finally process. Essentially, the experience is still remembered, but the protective need for the fight, flight, or freeze response related to the original event is resolved. In effect, EMDR is helping to ‘retrain the brain’.
If You Or A Loved One Has Been Diagnosed With PTSD, Consider EMDR Therapy
Many behavioral health therapists offer EMDR therapy. Look for therapists who are EMDR-certified. Among other requirements, EMDR certification requires 20 hours of training and 20 hours of clinical practice, 50 EMDR therapy sessions, and adherence to EMDR International Association policies. Telemynd supports veterans and their families, and many of our clinicians are EMDR-certified. Through our national partnership with TRICARE, we’re able to offer you and your beneficiaries access to licensed therapists or psychiatrists from the convenience and privacy of your own home. Request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today!
EMDR International Association
Journal of EMDR Practice and Research
Journal of EMDR Practice and Research
With the recent announcement that the U.S. will withdraw all its forces from Afghanistan by September 11th of this year, we thought it was a good time to look at the issues that veterans may face adjusting to life post-deployment. Over 2.2 million troops - men and women - have served in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. While many service members readjust to life after being deployed, many do not.
An Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Veterans, Service Members and Families by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies found that many service members returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan “report that their experiences were rewarding, and they readjust to life off the battlefield with few difficulties. Up to 44%, however, return with complex health conditions and find that readjusting to life at home, reconnecting with family, finding work, or returning to school is an ongoing struggle...These military personnel often have more than one health condition. The most common overlapping disorders are PTSD, substance use disorders, depression, and symptoms attributed to mild TBI.
Common Challenges Facing Soldiers Readjusting To Life At Home
Soldiers face unique challenges when they separate from military service and return to civilian life. Even the most resilient find adjustment somewhat stressful; unfortunately these challenges are also associated with mental health disorders like PTSD, depression and anxiety.
Post-Deployment Adjustment Challenges Include:
Relating to civilians who do not know or understand what they’ve experienced in the field.
Families may have created new routines during deployment.
A returning vet may have never applied or interviewed for a civilian job, and needs to figure out how to translate their military skills into civilian terminology for a resume.
Or if returning to a job, they may need to catch up, learn new skills, or adjust to a new position.
No clear chain of command or hierarchy outside the military; they don’t know where to go for help.
Learning how to buy clothing, groceries and other seemingly mundane civilian needs, and having to negotiate the overwhelming choices of civilian shopping outside the PX.
Adjusting to subtle nuances in social conversations and workplace lingo that are unfamiliar.
These are just a few of the logistical adjustments that returning soldiers must make, never mind the emotional adjustments they face, such as losing an immediate support group of fellow troops, recovering from the loss of friends who died overseas, feeling isolated and alone among people who don’t understand what they experienced, feeling challenged by a new civilian job, having to renegotiate family relationships, and dealing with good and bad memories of deployment. And this commonly (and understandably) leads to problems with mental health.
Mental Health Issues Among Returning Veterans
They call them “war’s invisible wounds.” While physical wounds are easy to identify, the psychological wounds of war are often not as easy to spot. Multiple studies have found a link between combat experiences and mental health issues related to military service. And it's not just soldiers who suffer - one study found that lengths of deployments are associated with more emotional difficulties and mental health problems among military children and spouses too. Below are three of the most common mental health issues associated with returning soldiers.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Traumatic war-time events such as military combat and violent accidents or deaths in the field involving themselves or unit members can have long-lasting negative effects such as trouble sleeping, anger, nightmares, feeling constantly jumpy, and alcohol and drug abuse. Many vets find that these symptoms are in fact Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A JAMA Psychiatry study found the rate of PTSD to be 15 times higher in returning veterans than in civilians.
Depression & Anxiety
Overall, the rate of depression in returning vets is 5 times higher than for civilians.However, research has found that depression is currently one of the most prominent health conditions among female veterans, who experience higher rates of depression than their male counterparts. Women who have been exposed to combat during deployment or witnessed the injury of unit members and civilians in war zones are especially vulnerable to depression and anxiety — all of which makes readjustment that much harder. Over half of all female veterans have needed to access mental health treatment with a primary diagnosis of depression and/or anxiety disorder.
Suicide is a particular concern that has emerged for veterans, who experience a 50% higher incidence than the general population. And like depression and anxiety, female veterans have an 80% higher incidence of suicide than male veterans. A recent study of active-duty soldiers and veterans found that 3% of men and 5.2% of women reported suicidal ideation in the previous year. And of those who reported suicidal ideation, 8.7% also reported a recent suicide attempt. This is a trend that must be stopped.
Tips For Acclimating Upon Return
These are just a few tips to help with the transition from deployment to civilian life:
Allow yourself to feel all kinds of emotions. Give yourself permission to feel the way you feel, even if it’s uncomfortable. Go easy on yourself and give readjustment time to unfold.
Talk about how you’re feeling with family and friends. Your loved ones may not know how to ask about your experience, but talking about your feelings can be an important part of the readjustment process.
Try not to overbook yourself. You may have lots of things on the post-deployment to-do list, but give yourself time to ease back into your routine. And give yourself a break if it doesn’t all feel comfortable right away.
Limit your use of alcohol. Drinking too much can confuse your thinking, cloud judgment, and exacerbate mental health disorders.
Watch spending. It's very common to want to celebrate your return with a new car or electronics, but those bills can catch up quickly and cause extra stress at a time you don’t need it.
Most importantly, know when to seek help. If you or a loved one are feeling signs of stress — either physical or emotional — seek expert help from a behavioral health specialist as soon as possible. (And if you or a loved one are suicidal, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), Option 1).
Consider Telebehavioral Health
Telemynd supports veterans and their families. Through our national partnership with TRICARE, we’re able to offer you and your beneficiaries access to licensed therapists or psychiatrists from the convenience and privacy of your own home. Request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today!
Institute of Medicine of the National Academies
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
American Psychological Association
According to the Department of Defense, 37% of active-duty military families have children, and like their active-duty parents, military kids make sacrifices in their own ways too. From coping with the challenges of a parent’s deployment to starting a new school to accommodate a recent move (known as a Permanent Change of Station or PCS), military kids commonly experience stressors that can impact their mental health. On average, military kids attend up to nine different schools before graduating high school due to relocations. What kind of impact do these frequent moves have on the mental health of military kids and their families? And what are some ways to cope with the stress?
Military Kids Move Every Two to Four Years, On Average
Military families typically make a PCS move every two to four years (this is over 3 times the civilian family average), which means that the kids are constantly adjusting to new schools and environments, making new friends, and leaving old ones behind. In some cases, PCS moves can occur quickly and unexpectedly, leaving little time for closure, for kids to fully process what is happening to them, or to say goodbye.
Multiple studies have been conducted to measure the impact on mental health of PCS moves. The Journal of Adolescent Health published findings that military kids who move frequently were significantly more likely to have a mental health issue. In addition, it found that age was a powerful predictor of the impact on mental health, i.e., military kids aged 12-17 were four times as likely to need help from a mental health professional as military kids aged 6-11. This makes sense intuitively, as teens are already going through the changes and stresses of puberty. Add in the need to rebuild their social connections and form new friendships, and one can see why PCS moves impact teens harder.
The stress of PCS moves affects parents too. Another study by the School Psychology Review found moving increases tension in the home in general. Kids reported feeling anger or resentment toward their parents and the military because of the disruption to their lives. Some kids reported telling their parents that they refused to move or would run away to avoid moving entirely.
Ways The Disruption Of A PCS Move Causes Stress
What is it about frequent moves that causes so much burden? First, change itself is stressful to us all, as numerous studies have found over the years. And when families make a PCS move, they must adjust to a new home, new school, address, neighborhood, friends, teachers, religious community, routines, and potentially new local culture and weather. That’s a lot of change! In addition:
Students involved in sports who move later in the year can miss team tryouts, or the new school may not offer the same athletic programs.
They may feel the loss of having to end close relationships with friends at a previous school.
It’s more difficult to gain acceptance in a new school where cliques and social networks are already established.
Because of potentially limited experience with military families, civilian school staff may have a knowledge gap that affects their effectiveness working with military students.
Parents themselves are swamped with new jobs and to-do lists, and may not have the patience or time to consider a kid having trouble with the transition.
If one parent is deployed or at risk of being deployed, kids may experience further stress from the constant fear for a parent’s safety.
All can lead to considerable stress, as kids find they lack a feeling of connection to others in their new community. As a result, symptoms of depression and anxiety can appear, such as separation anxiety, excessive worry, sleep problems, and physical complaints such as headaches or stomach pain.
Tips For Coping With The Stress Of A PCS Move
PCS moves are not all doom and gloom. Research suggests that many kids develop strength and resilience from adapting to frequent military moves. And there are steps parents and schools can take to support them through the moves in order to reduce the impact on their mental health. Number one is simply to be aware of the potential mental health impacts and to watch for signs and symptoms of distress. Our previous release discussing different symptoms of mental health conditions is really helpful. Parents can read up on the impact of PCS moves, and educate themselves on ways to support kids during the transition. And as with all mental health issues, the earlier that symptoms are noticed for intervention and treatment to begin, the better the prognosis and outcomes.
Experts Suggest These Tips For Coping With The Stress Of PCS Moves
Keep up established routines and rituals as much as possible, and start new rituals in the new place that encourage parent-child bonding time.
Talk about the move as much as possible and give kids the opportunity to vent their negative feelings (and help them find positive ones too). Parents are advised to let kids in on a little of their own misgivings about the move and to find ways to address them as a family. This provides more positive feelings of validation and control.
Connect with other military children and families when possible. As well, in the military community itself, most installations have a resource officer or School Liaison Officer who may be able to suggest appropriate resources.
Even in a civilian school where there are few military kids, school guidance counselors are the best place to start a conversation between the family and the new school, as they are the gatekeepers to community mental health resources. Even if the counselor does not have experience with military students, he or she may be able to suggest local resources with more expertise.
Finally, although it may seem simple, making sure that kids get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and get out and exercise will go a long way toward maintaining better mental health. And when kids do exhibit symptoms of transition distress, seek out a mental health professional as early as possible.
Journal of Adolescent Health
School Psychology Review
There’s a lot to be stressed about these days - whether it’s news headlines, endless to-do lists, or worry about money and bills. But for some, stress and worry can be so prevalent that it starts to interfere with our ability to function. In this case, we might consult a clinical professional and try talk therapy or medication. In addition, there’s another technique that has gained popularity in recent years to deal effectively with anxiety and depression, called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), also known as "tapping."
EFT Tapping is a research-based intervention that combines cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) techniques, such as awareness building and reframing of interpretation, with the stimulation of acupressure points on the face and body by literally tapping on them. In our continuing series on treatment modalities, we’ve provided an overview of EFT Tapping here: how it works, some of the research behind it, and who can benefit from it.
What is EFT Tapping?
EFT Tapping helps tune in to the negative patterns we form around anxious thoughts or troubling memories, by physically tapping with our fingers on identified acupressure points while at the same time focusing on those thoughts and emotions. According to experts, focusing on a negative thought while simultaneously tapping on acupressure points sends a calming signal to the brain, allowing us to acknowledge the stress while calming the body. Think of it as having similar (but noninvasive) effects as acupuncture.
EFT Tapping is facilitated by an experienced, certified EFT practitioner in a therapy session, with the ultimate goal of shifting limiting thought processes, resolving past traumas, and promoting healing around emotional issues that may be holding us back.
How does EFT Tapping work?
EFT Tapping can rewire the brain. From research, it is understood that tapping on specific pressure points can result in a calming effect on the amygdala (the stress center of the brain) and the hippocampus (the memory center), both of which play a role in the unconscious process we use to determine if something is a threat or not, and therefore whether our “fight or flight” response should kick in. Indeed, studies at Harvard Medical School have shown that by stimulating the body’s acupressure points you can significantly reduce activity in the amygdala. Therefore, EFT Tapping works to effectively rewire the brain; to interrupt and change neural pathways so that you want to do the things that are going to improve your life and make you feel better.
Research shows EFT Tapping is effective in treating multiple mental health disorders
Multiple studies have been done to determine the effectiveness of EFT Tapping for different mental health issues. Here are just a few:
Reducing cortisol levels. One study measured changes in cortisol (the primary stress hormone) levels and other psychological distress symptoms after a single hour-long intervention of EFT Tapping and found it reduced those distress symptoms by 24%.
Decreasing anxiety. Another study looked at the length of time needed before different therapeutic interventions took effect in patients with anxiety, and found that only three EFT Tapping sessions were needed before study participants’ anxiety was reduced. That same study showed that after a year, those reductions in anxiety were maintained by 78% of participants.
Treating depression. In a study exploring EFT Tapping for depression, researchers found that a weighted mean reduction in depression symptoms was 41% after using EFT.
Reducing symptoms of PTSD. Another study using EFT Tapping to treat PTSD in veterans found that 60% of participants no longer met clinical PTSD criteria after three EFT Tapping sessions and 86% no longer met the criteria after six sessions.
Other studies have shown the effectiveness of EFT Tapping even beyond reducing anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms. For example, it can help minimize food cravings and aid in weight loss, or reduce fears around events like public speaking, test-taking, and even childbirth.
If you or a loved one are living with mental health issues such as Anxiety, Depression, or PTSD, consider EFT Tapping
Like other treatment modalities, therapists can be trained and certified in EFT Tapping. Certification requires a specific number of hours in the classroom and in clinical practice. Many behavioral health specialists offer EFT Tapping therapy; look for one that is experienced and certified.
Many of Telemynd’s clinicians specialize in EFT tapping. If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today! If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
Journal of Evidence-Based Integrated Medicine
Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease
Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease
Explore: The Journal of Science & Healing
In today's fast-paced world, communication has taken on various forms, from social media posts to instant messaging. However, the essence of truly connecting with others often lies in something more fundamental: active listening. Active listening is a powerful skill that not only strengthens relationships but also promotes understanding and empathy. In this blog, we will delve into why active listening is important, when to use it, and offer valuable tips on how to integrate it into all aspects of your life.
The Importance of Active Listening
Active listening goes beyond merely hearing words; it involves engaging fully with the speaker's thoughts, emotions, and intentions. It demonstrates respect, validates the speaker's feelings, and fosters a deeper level of connection. Here are some key reasons why active listening is crucial:
Enhances Relationships: At the core of every strong relationship lies effective communication, and active listening is a foundational component of this. When you actively listen, you show others that you value their opinions and care about their experiences. This builds trust and strengthens the bond between individuals. Promotes Understanding: Listening actively allows you to gain a comprehensive understanding of the speaker's perspective. This understanding is crucial for resolving conflicts, making informed decisions, and collaborating effectively. Fosters Empathy: Empathy, the ability to understand and share another person's feelings, is nurtured through active listening. When you engage with someone's words and emotions, you step into their shoes and experience the world from their vantage point. Reduces Misunderstandings: Misunderstandings often arise due to misinterpretations or incomplete information. Active listening minimizes these occurrences by ensuring that both parties are on the same page. When you actively listen, you can clarify any points of confusion and ensure that the intended message is accurately received. Enhances Personal Growth: Active listening is not only about hearing others but also about self-awareness. As you practice this skill, you become more attuned to your own biases, assumptions, and listening habits. Tips for Practicing Active Listening
Mastering active listening requires intention and practice. Here are some valuable tips to help you become a more adept active listener:
Give Your Full Attention: When someone is speaking, give them your undivided attention. Put away distractions like phones or other devices and maintain eye contact. This not only shows respect but also enables you to pick up on nonverbal cues. Avoid Interrupting: Interrupting the speaker can convey a lack of interest or impatience. Allow the speaker to express themselves fully before offering your thoughts. This not only demonstrates respect but also ensures that you understand their message completely. Show Nonverbal Cues: Your body language plays a significant role in active listening. Nodding, smiling, and using facial expressions that match the speaker's emotions show that you are engaged and empathetic. Reflect and Clarify: Periodically summarize or paraphrase the speaker's points to ensure you understand correctly. This gives them a chance to correct any misconceptions and confirms that you are actively processing their message. Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage deeper conversation by asking open-ended questions that can't be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." This invites the speaker to elaborate and share more of their thoughts and feelings. Manage Your Internal Dialogue: While the speaker is talking, it's natural for your mind to formulate responses. However, try to minimize this internal dialogue during their speaking time. This allows you to be fully present and engaged in what they are saying. Practice Empathy: Put yourself in the speaker's shoes and try to understand their emotions and experiences. This helps you connect with them on a deeper level and respond in a more empathetic manner. Avoid Judgments and Assumptions: Keep an open mind and refrain from making judgments or assumptions about the speaker's words. Everyone's experiences and perspectives are unique, so approach each conversation with curiosity and an eagerness to learn. Integrating Active Listening into All Aspects of Your Life
Enhance Professional Communication:
In the realm of professional pursuits, actively listening to colleagues, clients, and superiors can foster effective collaborations and cultivate a workplace culture of respect and understanding. Active listening enables one to grasp intricate details, glean valuable insights, and make informed decisions. Furthermore, by demonstrating a genuine interest in the perspectives of others, professionals can build rapport, strengthen team dynamics, and position themselves as reliable and empathetic leaders
Relationships With a Partner
Within the realm of romantic relationships, active listening becomes a heartfelt bridge that deepens connections between partners. By genuinely absorbing each other's words, emotions, and desires, couples demonstrate a commitment to understanding one another. This level of attentive engagement fosters an environment where both partners feel heard, valued, and supported. Through active listening, couples can navigate challenges more effectively, celebrate triumphs more intimately, and sustain a sense of emotional intimacy.
Parent Child Relationships
Active listening serves as a cornerstone in nurturing strong bonds between parents and children. When parents actively listen to their children's thoughts, concerns, and stories, they demonstrate that their feelings and experiences matter. This open and empathetic communication builds a foundation of trust, allowing children to feel valued and understood. Active listening not only enhances the parent-child relationship but also instills in children the importance of respectful communication, empathy, and emotional expression, leading to a lifetime of healthier interactions.
Active listening is a timeless skill that holds the power to transform your relationships, enrich your understanding of others, and foster a deeper connection with the world around you. By prioritizing active listening and integrating it into all aspects of your life, you not only become a better communicator but also a more empathetic and well-rounded individual. So, the next time someone speaks, remember that your attentive ear has the potential to create ripples of positive change.
September is more than just another month on the calendar. It's a time to shine a light on a topic that often hides in the shadows, yet affects countless lives worldwide: suicide. As we mark Suicide Prevention Month, we have a vital opportunity to come together, raise awareness, and champion the cause of mental health support. In this blog post, we'll delve into the significance of promoting mental health awareness and suicide prevention, shedding light on its prevalence, impact, warning signs, and actionable steps to make a difference in our communities.
The Prevalence and Impact of Suicide
Suicide isn't just a statistic; it's a tragedy that leaves behind heartbroken families, friends, and communities. Globally, over 700,000 lives are lost to suicide each year, making it a leading cause of death. In the United States alone, suicide claims more than 48,000 lives annually, and for every successful attempt, many more individuals struggle with suicidal thoughts. These numbers underscore the urgency of addressing this issue head-on.
The impact of suicide reverberates far beyond the immediate loss. It sends shockwaves through families, schools, workplaces, and communities, leaving a lasting emotional scar. The stigma surrounding mental health often leads individuals to suffer in silence, reluctant to seek help. This is why it's crucial to create an environment where people feel safe discussing their struggles and seeking the support they need.
Recognizing the Warning Signs
Understanding the warning signs of suicidal behavior is a critical step in prevention. While each person's experience is unique, common indicators include:
Talking about suicide: Expressing thoughts of suicide, even casually, should be taken seriously. Increased isolation: Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities they once enjoyed. Drastic mood swings: Severe shifts in emotions, including depression, anxiety, and rage. Giving away belongings: Uncharacteristic acts of giving away possessions. Sudden calmness: A sudden improvement in mood after a period of depression. Making arrangements: Taking steps such as making a will or saying goodbye to loved ones. Understanding Risk Factors
Several factors can contribute to an individual's vulnerability to suicide, including:
Mental health conditions: Depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia are associated with a higher risk. Substance abuse: Drug and alcohol misuse can intensify feelings of hopelessness. Previous attempts: Those who have attempted suicide before are at a higher risk. Access to lethal means: Easy access to firearms or other means increases the risk. Family history: A family history of suicide or mental health issues can be a risk factor. Taking Action to Make a Difference
While addressing suicide prevention may seem daunting, even small actions can have a meaningful impact. Here are some actionable steps that individuals can take:
Educate Yourself: Learn about the signs of suicidal thoughts and mental health struggles. Knowledge is the foundation of effective action. Start Conversations: Initiate open and non-judgmental conversations about mental health. Let friends and loved ones know that you're there to listen and support them. Share Resources: Spread awareness by sharing credible resources on social media or within your community. Knowledge can save lives. Be an Active Listener: When someone shares their feelings, listen without judgment. Let them express themselves and provide empathy. Create a Safety Plan: If you're concerned about someone, work together to create a safety plan. This plan can include emergency contacts, coping strategies, and steps to take when feelings of crisis arise. Support Local Initiatives: Get involved in local mental health and suicide prevention organizations. Volunteering or participating in events can make a tangible difference. Advocate for Policy Changes: Support policies that prioritize mental health resources and remove barriers to treatment. Conclusion
Suicide Prevention Month serves as a reminder that we all play a role in creating a world where mental health is a priority and where support is readily available for those who need it most. By raising awareness, sharing information, and taking tangible actions, we can collectively work towards reducing the stigma surrounding mental health, recognizing the warning signs, and providing the necessary support to save lives. Remember, every small effort counts, and together, we can make a significant impact on suicide prevention and mental health awareness.
Get ready for National Wellness Month! At Telemynd, we believe that everyone deserves access to mental health and well-being practices that promote a healthier and happier life. That's why we're excited to present our 30-Day Wellness Challenge, focusing on activities and practices to enhance your mental health. Join us on this journey of self-care and discovery, as we embark on a month-long quest to prioritize our mental well-being one day at a time.
Day 1-5: Mindfulness
Start the challenge by incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine. Practice deep breathing exercises, meditation, or simply take a few minutes each day to be fully present in the moment. If you need guidance for your mindfulness practice, YouTube offers a wide range of resources, including guided meditations, calming background sounds, and other videos, to help you cultivate mindful environment wherever you are.
Day 6-10: Get Moving
Physical activity is essential for mental well-being. Try engaging in free workout videos available online or take a walk in nature. Invite friends or family to join you, making exercise both fun and social.
Day 11-16: Journal Your Thoughts
Journaling is a therapeutic practice that allows you to express your thoughts and emotions freely. Invest in an affordable notebook or use digital journaling apps to track your progress and reflect on your feelings throughout the challenge.
Day 17-21: Cultivate Gratitude
Practicing gratitude can significantly improve your mental health. Each day, write down three things you are thankful for. Whether it's a beautiful sunset, a supportive friend, or a small achievement, expressing gratitude can shift your focus to the positive aspects of life.
Day 22-26: Connect with Nature
Spend time outdoors and connect with nature during this phase of the challenge. Enjoy a picnic in the park, take a hike, or have a relaxing day at the beach. Nature has a calming effect on the mind and soul, helping you recharge and rejuvenate.
Day 27-31: Embrace Creativity
Engaging in creative activities can be incredibly therapeutic. Try drawing, painting, writing poetry, or learning a musical instrument. You don't need expensive art supplies; simple materials will do. Let your creativity flow freely and notice the positive impact on your mental well-being.
Social Support: Reach out to friends and family for emotional support during the challenge. Share your experiences, feelings, and progress with them.
Get Inspired: Try exploring various online resources or ideas to discover activities or practices you may want to try during each week of this challenge. Remember, everyone's wellness journey is unique, so feel free to personalize the challenge to suit your needs and preferences. Let your individuality shine as you embark on this transformative and enriching experience!
Telemynd Resources: Telemynd offers affordable and accessible mental health services. Consider exploring our virtual therapy sessions and mental health resources for expert guidance and support.
You may have heard the term mentioned in the context of ways to address behavioral health issues. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (also known as CBT) is a form of talk therapy that has been found to be effective for multiple mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, and eating disorders. Considered a ‘problem-solving strategy’, CBT seeks to change dysfunctional (and often unhelpful) thoughts and behaviors by questioning, identifying and then reframing them. In this article, we look into how and why CBT works.
How does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy work?
CBT was built on the idea that our thoughts and perceptions influence our behavior. Researchers have found that when we feel distressed, our thoughts and feelings may distort our perception of reality - so CBT aims to identify and name those thoughts, to assess whether they are an accurate depiction of reality, and then if they are not, to come up with individualized strategies to challenge and overcome them.
CBT was founded by psychiatrist Aaron Beck at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1960s who wanted to offer his patients a treatment option to the prevailing Freudian psychoanalysis style of the time which dealt primarily with patients' past (childhood) experiences. Beck wanted to develop a type of therapy that was shorter-term and goal-oriented, but also scientifically-validated. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focuses on current problems and helping patients find ways to help themselves. This does not mean that it completely ignores the influence of the past, but it deals primarily with identifying and changing distressing thought and behavior patterns of the present.
For example, CBT may have patients address questions like: What are you thinking right now? What were you thinking when you began to feel anxious? Can we find harmful patterns that emerge when you begin to feel anxious? The goal is to understand what happens in our minds when we are distressed and to change how we respond. In this way, we develop a greater sense of confidence in our own abilities to deal with challenging thoughts and feelings.
What does CBT look like in practice?
Research has shown that CBT is appropriate for all ages, including children, adolescents, and adults. It can be effective in a relatively brief period of time, generally, 5 to 20 sessions, though there is no set time frame. Research also indicates that CBT can be delivered effectively online, in addition to in-person therapy sessions.
In practice, therapists and patients collaborate together to develop an understanding of the problem and to come up with a treatment strategy. Through exercises in-session as well as outside homework exercises, patients learn how to develop coping skills to change their own thinking, problematic emotions, and behavior. Therapy sessions may involve role-playing to prepare for potentially problematic interactions with others, as well as learning ways to calm one’s mind and body in times of stress.
Multiple research studies confirm the benefits of CBT
Research has shown that CBT can address conditions such as major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, anger issues, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and others. Studies suggest that CBT leads to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life. In many studies, CBT has been demonstrated to be as effective as, or more effective than, other forms of psychological therapy or psychiatric medications.
If you are interested in exploring Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, consider contacting a qualified mental health professional
If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today. Our mental health professionals understand how to recognize and treat multiple disorders like anxiety and depression, and many are certified in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
American Psychological Association
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Journal, Frontiers in Psychology
Everybody can have trouble sitting still or paying attention now and then. However, for some people, it’s so difficult that it interferes with school, work, and social life. These individuals may have ADHD (short for Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder), one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood – and for many, it lasts well into adulthood. Approximately 9% of children and 5% of adults have been diagnosed with ADHD, and professionals believe there are likely more who are undiagnosed. Fortunately, our society has become more cognizant of ADHD symptoms, so there’s a better chance of catching it early and getting treatment.
Definition of ADHD
ADHD is defined as a “persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development”.
Scientists first documented children exhibiting inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity in 1902. Since that time, the disorder has had many names. Previously known as simply ADD, the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), renamed the disorder Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, which better reflects the importance of the inattention part of the disorder as well as the other characteristics of hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of ADHD
The DSM-5 criteria for ADHD are lengthy, and are slightly different for children vs. adults.
To be diagnosed with Inattention, 6 or more of the symptoms below must be present for children up to 16 years old, while 5 or more symptoms must be present for those 17 years and older. Symptoms must be present for at least 6 months, and be disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level:
Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.
Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).
Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
Is often easily distracted
Is often forgetful in daily activities.
To be diagnosed with Hyperactivity and Impulsivity, 6 or more of the symptoms below must be present for children up to 16 years old, while 5 or more symptoms must be present for those 17 years and older. Symptoms must be present for at least 6 months, and be disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level:
Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).
Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
Often talks excessively.
Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
Often has trouble waiting their turn.
Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)
In addition, the following conditions must be met:
Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present before age 12 years.
Several symptoms are present in two or more settings, (such as at home, school or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities).
There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning.
The symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder (such as anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, or a personality disorder).
Causes And Risk Factors
Scientists are not sure what causes ADHD, although many studies suggest that genetics plays a big role. In addition, researchers are looking into possible environmental factors such as lead paint, and are also studying how brain injuries, nutrition, and social environment might contribute to ADHD.
Scientists do know that the risk of ADHD can increase with the following factors:
Close relative, such as a parent or sibling, has ADHD or other mental health disorder
Alcohol or drugs during pregnancy
How Does ADHD Impact Daily Life?
Children with ADHD often experience delays in independent functioning and may seem to behave younger than their peers. They may also have mild delays in language, motor skills, or social development that are not part of ADHD, but often co-occur. Kids with ADHD tend to have low frustration tolerance, difficulty controlling their emotions, and often experience mood swings. Ultimately, they’re at risk for potential problems in adolescence if the ADHD is not diagnosed and treated, such as academic failure or delays, difficulties with peers, risky behavior, or substance abuse. Early identification and treatment by a behavioral health provider is extremely important.
Many adults who have ADHD don’t know it. They may feel that it’s difficult to get organized, stick to a project or job, or remember to keep appointments. Daily tasks such as getting up in the morning, getting ready for work, arriving on time, and being productive on the job can be especially challenging for adults with undiagnosed ADHD. Adults with ADHD have difficulties with attention, focus, executive function, and working memory. If you feel you or your loved one have any of these symptoms, check in with a behavioral health provider who can diagnose and treat you – individuals with ADHD can be very successful in life with the right help!
Treatment for ADHD
ADHD can be treated with a combination of support, therapy, and medication. Speak with a behavioral health professional to learn how best to approach treatment that is right for you or your loved one. They will assess current symptoms and history to determine the best treatment plan.
For example, certain kinds of therapy can help individuals with ADHD become more aware of their deficits in attention or focus and can provide skills for improving organization and efficiency in daily tasks. Therapy may also address feelings of low self-esteem, and help control impulsive and risky behaviors.
Do you or a loved one have symptoms of ADHD?
You can access licensed psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and therapists who can diagnose and provide treatment for ADHD from the convenience of your home. Click here to find your current insurance provider and request an appointment today!
Centers for Disease Control (CDC): What is ADHD?
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD): ADHD
NIH | National Institutes of Mental Health: What is ADHD?
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, an opportunity for individuals, families, and communities to reflect on the value of accepting and addressing mental health conditions. Telemynd believes that all people, no matter their age, gender, work history, or income level, should have access to appropriate mental health care. Moreover, Telemynd is committed to destigmatizing mental health care for civilians, service members, veterans, and their families.
The Stigma Around Mental Health Care
Mental illness is incredibly common. A total of 22% of American adults experience mental illness each year, as do 16% of American children and teens. Getting treatment for mental health conditions is beneficial and effective for most people.
Despite this, only about half of people with mental illness receive treatment for their conditions. This may be due to a lack of access to mental health services or worries about how to afford treatment. Another barrier to receiving care is the fear of stigma attached to mental health disorders.
The American Psychiatric Association identifies three types of stigma relating to mental health conditions and mental health treatment:
Public stigma: Negative or discriminatory attitudes that other people hold about mental illness. Self-stigma: Negative attitudes and internalized shame that people with mental illness have about themselves and their condition. Institutional stigma: Policies from government and private organizations that limit opportunities for people with mental illness. This can include issues such as inadequate funding for research on mental illness and treatment or lack of mental health services compared to services for other types of healthcare. The stigma surrounding mental health care can especially affect groups such as active service members and veterans. Nearly 25% of active duty service members report mental health symptoms. Many avoid seeking care out of concern about what it will do to their careers. The armed forces have tried to address the military mental health stigma by ensuring that getting appropriate care will not affect military careers or security clearance.
In recent years, there have been efforts to break the stigma of mental illness and treatment for mental health conditions. Health insurance companies are now required to cover mental health services so people can access treatment more readily. Many employers offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that help individuals access mental health care when they need it. In addition, discussions of mental health have become more public and widely accepted.
Mental Health Awareness Month 2023: Destigmatizing Mental Health Care
One of the primary goals for Mental Health Awareness Month in 2023 is to break the stigma of mental health and get treatment for mental health conditions. In recent years, celebrities and brands have joined mental health advocates to openly discuss mental health issues and change public perception of mental illness. These efforts are creating a culture of openness and community among people coping with mental health conditions. It helps set a precedent for talking honestly about mental health and shows a path forward for treatment.
TikTok: Social media platform TikTok launched a Mental Health Awareness hub to highlight videos and creators addressing mental health topics and support organizations dedicated to raising awareness about mental health. MLB: Major League Baseball teams have worn green ribbons for Mental Health Awareness Month. Some teams have posted content discussing mental health treatment, with players opening up about their experiences with getting help when they need it. Celebrities: Guns’N’Roses bassist Duff McKagan released a song for Mental Health Awareness Month called “This Is The Song.” He shared his struggles with panic disorders alongside the release. In May 2023, Jason Sudeikis and the cast of the show Ted Lasso visited the White House for a live-streamed conversation about mental health. Singer Demi Lovato has been candid about seeking treatment for bipolar disorder and addiction. British Royal Prince Harry openly discusses his experience with PTSD and how therapy improved his mental health and his marriage, urging others to be open about their own mental health. On Price Harry’s docuseries about mental health, The Me You Can’t See, musician Lady Gaga opened up about her own struggles with PTSD. Social media campaigns: Mental health advocacy groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness encourage supporters to use social media to normalize discussions about mental health. The organization provides sample social media posts such as “Mental health affects ALL of us. Help us get the word out and start the conversation today! Visit: nami.org/mhm #MoreThanEnough @NAMICommunicate” to build awareness and direct people to resources for getting the help they need. Changing Trends in Acceptance of Mental Health Treatment
The trend toward candid discussions of mental health and mental health treatment has affected how people respond to mental health concerns. In recent years, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has reported steady increases in the number of people seeking mental health care for any type of mental health condition. In 2015, 34.2 million adults aged 18 or older sought treatment for mental health conditions. By 2020, more than 41 million Americans received either inpatient or outpatient counseling or received a prescription to manage a mental health condition.
The changes are affecting groups of people who typically have not been as open to treating mental illness. Historically, men have been less likely to seek out mental health resources. That is changing as treatment becomes more widely accepted. SAMHSA reports an 11% increase in the number of men getting mental health treatment from 2008 to 2019.
The COVID-19 pandemic was another factor in rolling back stigmas about mental health treatment. Fears about illness, stress from changes to work and family life, and the effects of social isolation negatively affected millions of people. The need for help seemed to overcome any concerns about the stigma attached to getting help, and more people sought out treatment in 2020 and 2021. Mental health care providers reported dramatic increases in requests for treatment. Even now, after the worst of the crisis, mental health care providers say they continue to receive calls from prospective patients asking for help with mental health conditions.
Taking Care of Mental Health
Even without fear of stigma, mental health is a complicated issue. People with mental health conditions and their loved ones may struggle to know what will help and how to access care.
Because mental health encompasses a broad range of conditions, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan. Some conditions, such as bipolar disorder or depression, are linked to chemical imbalances, so medication is a primary treatment, alongside talk therapy and other supports. Conditions like PTSD occur in the wake of traumatic experiences, so treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy or working with a service animal may be effective. Some types of mental health conditions are temporary and resolve after treatment; others are lifelong and require continual or intermittent treatment.
Foundational steps can set up success in managing all kinds of mental health conditions. These steps can help people with mental health conditions as well as the people who care about them.
Connect with loved ones: For many people, mental illness can be isolating, so having people to turn to can make it easier to get help and emotional support. Talking to trusted relatives, friends, or colleagues about mental health conditions is a way to gather support. Seek peer support: Talking to others who are experiencing similar mental health struggles can be helpful and affirming. Both people struggling with their mental health and those who care for them can benefit from peer support groups. Identify resources for professional help: Take the time to learn about available mental health services and engage them when necessary. This can include current or former therapists, primary care providers, mental health hotlines, or other resources. Plan out solutions in advance: Knowing what activities soothe mental health symptoms is valuable. Have a set of go-to solutions, such as taking a walk, calling a friend, listening to music, or engaging with nature. Using simple, effective options in the moment can help keep symptoms from escalating. Telemynd Can Help
Telemynd is committed to ensuring access to comprehensive mental health solutions, without barriers. Our providers work to offer care that is appropriate, supportive, and free of judgment or stigma. Our telehealth platform is designed to broaden access to mental health services and remove obstacles to getting care.
Telemynd’s online platform works by matching people with the behavioral health specialists best suited to support them. We have a national network of therapists and prescribers who can address a wide range of mental health needs. In addition, Telemynd providers offer TRICARE-covered mental health services so that military members and their families have access to excellent mental healthcare.
All Telemynd services are conducted via secure video services. Access to mental health care at home offers a greater sense of privacy than having to take time off work or away from family for in-person appointments during business hours. People accessing virtual mental health services may feel less likely to be questioned or judged for seeking care. Virtual behavioral health services also help overcome institutional barriers to care, such as a lack of local providers, transportation issues, or limited office hours.
If you’d like to request an appointment or have any questions, feel free to reach out to the care team at 866-991-2103 or visit telemynd.com
Beyond the frenzy of school supply shopping, lies a more crucial task on the back-to-school agenda for parents – helping their children manage the stress that often accompanies this transition. As the school year brings forth new teachers, friends, and expectations, it's important for parents to play a pivotal role in establishing routines and nurturing a positive mindset that can help children tackle change confidently. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into practical strategies that empower parents to support their kids' emotional well-being during the back-to-school period.
Reducing Back-to-School Anxiety Through Routines
The shift from summer's carefree days to structured school routines can trigger anxiety in children. Establishing a new routine can help ease this transition by providing predictability and a sense of control. Here’s how parents can guide their children in crafting an effective routine:
Step 1: Crafting a Realistic Schedule Parents should work backward from fixed constraints, like school start times, to build a routine. Allot extra time to account for learning curves and unforeseen delays, ensuring a stress-free start to the day.
Step 2: Involving Children in the Process Foster a sense of ownership by involving children in the routine creation process. Encourage them to participate in decisions, such as choosing an alarm tone or a morning activity, instilling a sense of empowerment.
Step 3: Preparing Through Practice Parents can ease children into the new routine gradually by adjusting sleep schedules and practicing the routine in the weeks leading up to school. Conduct a "practice morning" to allow kids to visualize and adjust to the changes.
Step 4: Embracing Flexibility Accept that unexpected factors may influence the routine. Flexibility is key in adapting to unforeseen circumstances, allowing both parents and children to feel more empowered.
Supporting Mental and Emotional Well-Being
Beyond routines, providing mental and emotional support is paramount for a successful transition. Parents can take several steps to help children cope with back-to-school stress:
Open Communication: Establish an "open door" policy where children feel comfortable sharing their concerns. Active listening can go a long way in managing anxieties effectively. Creative Outlets: Encourage children to express their emotions through journaling, art, or other creative avenues, offering alternative channels for communication. Trusted Support System: Inform children about other supportive adults they can turn to, such as family members or caregivers, giving them multiple outlets to address their worries. Positive Mindset: Foster enthusiasm and a positive outlook about the new school year to help children approach change with optimism. Additional Support
For children facing heightened back-to-school anxiety, seeking professional help is a viable option. Telemynd offers a range of expert mental health services, including licensed psychiatrists and therapists who can provided personalized support tailored to children's needs.
Empowering children during the back-to-school transition involves more than just checking off school supply lists. By creating effective routines, fostering open communication, and supporting mental well-being, parents lay a strong foundation for their children's emotional resilience. This comprehensive guide equips parents with practical tools to guide their kids through the journey of change, ensuring a confident and successful start to the new school year.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) may be one of the most misunderstood mental health conditions. It’s estimated that 1 in 100 people in the US lives with OCD, so it’s more common than you think, however, the way it’s often portrayed in the media may not be entirely accurate (think Monica Geller in Friends or Adrian Monk in Monk). In this article, we explain exactly what OCD is and take a look at common stereotypes in an effort to set the record straight.
What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
OCD can impact anyone, regardless of age or gender. It can emerge any time from preschool to adulthood, but most commonly appears between the ages of 12 and 20. OCD is a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas, or sensations (obsessions) that compels them to do something repetitively (compulsions). The repetitious behaviors, such as hand washing, checking things, or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily life. The key here is that the behaviors / compulsions are a direct result of the recurring, unwanted thoughts and anxiety. They do not occur without each other. Or to put it another way, many people without OCD have stressful thoughts or repetitive behaviors. However, these thoughts and behaviors are usually not linked, and do not typically disrupt your life.
A diagnosis of OCD requires the presence of obsessions and/or compulsions that are time-consuming (more than one hour a day), cause significant distress, and impair work or social function. Contrary to popular belief, OCD is not just about hand-washing and being neat. While there are similarities across cases, individual manifestations of the disorder tend to mirror anxieties based on an individual’s life experiences.
Surprisingly, people with OCD usually recognize that their thoughts and obsessive impulses are not reasonable. However, the distress caused by these intrusive thoughts can’t be dismissed by logic or rationale.
Typical Obsessive Thoughts May Include (But Are Not Limited To):
Recurring thoughts about germs; of being contaminated by others or their environment
Extreme concern with order, symmetry, or precision
Recurring, intrusive thoughts of certain sounds, images, words, or numbers
Fear of misplacing or discarding something important, or forgetting to do something important
Fear or recurring thoughts of existential crises or death
Fear of blurting out obscenities or insults, or of hitting something (loss of control)
The compulsions that are linked to or follow repetitive behaviors or activities that a person performs in response to an obsession. In the person’s mind, these behaviors prevent or reduce the distress related to the obsession, and that’s why they do them.
Typical Compulsions May Include (But Are Not Limited To):
Excessive hand washing, showering, or brushing teeth
Repeatedly checking locks, switches, or making sure appliances are turned off
Constantly seeking approval or reassurance
Repeated cleaning of household objects
Ordering or arranging things in a particular way
Counting and recounting currency
Repeated counting to a certain number
OCD-related conditions include hoarding disorder (HD), body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), as well as hair-pulling and skin-picking disorders.
Causes Of OCD
The exact cause of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is unknown, but scientists believe that several areas of the brain may not respond normally to serotonin, a chemical nerve cells use to communicate with one another. In other words, neural miscommunication could be the root cause.
Genetics, something we discussed in our previous article, plays a part - if you, your parent, or a sibling, have OCD, there's a 20-45% chance another family member also has it. Like other anxiety disorders, childhood trauma and environmental factors may cause onset OCD symptoms.
Myths About OCD
So what are the misconceptions about OCD? And where did they come from? As is often the case, OCD myths can stem from pop culture and entertainment. For example, if you saw Leonardo DiCaprio in 2004’s The Aviator, you know the true story of the reclusive billionaire industrialist, filmmaker, and pilot Howard Hughes, whose desire for extreme control over cleanliness and order in his home seemed truly unfathomable. Or if you watched USA Network’s Monk, you saw a brilliant former city detective frequently battling with his OCD tendencies.
The problem with these portrayals is that they may not be accurate, and the disorder and its obsessions and compulsions are often treated as a gimmick to a serious condition. Viewers are encouraged to laugh when in reality, it can cause fear and shame to those who live with it.
Three Common Myths About OCD, & Why They Don’t Reflect Reality
Myth 1: OCD is only about cleanliness and being tidy. A fixation on keeping things clean is just one of the common compulsions of OCD, but not the only one. And not everyone with OCD has this particular compulsion. Triggers related to cleanliness and symptoms related to washing make up only a small part of the range of OCD triggers and symptoms. People can also have obsessions related to a wide variety of things, including losing control, hurting others and themselves, or losing things.
Myth 2: OCD isn’t treatable and will never go away. Many people don’t seek treatment because they’re embarrassed; they believe they are alone in their experience and that their symptoms are unique to only them. This can be one reason why it goes untreated. But research proves it can be treated through therapy and prescription medication. It will likely never go away completely but symptoms can be managed so that they stop impacting daily life. In fact, it’s considered one of the most “highly manageable” mental health disorders.
Myth 3: We’re all “a little bit OCD'' sometimes. Untrue and in fact, it is an inappropriate expression to use by those who do not have OCD and are unfamiliar with how devastating untreated symptoms can be.
Stigma is a systemic problem faced across a variety of mental health disorders, which is why it is so important to realize that words and actions can trivialize those living with it. People with OCD cannot simply “turn it off.” Research has shown their brains are wired differently - results show higher levels of extreme worry and fear that can entirely overwhelm you.
Treatment For OCD
There are no tests for OCD, however, trained mental health specialists can diagnose it by asking a series of questions that try to get at the three signs of OCD: having obsessive thoughts, exhibiting compulsive behaviors, and whether they get in the way of normal activities.
With proper treatment by qualified mental health specialists, people with OCD can lead full and productive lives. Many respond positively to a type of therapy called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy, designed specifically to treat OCD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is another effective therapy. These therapies are often prescribed in combination with medication. Finally, many individuals report that support groups provide a safe, understanding place for those with OCD to feel less alone.
Consider Telebehavioral Health
Telemynd offers patients the ability to connect with providers from the safety and convenience of their homes. If you’re a patient, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today! If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits here & apply.
American Psychiatric Association
National Alliance for Mental Illness
International OCD Foundation
In today's fast-paced world, the act of journaling often remains neglected, despite its potential to offer solace and self-expression. While its popularity might have waned with adulthood, revisiting journaling can yield profound benefits for emotional release and self-care. Whether you consider yourself a proficient writer or not, the practice can become a valuable tool for navigating life's challenges.
Rediscovering the Power of Writing
While the thought of journaling might seem like an extra burden after a long day, it's important to recognize that it's far from being as mentally taxing as composing work emails. The simple act of reflective writing has been extensively explored by researchers and mental health experts. Their findings highlight its potential to enhance mental calmness, self-awareness, self-expression, and even physical well-being. In this exploration, we'll delve into the world of journaling for self-care and learn how it seamlessly intertwines with mindfulness practices.
The Essence of Journaling
Despite technological advancements, the art of journaling persists as an ancient tradition that transcends typewriters, keyboards, and smartphones. It's about capturing thoughts and emotions through written words, creating a private realm for self-expression. Unlike work-related tasks or social media updates, journaling is a personal endeavor intended solely for the writer's benefit—a medium for recording thoughts and current emotional states.
In a world bombarded with news and social media updates, journaling might appear outdated. However, scientific research underscores the powerful impact of deliberate journaling on both mental and physical health.
Healing through Words
Beneath the surface, journaling's benefits extend to physical well-being. Studies have delved into the effects of expressive writing on individuals with high blood pressure. Remarkably, blood pressure levels significantly dropped after participants engaged in writing therapy for four months. Similarly, parents dealing with emotionally or behaviorally challenged teenagers experienced reduced blood pressure after practicing self-care journaling for six weeks.
The intricate interplay between mental and physical well-being is evident in deeper investigations. Journaling has emerged as a potent therapeutic tool for individuals grappling with mental health conditions. From heightened emotional management to improved well-being and daily functionality, its healing impact is undeniable. Research reveals that just a month of consistent journaling can lead to decreased depression and anxiety symptoms, coupled with increased resilience. Intriguingly, it's even being explored as a formal treatment for individuals diagnosed with major depressive disorder, often complementing other therapeutic methods.
Unveiling the Benefits of Journaling for Self-Care
The realm of journaling offers numerous advantages:
A Refuge for Emotions: Your journal becomes a sanctuary for all emotions, providing an outlet for emotional release. Journey to Self-Discovery: Engage in self-exploration, nurturing personal growth and self-awareness. Navigating Emotions: Journaling helps process intricate emotions, fostering emotional regulation. Pathway to Well-being: Through introspection and expression, it contributes to holistic wellness. For many, opening a journal and putting pen to paper becomes akin to meditation—a serene space for contemplation.
Starting Your Journaling Journey
Initiating your journaling journey is simpler than it appears. It requires taking that first step—pick up a pen or open a document and let your thoughts flow. While the blank page might feel intimidating, the key is to begin the process.
Integrating Journaling into Your Self-Care Routine
Cultivating any new habit demands effort, and journaling is no exception. True benefits emerge through consistent practice, fueled by a touch of self-discipline. Achieve success with these tips:
Curate Your Environment: Choose a serene setting devoid of distractions, creating an ambiance conducive to reflection. Consider incorporating calming elements like aromatherapy or soft music. Master the Timing: Opt for moments of mental clarity, possibly at the start or end of the day. Avoid fitting it between tasks to ensure genuine engagement in self-reflection. Frequency Matters: Commence with a structured routine, transitioning to intuitive, need-based sessions as journaling becomes a habit. With persistence, journaling becomes seamlessly woven into your life, offering mental health benefits within arm's reach.
Prompts to Ignite Inner Dialogue
Harness the potential of expressive writing therapy using these prompts:
Gratitude in the Present: Reflect on today's positives and events. Confronting Challenges: Explore current life hurdles and emotions. Anticipating the Future: Set goals for the week ahead, envisioning your journey. Influential Moments: Recall your best and worst days, delving into their significance. Childhood Reverie: Unearth a childhood memory that shaped you. Limitless Possibilities: Imagine a day without constraints—how would you spend it? Futuristic Visions: Where do you envision yourself in five years? These prompts serve as guideposts, unveiling treasures within your mind and heart.
Writing the Next Chapter of Self-Growth
In conclusion, the merits of journaling for self-care extend beyond immediate relief. Its impact resonates through physical health enhancement, stress reduction, and well-informed decision-making. This introspective journey lays the foundation for personal growth and enlightenment—an avenue to harness your potential. Step into the realm of journaling for emotional release and self-discovery, and let your transformative writing journey unfold.
In May 2023, Fort Benning in Georgia will be renamed Fort Moore in honor of General Harold (Hal) Moore and his wife, Julia (Julie) Moore. General Moore was a decorated veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars. Mrs. Moore grew up in a military family, married an officer, and became a military parent when two of her sons chose to serve. She was widely recognized for her work supporting military families.
For Reuben Dickenson, the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Telemynd, this change is close to his heart: He knows the Moore family personally. Dickenson, a veteran, is volunteering to help plan the official renaming ceremony scheduled to take place on May 11, 2023.
The Fort Benning Name Change
The push for Fort Benning's new name was initiated in 2021 when the Department of Defense followed a Congressional order to rename military sites named after Confederate personnel. Fort Benning was named for Georgia native Henry Benning, who served in the Confederate Army, though he never served in the United States military. The Naming Commission solicited proposals for a Forte Benning name change and other facilities and considered them throughout 2022.
The Moores' five children were instrumental in proposing the name change for the Georgia Army base. Fort Benning has special significance for the family. They lived on the base during the General's service during the Vietnam War. Later, their son David was stationed at Fort Benning during his own Army service, and he currently works there as a civilian employee. Both General and Mrs. Moore are buried in the Fort Banning Post Cemetery. They were laid to rest there because General Moore wanted to be surrounded by the troops he led in Vietnam.
The Moore family was adamant that the name change reflects the contributions of both Julia and Hal. In an interview with Stars and Stripes, David remarked, "We felt that by nominating them both it creates the opportunity for the Army to honor something bigger than just a name — to honor the Army family."
About Hal Moore
Hal Moore was a West Point graduate who went on to serve on active duty for 32 years. His early service included time in Japan following World War II, where he trained in the airborne jump school in Tokyo. He was given command of a heavy mortar company in combat during the Korean War, where he earned two Bronze Star Medals for Valor.
After the Korean War, Moore returned to the United States, where he taught at West Point, and underwent additional training before reporting to Fort Banning to command a division that would become the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, and 1st Cavalry Division. He was deployed to Vietnam, where he led troops in the Battle of Ia Drang, the first major battle of the war. Vastly outnumbered, Moore and his troops spent three days surrounded by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) forces. The American troops suffered heavy casualties but eventually drove the PAVN forces off, thanks to artillery action and air support.
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism at Ia Drang, another Bronze Star Medal for Valor, and individual awards of the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm. Moore's leadership earned him the nickname "the General Patton of Vietnam."
After Vietnam, Moore assumed command of the 7th Infantry Division in Korea, followed by command of the Training Center at Fort Ord, CA. There he addressed racial unrest among service members to improve unit cohesion. In 1974, Hal served as the DCSPER, where he focused on rebuilding the NCO Corps.
He later wrote a successful memoir of his experience in Vietnam called "We Were Soldiers Once…And Young." It was adapted as the movie "We Were Soldiers," starring Mel Gibson.
Hal Moore and his co-author Joe Galloway used the profits from the book to establish the Ia Drang Scholarship Fund. The fund offers scholarship money to descendants of dead or surviving veterans of Ia Drang battles. The fund has distributed $1,823,519 to 322 recipients.
About Julia Moore
Julia Moore, known as Julie, was born on an Army base in 1929. Her father was a colonel, and she grew up as part of a military family. She met Hal Moore at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where they married and had their first of five children. A lifelong Red Cross volunteer, Julia Moore was also an active part of the social and community life of every duty station. The family moved 28 times over 32 years, but Julie always made connections in each new community. She often hosted gatherings for other Army wives and made sure families got the support they needed. She was active in Army Community Service, including Officer and NCO Wives' Clubs, Advisory Councils, Post Thrift Shops, daycare centers, and Boy and Girl Scout troops.
When her husband was deployed to Vietnam, she learned that death notifications were being delivered by cab drivers hired to drop telegrams off with military spouses. Horrified, she took steps to learn where the notifications were being sent so she could be there when families learned of their loss. She ensured they had a compassionate person with them at their most difficult moment. That experience led her to advocate for better notification procedures, going to the Pentagon to make her case. Thanks to her efforts, an officer and a chaplain are always present when a family learns of a service member's death.
In 2005, the military created the Julia C. Moore Award. The annual award is given to civilian spouses who demonstrate outstanding "contributions to the health and welfare of the Army Family."
The Moore Family Overjoyed
When the Naming Commission announced the decision to rename Fort Benning after the Moores, they explained that the couple exemplified the life experience of military families: "Their story is representative of millions of other military families throughout our history, who have often endured many travels and movements, putting the nation's needs ahead of their personal preferences. If it's a truism that families serve right alongside their service members, the Moore family lived that experience to the fullest. Their stories exceptionally exemplify the service of modern military families."
Steve Moore, the Moores' second son who retired from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel, told Stars and Stripes how he felt when he learned his parents would be honored this way. "I just broke down," he said. "And the reason I felt that deep emotion was I knew what [my parents] had gone through and overcome in a life of service to the nation.… And so, I said to myself through the tears, 'Finally, the Army is going to recognize what service in a military family has always been.'"
Military Families and Telemynd
Reuben Dickenson, Telemynd's Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, is delighted about the honor bestowed on the Moore family. A West Point graduate and Army veteran himself, Reuben is a friend of the Moore family and supported the proposal to rename the base in their honor. He is looking forward to the official naming ceremony.
"Julia Moore understood the strains that military families face. The life of military service is rewarding, but it is also a challenge. The spouses and children of active duty service members have unique mental health needs," Reuben commented. "Julia understood that from her own experience. She lived a life of compassion and service to her fellow family members. I believe I am following her example at Telemynd, where we try to bring that spirit to the care we offer military members and their families."
To learn more about the process of renaming the future Fort Moore, you can visit "Fort Moore: Recognizing the Contributions of the Military Spouse and Family," a website about the Moore family and the proposal to rename the base.
The official ceremony is scheduled for May 11, 2023. It will be held in Doughboy Stadium on the base. More details about the ceremony and Fort Benning news and updates will be available closer to the event date.
Many people wonder, “Does eating healthy make you feel better?” In the case of the food and mood connection, the simple answer is yes. In fact, food is the fuel that drives all the body’s processes, so it makes sense that providing the body with the highest quality of fuel can make you feel your best, both physically and mentally. Read on to learn about the relationship between food and mood, as well as how to cultivate healthy eating habits one meal at a time.
The Importance of Healthy Eating Habits
Being mindful of food consumption can play a big role in overall well-being. This is because mindful nutrition can have a significant impact on your physical and mental health. Healthy eating habits can lower your risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia. Eating healthy foods can also increase your immunity and help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, both of which help maximize wellness.
The Connection Between Healthy Eating and Mood
The benefits of eating nutritious food transcend the effects on the physical body. Beyond helping you avoid chronic disease and excess body weight, eating healthy foods can also improve energy levels, focus, and mood. In fact, researchers have found that people who follow a healthy eating pattern have better mental health than those who adhere to less healthy diets. The converse is also true: Fueling the body with poor-quality food can negatively impact mental health.
Researchers are uncertain why there is a food and mood connection, but it may be related to the small microorganisms that live in the gastrointestinal tract (the “gut microbiome”) and their influence on mood and behavior. Healthy eating patterns can also reduce underlying inflammation within the body, which may improve mood disorders. Another proposed mechanism is that eating a healthy and consistent diet can minimize wild swings in blood sugar levels, which may be a factor in conditions of low mood.
Tips for How to Cultivate Healthy Eating Habits
It’s one thing to know the importance of creating healthy eating habits. It’s quite another challenge to maintain those habits over the long term. Here are some helpful tips for how to cultivate healthy eating habits.
Tip #1: Meal Plan in Advance
Having an eating plan in place in advance can help you avoid a situation in which you are super hungry and tempted to give in to cravings for unhealthy food choices. Meal planning can be a helpful way to start cultivating healthy eating habits.
Start by writing down what you typically eat in a given week, broken down by each meal. Then, evaluate where you can start making changes. This may be as small as making a big batch of oatmeal over the weekend and progressively eating it for breakfast during the week instead of relying on whatever's around at the office for grazing.
Gradually, you can ramp up your meal planning so that you're being deliberate or mindful for the majority of meals each week. If you know in advance that you will have a particularly busy or hectic day, take that into consideration when food prepping so that you have a quick and easy meal planned or, even better, plenty of leftovers available from the day before.
Tip #2: Make the Mood Food Connection Fun
Parents across the board are used to using various strategies to make healthy eating more appealing to kids (i.e., “ants on a log” to get children to consume celery, peanut butter, and raisins). The same strategy can be applied to adults of all ages as well.
Eating healthy foods does not have to be boring. Instead, look for a fun and easy cookbook or search for fun and easy recipes on Pinterest to help stay motivated. Experimenting with food shapes (star-shaped cucumbers, anyone?) and creative dips can trick the brain into being excited about eating foods that may feel less thrilling at first blush.
Tip #3: Avoid Absolute Restriction
Trying to cut certain “temptation” foods completely out of the diet is very difficult to do and maintain. You may have a string of healthy eating days and then go completely off the rails when you lose willpower or have a “cheat day.”
Nothing can derail a balanced diet like bouncing back and forth between super-healthy meals and meals that are completely void of any nutrition at all. Instead, you should avoid absolute restriction and permit yourself to eat what you enjoy in moderation, while also eating healthy foods.
Tip #4: Stay Well Hydrated
Part of a healthy eating plan includes staying well hydrated. Sometimes you may feel hungry when you’re actually just thirsty, which is why it’s important to keep up with daily water intake requirements (3.7 liters for the average man and 2.7 liters for the average woman). Some studies have even shown that drinking water before a meal may reduce the amount that a person eats during the meal, so staying well hydrated may also help with portion control.
Tip #5: Experiment With Spices
Eating healthy means eating a rainbow of different-colored fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats. Adding a number of new fruits and vegetables into the diet may be enough to spice things up, but if you are struggling to stick to a healthy eating habit, adding more spices can help too. Healthy herbs and spices can keep new foods interesting and fun to experiment with, and many herbs and spices have wellness-boosting properties themselves.
Tip #6: Don’t Get Too Ambitious
When you have early success with mindful eating, you should pat yourself on the back and applaud your efforts. And it’s equally important to not get over-ambitious with trying a new recipe every night because this can lead to burnout. Instead, work on perfecting a few new easy recipes for the arsenal and incorporating these into your daily life. Gradually building in a new dish here and there can help mix things up without feeling too overwhelming and making you vulnerable to giving up altogether.
Common Challenges of Healthy Eating Habits
In today’s world, it’s not always easy to eat healthy, even when you know it's the best way to keep yourself firing on all cylinders. The following challenges are common, but some workarounds can help sustain healthy eating habits.
Challenge #1: Eating Healthy Can Be Expensive
Shopping exclusively at a farmer’s market or high-end grocery is a recipe for financial distress. People often find it challenging to change their eating habits because fresh, healthy produce tends to be more pricey than processed foods that are more shelf-stable. While this is a real challenge, it doesn’t have to get in the way of embracing the food and mood connection.
To stay within budget, try to buy healthy foods in bulk, and shop during sales whenever possible. One way to do this is to eat the fresh produce that is in season at any given time of year. Buying frozen produce can also help save money while still maximizing nutritional benefits.
Challenge #2: Eating Healthy Can Be Time-Consuming
Another challenge when it comes to making healthy food choices is that it can initially take more time and effort to eat healthy than it does to make last-minute food decisions and pick up dinner from the drive-through on the way home.
It takes real cognitive work to plan out meals, shop for ingredients, and then prepare those meals, compared to eating out or buying ready-made meals. However, once you get into a pattern of eating healthy, it's simple to find workarounds to reduce the amount of time required.
Meal prepping in advance, so that you have easy, ready-to-go snacks, lunches, or dinners, can go a long way in cutting down on preparation time. Also, seek out recipes with just a few ingredients and meals that can be prepared on "auto pilot" — such as one pot meals, sheet pan meals, or slow cooker meals.
Challenge #3: Eating Healthy Can Make It Hard to Socialize
It may be intimidating to make changes to a nutrition plan if you're worried about the social implications. If eating out or frequent dinners are part of your work culture or social life, you may feel self-conscious about not ordering pizza with the group or eating a salad instead of digging into the burger and fries.
However, healthy eating options are typically available everywhere, once you start to look. Taking a peek at the menu online ahead of time can help reduce decision-related stress in the moment and make it more likely that you will stick to the plan. Sometimes, just choosing the healthier option in a social setting, or the lesser evil, can go a long way in sticking to a balanced diet.
Embracing the Food-Mood Connection
The undeniable connection between food and mood highlights the importance of healthy eating habits for both physical and mental well-being. Nourishing our bodies with high-quality fuel can lead to increased energy, focus, and better mental health. Strategies like meal planning, creative food choices, moderation, hydration, and flavor experimentation aid in cultivating these habits. Despite challenges, embracing this relationship empowers us to enhance our overall wellness, meal by mindful meal.
Is it possible for someone to improve their mental health and well-being through positive thoughts and talk therapy? The science of positive psychology claims it is not only possible, but also an avenue for mental health care to combat depression and loneliness.
This article will explore the main positive psychology principles, the benefits of positive psychology for those who practice it, and how to use positive psychology coaching as a mental health resource. After exploring the history and science behind it, keep reading for the best books on positive psychology and inspirational psychology quotes.
What Is Positive Psychology?
The biggest goal of positive psychology is to teach someone to shift their perspective, which empowers them to improve their quality of life.
Unlike traditional psychology, which focuses on a patient’s weaknesses and mental illness, positive psychology’s focus is on the strengths that allow a patient to build a satisfying, meaningful life. By learning more about positive experiences and traits like gratitude or resilience, people can improve their own happiness, well-being, and self-confidence.
Positive psychology is a relatively new branch of psychology, established in 2000. Martin Seligman, a researcher with a background in psychology, had spent decades studying depression and the link between feelings of sadness and helplessness. He found that patients who learned to build positive character traits could also learn optimism and resilience to improve their overall mental health.
Seligman felt that traditional psychology had placed too much emphasis on healing damage and not enough effort on building human strengths. Seligman believed the field of positive psychology could correct the imbalance with a focus on helping people find fulfillment in creativity, engaging in meaningful pursuits, facing adversity, and relating to others.
In 1998, Seligman was elected president of the American Psychological Association. He added positive psychology as a new subfield to focus on the life-giving aspects of psychology. In 2000, Seligman published the foundational paper of positive psychology with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, another psychologist known for developing the concept of “flow.”
Positive psychology is not meant to replace traditional psychology. Instead, it complements traditional psychology by focusing on “what is going right with an individual” to build positive well-being.
What Are Positive Psychology Principles?
Positive psychology is a “soft science” based on evidence-based theories developed from research such as surveys, animal experiments, brain imaging, and case studies. The predominant theory is the observation that developing strong social relationships, personal character traits, and overall happiness can act as a buffer for life’s setbacks.
Positive psychology promotes the theory that well-being can not only be defined and measured in humans, but it can also be taught. Through positive psychology principles, people can learn to improve their physical and mental well-being.
Some of the important theories and principles of positive psychology are:
To live a “good life,” feelings of satisfaction and well-being are more important than feelings of temporary pleasure. A “good day” usually has three main characteristics: feelings of competence, autonomy, and a connection to others. Work and relationships matter in terms of making life worth living because they give people a sense of meaning. Money cannot buy happiness, but helping other people or volunteering almost always leads to feelings of happiness. Based on these theories, Seligman proposed five different building blocks of well-being, which are now referred to as the PERMA model. These include:
Positive emotions Engagement (with a project or hobby) Relationships Meaning Accomplishment or achievement Patients using positive psychology coaching can learn to develop their own character traits and strengthen these five core areas. Positive psychology demonstrates how people can live meaningful and fulfilling lives by enhancing their everyday experiences.
What Is “Flow” in Positive Psychology Principles?
The concept of “flow,” mentioned above, is another positive psychology principle. Csikszentmihalyi coined this term after observing artists, writers, and athletes who seemed to lose themselves in their work during creative experiences. The state of flow occurs when someone has a high challenge and an equally high skill level.
Because entering flow is a rewarding and enjoyable experience, it is linked to happiness and overall well-being. This aspect of positive psychology encourages people to identify their strengths and develop areas of interest where they can find meaning and satisfaction. It is similar to the principle of engagement from the PERMA model.
Benefits of Positive Psychology
Practicing positive psychology regularly enables someone to boost their social and emotional well-being. It leads people to explore their own character strengths so they are better equipped to face challenging situations.
The human brain has a natural tendency to remember frustration and difficulties more than success. This “negativity bias” benefited Stone Age man when there were daily dangers to avoid, but it is less practical for modern man’s success. Positive psychology principles help people reframe the way they look at life, fight pessimism, focus on strengths, and cultivate gratitude.
Building a sense of meaning and purpose in life can have a wide range of positive outcomes for those practicing positive psychology. Research demonstrates that older adults who feel their life has meaning and purpose experience higher levels of physical health and mental well-being. Those who felt their lives were meaningful tended to have stronger relationships and more involvement in social activities, so they were less likely to be lonely.
While many things can contribute to healthy relationships, feelings of connection, and a resilient character, it’s clear that the practice of positive psychology contributes to overall wellness — both physical and mental health.
Common Misconceptions of Positive Psychology
Some people think positive psychology is too simple because it focuses on positive experiences but ignores negative emotions and serious conditions like depression or anxiety. It can be viewed as overly optimistic, unrealistically promoting constant happiness. Positive psychology is also misconceived as neglecting individual differences, ignoring the importance of negative experiences, and focusing solely on individual happiness.
In reality, positive psychology promotes a balanced perspective that acknowledges both the positive and negative and tailors interventions and therapeutic strategies to the individual based on their specific profile. It is a partner to more traditional therapeutic models of psychology. Instead of diminishing alternative methods of managing symptoms, it enhances them. Positive psychology seeks a balanced life in which an individual is equipped to handle the inevitable difficulties that are part of human existence.
Goals of Positive Psychology Coaching
For those who want to experience the benefits of positive psychology, the best method is through coaching or talk therapy. With this mental health resource, a client meets regularly with a therapist trained in positive psychology principles.
The goal of positive psychology coaching is to improve a client’s quality of life by helping them identify their own strengths, giving them a sense of hope, and teaching them how to nurture feelings like gratitude, happiness, and optimism.
Through coaching, clients will set goals that challenge them to build positive relationships, find connections to others, and develop their own talents.
How to Use Positive Psychology in Your Daily Routines
Since positive psychology focuses on building individual strengths instead of treating weaknesses, it’s accessible for most people to practice at home. Positive psychology embraces the principle that people can change and improve.
When someone tries new experiences, sets goals, and looks for opportunities that play to their strengths, they are practicing positive psychology. Exploring activities that create flow moments will improve mood. Making efforts to slow down and savor pleasure can become part of their daily routine.
One easy way to practice positive psychology at home is to do gratitude exercises. By focusing on a few things every day that they are grateful for, an individual trains their brain to focus on positive memories and increase their happiness.
Some people do this with a gratitude journal, with prompts to help them focus on positive things in life. Other people do this through daily practices of meditation or prayer. The method of practice is not as important as the overall goal of learning to improve well-being by practicing gratitude.
Another method of practicing positive psychology is called the experience sampling method, or ESM. This is a type of mindfulness exercise to help lower stress levels and rewire the brain. Using a timer throughout the day, a client is encouraged to pause when they receive the alert, then write down what they are doing, thinking, and feeling. Practicing ESM helps people realize how much of their day is filled with small, positive moments.
Positive psychology is accessible to most individuals and can be an effective part of behavioral health care to support individuals in becoming happier, more resilient, and better able to handle life’s challenges.
Positive Psychology Quotes
“Positive psychology is the scientific study of human strengths and virtues.” – Martin Seligman
“A joyful life is an individual creation that cannot be copied from a recipe.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
“…positive psychology is not to be confused with untested self-help, footless affirmation, or secular religion — no matter how good these may make us feel.” – Christopher Peterson
“Positive psychology is the scientific and applied approach to uncovering people’s strengths and promoting their positive functioning.” – Hugo Alberts
“Flourishing is the product of the pursuit and engagement of an authentic life that brings inner joy and happiness through meeting goals, being connected with life passions, and relishing in accomplishments through the peaks and valleys of life.” – Dr. Lynn Soots
“The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.” – Sharon Salzberg
Best Positive Psychology Books
Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin Seligman
Flourish (A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being) by Martin Seligman
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Positive Psychology in a Nutshell: The Science of Happiness by Ilona Boniwell
Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman
It’s estimated that 20% of people aged 55 years or older experience some type of mental health issue - the most common are anxiety and depression. Indeed, more common later-life events such as chronic medical disorders, loss of friends and loved ones, and the inability to take part in once-cherished activities can take a heavy toll on a person’s emotional well-being. But mental health problems are not a “normal” part of aging and should be identified and treated, not tossed off as unavoidable. In this article, we look at the facts about mental health issues in older adults and what can be done to address them.
Facts about mental health and aging
Mental health problems are a risk for older adults, regardless of history. While some adults go through life managing a chronic mental illness, mental health problems can also suddenly appear late in life. Changing bodies and chemistry, changes in family and friendships, and changes in living situations – all have an effect on mental health and need to be considered in treatment. Some sobering facts about older adults and mental health include:
Adults 85 and over have the highest suicide rate; those aged 75 to 84 have the second highest. 75% of those who commit suicide have visited a primary care physician within a month of their suicide. It's estimated that only 50% of older adults who discuss specific mental health problems with a physician receive the right treatment. Up to 63% of older adults with a mental disorder do not receive the services they need. On the good news side, research also shows that if older adults are diagnosed with a mental health disorder, and are able to access services, then 80% will recover or receive the tools to live successfully with their disorder.
Is there such a thing as psychological aging?
Recent studies have shown that how old we “perceive” ourselves contributes to our level of well-being also. This is known as psychological aging. Essentially, our ‘subjective age’ (how young or old we perceive ourselves to be regardless of physical age) has a significant effect on our health decisions - the idea being that if we ‘feel’ younger than we are, we will make more healthy lifestyle decisions - including decisions that may help our mental health.
Depression is common in older adults - what we can all do to help
One of the most common mental illnesses affecting older adults is depression. Depression can have a negative “halo effect” on the health of older adults in many ways. According to the American Psychological Association, depression “can lead to eating habits that result in obesity or, conversely, can cause a significant loss of appetite and diminished energy levels, sometimes resulting in a condition known as geriatric anorexia; it can also cause higher rates of insomnia and memory loss, and longer-than-normal reaction times'' - making driving, cooking, or self-medicating more dangerous than normal. However most older adults see an improvement in their symptoms when treated with anti-depression drugs, therapy, or a combination of both - so the key is to get help as early as possible.
Watch for these warning signs in yourself or loved ones that may signal a mental health issue:
Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge Increased worry or feeling stressed Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness Ongoing headaches, digestive issues, or pain A need for alcohol or drugs Sadness or hopelessness Suicidal thoughts And experts say to be tactful when talking to an older loved one about potential warning signs. An older person with fragile self-esteem may interpret well-intentioned encouragement as further proof of their declining condition. Some may even resent attempts at intervention. And because older people tend to be less amenable to lifestyle changes, they may be reluctant to adopt new, healthier habits. A trained mental health specialist who understands aging issues can help friends and family members craft positive approaches for talking about sensitive issues, and can help tailor an individualized therapeutic strategy to combat depression.
If you or a loved one need help with mental health issues, consider contacting a qualified telebehavioral health professional
If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today. Our mental health professionals are trained in multiple mental health disorders and have experience treating them via online appointments - from the convenience and privacy of your home or wherever works for you. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
CDC: The State of Mental Health and Aging in America
National Institute of Mental Health: Older Adults and Mental Health
American Psychological Association: Aging and Depression
New year; new resolutions, right? Let this be the year we try to better understand issues surrounding mental health - for ourselves and for our friends and loved ones who may be dealing with them. In this spirit, we’ve curated 10 books that may be helpful to both clinicians and individuals who want to learn more about mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disease, PTSD, OCD, postpartum depression, and more. We broke them into two categories for ease of organization. The factors we considered when choosing which books to feature included: positive reader reviews, consistently high ratings, and author qualifications. All of these books are available at amazon and other online retailers, as well as in independent bookstores. Which books would you add to the list?
Books about and/or authored by people living with mental health disorders
A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash by Sylvia Nasar
This iconic and Pulitzer Prize-nominated story of mathematical genius John Forbes Nash, whose brilliant career was cut short by schizophrenia, was published in 1997 but remains a classic, especially after it was turned into an award-winning movie starring Russell Crowe. Nash was eventually honored with a Nobel Prize in Economics, but struggled with schizophrenia his whole life. The book describes his mental health journey and its effects on his family, friends and career.
Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me: Depression in the First Person by Anna Mehler Paperny
After hitting a breaking point in her early 20s, journalist Anna Paperny decided to do what she does best - use her investigative skills to find out everything she could about her own debilitating condition - depression. And thanks to that quest for knowledge, readers benefit from her concise descriptions of everything from types of therapy available to the effects of medication to the stigma around mental illness. Includes interviews with leading medical experts in the US and Canada.
Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
One sister starts hearing voices while the other struggles to find a way to support and protect her in this book about how mental illness impacts friends, family, and caregivers. The book chronicles bipolar disease from the caregivers’ perspective - how one must always walk a bittersweet tightrope between helping and protecting, and backing off to provide independence.
The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought by David Adam
The author is a noted scientist and editor at The Journal Nature, and has lived with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) for 20 years. This multiple award-winning book is an exploration of both his mind and the history of the condition that makes his mind a hectic place. He explains what it's like to be plagued by intrusive and obsessive thoughts and compulsions, like hoarding and his multiple but necessary home rituals, and provides research into the history of OCD diagnosis and treatment.
Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression by Brooke Shields
When actor Brooke Shields welcomed her daughter Rowan Francis into the world, something unexpected followed – debilitating postpartum depression. She assumed she’d bounce back in a few days - but things only got worse. This honest memoir offers a first-person perspective on the devastating condition faced by millions of women after giving birth. Shields talks candidly about her struggles and offers hope for recovery by describing her own.
Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story by Mac McClelland
Human rights journalist Mac McClelland spent 2010 reporting on Haiti’s earthquake but when she returned home to California, she was surprised by the lasting effects of the trauma she’d witnessed - nightmares, anxiety, insomnia, crying jags and more. After a diagnosis of PTSD, and in an attempt to help herself heal, she began investigating PTSD, its symptoms and treatment, and how she experienced it in her own mind.
Books written to help those living with mental health disorders
Permission to Come Home: Reclaiming Mental Health as Asian-Americans by Dr. Jenny Wang
The author is the founder of the Asian, Pacific Islander, and South Asian American (APISAA) Therapist Directory and created this comprehensive resource especially for Asian-Americans, immigrants, and other minorities who may be experiencing behavioral health issues, to provide resources for improving self-care and mental health - a community she feels is underserved for various reasons.
It Didn't Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle by Mark Wolynn
Research has recently shown that the roots of mental health disorders may not just reside in our own current life experiences or in the chemical imbalances inside our brains, but in the lives of our parents, grandparents, and even further back. The author is a leading expert in the field and in this book, he looks at how trauma experienced by relatives may be passed down to the next generation and how to address those issues.
Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting by Terri Williams
When successful business executive and mental health advocate Terri Williams was diagnosed with depression, she found that the topic was still taboo especially in the Black community. In this book, she discusses the emotional pain of depression and how it uniquely affects the Black experience, encouraging readers to seek help without feeling ashamed. She reminds readers that they are brave for facing emotional difficulties head-on and finding solutions with the help of others.
This Too Shall Pass: Stories of Change, Crisis and Hopeful Beginnings by Julia Samuel
This may be a useful resource for clinicians. In it, psychotherapist Julia Samuel uses hours of conversations with patients to show how individuals act and adapt differently in the face of hardship. Backed by research, her analysis of the stories she shares explains how mental health is different for everybody, yet evidence-based treatment and coping skills work across multiple populations.
If you need help with behavioral health issues, consider contacting a qualified mental health professional
If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today. Our mental health professionals are trained in multiple mental health disorders and have experience treating them. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
Gaming is wildly popular. 60% of Americans say they play video games daily, and 75% of US households own a device they can play games on: phones, tablets, big screens, and other devices. Not unexpectedly, video games saw a 73% growth in sales during the pandemic, as people went online to socialize and escape.
As popular as they are, games are also controversial; some believe they are addictive and others think they interrupt normal social interaction. However, recent scientific studies have found gaming can play a positive role in mental health, and in this article, we’ll tell you about those studies and debunk a few gaming myths along the way.
Survey finds gaming can provide stress relief
Video games can be a fun way to pass the time, and for those with challenges, they can provide a much-needed distraction from difficult situations. Games can be a low-stakes outlet for people to let off steam when they feel frustrated by school or work. Games which encourage exercise and socializing can even promote emotional wellness. Dr. Alok Kanojia who researches game addiction at Harvard Medical School says on the very positive side, “video games literally allow us to escape negative emotions and suppress them.”
A 2019 survey found that almost 80% of gamers say video games provide them with mental stimulation, relaxation, and stress relief. The same survey found that some gamers - like competitive athletes who ‘live and breathe’ their sport - also report anxiety associated with game performance and expertise. The key here, like anything, is balance - and having tools and supports in place to manage mental health issues.
Two studies find positive correlation between gaming and mental health
Several research studies have found that some games can play a positive role in mental health. For example, a study at Oxford University which focused on those who play Nintendo’s Animal Crossing, found that people who played more games tend to report greater wellbeing. In fact, Animal Crossing is part of the ‘cozy game’ movement - a new genre of video games that rose in popularity during the pandemic, whose beautiful graphics, clever storylines, soaring soundtracks, and fluid end goals make them feel “approachable, stress-free and bite-sized.” Gamers who play cozy games say these games provide a way for them to “chill out with cute and colorful graphics, meditative tasks, and feel a sense of accomplishment” - all of which can contribute positively to mental health.
Another study on location-based, mobile games like Pokémon GO (a game that lets players combine gameplay with real-world exercise), found that these games may be able to help alleviate depression symptoms in players, because they encourage exercise, contact with nature, community, and social connection. The researchers reported they were “able to connect use of Pokémon GO to a ‘significant short-term decrease in depression-related internet searches’, which is a common and reliable method of monitoring mental health, and therefore the game may help with mild, non-clinical forms of depression.”
On a positive side note, the game maker community appears to be tackling the depiction of mental illness within games. Negative tropes about mental illness have existed in games since the beginning, but lately, creators have been trying to change that - even hiring psychologists to make sure there are no negative stereotypes in their games (even if inadvertently).
If you or a loved one need help with mental health issues, consider contacting a telebehavioral health professional
As with anything, if you or your loved one is a gamer and is experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, it's best to turn to a qualified mental health professional who can distinguish between everyday stress and something more serious.
Frontiers in Psychology: Gaming well: links between video games and flourishing mental health
The Guardian: Video gaming can benefit mental health, find Oxford academics
Journal of Management Information Systems: Location-Based Mobile Gaming and Local Depression Trends: A Study of Pokémon Go
Bipolar Disorder, formerly called Manic Depression, is a mental illness associated with dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and the ability to think clearly. Individuals with Bipolar Disorder experience repeated and significant mood swings, or ‘episodes’, that can make them feel very high (manic) or very low (depressive). These moods differ from the typical ups-and-downs most people experience.
The condition affects men and women equally, impacting approximately 2.8% of the U.S. population. The average age of onset is 25, but it can also occur in teens. With a good treatment plan including therapy, medications, and a healthy lifestyle, individuals can manage their symptoms effectively.
Definition of Bipolar Disorder
There are three types of Bipolar Disorder, according to NIH | National Institutes of Mental Health:
Bipolar I Disorder: when people experience one or more episodes of mania. Most people diagnosed with Bipolar I have episodes of both mania and depression, though an episode of depression is not necessary for a diagnosis. To be diagnosed with Bipolar I, manic episodes must last at least seven days or be so severe that hospitalization is required.
Bipolar II Disorder: when depressive episodes shift back and forth with hypomanic episodes, but never a “full” manic episode.
Cyclothymic Disorder: a chronically unstable mood state in which people experience hypomania and mild depression for at least two years. They may have brief periods of normal mood, but these periods last less than eight weeks.
In addition, some individuals experience symptoms of Bipolar Disorder that do not exactly match the three categories listed above, and are referred to as “other specified and unspecified Bipolar Disorders”.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), symptoms of Bipolar Disorder break down into manic and depressive symptoms, depending on what kind of episode is happening. During an episode, the symptoms listed below may last every day for most of the day, and episodes may last for several days or weeks.
It can sometimes be more difficult to identify symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in teens than in adults since moodiness is common in teens anyway. If you or a loved one are experiencing any symptoms, be sure to check with a behavioral health professional who can rule out Bipolar Disorder or make an official diagnosis.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Bipolar Disorder
Most scientists agree that there is no single cause of Bipolar Disorder and it’s likely that multiple factors contribute to an individual’s chance of having the illness. Factors that may increase the risk of developing Bipolar Disorder, or act as a trigger for the first episode include:
Having a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, with the disorder
Periods of high stress, such as the death of a loved one or other traumatic event
Drug or alcohol abuse
Treatment For Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder is very treatable. Medication or a combination of therapy and medication are used to manage the disorder over time. Since people respond to treatment in different ways, those with Bipolar Disorder may need to try different combinations of medications and therapy before finding the plan that works for them.
Bipolar Disorder doesn't get better on its own. If you or a loved one have any of the symptoms of depressive or manic episodes listed above, see a behavioral health professional. Treatment can help keep your symptoms under control.
Do you or a loved one have symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?
Telemynd is a nationally delegated telebehavioral health provider for Tricare members. You can access licensed psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and therapists who can diagnose and provide treatment for Bipolar Disorder from the convenience of your home. Click here to find your current insurance provider to request an appointment today!
American Psychiatric Association: What Are Bipolar Disorders?
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Bipolar Disorder
NIH | National Institutes of Mental Health: What Is Bipolar Disorder?